Hills: Lord’s Seat, Broom Fell
Wainwrights: ditto (63 and 64)
When: Wednesday 4 January 2017
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Conditions underfoot: great paths followed by mostly frozen bog
Bog factor: Broom Fell would be a quagmire outside of winter. Most of the bog was frozen but there were still a fair few glutinous patches.
Post walk watering hole: The Ambleside Tavern
Post walk drink: Merlot
After having got the year off to a good, if cold, start on Raven Crag, the 3rd of January was a bt grey and I settled for a pottering about day. The forecast for the 4th was excellent again however so we made a plan for uncharted territory namely the hills around the Whinlatter Pass. These had the benefit of a high start, some good paths and reputedly great views of the Skiddaw range and seemed ideal for a short winter day.
Of course if the weather does not go wrong something else will and Stuart’s cough was getting no better. We decided that I would drop him in Keswick and I would go and do the hills anyway, or at least a couple of them, and pick him up in the Dog and Gun later on. We had a good run up the A591 and I dropped him at Keswick Museum (which had an exhibition on Wainwright) shortly after 11. The drive to Whinlatter took me a bit longer than I thought it would though but after the usual faffing I was away shortly after 11.30 on a series of excellently constructed way marked paths and tracks. I had remembered to attach the mountaineering minion to the rucksack this time!
Now this bit really should have been fool proof however there were so many different tracks heading off that in spite of checking my map I kept wondering if I was on the wrong one. Plus for whatever reason I was making heavy weather of the ascent. The ascent to Lord’s Seat is only about 250m but it felt like twice that. It probably didn’t help in hindsight that you are in the trees until about 50m of ascent from the top with only occasional glimpses of view. On the plus side, the path was excellent all the way to the top of Lord’s Seat which I reached at about 12.30. The views, as promised, were excellent although it was very cold, and towards the Coledale hills the sun actually made it difficult to take decent photos – though I tried!
Given the temperature, I didn’t hang about although I did dither a bit about what to do next. I’d said to Stuart I’d meet him around 3.30 and knew realistically I probably only had one more hill in me anyway was my back was cramping up. With a choice of Broom Fell or Barf as obvious tack-ons I ended up opting for the out and back of Broom Fell as being a bit quicker and Barf looks like a possible decent one to leave for a single. I’d entertained notions of tacking on Whinlatter itself too but think part of hill walking is about knowing your limits – particularly when a slow pace could easily lead to running out of daylight and with that in mind I wanted to be off the hill well before 3.
The walk out to Broom Fell was easy enough, though very boggy in parts – most but not all was frozen – probably a quagmire outside of winter. It only took about 20 minutes to reach the large cairn on Broom Fell’s summit, which had some pretty good views and it was possible to see Southern Scotland – reminding me it’s been a long time now I’ve been out of Scotland, excepting a weekend in Edinburgh in November.
Again it was too cold to wait around and I was conscious I needed to go back up Lord’s Seat before heading back to the car. Again I made pretty good time getting back to the top at 1.30 but was conscious both of time marching on and low energy levels. I put any thoughts of more hills aside and headed back down the constructed paths through the forest, reaching the car at 2.30 and meeting Stuart in the Dog and Gun (which looks a good pub to visit when I’m not driving!). Afterwards it was just a matter of heading back to Ambleside where a nice big glass of Merlot was waiting in the Ambleside Tavern.
All in all another good short walk for a winter’s day with great views for relatively little effort. Though Stuart’s cold has now had it’s revenge as I have gone down with an absolute stinker and been off work for several days. Medicinal whisky (Highland Park Svein) is having no discernible effect!