Hills: Glenridding Dodd
When: Saturday 29 April
Who:Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Clear but windy
Bog factor: Zero
Hangover factor: High
Post walk watering hole:Travellers Rest, then the Glenridding Hotel bar later
Post walk drink: Helvellyn Gold ale, then Kendal Mint Cake liqueur
One that got away: Sheffield Pike
Those of you that read my blog on a regular, or even semi regular basis will know that there are usually a few themes that recur with alarming frequency. Obviously there is usually a hill walk of sorts in there somewhere, after all this is a hill walking blog, albeit with added wine. There is often a drink-related foul up of some description and there is equally often a transport related foul up too. This walk had pretty much the lot!
Usually at least some planning goes into a walk. At least in theory although plans often get binned in favour of a plan B, C or D depending on what the weather decides to do and other factors such as general state of knackeredness. I usually book trains well in advance in particular but having booked our accommodation – the Glenridding Hotel – some time ago I hadn’t bothered booking the train as no particular discounts were available. I finally sorted it a few days beforehand then on collecting my tickets realised I didn’t have a seat reservation. A trip to Euston during my lunch break was pretty fruitless: the train was full and we would need to fight for seats in the 2 unreserved carriages that Virgin Trains fortunately puts on every service.
6pm on Friday 28th April therefore saw us at Euston waiting for a platform announcement then as soon as it was announced at 6.15, belting it down the platform, at least as fast as possible given gear, luggage and so forth rather precluding any actual resemblance to Usain Bolt. We luckily managed to get two seats as standing for 3 hours on a packed train did not really appeal. And boy was the train packed. People were standing everywhere and it was only just possible to move through the train e.g. to the bar. Plus to add to this the air con had malfunctioned in our carriage and it was boiling. Of course the sensible response to this would have been to drink lots of water but we decided instead to drink lots of wine… oh dear. On arriving at Penrith, where we had a taxi pick up booked, we were already a little on the tipsy side and we then decided it would be a good idea to check out the Beckside Bar at the hotel which was excellent. We rolled into bed and crashed out at around midnight having pretty much lost track of the actual alcohol units consumed. I think the night cap of Ardbeg 10 year old may well have been what finished me off.
The alarm went off at 8.30. Oh dear! The heads were sore. A cooked breakfast seemed to help a bit and the weather was pretty good, although windy. I started faffing with the gear more or less on autopilot at which point Stuart, who had had a very busy week at work, said he was knackered and would rather chill out and potter around the village but I was welcome to go and do a hill. I geared up and headed off – 30 seconds later returning to the hotel room as I had forgotten my poles, not a great start when you have a dodgy back. I was already starting to wonder if I was too hungover to do a walk but given exercise actually helps with a hangover I thought what the heck I might as well do something.. but it would have to be something short and relatively simple. I eventually opted for Glenridding Dodd, a short blast with the potential to extend to Sheffield Pike if I wanted to.
The start of the route winds through the village and cuts up a minor road which eventually turns into a track to Helvellyn YHA and to the Helvellyn massif itself. A path cuts off the road just before it turns into a track, and angles steeply up the hillside. Steep? Yes it definitely is but it felt practically vertical. I seriously considered bailing out about 100m up the slope but knew I’d kick myself if I did so took a big gulp of water, gritted my teeth and got on with it. The path – whilst not boggy at all – consists of steep slidy scree, the sort of thing I hate, not so much in ascent but is a total pain in descent as your feet shoot out from under you risking landing on your backside.. well mine do anyway.
This bit felt as though it was taking forever but I hit the col between Glenridding Dodd and Sheffield Pike in pretty good time and the remainder of the ascent to Glenridding Dodd’s summit was on a nice little path at a more congenial angle. The hangover had abated somewhat and I no longer felt as though I was sweating an unpleasant combination of Merlot, Prosecco and whisky. The views down Ullswater and over to the Helvellyn range were excellent and I made sure to wander over to the obviously lower viewpoint cairn as well. Having made the summit in about 40 minutes after leaving the hotel I faffed for quite a while taking photos before returning to the col and looking up at the somewhat foreboding bulk of Sheffield Pike.
What to do? I had plenty of time to go on and do the extra hill and it would be a nuisance to have to come back for it. However I was conscious that although I felt less hungover I was not at my best and also really tired. Plus the onward route looked quite scrambly and in parts rather narrow. Footering about on scrambly terrain in a fairly strong wind, when not at my best, didn’t seem a particularly sensible idea. I probably stood at the col for about 10 minutes worth of dithering before ultimately deciding to head back down.
The steep gravelly path was worse in descent and my feet didn’t feel at all secure. My balance seemed to be slightly off and it became obvious I was going to need to take it very carefully. I have heard of people going from summit to pub in about 20 minutes but it took me twice that. There was one bit where the path was particularly loose where I resorted to the use of what I tend to refer to as the arse crampon. It probably wasn’t strictly necessary but better safe than sorry. I was delighted to get back to the minor road and headed off to find Stuart who was rather surprised to see me back so early. We headed to the Traveller’s Rest for a quick drink (Helvellyn Gold) and some lunch – after which I actually decided I was so tired I was going to go back to bed. A 2 hour kip, a swim in the hotel pool and then some Kendal Mint Cake liqueur sorted me out nicely.
All in all a good option for a quick blast/ tick if one is needed but not a classic by any means. The views are good but the path is a bit of a shocker in parts. It was a bit annoying not to go on to Sheffield Pike but it was probably the right call in the circumstances.. even if they were self inflicted except for the wind!