Hills: Rest Dodd, The Nab, Brock Crags, Angletarn Pikes
Classification: Wainwrights – no.96 to 99
When: Sunday 27 May
Weather: Windy to start off with – then scorchio!
Time: 7 hours, including breaks
Conditions underfoot: Generally pretty good – the bog was dry!
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Lakes Distillery gin, and a much needed pint of coke
Post walk watering hole: Beckside Bar, the Glenridding Hotel
Mishaps: Transport (assuming the journey North counts)
In advance of a week in the Lake District, I had a cunning plan. Stuart and I were spending a few nights in Glenridding in a hotel, then moving on to Keswick where we were sponsoring a barrel at Keswick Beer Festival. The forecast for the week was great… what could possibly go wrong?
Those of you that read my blog will know that if something does not go wrong with the weather something else will go wrong instead and this trip was no exception. The first thing that was not ideal in preparing for the trip was that I had a manic week at work trying to get various things done. To add to this I went down with a cold and was too busy to take any time off sick. There was nothing for it but to drag myself in anyway and get on with things. By Friday I was feeling a lot better but still not anywhere near 100% and was still coughing up phlegm (lovely). My knees and back were also grumpy, not helped by me having tripped over a paving stone when getting my shopping in to the house and bashing my left knee quite badly a week beforehand, though it was clearly on the mend.
Work eased off a bit by Thursday evening and I decided to work from home on Friday with the idea being to leave the house at 3 and pick Stuart up in Stanmore – after being so busy and feeling ill too I just couldn’t face the 5am start to get to Stanmore followed by heading in to the office. My only meeting for the Friday got cancelled so in theory this was a perfect plan. I left the house shortly before 3, turned onto the motorway… oh dear. A massive tail back to the Dartford Tunnel led to a decision to take Plan B and head for the North Circular Road. To cut a long story short it took me over 3 hours to get to Stanmore and heavy traffic on the M6 meant we did not get to our overnight stop near Preston till 10pm. A few glasses of Merlot later we collapsed in to bed with the plan being to think about a walk on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday morning dawned and we woke to nice sunshine. However I was utterly knackered. More heavy traffic on the M6 had us arriving in Glenridding at about 1.30. Now a walk was theoretically possible at that stage but my back was complaining and I was really tired. With a good forecast for the next few days I decided to keep my powder dry and give myself a day to recover as the combination of work and the drive had pretty much done me in. We chilled out and had a few drinks and a meal and for once a relatively early night.
For once, the forecast for Sunday was pretty accurate – sunny but windy. The plan was that Stuart would get the boat to Pooley Bridge and do a stretch of the Ullswater Way, I would get a taxi to Hartsop and do a linear (ish) walk back over Rest Dodd and some more hills back to Glenridding. I could have got a bus but the first one wasn’t till after 10 so I got a taxi booked for 9.30 which dropped me off at Hartsop in baking sunshine at 9.45. I was very grateful there was a breeze and that for once I had remembered my sun screen! I was also conscious that I was not really at my best but wanted to make the most of the day and put myself in position to get the ‘ton up’ done.
The initial walk up the track to Hayeswater then the pull up to the Coast to Coast walk went pretty well and I made good time. The views were as good as I remembered from my walk in the area a month earlier and I was delighted to find when I hit the Coast to Coast route that Rest Dodd looked a lot less of a slog than it had before when I’d decided it would be a hill too far for me. The path up is steep and a bit eroded in places but fine and I popped out on the rather windy summit at about 11.15 to excellent views all round.
The next question: was I going to bother with the out and back route to the Nab? It involved quite a bit of drop and reascent, had been billed as a ‘very steep’ descent and reputedly had a really wobbly stile that needed to be crossed – none of these being things I like on a walk. However, there had been a dry spell, I had plenty of time and it seemed silly not to include it – and it would be a complete pain to have to come back for another day. I made my way carefully down the steep path which for the most part was actually fine – the main issue was that my map case kept trying to hit me in the face after being caught by gusts of wind. I reached the stile reasonably quickly and was delighted to see that it had fallen down! After that it was a simple walk across what in normal conditions would be the peat hags from hell but were totally dry. The views from The Nab were excellent and I was glad I’d made the effort.
Things were, of course, going far too well and normal service was bound to be restored soon enough.. and one look at the amount of drop and reascent involved had me realising it was going to be tough, not least as the wind was dropping. I headed back to the collapsed stile then picked up a path which follows a wall then eventually rejoins the coast to coast walk. This was a total slog and having made good time to start off with I was losing time fast. I also had no phone signal whatsoever and therefore no way of letting Stuart know I was falling behind. It was about 1.30 before I reached Brock Crags and the amount of out and back was starting to take its toll; on the plus side the views from Brock Crags were great. I had a short break at the cairn then headed off in the direction of Angletarn Pikes.
This part of the walk is scenically excellent; Angle Tarn is beautiful. However, I was conscious that I was getting behind; the tiredness was starting to kick in and also my feet were starting to hurt quite badly which surprised me as my boots are usually pretty comfortable. The wind had dropped and I was too warm. At least the path was good, although when I got to Angletarn Pikes I was seriously starting to wonder if it was a hill too far. I would have to walk past them though in order to get back to Glenridding so gritted my teeth and got on with it. Contrary to appearances Angletarn Pikes is actually pretty easy to ascend and I had a well earned break on the top taking in the views. 99 not out!
I had vaguely considered – if I had the energy – going on to Beda Fell and getting the ton up done. However there was nothing left in the tank, it was now nearly 3pm and I was conscious Stuart might be worried about me. I slowed to a crawl on the descent to Boredale Hause – despite it being easy – and the final descent back to Patterdale seemed to take forever, not helped by bags of stone being dumped all over the path one of which I ended up having to sit on to get over – possibly the most ridiculous use of the ar*e crampon ever. I hit Patterdale well after 4 but at least was able to patch in to the hotel wifi to get a text off to Stuart. I eventually reached the bar of the hotel at 4.45, with my feet and back both grumpy in the extreme, and collapsed into my seat in front of Stuart who went to the bar for some much needed refreshment. Both the post walk gin and coke were definitely required!
All in all a much tougher walk than I had anticipated with a lot of out and back, but the views were great and Angle Tarn was lovely. And the bog was all dry!