Hills: Rannerdale Knotts
Classification: Wainwright – no.101
When: Wednesday 30 May
Weather: Blue sky and clouds. Humid and very hot at times
Time: Just under 2 hours, including a break
Conditions underfoot: Dry grassy paths, some rock underfoot at times
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Merlot
Post walk watering hole: The Oddfellows Arms. A beer festival the following day too (if that counts)
Mishaps: None to speak of – ??
After getting my ton up on Steel Knotts on Bank Holiday Monday, the Tuesday was – at least sort of – a rest day. We were shifting our accommodation from the Glenridding Hotel to a self catering apartment in Keswick, where we were sponsoring a barrel of beer at Keswick Beer Festival. Having got the ton, the pressure was off regarding walking for the rest of the holiday although I hoped to do at least one more walk before the serious beer drinking ensued; Keswick Beer Festival is a pretty big event and there would be something like 150 real ales available to try, both local ones and those from further afield. It was therefore unlikely any serious walking would be done once that kicked off – although beer seems to affect me a lot less than red wine does.
The Tuesday was actually a really nice day as it turned out – but having done a big walk then a shorter one on back to back days, I was pretty knackered and my back was playing up again. Had there been any obvious small hills in the area we might have thought about doing something but realistically I was not up to much. We chilled out in the pool in Glenridding in the morning then drove down Borrowdale where we had a drink (well a coke in my case) in the Langstrath Inn which I had not been to before and looks worthy of a visit by bus at some point. We checked in to our apartment at 4pm and did some shopping before having a few beers in a couple of local hostelries then cooking a meal and opening some wine back at the apartment. The view from the apartment was terrific – the flip side to the view was 6 flights of stairs up the side of the apartment building which was a bit of a pain in the arse given the need to lug stuff up them. Oh well!
I had a minor lie in on the Wednesday ultimately surfacing at about 9. The weather was still pretty good – although a lot hazier than previously – and it was still very warm. However my back was still not great. MWIS was also now saying that the weather was likely to turn soon with the chance of thunderstorms getting higher. It seemed that if I wanted to do another walk this holiday I would be best off trying to get it done that day. However on staggering into the shower it was clear a big walk was not an option which knocked my preferred option of Blencathra out of contention. Plus MWIS said the weather would be better the further west one went. I ultimately decided I would get the bus to Buttermere and do Rannerdale Knotts – a hill which from reports falls into the small but perfectly formed category with great views, as well as being famous for having a ton of bluebells at the right time of May. There had been bluebells still out in Glenridding so maybe I would get lucky. Also, crucially given the state of my back, there was not much ascent and the paths were reputed to be good. Plan sorted out, I sorted my gear with a lightweight pack (no fleece, snacks, plenty of water) and was on the bus to Buttermere at 10.30. Stuart was going to chill out and then potter around Keswick and would meet me later on.
The bus takes a scenic route over the Whinlatter Pass, and dropped me in Buttermere village at around 11.20. Buttermere – and lots of the car parks en route – were clearly very busy and I was rather glad I had decided to get the bus instead of driving! I walked back up the road to the National Trust car park where I picked up a clear path that initially cuts over towards a stream, but then picked up another, grassy path which basically headed straight up towards the ridge I could see on the skyline. Unfortunately it seemed as though I had missed the bluebells as I didn’t see any – instead there was lots of bracken although none of it gets in the way of the route at all.
The navigation on this one is utterly straightforward; simply head up one of the various paths to the ridge, then turn left and follow the ridge along. I made heavy weather of the pull up to the ridge though; it was warm and humid and there was little in the way of a breeze. My back wasn’t too happy and my legs felt as though there was no power in them even though I’d opted to ditch my boots (having got sore feet earlier in the week) and wear my trail shoes instead. This was working in terms of foot comfort but not doing anything for my back or general level of tiredness and I was very glad I had decided not to go for Blencathra in the end.
The views, though, were excellent throughout and particularly when I hit the ridge. The path weaves its way up or around various rocky outcrops – mostly it goes round but the first, fairly large one the path goes straight up. This looks from a distance as though it might involve some scrambling but as it turned out there was no need for any hand to rock (or, in descent later, for any need to deploy the arse crampon). The views just get better as the end of the ridge is approached and I reached the highly scenic summit about 45 minutes after leaving the bus stop. I took an extended break to take on some fluids and just sit and enjoy the views, which were great all round – another good one for view to effort ratio!
For the return, I decided to go back the way I had come. There is the option to drop down the front on a steep path then either walk back along the road or along the shores of Buttermere but with my back being grouchy I didn’t fancy a steep descent too much so back the way I had come up seemed the best bet.
I thought it unlikely I would be on the 1.20 bus and it would be more likely I would have to wait an hour for the next one and grab a pint in the Fish Hotel, not least as I am not fast in descent anyway, but as it turned out I made pretty good time on the descent. I pushed the pace on the last bit and got to the bus stop just as the bus was turning up so the post walk drink would have to wait. This bus went over the Honister Pass rather than Whinlatter and I don’t envy that bus driver’s job not least given some of the other drivers on the road! As soon as I got a signal I texted Stuart and we met up in Keswick at 2.30, then in the afternoon drove up to Castlerigg stone circle, a place I really like and always try and visit when I am in the area. As a result, the post walk drink had to wait until early evening. Not the best glass of Merlot ever but I made up for it with some better wine later on!
The rest of the break there was no more walking and the weather was very humid with rain at times. The beer festival was excellent and the barrel we had sponsored turned out to be a nice golden ale from a local brewery. We spent the days of the beer festival chilling out and enjoying tasting a variety of different beers. My favourite was one called Lonesome Pine from the Ulverston Brewery, though I still think Loweswater Gold (which this year I managed to get some of before it ran out) takes some beating!
All in all an excellent holiday and having made the ton up I have already hit my hill walking target for the year. Now what do I do?!