Wainwright number: 109
When: Monday 24 December
Time: 2 ½ hours, including breaks
Conditions underfoot: Mostly ok, though terrain in shade was frozen at times. (On the plus side, so was the bog. Result!)
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Prosecco
Post walk watering hole: The Ambleside Tavern
Mishaps: None whatsoever!
Uses of the arse crampon: No need for it.
Christmas Eve. The sky was blue, the birds were singing, and on surfacing from bed in our holiday cottage, the conditions on the day would have been ideal for a long walk. However, a few libations the night before, and not setting an alarm, had meant that by the time I was actually awake, showered, gear sorted and ready to throw said gear into the car and get underway – as well as needing to engage in some serious de-icing of the car – it was already gone 11am and the time to do any sort of walk other than a short one was fast disappearing. I was also knackered despite having not done very much the day before, following on from the high Tove bogfest on Saturday, and a pretty frantic period of work in the run up to going on holiday. However it was far too nice a day not to do something.
I needed a nice short walk with a good view to effort ratio. Now there are quite a few Wainwrights that fit the bill for this but I have done a lot of them already. Stone Arthur would have been an obvious one, but given there was quite a bit of ice and frost about something with a stone pitched path didn’t seem a brilliant idea. I also considered Seat Sandal, but that one involves quite a bit of ascent, and I wasn’t convinced I had the energy for it. I was going to have to look further afield! I thought about heading for the Newlands Pass and doing Knott Rigg and Ard Crags, but wasn’t sure what the road would be like – I’m not great at driving on hairy mountain roads anyway, and certainly not in an elderly Mini with the possibility of ice about. Time for a plan B – Barf.
Now some of you that read my blog might remember that I had considered leaving Barf for my last Wainwright in the event I ever decide to do the lot, because of the silly name, and the high likelihood of a hangover afterwards. I guess I’m going to need to decide soonish whether to try for the lot or not – but I’m not sure, for various reasons including the time commitment, health issues and whether (even with multiple uses of the arse crampon) I can actually manage Yewbarrow. So leaving a hill which would be ideal for what I needed for my walk, for an uncertain future event suddenly seemed daft. I finally got going at 11.15 and a smooth drive saw me parking up in an incredibly busy Whinlatter car park and starting walking at noon.
I had done Lord’s Seat and Broom Fell from Whinlatter on a similar day in January 2017 and decided that rather than try and cut directly across to Barf via the forest tracks I would instead head for Lord’s Seat, cut across to Barf and then return to the visitors centre via different tracks. This would give me a bit more of a walk and also mitigate the risk of navigational cock-ups as I am not a massive fan of navigating forest tracks. The walk as far as Lord’s Seat was straightforward although you are in the trees until almost at the top. In the end I decided not to bother going all the way to the top of Lord’s Seat and contoured round the last bit of ascent, picking up a clear path heading off in the direction of Barf.
The path was clear – but at times it was covered in frost and quite slippy, where it hadn’t been in direct sun, and at times I spent more time off it than on it – I did have my microspikes with me but given it was mostly frost rather than ice they would not have been much use. The plus side of the cold conditions was that when I hit the inevitable bog between the two hills it was pretty much frozen. This is always a result and the remainder of the ascent was straightforward, landing me on the summit at around 1, still in glorious sunshine, though annoyingly Fairytale of New York started up in my head with changed lyrics i.e. ‘Happy Christmas from Barf’ instead of ‘Happy Christmas your arse’ . Does that count as a near miss for the arse crampon?
This is one of those hills which have a great view to effort ratio – the views were absolutely cracking and I spent quite a bit of time taking them in and taking plenty of photos including one of the worst selfies I have ever taken, not helped by squinting into the sun. The situation is cracking with an almost sheer drop to Bassenthwaite Lake and great views across to Skiddaw which I had done just over a month previously via Longside Edge.
For anyone who is wondering – those are Tie Fighters on my hat. One of my other hobbies is knitting and I knitted myself a hat with Star Wars motifs as a project. Though maybe I should have saved it for the dark side of a hill!
It was too cold to sit around too long so after about 15 minutes I headed off down a different path, to link back up with the forest tracks.
There is quite a drop from the path at times, but nothing felt too exposed and there was nothing difficult to navigate, unless you count a rather slippery stile just before going back into the forest which was about the closest thing on this walk to actually needing to deploy the arse crampon. From there, the walk was straightforward along forest tracks, although there was quite a bit of up and down to deal with – having to go uphill after you’ve done the actual hill you were aiming for is always a bit annoying! I was back at the car before 2.15, and installed in the Ambleside Tavern with a nice glass of Prosecco before 3.30. Though I then switched to Shiraz as it was too cold for Prosecco really.
Overall, a nice hill with great rewards for relatively little effort. As to what I will finish on now if I ever do the lot I have no idea. I guess it will be whatever’s left!