Total hills climbed: 30
Wainwrights done: 27 (plus one repeat)
Other hills done: 3
Number of ascents of Orrest Head before getting the train home: 3
Best hill names of the year: Brown Willy (Cornwall) Barf (Lake District) Pikeawassa (Lake District)
Beer festivals attended in the Lake District: 2
Beer festivals attended elsewhere: 1
Favourite beer of the year: Lonesome Pine (Ulverston Brewery)
All in all 2018 was a bit of a game of two halves, as a football commentator might say; a year of highs and lows, with some excellent hill walking and other fun stuff done but also some health issues to deal with which curtailed my hill walking significantly in the last half of the year, though I did manage some good walks towards the end of the year, rounding the year off with an ascent of Barf in glorious winter sunshine on Christmas Eve. Numbers wise I added 27 new Wainwrights to my total, plus one repeat, which is my best annual total ever for Wainwrights – not my best hill totals ever though, that was in 2009 when I managed 28 Munros plus a few other hills as well.
I haven’t a clue what 2019 will bring – there are no particular targets in terms of hill walking, just want to have some good days out. Stuart and I both have significant birthdays this year, and so does the mountaineering minion if being 5 years old is significant for a rucksack mascot!
There were some really good walks this year and it’s quite difficult to pick a favourite. The walk over High Street and some more of the Far Eastern fells in April was certainly a contender, and the views from some of my shorter walks – such as Dale Head the day after, or Barf on Christmas Eve – were hard to beat. Blencathra was also good, although it was so hot it took a lot out of me and the heat haze meant the views weren’t quite as good as they could have been.
Probably the best walk though overall was my walk up Skiddaw via Longside Edge in November, which gave me some amazing views as well as reaching the halfway point of the Wainwrights. Unfortunately it also seems to have given me a slightly dodgy left knee which hasn’t been totally right since, although it’s much better than it was.
I hit two milestones this year, bringing up the ton on Steel Knotts at the end of May and then the half way point on Lonscale Fell in November. I finished the year on 109 Wainwrights which was about 9 more than I had really hoped or expected to get. The coastal walk I did from Land’s End was also really nice with some glorious cliff scenery and our trip to Orkney at the start of the year was great.
This was the first year since I took up hill walking that I did no new Scottish hills. I only did one Scottish hill at all, Wideford Hill on Orkney for the sunrise, which I had done before – although this time I walked up it properly from Kirkwall rather than driving up the access road!
Of my Lakes walks, the only real lows were the failed attempt on Stone Arthur in awful weather when I decided against continuing after seeing the path had fallen away (apparently this has now been fixed) and the soggy ascent of High Tove at the end of December when the weather didn’t clear up as promised and the stone pitched path was so slippery it was actually a relief to hit the bog. Though not enough of a relief for me to continue to Armboth Fell which leaves me with that one as an annoying outlier, and I’m collecting quite a few of those!
The cock-up factor this year was actually surprisingly low, though I am not sure if this is due to good planning or simply to sheer luck! The only major example was weather induced when we headed for Keswick during the ‘Beast from the East’, got booted off a train at Preston where we were stuck for 2 hours, just about got to Penrith and had to get a hotel as it was impossible to get to Keswick by that time, eventually getting to our accommodation the best part of a day late, and the hill walking meet there was rather curtailed as a result as most of the attendees were stuck in Scotland due to heavy snow fall. Rather to my surprise though I did actually manage a new hill that weekend (Castle Crag) though the journey back to London took about 9 hours, which was ridiculous.
The car needed serious work at the beginning of April shortly before I drove it to the Lakes for a few days but at least I didn’t have any mechanical failures on the way to the hill. It didn’t massively like Honister Pass (though that may have been me rather than the car) though I do worry about burning out the clutch on steep mountain roads.
There were also relatively few self-inflicted mishaps (e.g. too much wine the night before a planned walk). Maybe I am getting sensible in my old age!
The uses of the arse crampon
This seems to have been less in evidence than usual this year. It did get deployed on Castle Crag twice (once deliberately and once accidentally, i.e. I fell over). The most ridiculous one was having to deploy it to get over a bag of rocks on the path on the way down from Angletarn Pikes. I would have used it at least once on Ullock Pike had it been of any use whatsoever going up, rather than down, hill.
The drinks (and drinking establishments)
Malbec remained the drink of choice, assuming it was available, though the hot weather during May and June meant that pale ale and/or Prosecco was more refreshing. As to the watering holes the following are worthy of particular mention:
The Ambleside Tavern (always seem to end up in here when in Ambleside)
The Golden Rule (Ambleside)
The Unicorn (Ambleside) – very reasonably priced accommodation too
The Wainwright (Keswick)
The Bank Tavern (Keswick)
The Inn at Grasmere
The most ridiculous post walk drink location was one of my local pubs in Bromley after doing Great Mell Fell then driving back to London. My least favourite post walk drink was probably either the Oddfellows Arms in Keswick or the Patterdale Hotel – on both counts due to spectacularly ropey red wine, though I like the Patterdale Hotel for a post walk beer on a nice day.
All in all a productive year for walking. Let’s see what 2019 brings!