Hills: Longlands Fell
Classification: Wainwright (118)
When: Thursday 30 May
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 3 ½ miles (maybe less) but felt like twice that.
Time: 1 ¾ hours. Definitely no breaks, too miserable a day
Weather: Basically dire. Low cloud, windy and later rain.
Post walk drink: Initially coke. Though Malbec later.
Post walk watering hole: Assuming the coke doesn’t count, the bar at the Salutation Hotel, Ambleside
Uses of the arse crampon: None. Though I could have seen a use for the can’t be arsed crampon…
Mishaps: Weather, traffic…. See below
Some of you that read this blog on a regular, or semi regular basis will know that usually something goes wrong. This is either weather related, transport issues, or self inflicted i.e. having one too many drinks the night before the walk, though I have been a lot better behaved on that score recently – must be getting sensible in my old age! However, mishaps have been surprisingly absent on recent walks, leading one commentator to wonder if there was a gigantic one lurking around the corner in order to compensate. This didn’t quite count as that, but in some ways it wasn’t far off as several unconnected mishaps were present to a pretty high degree..
Most of my readers know that I do a lot of my walking using public transport and only bother to drive if I am up for the best part of the week or longer. This time I was in the Lakes for nearly two weeks as a celebration for a significant birthday. We had a week booked in a cottage in Keswick but had also tacked on a couple of days in a hotel and given Stuart was working away the last week of May I decided to tack on another couple of days and travel up on Wednesday 29th May after doing a few hours work in the morning. I was not leaving at a busy time so surely a reasonably decent run in the car would be feasible…
Oh dear. The M25… what is there to be said about it. I had decided to take a different route this time as recommended by the AA website and go round the southern bit of the M25 then take the M40 and M6, rather than going North, M1 then M6. Not making that mistake again! It took me over 2 hours from the house to get off the M25 by which time I was fuming and the car, which is getting on a bit and doesn’t massively like being in stationary traffic, was not happy either. It also didn’t help that I passed an advert for the TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s book ‘Good Omens’ which describes the M25 as Hell’s finest achievement – because it is the exact layout of a demonic sigil and therefore designed to be a total nightmare. I crawled past the billboard in near stationary traffic and my reaction to it was basically unrepeatable although I love the book and will probably love the TV programme when I get around to watching it.
On hitting the M40, I had about an hour of relief from gridlock before having to stop and make a work phone call. I then hit stationary traffic on the M40/ M42 interchange, and hit several more problems on the M6 as well (despite using the toll road which is usually clear). By the time I crawled into the Salutation Hotel car park in Ambleside it was nearly 8pm and I had been on the road for over 9 hours and was absolutely knackered. After checking in I popped out for a pizza at Zeffirelli’s Italian (recommended) then had a couple of glasses of wine before hitting the pit. The forecast was decidedly not great for the following day but did promise some breaks in the cloud base in the Northern Fells.
The following day I woke up absolutely knackered. The cloud base was low but at least it was dry. I had also had the email of doom from work which meant I was going to have to do some work in the afternoon. Now a sensible person might have decided to deploy what will now be known as the ‘can’t be arsed crampon’ i.e. not bother to do anything and veg out in the spa at the hotel or just get the work out of the way, but I was determined that the day would not consist just of work and to get out and do something after the hellish drive. If the forecast was right then Longlands Fell was a short straightforward walk in the Northern Fells with a decent path all the way which would give me a quick out and back. I was a bit worried about the car though as it had felt sluggish by the end of the drive and the gears were sticking a bit at times which sometimes happens after being stuck in traffic for a long time.
Fortunately after a rest the car seemed ok and if anything less tired than I was. I set off early (for me) and was parked up at the base of Longlands Fell shortly after 9am – yes 9am! – unheard of for me. The cloud base was low but at least it was dry so – still not really sure if it was a good idea – I geared up and set off up the clear track, after initially failing to undo the rather stiff gate at the start of the walk. Had I ended up having to climb it I would probably have packed the walk in as a bad job but fortunately I got it unstuck.
There was really not much to say about the walk other than that I plodded up the track until it turns a corner at which point I headed up into the mist on what was fortunately a clear path. It was simply a case of head down and plod up and by the time I reached the summit at around 10am it was windy and all I could see was the inside of a cloud. I did a GPS check to prove I was on the summit as quite frankly I could have been on the surface of the moon (ok maybe not given I at least had air and there were no little green men. Or men at all for that matter – or women as nobody except me was mad enough to be out there.)
It started to rain on the summit so for me there was no question about extending the walk – I had considered extending to Brae Fell if the weather bucked up but given what it was like the can’t be arsed crampon was deployed – it was simply a case of head down and get back. I was back at the car at 11, working in the afternoon and then ultimately the post walk drink was a glass of Malbec (what else!) in the hotel bar in the evening.
Definitely not one of my finest hours but it was still good to get out there and I guess it fit the bill for a short day… as did a couple of other hills over the course of the break!