Wainwright walks 79: Boiled on Beda!

  • Hills: Beda Fell
  • Classification: Wainwright (150! Yay!!)
  • When: Monday 31 May
  • Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
  • Distance: About 4 miles
  • Time: 2 1/2 hours
  • Weather: Scorchio. Actually too hot for serious walking really.
  • Post walk drink: Pinot Grigio (far too hot for Malbec!)
  • Post walk watering hole: The Kings Head, Carlisle
  • Uses of the arse crampon: Thought I might need it on this one but turned out I didn’t
  • Mishaps: Insomnia, sunburn, general level of knackeredness

For some reason, it’s taken a long time for this post to crawl out of my subconscious and make it to my blog. I’m not really sure why that is, but suspect it is a combination of factors; firstly an ongoing period of being stupidly busy at work, secondly life in general just seeming to take over and finally a bit of stress creeping in too.

To explain that last point first. I never started out climbing Wainwrights with any intention of doing the lot. When I did my first few I was still actively bagging Munros and doing the odd Wainwright was a nice diversion from that – with the added benefit that it is easier to pick a Wainwright for a marginal day than a Munro because the vast majority of them are so much smaller and I’m not a fan of going out in bad weather (the phrase ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just inadequate clothing’ being one that drives me up the wall, there being no clothing known to man that will stop you getting blown off the hill in strong winds, lead lined boots maybe aside). However over the last few years, particularly since I stopped spending so much time in Scotland, the numbers have started to creep up and I’ve started to wonder if I ‘should’ make a serious attempt to do the lot, particularly as the 150 has approached.

I’m really not sure about this to be honest. I’m not good at failing at things and my default reaction at not being good at something tends to be to run a mile in the opposite direction. I am also a high stress person anyway and given hill walking is one of my escapes from stress the last thing I want is to end up getting stressed about it. Realistically I know what I need to do is take the pressure off myself, just enjoy it and see what happens, not least given that there are some of the bigger hills in the West that may give me some trouble. It also hasn’t helped that lockdown hasn’t been kind to me physically – there being nothing in the way of a hill anywhere near my fitness is definitely lacking and the only thing that really keeps you fit for doing big hills is doing big hills. Anyway, for a combination of reasons, I was pretty stressed about getting my 150th under the belt.

Factor one to take into account with route choice was the weather, Now we had managed to come North for a week that was forecast to be glorious. However, we had had a long drive to get to where we were staying (Carlisle to start with, then Keswick later) and by the time we got to our AirB&B in Carlisle on Saturday 29th I was utterly knackered. On the Sunday I got up and realised instantly that I had no energy, my get up and go had simply gone and I canned any idea of walking in favour of simply getting some rest and pottering around the town, including the rather impressive cathedral. However, the Monday was forecast to be another glorious day; it was time to get the 150 done.

Of course, being a bit stressed about this number for the reasons above, I didn’t sleep brilliantly the previous night. When I am going to do a hill which involves driving I also always worry about car parking and given the situation in the Lakes last year when parking became close to impossible this adds a layer of worry I could do without, given that I am not one of those people capable of getting up at 5am to get to the hills. I did wonder about getting a train to Penrith then a bus to Glenridding and doing Sheffield Pike but the connections were not great over the bank holiday weekend (though I think this would potentially work as an option at other times). I was also still knackered so realistically I needed to choose something which was a reasonably short walk with relatively little ascent. Beda Fell was an obvious choice – I’d originally thought of doing this one by boat from Glenridding on one of our stays there, but that hadn’t panned out. I was still a bit worried about the parking though as well as whether my elderly car would cope okay with getting up the hairpin bends to the Hause.

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried about either of them – although as we drove along the Howtown road there was plenty of traffic. I piloted the car up the hairpins with plenty of first gear engaged and was pleasantly surprised about how it coped – I’ve driven over most of the Lakeland passes in it over the years, with the exception of Hardknott Pass which terrified me as a passenger many years ago and which I’ve never driven over myself. I also needn’t have worried about the parking as it looked as though all the walkers in the area had gone up Hallin Fell, the parking for which was absolutely rammed. There were a couple of other cars parked up at the old church in Martindale but that was all – so it was a case of gear up and get on with it, Stuart opting to sit and read a book on a bench by the church. It was a baking hot day and for once I had actually remembered to chuck the sunscreen into the car. You can guess the rest, can’t you?

The navigation for this one is straightforward picking up a path from the road which angles up onto the ridge at a very scenically situated bench, then hanging a left and making a beeline to the top over various scenic lumps and bumps. However it was gone midday, the sun was beating down and I was making heavy weather of it. Time to put the sunscreen on…argh! I had put it in the car but totally forgotten to transfer it into the bloody rucksack. Oh well! The path leads up over Winter Crag and there are a few minor lumps and bumps, including some annoying drop and reascent, to negotiate. Some of these looked as though they might be a bit scrambly but as it turned out were much easier to negotiate than they looked and on the plus side the views were tremendous – another one of those small hills with big views!

The last haul up towards the summit seemed to take forever and I reached the summit cairn knackered but happy – I had done 150 and the views more than made up for the effort, there was also a little bit of a breeze at the very top which was extremely welcome! I had a breather and took in the views (and the inevitable appalling summit selfie) but not for too long as I was conscious it had taken me a bit longer than I thought to get to the top. There was also no phone reception, there having been none at the car either, and I didn’t want Stuart to worry about me. I had wondered about coming off the hill by a slightly different route but decided in the end to stick to what I knew and went down the same way. There were a couple of bits of the descent that required a little bit of care but no need for the arse crampon at any point!

I was back at the car shortly after 2.30 – bearing a distinct resemblance to a boiled lobster – and we headed back to Carlisle, via some truly awful examples of parking in and around Howtown, for a couple of post walk celebratory drinks – Pinot Grigio this time as it was far too hot for Malbec!! A great little walk for the 150, though my lack of fitness is definitely a concern..

3 thoughts on “Wainwright walks 79: Boiled on Beda!

  1. I think you’ve done really well to get to 150, if you get further then I’d take that as a bonus. For me I’m seeing my next two trips (July and Oct) as opportunities to see the Lakes again. If I climb a hill then that’s a bonus, like you I’ve got loads to do in the west but I find that staying that side makes it far easier to pick of chunks of it (a bit like your Illgill Head walk). I would plan some lower level walks to take the pressure off or even a revisit to a favourite fell. That way if you don’t fancy a wainwright or don’t find any parking you could do something else

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d say the only potentially stressful Wainwright is Yewbarrow – the rest are all fine. As is usual in the Lakes, all the rest have a route around any bad bits – usually a well-used one!

    There’s a nice raking path goes down the side of Beda Fell to the road which would have made a nice return.

    My fitness has taken a dive – partly because I worked more or less the whole of June (you’d never know I’m officially retired) and partly because my nose has stuffed up completely now and won’t recover until I’m allowed some steroid tablets. It makes it surprisingly hard to breathe when you can’t get air in and out of your nose and also it stops you getting much sleep too – double whammy!

    Liked by 1 person

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