- Hills: Lank Rigg
- Classification: Wainwright (151)
- When: Friday 4 June
- Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
- Distance: About 6 miles
- Weather: Sunny with a bit of a breeze
- Post walk drink: Pinot Grigio. Still too hot for Malbec!
- Post walk watering hole: The Crafty Baa, Keswick
- MAMBA factor: High
- Uses of the arse crampon: Still MIA. Hard to see how it would be needed on this one.
- Mishaps: A bit of a hangover, a minor navigational lapse. Also still knackered.
For whatever reason, this blog post has again taken a long time to crawl out of my subconscious and actually make it to the page. It’s difficult to know what the reason for this is: some of the usual reasons are definitely present, for instance having too much on at work (and outside of work) but also a bit of inspiration was rather lacking (or should that be lank-ing?) Probably not a word but definitely should be! It is probably a case to a large extent of simple tiredness: due to work, to trying to fit too much in and also due to a general sense of being completely fed up with how the last two years have panned out.
It’s not just the pandemic, or the restrictions; it’s all the tension the whole thing has created between people with differing opinions and I’ve been shocked to find out how many people seem to think that it would be perfectly okay to be in a state of lockdown for years, or that a zero COVID strategy is a good idea (or even achievable). Or who don’t understand why I found not being able to go out and do outdoor stuff, or other pleasures like going to the theatre, so hard (example quote ‘Why would you even want to leave the house when there is a nasty bug around? I thought you had Netflix?). Friends who have been resistant to meeting in pubs even since it has been allowed. People who have become so afraid of what – although clearly a very nasty bug indeed – is now likely to become endemic that they haven’t left the house in weeks. What was the vaccination programme for if it wasn’t to try and get us back to something at least vaguely approaching normality? But that still seems a long way off.
Anyway, to return to Lank Rigg. This is a hill that gets a bit of bad press as a boring hill. It is a long way out of the way, in fact the furthest West of any of the Wainwrights, and therefore not that accessible except from the far West of the district without a reasonably long drive. However, its very reputation as a hill you only do if you are seriously trying to do the Wainwrights (which I’m still not sure if I am) definitely worked in its favour for various reasons!
After a few days in Carlisle, we arrived in Keswick on Wednesday 2nd June – we had had another couple of good days of weather but it was if anything too hot to walk and we had also taken the advantage of the location to go and see some more of Hadrian’s Wall. However, Friday 4th June was my birthday (my 52nd – how did that happen??!) and I always like doing a hill on or as near to my birthday as possible – something that last year was just not an option. We were spending a few days in Keswick having booked an apartment in order to attend the beer festival – which thanks to COVID then got cancelled for the second year in a row. The question was – what hill? The parking situation in the Lakes still seemed to be dire – I was also a bit hungover after a visit to the Keswick Brewery the previous day so what I needed was (a) something that was not that popular and (b) something which was not an epic. Lank Rigg seemed like an obvious one and was also an opportunity to pick off another annoying outlier, having run out of energy coming off Crag Fell and decided not to carry on to Lank Rigg the previous September. Parking was also therefore not likely to be an issue!
I ultimately left the apartment shortly before 10am and after a relatively smooth drive to Cockermouth then southwards was parked up on the minor road which leads over from Ennerdale Bridge at shortly before 11. I had no trouble at all parking the car but inevitably did end up doing a fair amount of faffing about including trying to decide which pair of footwear to take – it had been pretty dry so I did consider wearing trail shoes but since I knew there were a couple of stream crossings I ultimately decided better not. A well defined track leaves the road just north of where I parked and drops down to the River Calder, at this point basically just a stream although a decent sized one! It is always a bit annoying having to go downhill before you go up (although nowhere near as annoying as having to go back uphill again just before you get back to the car…)
The track being good, I was able to just stride out and enjoy the solitude. This was definite MAMBA territory – i.e. miles and miles of bugger all – and for the first hour or so I had the hill completely to myself. In fact I didn’t meet anyone until after crossing over the second stream and starting the ascent proper where I saw a couple of people coming down the hill. Whilst this rather broke the picture of complete solitude it was actually quite helpful as I had managed to go off path somehow and was too low down given the path traverses the side of the amusingly named Whoap. I cut straight up to the proper path which rises at a gentle angle, crossing a few minor streams in the process. There is then a slightly steeper bit as the path traverses the back of the corrie between Whoap and Lank Rigg before popping out just before the final steep climb to the summit. The views around were actually really good although better towards the coast than towards the rest of the Lake District proper.
The final bit of the ascent towards the trig point was pretty steep and seemed to take forever – I was definitely making heavy weather of it and regretting the last glass of wine or two the previous night! It was just a case of putting one foot in front of the other and plodding slowly up, eventually popping out at the trig about an hour and a half after leaving the car. I took an extended break chilling out at the trig, which again I had completely to myself, at least for about 15 minutes when someone else did appear, tagged the trig and then blasted off. It took me a while to decide to get going again – it was not as though I was in any mad rush, although we did have a pretty early dinner booking for my birthday dinner later on!
The descent was uneventful and (for me) reasonably quick and I was back at the car about three hours after leaving it. I saw one other person during the descent and this may have been the lowest amount of people I’ve ever actually seen on the hill while in the Lake District – even on some of my foul weather walks. Boring hill? Definitely not, it was exactly what I wanted on the day. It only remained to drive back to Keswick where Stuart, the inevitable post walk drinks, and a massive Chateaubriand for my birthday dinner were waiting. The following day we rounded off our Keswick break with a swim in Derwentwater which was a lovely way to round off the holiday. And no, I’m not trying to tick all the lakes!!