Wainwright walks 68: Wild out West!

Hills: Burnbank Fell, Blake Fell
Classification: Wainwright (135 & 136)
When: Sunday 8 March
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 5 miles at a rough guess.
Time: About 3 ½ hours including breaks and faffing
Weather: Does ‘mediocre’ work? Some views for some of it; blooming windy
Post walk drink: Cabernet Sauvignon
Post walk watering hole: The Ambleside Tavern
Uses of the arse crampon: None
Uses of the can’t be arsed crampon: One
One that got away: Gavel Fell
Mishaps: Trousers (again); almost a gear mishap

For some reason this blog post has taken a while to crawl out of my consciousness and actually make it to the page. It is probably because world events having taken the course they have has rather overtaken any desire to sit down and put pen to paper (or at any rate finger to keyboard). It is also probably because had I realised this was likely to be the last walk for some time I would have most likely gritted my teeth and carried on to Gavel Fell rather than bailing as I actually did, and/ or made myself actually do something the following day which for various reasons I didn’t. Anyway we are where we are and we can only hope the current situation is over before too long.

Following my stint of ‘character building’ on Bowscale Fell, the forecast for the day after looked at least a bit better with some promise of a view, if somewhat windy. I did seriously consider heading back to the Northern Fells and either do Bannerdale Crags or head for Bakestall, however I now only have 3 of them left to do and given I had a car handy for once, it seemed to make sense to go a bit further afield. My Wainwright map is now seriously skewed with the area which has been touched the least being the Western Fells. I was also in a bit of discomfort as my back was playing up and the walk the previous day, in less than ideal conditions, had taken quite a bit more out of me than it should have done. Given these factors and the forecast strong winds, I decided that something fairly low with not too much ascent fitted the bill. Time to head to Loweswater again where the fells on the other side from Fellbarrow and Low Fell, which I had done back in November, would give me the chance to string a couple together assuming both the weather and my back held out. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 67: Boggy, foggy and thoroughly soggy!

Hills: Bowscale Fell
Classification: Wainwright (134)
When: Saturday 7 March
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 5 miles. Though given the conditions it felt like at least twice that.
Time: About 3 hours. Far too miserable a day for any breaks.
Weather: See the title of the blog post. Miserable!
Post walk drink: Malbec (what else?!)
Post walk watering hole: The Golden Rule, Ambleside
Uses of the arse crampon: One
Uses of the can’t be arsed crampon: One
Mishaps: Weather; transport; trousers

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog front recently for various reasons. It’s pretty usual for me to have a few months off walking over the winter months, but this time my time away from the hills was compounded by a number of factors which included (in no particular order) a problem with one of my knees which has been giving me quite a bit of trouble, various work going on regarding the house and an extremely busy period at work. However, I did have a booked trip to look forward to at the beginning of March and after a couple of weeks of work being particularly manic – as well as a lot of things in London seemingly going to hell in a handcart due to coronavirus – I really needed to get out of London for a bit and clear out my brain. I had arranged to pick up a hire car in Kendal as I am getting to the point of starting to run out of hills that can easily be done by public transport and it would enable me to chase the weather a bit – as well as look at some of the smaller hills I have yet to do; as a result of the knee problems and also work being manic my exercise regime has been pretty much non-existent for months, so I was conscious that any sort of epic was not going to be an option. Continue reading

2019: a year in review

Total hills climbed:
Wainwrights done: 24 – 133 done in total
Wainwrights left to do: 81
Other hills done: Only one new one (Black Hill in the Pentlands)
Number of ascents of Orrest Head before getting the train home: Just the one this year
Best hill names of the year: Has to be Great Cockup by a country mile.
Beer festivals attended in the Lake District: 3
Beer festivals attended elsewhere: 2
Favourite beer of the year: Probably still Lonesome Pine (Ulverston Brewery) closely followed by Loweswater Gold

This post has taken a bit of time to crawl out of my subconscious and actually make it onto my blog. Sometimes posts almost write themselves and sometimes they just don’t – maybe this is because 2019 was a good year for walking but not necessarily a great one; maybe because apart from a few exceptions I didn’t have all that much luck with the weather; but probably also because work has been really busy as well.

Numbers wise I added 24 new Wainwrights to my total, finishing the year on 133 which leaves me 81 to go if I do decide to try and do the lot – actually my second best year for Wainwright bagging. If I do decide to do the lot though it will need some planning – I’m starting to run out of hills that can easily be done by public transport, and my Wainwright map is really skewed now with some areas where I have done most of the hills and some that I’ve hardly touched. I’ve only got 4 of the Northern Fells left to go for instance, and the same number of the North-Western fells, but loads left to do in the West, South and Far East – inevitably the areas which are a bugger to get to without a car. I have at least managed to identify a car hire place in Penrith that is open at the weekend, which does open up more possibilities, albeit with additional driving involved (not to mention extra cash outlay, oh well). I’ve also got a lot of annoying outliers left from when I was too wiped/ hung over to tack on an extra hill or was running tight for time – things like High Hartsop Dodd which realistically I’ll have to do as one-shots. Continue reading

Blast from the past 1: the White Cliffs of Dover

When: Saturday 9 March 2019
Who: Just me
Distance: About 8 miles
Time: About 3 hours, including breaks
Weather: Clear, cold and pretty windy
Post walk drink: Chardonnay
Post walk watering hole: A pub near the station in Dover which I can’t remember the name of
Mishaps: The MWIS weather forecast (for Cumbria, not for Dover)

Saturday 9th March 2019: Kent was not where I was supposed to be. This weekend had been intended to be the first Wainwright bagging trip of the year with 2 nights booked in Ambleside. Plans had been hatched of various degrees of ambition depending on the weather and I was definitely looking forward to getting back into the hills. Then I looked at the weather forecast!

Oh dear. The long range forecast about 5 days out looked horrendous and over the next couple of days it proceeded to get worse. Now I know there is a school of thought that a ‘proper hill walker’ should go out no matter what the weather but I am not one of the people that subscribes to this school of thought! There is a point at which it becomes just plain unpleasant and a point beyond that where it is not just unpleasant but dangerous and a forecast of very strong wind and possible blizzard conditions, plus anticipated disruption to rail travel, seemed to me to be getting in to dangerous territory. There didn’t seem a lot of point in going up on the off chance and potentially not being able to do anything much and/or getting stuck, so after a call to my hotel to see if I could rearrange the booking for a later date (which they said was fine) that seemed the sensible option. Yes I have the gear to cope with winter weather but despite the adage ‘There is no such thing as bad weather just inadequate clothing’ there is no clothing I am aware of that can prevent white-out or being blown off a hillside. The hills would be there another day. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 66: The finest wines known to humanity, cake, and Loweswater

Hills: Low Fell, Fellbarrow
Classification: Wainwrights (132 & 133)
When: Saturday 16 November
Present in fact: Me and the mountaineering minion
Present in spirit: Withnail & I
Distance: No idea but whatever it was it felt like twice that. Ditto the amount of ascent.
Time: About 3 ½ hours including breaks
Weather: Overcast but at least it was dry. Cloud base about 500m.
Post walk drink: The finest wines known to humanity… well Cabernet Sauvignon anyway.
Post walk watering hole: The General Wolfe, Woolpack and Royal pubs, Penrith
Uses of the arse crampon: MIA (again)
Mishaps: Weather forecast gone to pot, plus insomnia

We’re in Penrith. Penrith! We want the finest wines known to humanity, and cake. We are on holiday by mistake! Well, I wasn’t on holiday by mistake, but since I had decided to stay in Penrith rather than my usual haunts it was probably inevitable that my head would be stuffed full of Withnail & I quotes. For those of you not of a similar vintage to me, Withnail & I is a classic film where two out of work actors with a fondness for large quantities of alcohol go on holiday to Cumbria and end up in Penrith looking for fine wine and cake, amongst other shenanigans.

I was not in Penrith specifically looking for fine wine and cake and nor was I intending to go hill walking by mistake (probably an oxymoron). The reason I had ended up there was that I had found out there was a car hire company in Penrith that was open over the weekend which most hire car places aren’t – and I’m starting to get to the stage I’m running out of hills that I can do by public transport without a lot of faffing about, and certainly when the winter timetables are in effect. Having a car would allow me to chase the weather a bit and pick off some of the hills that fall into the awkward to get at category. Given the hire car place I also decided to see how much use Penrith was as a base – I’ve only stayed there one night (after getting stuck thanks to the ‘Beast from the East’) although I’ve now lost track of how many times I’ve disembarked at the train station for a taxi to Keswick or Glenridding. Another reason that I was not hill walking by mistake was that I was keen, having not done any walking since September, to get a couple more hills in before the end of the year and also had been having a really busy time at work. To be quite honest I needed to clear my brain out a bit and getting out of London and getting some fresh air would be the perfect way to do it.

Those of you who read this blog will know that inevitably things were not going to go to plan in some way or another. A couple of days before the trip the weather forecast was looking pretty good. Inevitably this did not last and by Friday afternoon when I was waiting to board my train at Euston the weather forecast had basically gone to pot (not a Camberwell carrot reference for those of you that have seen the film). My best bet for any sort of view was going to be to head as far west as possible and to stay fairly low down. This fit the bill given that I had access to a car and also have been having issues with one of my knees – not helped by the lift being out of order at work. I decided that the plan of attack was to head to Loweswater and pick off some of the hills around there depending on where the cloud base was sitting. My journey was reasonably smooth and I was installed in a pub in Penrith with rooms by 9 for a couple of pre walk drinks and a fairly early night, avoiding any Withnail type levels of inebriation. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 65: Another eastern fell – by the Seat of my pants

Hills: Seat Sandal
Classification: Wainwright (131)
When: Saturday 7 September
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: 6 miles approximately
Time: About 4 hours including breaks
Weather: Lovely!
Post walk drink: Various real ales
Pre walk drink: Various real ales
Post (and pre) walk watering hole: The Grasmere Guzzler beer festival at Tweedies
Uses of the arse crampon: 1 – the first use to assist in ascent!
Mishaps: See ‘pre walk drink’…

After my walk up Dollywaggon Pike and Nethermost Pike on the Thursday, I think it’s fair to say the forecast for the Friday was a bit mixed with heavy showers and sunshine forecast (as it turned out sometimes at the same time). I was also struggling a bit with m back and knees which clearly hadn’t recovered from the walk and I was in quite a bit of discomfort and regardless of the weather I was not really in any state to do any sort of serious walk. A day off and a pottering about day was clearly required and so it transpired; we had a loose arrangement to meet up with our friend Kets at the Grasmere Guzzler beer festival that evening too once he had finished his walk. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 64: The high way to Hell (vellyn)

Hills: Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn (a repeat)
Classification: Wainwrights (129 and 130)
When: Thursday 5 September
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 7 miles, but felt like twice that.
Time: 5 hours approximately. Not much in the way of breaks – too cold!
Weather: Quite mixed. Cloud blowing in and out for most of it – pea soup and raining on Helvellyn. Also cold at height.
Post walk drink:  Lake District G&T
Post walk watering hole: The Inn at Grasmere
Uses of the arse crampon: 2
Mishaps: Mild insomnia. Not packing warm enough gear. Also choice of descent route…

This blog has been pretty quiet for a couple of months for various reasons. Firstly a lot of work which has meant that this post itself is a bit late in arriving but more significantly nothing really resembling walking during that time. We always have two weeks off in August but these days rather than spending them looking at the rain lash down outside a cottage in Scotland, we go to Egypt for two weeks of sun, sea and snorkelling. Egypt is a fascinating country but given the heat it’s really not somewhere you go for walking so our exercise while we were there consisted of snorkelling the reef at the hotel (which is about 1k long so definitely counts as exercise!) and raising various alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to our mouths (which on balance doesn’t count given you are only really working out the muscles in one arm). Continue reading