Hills: Wideford Hill
When: Thursday 4 January
Weather: Very cold, quite windy and at times wet
Low points: all the stuff on the summit
High points: the sunrise
Why: the sunrise
After my desperate attempt to make sure I did a hill every month by doing a local Kent Marilyn as December’s hill, I didn’t get any more walking done in December. I had thought about a last minute dash to the Lakes a couple of times but the weather forecast was never quite good enough to make it worth it and also work got unexpectedly busy in the run up to Christmas with me being more or less flat out until breaking for the festive period. I was back in work between Christmas and New Year but on the 29th we started a long journey due North. We were off to Orkney, via a night in Edinburgh either side. This was not, predominantly, a walking trip and therefore I deliberately didn’t pack much in the way of gear, but figured a coastal walk of some sort might be in order. We also wanted to see the archaeological highlights, a lot of which we had seen before on a previous visit but were definitely worth repeating.
Of course those of you that read my blog on a regular or even sporadic basis will know that something usually goes wrong. This time it was the plane. It was delayed for about an hour then about 5 minutes after taking off from Edinburgh airport something fell off the inside of the aircraft cabin, nearly hitting someone on the head on the way down, and (unsurprisingly) the captain announced we were returning to Edinburgh to see if they could fix the plane. We were decanted from the plane while they did the necessary and got back on about half an hour later. I can’t say I was that enthused about getting back on the same plane in case something more serious fell off this time but with no real alternative we got back on and ended up landing in Kirkwall about 2 hours later than planned. Continue reading
Wainwrights done in year: 21
Wainwright total at end of year: 82
Munros done in year: 0 😦
Other new classified hills done: 5 (3 Marilyns, an Outlying Wainwright and a Graham)
Repeats: 1 (Arthur’s Seat, for the umpteenth time)
Trips to Scotland: 4 (including for rugby)
Trips to the Lake District: 9 (of varying length)
Hungover walks: 2 (plus a couple more when slightly fuzzy around the edges)
Beer festivals attended: 4 (2 in the Lakes, 2 in Kent)
Transport debacles: Too many
Trouser debacles: Same
Glasses of wine drunk: Don’t ask.
With 2018 fast approaching, I thought it was time to reflect on how 2017 had gone.
Compared to 2016, it was a pretty good year for hill walking: in 2016 I managed 13 new hills and one repeat and numerically this year was a lot better. I managed to add a total of 26 hills to my ‘bag’ of which the vast majority were Wainwrights; I also managed to climb a classified hill of some description every month this year for the first time, although it did require a bit of creativity in a couple of months by way of slightly artificial bagging runs to a couple of South Eastern England Marilyns. However, it was the first year since I took up hill walking that I did no Munros; this was largely a consequence of it having become increasingly more expensive to get to Scotland compared to the Lakes, with the sleeper train having priced itself out of the market under its new ownership (which will most likely only get worse once the new deluxe trains are introduced next year) and flight times having become increasingly inconvenient with Easyjet cutting the late night Friday flight to Glasgow off its summer schedule making weekend mad dashes north of the Border basically impossible. I hope to get back on the Munros at some point in the future, but will have to see what happens. Continue reading
Hills: Detling Hill
When: Saturday 2 December
Weather: dry, cloudy and very cold
Low points: the summit
High points: the ruined castle
Why: read on….
They have hills in South-East England too. Well sort of if you are bagging Marilyns as there are a number on the North Downs Way, South Downs and so forth. I am quite definitely not bagging Marilyns (or Humps, Tumps, trig points etc). So why was I wandering around the pretty flat ‘summit’ area of Detling Hill on a rather cold Saturday at the beginning of December? There was a good reason, at least of sorts…
There will be a full retrospective of 2017 at some point. But the reason, in brief, was due to setting myself an unofficial ‘bucket list’ of things I wanted to do both on and off the hill over the course of the year. As is always the case with these lists my success was mixed! I had not managed to climb a number of specified hills I wanted to do, have a massage at least once a month or lose a stone and a half (although I have managed to lose a stone, so am at least further forward at the end of 2017 than I was at the start of it). But one of the things on the list was to climb a classified hill on some sort of recognised list at least once a month. Continue reading
Where: Easedale Tarn
When: 12 November
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Glorious sunshine but very windy/ cold
Bog Factor: non-existent
Hangover factor: same
Mishaps: Could have been a disappearing hat. Trouser malfunction (of sorts)
Post walk drink: Cabernet Sauvignon
Post walk watering hole: My local in Bromley… does that count?
After my walk on Saturday 11th – the Borrowdale Bogfest – which had had the benefit of stunning views but had ended with the realisation that my winter walking trousers were far too big, I spent a very relaxed evening having a lovely meal in the Inn at Grasmere and then chilling out with a couple of G&Ts and my book before hitting the pit. I had thrown my sodden boots into the drying room in the hope they just might be usable for a walk on the Sunday, but was in two minds about it – for various reasons.
Firstly, my legs were aching and my back wasn’t brilliant – I am not on top of my game at the moment and a relatively short walk seemed to have taken a lot out of me, although the awful journey on the Friday night had probably had something to do with it (as probably did the degree of bog encountered on said walk). Secondly, the forecast was for cloudless skies but for it to be very cold and also windy. Thirdly, having got back to civilisation (Grasmere, anyway) too late to purchase a belt, I had a serious trouser issue to contend with. There was no way I was going up or down another hill with my trousers trying to fall down the whole way and I had not brought spares. Any walk would have to break the cardinal rule of proper hill walking as I would have to wear my jeans! And finally, it would be quite nice to catch an earlier train and meet up with Stuart after his flight back from Scotland. Continue reading
Hills: Grange Fell, Great Crag
Wainwrights: 81 and 82
When: Saturday 11 November
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Fabulous. Cold though!
Bog factor: Megabog! Absolute quagmire at times
Hangover factor: didn’t have one (for the 4th walk running. I must be getting sensible in my old age)
Uses of the ar*e crampon: Several (both deliberate and accidental)
Post walk drink: Strands Brewery Gold Wing
Post walk watering hole: Riverside Bar, Scafell Hotel
Mishaps: Transport, trousers.. read on!
Friday 10 November 2017 17.20… I’m standing at Euston station. Stuart’s about to be en route to Scotland to watch rugby at Murrayfield; I’m booked on the 18.30 train to Windermere, changing at Oxenholme and trying to decide whether to make a run for the 17.30 train. I’d hoped to make this easily, a meeting at work having finished unexpectedly early, but had been collared to discuss something on my way out of the door leaving me pretty tight for the earlier train. I decide in a split second not to push for it as the last thing I want to do is end up having to stand all the way to Oxenholme having missed all the seats in the unreserved carriages. Instead I decide it is a good idea to go and get myself a glass of wine and relax, then get my booked train which after all will still get me in to Windermere at 21.30.
Bad move! I have my glass of wine and head for the concourse. The 18.30 train is delayed and, it becomes gradually obvious, badly so. By the time the train is finally called it is nearly 7pm and it will obviously take 10 minutes at least to stuff everyone on to it and for it to actually leave Euston. It’s already clear to me that my visions of getting to my hotel in Grasmere before last orders are not going to be fulfilled and I seriously consider whether to give the whole weekend up as a bad idea and head home. I decide this is daft given the weather forecast and a quick couple of phone calls to the hotel and to the taxi company that’s picking me up in Windermere are made to reschedule things. The train loses even more time as it goes North and I only make the last train to Windermere by less than 10 minutes. I finally get to Grasmere just after 11 and have no energy to do anything other than collapse in to bed. The only saving grace is that I didn’t have too many glasses of wine on the train. Continue reading
As regular readers of my blog will know, I do a lot of my walking in the Lake District via public transport. This makes weekend jaunts possible without the need for a long and tiring drive – though some areas of the Lakes are a lot more difficult to get to without a car than others (Wasdale in particular springs to mind). However, doing things this way does require a fair bit of planning – with the inevitable possibility of things going hideously wrong! Which of course has happened on more than one occasion. Continue reading
When: Thursday 12th October
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Overcast but dry; very windy at times
Conditions underfoot: Good paths for most of it with only the odd bit of bog or scree
Hangover factor: Moderate (though could have been a lot worse!)
Post walk drink: Malbec
Post walk watering hole: The White Lion, Ambleside
Mishaps: None to speak of. WTF?
I think it is fair to say that after my last walk, up Whinlatter on the 10th, the post walk drinks were not particularly restrained. The weather forecast for the Wednesday 11th October was, to put it mildly, resembling Noah’s Flood with strong winds accompanied by torrential rain. On waking up that morning with a reasonably sore head I took one look out of the window to see that the forecast had been pretty accurate… and promptly went back to bed. It was a day for pottering about rather than attempting to go anywhere near any sort of hill and the amount of water in the beck was something to see.. and also a bit worrying. It was clear that any subsequent walk was going to have to be carefully planned as everywhere underfoot was likely to be awash.
On the Wednesday evening we had booked to have a meal at Fellinis combined with seeing Coriolanus streamed live from the RSC – so some rather cultural evening entertainment! The (vegetarian) food was pretty good and we accompanied it by a nice bottle of white wine… at Fellinis you can also take wine into the cinema so needless to say more wine got bought and we did. Although we ended up going to bed at a reasonably restrained time the wine consumption had not exactly been that restrained so plans for the Thursday – where the forecast looked potentially walkable but windy – were left fluid. Continue reading