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

2018: a year in review

Total hills climbed: 30
Wainwrights done: 27 (plus one repeat)
Other hills done: 3
Number of ascents of Orrest Head before getting the train home: 3
Best hill names of the year: Brown Willy (Cornwall) Barf (Lake District) Pikeawassa (Lake District)
Beer festivals attended in the Lake District: 2
Beer festivals attended elsewhere: 1
Favourite beer of the year: Lonesome Pine (Ulverston Brewery)

All in all 2018 was a bit of a game of two halves, as a football commentator might say; a year of highs and lows, with some excellent hill walking and other fun stuff done but also some health issues to deal with which curtailed my hill walking significantly in the last half of the year, though I did manage some good walks towards the end of the year, rounding the year off with an ascent of Barf in glorious winter sunshine on Christmas Eve. Numbers wise I added 27 new Wainwrights to my total, plus one repeat, which is my best annual total ever for Wainwrights – not my best hill totals ever though, that was in 2009 when I managed 28 Munros plus a few other hills as well. Continue reading

The A to Z of Mountains and Malbec

No walking planned for a few weeks, so with a bit of a tail off in blog posts as a result, I thought I would nick an idea from a friend’s blog and do an A to Z of Mountains and Malbec. Though mine is a little less serious than theirs was!

A is for arse crampon. Well it has to be really doesn’t it. Otherwise known as five points of contact which I am well aware is not a recommended scrambling technique. But although he didn’t use the term Wainwright himself commented that a sturdy posterior was an excellent tool for a hill walker indeed only second to a good pair of feet. The downside to use of the arse crampon can be looking stupid but I would far rather look stupid than fall over.

B is for bad back. . As regular readers will know I suffered a spinal injury some years ago (broke a vertebra in my lower back) and my back still plays up from time to time. Often it doesn’t affect my hill walking but sometimes it does and I have to listen to what my body is trying to tell me and plan accordingly. Also B is for beer (a good thing) and bog (not a good thing, unless it’s frozen or by some miracle has dried out). Continue reading

Off walking? No, just off season..

It’s been a while since I posted on this blog, not least because it has now been a very long time since I have been anywhere near a hill (our 100th Munro on Beinn Bhreac in October, to be precise). This isn’t an unusual situation for us – whilst we have done some winter walking in the past, we tend to do very little as the equation of cost of getting somewhere with proper mountains, versus the likelihood of getting decent enough weather to actually go out and do something when we get there (given we aren’t fans of walking in bad weather), doesn’t really pan out. In the past, First Scotrail used to offer cheap deals in the winter months for frequent sleeper train users which made it worth taking a punt, but since the takeover by Serco these have vanished, with no indication they will ever reappear.  Continue reading

Mountains minus Malbec: thoughts on Dry January

To be strictly accurate this post contains no mountains either! No walking since Sandwood Bay, and unlikely to be any for another month or so. I am trying not to get too jealous of all the posts of snowy hills popping up in my Facebook feed – and failing miserably.

As to dry January – I decided to do it largely to try and kick start getting myself back into some sort of decent physical condition. There have been pluses and minuses so far. The pluses – I have lost 4lb; my skin is clearer; I’m generally sleeping better; and my brain seems sharper, I’m definitely getting more done.I have managed to start going swimming again, although not as often as I had hoped. I’ve also spent less than usual, although the price of soft drinks in pubs is pretty shocking. Plus there is the obvious one of no hangovers (which these days take less and less Malbec to induce) Continue reading

Corrour Station House Restaurant: the loss of an oasis in the wilderness

On my recommendations page, I did a name and praise for the restaurant at Corrour Station – surely the most remote in Britain (station and restaurant both). The restaurant had previously been run by various tenants, including the SYHA, as a cafe/ bar serving basic food and providing basic accommodation.

These tenants tried to do something different; run the place as a high end destination restaurant, with high class food and rooms. This resulted in a wonderful place to stay and we enjoyed two cracking trips there. Unfortunately, what they were trying to do meant they could not cater for drop ins. They simply didn’t have the time, or the staff, to do so.

Unfortunately this went down like a lead balloon with some walkers and ultimately – it seems – with the estate. There were a number of poor reviews on Tripadvisor by people who had been turned away. Having posted about this on Facebook, some walkers clearly do feel that they should have been offering an all day service. I can totally see why if you are cold at the end of a walk and have a 2 hour wait for a train it might be rather frustrating not to be able to go in and get fed and a cup of tea or a pint.

But do walkers really have the right to expect to be able to get refreshment somewhere as remote as Corrour? I don’t think so. Nobody expects a cafe in the middle of nowhere in Knoydart, or other areas you can’t get to by road such as parts of the Cairngorms. And there are alternatives to waiting for 2 hours in the cold and wet at Corrour. Wait for a better day, maybe? Or bring a tent and wild camp it, or cycle in on the landrover track, as people have to do to access the Ben Alder hills for instance?

Whatever you think, it’s a shame that the place is closing. I’ll always remember my post walk drink in Scotland’s remotest beer garden the last time we visited to pick off some Munros in the area. I’m very glad now I’ve done those hills and don’t need to worry about logistics for the area, but I’d have liked to go back, and now no longer can. Who knows when the estate will find someone else willing to take the place on; one can but hope it doesn’t close for good.