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

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Wainwright walks 63: a nice walk Arthur a long journey

Hills: Stone Arthur
Classification: Wainwright (128)
When: Thursday 18 July
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 3 1/2 miles
Time: 2 ½ hours, including breaks
Weather: Cloudy, but above summits. The odd shower
Post walk drink: Crafty Pale Ale
Post walk watering hole: The Crafty Baa, Windermere
Uses of the arse crampon: MIA again
Mishaps: Drink related (though not alcohol related this time); packing
Time of journey to time of walk ratio: About 3:1

Since the end of our holiday in Keswick, there has been no walking of any substance done – and being honest very little exercise. A very busy period of work hasn’t helped on either front, but at least we had a planned break to look forward to attending the Hawkshead Beer Festival – Stuart was originally meant to be away working that week and travelling to the Lakes separately, so I’d decided to travel up early and try and fit in some walking. Inevitably once we had booked things it turned out Stuart wasn’t going to be away after all but I decided I would still travel up – this time we were staying at Windermere as I wanted to see whether it made a decent base for walking as well as for other stuff to do.

Earlier in the week, the weather for the whole few days looked to be pretty good. However, as time moved on the forecast gradually got worse with Friday now in particular looking dubious. Thursday looked decent, but I had an early morning meeting that morning which couldn’t be rearranged, so travelling up the previous night (or very early on the Thursday) wasn’t an option. A plan was hatched… it was going to be one of those walks where the journey to the hill took far longer than the actual walk. I would leave work as soon as I could once my meeting was over, work on the train, drop my bags at my B&B in Windermere and take advantage of the long days to cram in a walk in the late afternoon/ early evening. Given I have done a lot of the smaller hills or shorter walks in the South of the district already, and would be reliant on buses, this didn’t leave me too many options – but one obvious one was Stone Arthur near Grasmere. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 62: a Cockup (but no mishaps) in the Northern Fells

Hills: Brae Fell, Great Sca Fell, Knott, Meal Fell, Great Cockup
Classification: Wainwrights (123 – 127)
When: Thursday 6 June
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: I forgot to check. Would guess around 7 or 8 miles.
Time: About 5 hours, including breaks
Weather: Glorious sunshine! Quite windy higher up.
Post walk drink: A local pale ale though I can’t remember what it was. Later various ales at the beer festival
Post walk watering hole: The Magnolia, Keswick; later on, Keswick Beer Festival sponsors party
Uses of the arse crampon: Still missing in action…
Mishaps: None as such, unless having to be off the hill for a certain time in case some work needed to be done counts.

After the pleasant toddle up Binsey and the otherwise relaxing day on the 5th June, for once the weather forecast for the following day was actually pretty good with the weather due to be sunny and any early cloud lifting off the summits. It was a day where it was time to think about something a little bit more ambitious than a short blast – a decent length of walk with the opportunity to pick off several different hills was very doable. The only caveat was that yet again there was a chance I might need to do some work in the afternoon so I had to try and be off the hill by around 3 at the latest.

This kicked out one possible idea which was to do the Buttermere round of High Stile etc as I want to do that by bus and having a time constraint didn’t really fit with the bus logistics, plus it looks to be quite a tough walk and one I will need to take my time over. Plan B – and the actual plan as it turned out – was to pick off some more of the Northern Fells which would enable me to string a few together and still get back in time to do some work if I needed to. An early (ish) alarm call saw me parked up at the bottom of Longlands Fell for the second Thursday in a row, although the weather couldn’t have been more different! I don’t really like the single track road though, it is very narrow at times and several awkward reversing manoeuvres were required before I parked up – once again the only person there at 9.30 when I set out, and still the only person there when I finished shortly after 2. I’d managed to get most of the faffing out of the way before leaving the cottage but inevitably there was still some i.e. check I had got everything, check I’d locked the car, check I’d locked it again, then check where I had put the car keys etc… (I always worry about losing the car keys although it hasn’t happened so far – that really would be a mishap!) Continue reading

Wainwright walks 61: a milestone on Graystones

Hills: Graystones
Classification: Wainwright (No.122)
When: Tuesday 4 June
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: Short blast – about 3 miles
Time: 1 3/4 hours, including breaks
Weather: Cloudy but above summits. Showery on the way down.
Post walk drink: Keswick Brewery Thirst Flight. Later Prosecco. Then Malbec even later.
Post walk watering hole: The bar at Keswick Brewery
Uses of the arse crampon: Still missing in action
Mishaps: None, unless you count advancing age!

The day after my High Pike walk, I wanted to try and get out and do a hill of some sort. Why? Well let’s just say that when the day dawned I was in a different decade from the one I was in when I went to bed the previous evening and that I am older than 40 and not as old as 60. Oh what the hell, I was hitting my half century and me being me wanted to celebrate it with (a) my husband and friends, (b) getting up a hill of some sort (c) doing some other fun stuff and (d) Malbec (obviously). The day got off to a good start as I woke up to find my friends Jo and Steve had decorated the cottage with loads of balloons, actually having found black, gold and silver ones (since I am a bit of an old goth) and I also got some lovely presents including some beautiful jewellery from Stuart. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 60: Gone (up High Pike) with the wind

strong> Hills: High Pike (Caldbeck), Carrock Fell
Classification: Wainwrights (120 and 121)
When: Monday 3 June
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: 7 miles (or thereabouts)
Time: 4 hours
Weather: Cloudy but well above summits – and it didn’t rain! Very windy high up.
Post walk drink: Coke. Yes really. Malbec later on, though.
Post walk watering hole: A nice tea shop for the coke, the cottage we were staying in for the Malbec
Uses of the arse crampon: AWOL again.
Mishaps: None as such, unless you count a very early start!

After my soggy expedition up Souther Fell on the last day of May, there was no walking for a couple of days. Stuart arrived at the Salutation Hotel on the Friday evening, and on waking up the following day (when we were shifting to Glenridding for a couple of nights) we were both totally knackered. The weather on the Saturday morning was actually okay to start off with but soon clouded over and started to rain on and off. We settled for a pottering about day before heading to Glenridding and chilling out, and the weather was still iffy on Sunday when we had a nice day escaping the rain at a rather nice ruined castle (Brougham Castle) then went to a bird of prey centre which was very interesting although it chucked it down towards the end of the display. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 59: Souther the clouds (but not of the rain!)

Hills: Souther Fell
Classification: Wainwright (119)
When: Friday 31 May
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 4 miles
Time: 2 hours
Weather: Cloudy, but above summits. Rain at times on the way up which got heavier on the way down.
Post walk drink: Malbec
Post walk watering hole: The Salutation Hotel, then the Lily Bar (also Ambleside)
Uses of the arse crampon: One – a return!
Mishaps: Traffic, weather, and having to work… again.

After my damp, foggy walk up Longlands Fell on the 30th May, followed by an afternoon of work, I did at least manage to have a reasonably relaxed evening including a decent Thai meal in Ambleside. The weather forecast for the following day was a little bit better (although not by much) but I had again had the email of doom which meant I would need to work for at least some of the afternoon. In fact I ended up working first thing in the morning and then again in the afternoon as the forecast seemed to indicate the weather would be worse earlier on than it would be later… so once again, I needed something which would suffice for a quick blast, and once again I was faced with chasing the weather North. I did feel it was slightly ridiculous having to drive from Ambleside to the Northern Fells when I was staying in Keswick in a few days time, but I have got to the point I have done most of the hills near Ambleside that fit the definition of a ‘quick blast’ – the obvious exception being Stone Arthur which is (at the moment) the only Wainwright I have had to turn back on and if anything is asking for trouble doing a bogey hill on a marginal day is!

Continue reading

Wainwright walks 58: the journey from Hell, and a foggy Longlands Fell

Hills: Longlands Fell
Classification: Wainwright (118)
When: Thursday 30 May
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 3 ½ miles (maybe less) but felt like twice that.
Time: 1 ¾ hours. Definitely no breaks, too miserable a day
Weather: Basically dire. Low cloud, windy and later rain.
Post walk drink: Initially coke. Though Malbec later.
Post walk watering hole: Assuming the coke doesn’t count, the bar at the Salutation Hotel, Ambleside
Uses of the arse crampon: None. Though I could have seen a use for the can’t be arsed crampon…
Mishaps: Weather, traffic…. See below

Some of you that read this blog on a regular, or semi regular basis will know that usually something goes wrong. This is either weather related, transport issues, or self inflicted i.e. having one too many drinks the night before the walk, though I have been a lot better behaved on that score recently – must be getting sensible in my old age! However, mishaps have been surprisingly absent on recent walks, leading one commentator to wonder if there was a gigantic one lurking around the corner in order to compensate. This didn’t quite count as that, but in some ways it wasn’t far off as several unconnected mishaps were present to a pretty high degree..

Most of my readers know that I do a lot of my walking using public transport and only bother to drive if I am up for the best part of the week or longer. This time I was in the Lakes for nearly two weeks as a celebration for a significant birthday. We had a week booked in a cottage in Keswick but had also tacked on a couple of days in a hotel and given Stuart was working away the last week of May I decided to tack on another couple of days and travel up on Wednesday 29th May after doing a few hours work in the morning. I was not leaving at a busy time so surely a reasonably decent run in the car would be feasible… Continue reading