Wainwright Walks 48: Steel-ing myself for the ton!

Hills: Steel Knotts (Pikeawassa)
Classification: Wainwright – no.100!
When: Monday 28 May
Weather: Strong sunshine, not much of a breeze. Roasting hot at times.
Time: 2 hours 15 minutes, including breaks
Conditions underfoot: Generally good. One very minor boggy bit.
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Hawkshead Gold then various pale ales
Post walk watering hole: Ullswater Steamers bar, then various Pooley Bridge hostelries
Mishaps: Does sunburn count?

After the big push to get four hills done the day before, I wasn’t totally sure if I would be walking the following day. The weather forecast was good – indeed meant to be so for at least the next couple of days – but it was fair to say that after the big walk I was a bit wrecked. Not in terms of alcohol but my back and feet were both killing me after the walk and I didn’t really have much of an idea what I would be up to doing. One of the things about walking with a spinal problem is that you need to listen to your body and plan accordingly; some days I can do a big hill walk and be up for more of the same the day afterwards, some days I am up for a shorter walk but not an epic and other days I know that any sort of hill walk is just not going to work. I thought the likelihood was that I wouldn’t be up to much, but had an early night anyway after a long bath which is generally not a bad way to get rid of post hill walking aches and pains.  Continue reading


Wainwright Walks 47: Nab-ing 4 for 99 not out!

Hills: Rest Dodd, The Nab, Brock Crags, Angletarn Pikes
Classification: Wainwrights – no.96 to 99
When: Sunday 27 May
Weather: Windy to start off with – then scorchio!
Time: 7 hours, including breaks
Conditions underfoot: Generally pretty good – the bog was dry!
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Lakes Distillery gin, and a much needed pint of coke
Post walk watering hole: Beckside Bar, the Glenridding Hotel
Mishaps: Transport (assuming the journey North counts)

In advance of a week in the Lake District, I had a cunning plan. Stuart and I were spending a few nights in Glenridding in a hotel, then moving on to Keswick where we were sponsoring a barrel at Keswick Beer Festival. The forecast for the week was great… what could possibly go wrong?

Those of you that read my blog will know that if something does not go wrong with the weather something else will go wrong instead and this trip was no exception. The first thing that was not ideal in preparing for the trip was that I had a manic week at work trying to get various things done. To add to this I went down with a cold and was too busy to take any time off sick. There was nothing for it but to drag myself in anyway and get on with things. By Friday I was feeling a lot better but still not anywhere near 100% and was still coughing up phlegm (lovely). My knees and back were also grumpy, not helped by me having tripped over a paving stone when getting my shopping in to the house and bashing my left knee quite badly a week beforehand, though it was clearly on the mend. 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

Wainwright Walks 46: A rather short walk – and a rather long drive

Hills: Great Mell Fell
Classification: Wainwright – no.95
When: Saturday 21st April
Weather: Still lovely.
Time: 1 ½ hours including a long break at the top
Conditions underfoot: Clear path, quite squishy in parts but not too bad
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Uses of the arse crampon: Still none. Hard to see how it could be needed on this one unless something goes seriously pear shaped.
Post walk drink: Prosecco
Post walk watering hole: The Star and Garter, Bromley (after the long drive home)
Mishaps: Insomnia (again). Otherwise nowt. Unless a 6 hour drive home afterwards can be defined as a mishap.

Deciding whether or not to do a walk on the day you travel home is always a bit of a tough one. It generally depends on a number of factors; weather obviously being one but luggage issues sometimes another. For instance if I am using public transport for a break then this only works if you are staying somewhere that can store the luggage for you – most hotels will but some hostels will and some won’t, and B&Bs again a bit of an it depends. I tend to over pack which doesn’t help and am certainly not one of those people who could just lug all my stuff up the hill.

Length of journey – and when you need to start it – also plays a factor. If driving then the fact that even without traffic issues on the M6/ M25 my journey takes about 6 hours once factoring in rest and petrol stops is a bit of a factor against walking. If using public transport then (assuming luggage storage is not a problem) coordinating bus times and luggage pick up with being able to get to an appropriate train station in time to get back to Euston can be a bit of a logistical nightmare. Generally therefore I don’t tend to end up walking on the day I travel home, and when it has happened in the past it has tended to be in Scotland with the transport home either being the 9.30pm Easyjet out of Glasgow, or the sleeper train, combined with a late hire car drop off. Sleeper not being an option for the Lakes I’ve rarely walked on the last day of a Lakes trip – I think it has happened once, and that was when I was sharing the driving with a friend. Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 45: Dale Head, a bad back, and insomnia (again)

Hills: Dale Head
Classification: Wainwright – no.94
When: Friday 20th April
Weather: Absolutely glorious again! Not as windy either so quite warm.
Time: 3 hours including two lengthy breaks
Conditions underfoot: Clear path, relatively little bog
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Wainwright, then a truly appalling Tempranillo, followed by a somewhat better Rioja
Post walk watering hole: The Patterdale Hotel (again) then the White Lion
Mishaps: Insomnia (again) therefore general level of knackeredness was high

After the absolutely cracking walk in glorious weather on the Thursday, the forecast was once again set to be good, and with less wind than had been the case the day before. I hadn’t got a fixed plan for the day, so after a few post walk drinks I headed to bed reasonably early, with a backstop alarm set. I was conscious I was quite tired having done the longest walk, with the most ascent, I had done for some time, also my back was not great – one of the downsides of staying in a youth hostel is the lack of a bath to soak away those post walk aches and pains. What happened on Friday would therefore very much depend on what I was up to but hopefully a good nights sleep would help matters.

Inevitably, of course, this did not happen. I was extremely tired and had a private room so in theory there should have been no barrier to drifting gently off. However I am one of those people who needs a really quiet environment in order to sleep – I don’t stay in dorms because I can only ever snatch a few hours sleep in them due to other people snoring or clattering around or whatever. My room was in between two bigger rooms and not to put too fine a point on it there was a lot of noise from both sides at different times. The room on one side obviously had small children in it who were screaming and running around until very late. It was probably midnight before it subsided and I was able to properly drop off and then I was woken shortly after 5 by loud coughing from the other side. It turned out I was in the middle of a huge family from great-grandparents down to great-grandchildren with the kids being small and excitable and at least one of the older family members obviously not very well. At 6.15 with the sound of throwing up from one of the rooms (I was too tired to work out which) I gave up and got up and sorted myself out, packed my rucksack and tried to decide what to do with the day.

Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 44: Knott much sleep before hitting the High Street

 Hills: The Knott, High Street, Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike, High Raise
Classification: Wainwrights – no.89 to 93
When: Thursday 19 April
Weather: Absolutely glorious! Windy at times.
Time: 6 ½ hours, including breaks
Conditions underfoot: Generally good paths, the odd bit of bog at times but not too bad
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Wainwright (again)
Post walk watering hole: The Patterdale Hotel (again)
Uses of the arse crampon: None (yet again. WTF!)
Mishaps: Unless you count insomnia, this walk was basically mishap free (again, WTF?!)

8.15am on Thursday 19th April and I’m just parking up the car at a relatively deserted Hartsop car park. The sky is blue, the birds are singing and the hills are bathed in sunshine. Hang on a minute – 8.15?! Whilst this may be considered a late starting time by many hill walkers, starts this early have not usually featured in Wainwright Walks – the Malbec way!

There were various factors underpinning this uncharacteristically early start. The previous evening’s beer/ Malbec intake had been decidedly restrained as having seen the glorious weather forecast it was obvious a good day’s walking was in prospect. Another factor was worry about the car parking situation as the last thing I wanted was to have a potentially excellent walking day derailed by a failure to park, which has happened before in the past (albeit not as early as 8.15). The major factor however was that I didn’t sleep very well, waking up about 5.30 – after tossing and turning for a bit I gave up in favour of an early shower, getting my gear sorted out and getting going. The plan, such as it was, was to head up to High Street, either via the Knott or via Gray Crag and Thornthwaite Crag. Both routes started from the same point so I could make my mind up at the time. On leaving the car the sky was virtually cloudless, but the wind was quite strong, which was potentially something to factor in to route choice. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 43: Bogs, crags and mishaps in Patterdale

Hills: Birks, Arnison Crag
Classification: Wainwrights (no. 87 and 88)
When: Wednesday 18 April
Weather: Cloudy with light rain to start with, then cleared up
Time: 4 hours including breaks
Conditions underfoot: Some decent paths, but a lot of bog in parts
Who: me and the mountaineering minion, plus two other walkers for most of it
Post walk drink: Wainwright
Post walk watering hole: The Patterdale Hotel
Uses of the arse crampon: None (again!)
Mishaps: minor navigational (mine); major navigational (someone else’s); car trouble before going (does that count?); traffic; gear (see below)

12.30 on Tuesday 18th April, and I’m just getting into the car in Bromley in order to head in the direction of Patterdale. Yes the car. I do most of my Lakes walking these days by public transport, and don’t generally take the car unless I am going for a whole week, not least because I find the long drive a lot more tiring than getting a train up from Euston. But this time I was going for 4 nights and staying somewhere that the bus connections were not as good as I am used to when based in Ambleside or Keswick, so it seemed sensible to use the car to give me flexibility for my walk options. My car was due for its MOT, so was booked in… what could possibly go wrong? Continue reading