Wainwright walks 33: Trains, tubes, taxis, buses and Grisedale Pike

Hills: Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head
Wainwrights: : 72 and 73
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
When: : Sunday 25 June
Time spent getting to hill: : 6 hours 15 minutes
Time spent actually on hill: : 5 hours 30 minutes
Weather: : Clear but overcast; windy at times
Bog Factor: : Basically non-existent
Uses of the Arse crampon: : 1 (accidental)
Hangover factor: : Surprisingly low given I was at a beer festival the day before
Pre walk drink: : Various real ales (the day before – for the avoidance of doubt!)
Post walk drink: : Keswick Brewery best bitter, Cabernet Sauvignon (no not in the same glass!)
Post walk watering hole: : The Golden Lion, followed by the Dog & Gun

Those of you that read my blog on a regular or even semi regular basis will by now have spotted something of a theme – or even a couple of themes. Firstly that my walking tends to be a bit haphazard and somewhat mishap prone – and that the mishaps seem to be a mix of unfortunate (car breakdowns, delayed trains, cancelled flights and so forth) and self inflicted (see my post on Glenridding Dodd for a classic example).

This walk had all the potential to be mishap prone. However at some point – simply by the law of averages – there had to be a walk where despite all the possibility for mishaps and indeed probability nothing went that wrong. This may actually be that walk!

The potential for mishaps was definitely there. For starters, actually getting a walk in on the day of travel required a feat of logistics. Firstly getting an early enough train from Euston to get to Penrith in time to either get a bus to Keswick, or a taxi pick up, then get to Keswick in time to get a bus somewhere to start walking at a sensible time. Secondly I was attending a beer festival near my house on the Saturday which clearly had the potential to mess up the logistics not least by failing to get up in time to get the early train at which point the whole thing would collapse. Even given the long summer evenings there would be a cut off point at which starting a walk of any length would not be sensible. I decided to at least mitigate the possibility of mishap by packing all my gear the morning beforehand (i.e. well before the beer festival to avoid any post real ale packing mishaps) and laid out my clothes and filled my hydration bladder. This was organisation on the grand scale for me as something almost always gets forgotten. Continue reading

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Fiarach and the bog of doom!

Hills: Fiarach
Grahams: one
When: Sunday 28 May
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Strong sunshine with a bit of a breeze
Hangover factor: Surprisingly low
Bog factor: Zero on the approach track but pathless vertical bogfest on the hill itself.
Uses of the ar*e crampon: None, though certainly considered it on the really steep bits on the descent
Pre walk drink: Jarl Scottish ale (though not much of it)
Post walk drink: Same, followed by Pinot Grigio (too warm for Malbec)
Post walk watering hole: The Coach House, Killin (pre walk one as well)

Those of you that read my blog on a regular basis will know that I hate bog. In fact I hate it with a passion. The only decent sort of bog is when it has either dried out or frozen – in which cases it can make for a reasonably congenial walking surface. Although inevitably with the frozen sort I manage to find the bit that isn’t frozen with the result being one foot goes into freezing murky gunk.

The worst sort of bog is what I refer to as vertical bog. It is obviously not actually vertical but when trying to slog up a steep, soggy, squishy slope it certainly feels like it. Going uphill it seems to sap your strength massively; going downhill care has to be taken not to slip and end up with a wet and muddy rear end, although going downhill through bog doesn’t sap your energy in quite the same way as going up. There are certain hills which after doing them I refer to as ‘Bogatory’ which is that particular kind of hill walking purgatory where you think the bog is never going to end and wonder if you are ever going to reach the top, or (in descent) ever get out of it and end up being sucked down into some tar pit of doom, to be discovered millennia later by some archaeologist who will wonder what Scarpas are and why all hill walking gear for women seems to be pink. I also think that given I now do most of my walking in the Lake District rather than Scotland I have got a bit spoilt and forgotten what a proper Scottish bog is like. Well I certainly got a reminder on this walk! Continue reading

Wainwright walks 32: High Rigg, lots of beer and a llama

Hills: High Rigg
Wainwright no: 71
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
When: Saturday 3rd June
Weather: Glorious sunshine
Hangover factor Moderate
Bog factor: Virtually all dried out. Result!
Uses of the arse crampon: Zero
Pre walk drink One Rioja too many
Post walk drink: Various real ales
Post walk watering hole: Keswick Beer Festival (does a beer festival count as a watering hole?)
Special guest star: A llama. Yes seriously.
Mishaps: Read on…

One of these days I will write a walk report that doesn’t fit the usual theme. The theme being that there is usually some walking done at some point; there is usually a transport malfunction of some sort; and there is frequently a drink-related malfunction of some sort as well. The transport malfunction usually has the tendency of leading to the drink malfunction i.e. trying to get a late train after a busy week, train then being packed – oh well let’s have a glass (or several) of wine… Suffice it to say that this report sticks to the tried and tested formula! But since part of the point of this weekend was to attend Keswick Beer Festival, it was unlikely this report would deviate much from the norm. It was also my birthday on the 4thJune so celebrating (or given my advancing age, commiserating) was also on the agenda. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 31: Steaming up (but not on) Hallin Fell

Hills: Hallin Fell
Wainwright number: 70
When: Sunday 30 April
Who: me, Stuart and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Clear, but cold and seriously windy
Bog factor: Nonexistent
Hangover factor: Surprisingly low
Post walk watering hole: The Howtown Hotel
Post walk drink: A local ale (can’t remember what, but quite nice) later Malbec
One that got away: Steel Knotts
Mishaps: None really on the day, but read on..

After my walk the day before – the somewhat hangover-fuelled blast up Glenridding Dodd which saw me claiming discretion over valour and not going on to do Sheffield Pike, therefore almost but not quite being the fastest walk ever (that was either Binsey or Little Mell Fell, both done in well under an hour and both in rotten weather) – it is fair to say that the afternoon and evening were rather restrained. After I had conked out in the hotel room and then had a swim and some Kendal Mint Cake liqueur, we had a nice leisurely meal in the hotel restaurant and had, of all things, an early night in anticipation of a walk the following day. The forecast was for clear conditions but for it to be pretty windy, so staying low seemed a good idea.

For once the forecast was right. We were out of bed early and at breakfast early too, then at the Ullswater Steamers pier well before the first ferry over to Howtown. A notice informed us that the Aira Force pier was inaccessible due to high winds but the Howtown ferry was running. The plan was to get the boat over and walk up Hallin Fell, which we had ages ago dubbed ‘Boat Hill’ and decided to do via the steamer rather than just park at the Hause – not least because I hate hairpin bends on roads but also because doing it this way makes a short walk into a bit more of an adventure. We’ve been meaning to do this for ages but not got round to it on our various trips to the Lakes so given we were actually staying in Glenridding this time there seemed to be no excuse. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 30: Glenridding and the hangover from Hell(vellyn)

Hills: Glenridding Dodd
When: Saturday 29 April
Wainwright:69
Who:Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Clear but windy
Bog factor: Zero
Hangover factor: High
Post walk watering hole:Travellers Rest, then the Glenridding Hotel bar later
Post walk drink: Helvellyn Gold ale, then Kendal Mint Cake liqueur
One that got away: Sheffield Pike

Those of you that read my blog on a regular, or even semi regular basis will know that there are usually a few themes that recur with alarming frequency. Obviously there is usually a hill walk of sorts in there somewhere, after all this is a hill walking blog, albeit with added wine. There is often a drink-related foul up of some description and there is equally often a transport related foul up too. This walk had pretty much the lot!

Usually at least some planning goes into a walk. At least in theory although plans often get binned in favour of a plan B, C or D depending on what the weather decides to do and other factors such as general state of knackeredness. I usually book trains well in advance in particular but having booked our accommodation – the Glenridding Hotel – some time ago I hadn’t bothered booking the train as no particular discounts were available. I finally sorted it a few days beforehand then on collecting my tickets realised I didn’t have a seat reservation. A trip to Euston during my lunch break was pretty fruitless: the train was full and we would need to fight for seats in the 2 unreserved carriages that Virgin Trains fortunately puts on every service. Continue reading

Hamlet for hill walkers: to bag or not to bag?

To paraphrase Hamlet – to bag or not to bag, that is the question…

A question that comes up from time to time on hill walking forums and related social media is the question of bagging. Specifically, whether people are or are not trying to complete a list and the rights and wrongs of whether you ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ try to. It’s a question I’ve been mulling over, sparked by seeing a couple of things on social media which generated a lot of debate – and finally decided to get out of my drafts folder on a packed train back from Penrith. Continue reading

Hill walking cliches – fact or fiction?

With my recent walking exploits now committed to the page and nothing else planned for a few weeks, I thought it was time for some further musings about the politics of hill walking: namely some of the hill walking/ mountaineering clichés that get trotted out from time to time. As we all know some clichés are clichés because they are true, but not all of them!

Caveat: this is my personal view, and not intended to be a criticism of anyone else’s views, whether expressed on hill walking forums, Facebook or anywhere else.

1. ’There is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing’

This one is particularly relevant after my recent soaking in the Lake District! Continue reading