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

Wainwright walks 65: Another eastern fell – by the Seat of my pants

Hills: Seat Sandal
Classification: Wainwright (131)
When: Saturday 7 September
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: 6 miles approximately
Time: About 4 hours including breaks
Weather: Lovely!
Post walk drink: Various real ales
Pre walk drink: Various real ales
Post (and pre) walk watering hole: The Grasmere Guzzler beer festival at Tweedies
Uses of the arse crampon: 1 – the first use to assist in ascent!
Mishaps: See ‘pre walk drink’…

After my walk up Dollywaggon Pike and Nethermost Pike on the Thursday, I think it’s fair to say the forecast for the Friday was a bit mixed with heavy showers and sunshine forecast (as it turned out sometimes at the same time). I was also struggling a bit with m back and knees which clearly hadn’t recovered from the walk and I was in quite a bit of discomfort and regardless of the weather I was not really in any state to do any sort of serious walk. A day off and a pottering about day was clearly required and so it transpired; we had a loose arrangement to meet up with our friend Kets at the Grasmere Guzzler beer festival that evening too once he had finished his walk. 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

Wainwright walks 50: Boiled on Blencathra!

Hills: Blencathra, Mungrisdale Common
Classification: Wainwrights – no.102 and 103
When: Tuesday 26 June
Weather: Scorchio!
Time: Just over 5 hours, including a couple of fairly lengthy breaks
Conditions underfoot: Good paths on Blencathra – dry bog thereafter…
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Keswick Brewery Thirst Quencher, later Prosecco
Post walk watering hole: Horse and Farrier, Threlkeld then the Ambleside Tavern later
Mishaps: Transport. Although this is becoming such a frequent occurrence I am not sure it counts as a mishap any more, just the normal state of play….

After my last walk, and the subsequent beer extravaganza that ensued at Keswick Beer Festival, I had no walking planned for some time – in fact nothing actually in the diary for several months that involved being anywhere near a hilly part of the country. I had already hit my target for the year in terms of hills by making it to the ton on Steel Knotts – what was next? With no obvious hill walking goal next it was surely time to potter around the house/ garden and do some of the tasks that had been sorely neglected.

This lasted a couple of weeks. We did actually manage to get the garden sorted out although tidying the house and/ or any of the other tasks that could really do with being sorted didn’t happen. We did attend another beer festival, this one being near our house, and work got completely mental for a couple of weeks before what looked like a reasonably quiet week presented itself. This quiet week coincided with a week that Stuart was going to be away on business for most of it so inevitably, a plan was hatched… I had missed out on doing Blencathra when staying in Keswick due to reasons of knackeredness and later the weather starting to turn. Aha! I would book a couple of days off and – assuming decent weather – try and get it done as I have wanted to for ages. Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 49: Blue sky but no bluebells in Rannerdale

Hills: Rannerdale Knotts
Classification: Wainwright – no.101
When: Wednesday 30 May
Weather: Blue sky and clouds. Humid and very hot at times
Time: Just under 2 hours, including a break
Conditions underfoot: Dry grassy paths, some rock underfoot at times
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Merlot
Post walk watering hole: The Oddfellows Arms. A beer festival the following day too (if that counts)
Mishaps: None to speak of – ??

After getting my ton up on Steel Knotts on Bank Holiday Monday, the Tuesday was – at least sort of – a rest day. We were shifting our accommodation from the Glenridding Hotel to a self catering apartment in Keswick, where we were sponsoring a barrel of beer at Keswick Beer Festival. Having got the ton, the pressure was off regarding walking for the rest of the holiday although I hoped to do at least one more walk before the serious beer drinking ensued; Keswick Beer Festival is a pretty big event and there would be something like 150 real ales available to try, both local ones and those from further afield. It was therefore unlikely any serious walking would be done once that kicked off – although beer seems to affect me a lot less than red wine does.

The Tuesday was actually a really nice day as it turned out – but having done a big walk then a shorter one on back to back days, I was pretty knackered and my back was playing up again. Had there been any obvious small hills in the area we might have thought about doing something but realistically I was not up to much. We chilled out in the pool in Glenridding in the morning then drove down Borrowdale where we had a drink (well a coke in my case) in the Langstrath Inn which I had not been to before and looks worthy of a visit by bus at some point. We checked in to our apartment at 4pm and did some shopping before having a few beers in a couple of local hostelries then cooking a meal and opening some wine back at the apartment. The view from the apartment was terrific – the flip side to the view was 6 flights of stairs up the side of the apartment building which was a bit of a pain in the arse given the need to lug stuff up them. Oh well! Continue reading

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

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