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

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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

Gone to pot on Stone(d)? Arthur – or when to turn back, v2

Disclaimer: this blog post contains no illegal substances whatsoever. Beer and Malbec are as far as I know still totally legal and long may that continue!

Having had an absolutely excellent walk in Borrowdale the previous day, which had yielded me only one new Wainwright but two really nice repeats, I was looking forward to more of the same the following day. The weather forecast had been a bit better for Friday than Thursday before I’d actually left London, and a lot of the snow was clearing away.. It was probably inevitable that normal service would be resumed and something would not go to plan! The weather forecast had gone to pot and was for heavy rain and strong winds, eventually clearing up too late to be of any use. Continue reading

Orrest-ing views from the original Wainwright

Hills: Orrest Head
Outlying Wainwright: 1
Who: Just me
When: Saturday 22 July
Bog factor: None whatsoever
Pre walk drink: various real ales
Post walk drink: Prosecco
Pre walk watering hole: Hawkshead Brewery
Post walk watering hole: The Lamplighter, Windermere

Warning: I have always said that this is not a how to hill walk guide, for various reasons. My somewhat anarchic style of walking, combined with post walk drinks and so forth is certainly not text book and cannot in any way be taken as guidance. This walk more than most as the walk vs alcoholic beverage factor was higher than most. Certainly the percentage of time spent in pub to time spent on hill was possibly the highest ever although there are a couple of hills e.g. Little Mell Fell or Glenridding Dodd that have run it a close second. Despite this the mishap factor was at an all time low.

We had booked ourselves a weekend in Ambleside in order primarily to attend the Hawkshead beer festival. The Hawkshead Brewery is one of Stuart’s favourites although to be honest not one of mine. With that aim in mind we had booked ourselves into budget accommodation in Ambleside as nothing was actually available in Staveley itself (where the brewery is) by the time we booked. There is a regular bus service running between the two villages which we would be able to make use of. We arrived fairly late into Ambleside on the Friday night, had a couple of glasses of wine and went to bed – the loose plan was to do some sort of short walk in the morning then head for the beer festival in the afternoon, a plan which had worked pretty well when attending Keswick beer festival the previous month. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 34: Sail-ing in Coledale with insomnia (again)

Hills: Causey Pike, Scar Crags, Sail
Wainwrights: 74-76
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
When: Monday 26 June
Time spent getting to hill: About 15 minutes (bliss!)
Time spent actually on hill: About 6 hours, including breaks
Weather: Quite warm; sunshine and clouds; not much wind
Bog Factor: None to speak of
One that got away: Crag Hill/ Eel Crag
Uses of the Arse crampon: 2
Hangover factor: Didn’t have one. Behaved myself for once!
Post walk drink: Tirril Golden Ale, Jennings Copper Hop, then Malbec
Post walk watering holes: Coledale Inn (Braithwaite) Royal Oak (Braithwaite) Royal Oak (Keswick).

After my somewhat insane day on the 25th June, where I had left the house in Bromley just after 7am in order to get the first train up to Penrith, and eventually ended up doing Grisedale Pike and Hopegill Head with a 1.45 start, it is fair to say my evening was relatively restrained. To be honest I was a bit knackered so a few drinks were had in a couple of Keswick watering holes along with a rather good Thai green curry in the Thai restaurant on the High Street. The forecast was excellent, so the pre walk drink consumption was pretty restrained in anticipation of another decent walk.

The only issue sometimes with a really good forecast is what to go for! As I was using public transport, I was also a bit restricted by what buses were available. There are loads of buses up Borrowdale during the summer and also the Honister Rambler which goes round a loop towards Buttermere. A few days out the forecast had been for a good morning then rain in the afternoon so the plan had that come to pass had been to get the first bus to Honister and do Dale Head, then drop back down over High Spy and pick up the bus back at Borrowdale. However with a better forecast it seemed a good idea to plump for something that would allow for the possibility of adding a few more to the tally. My tentative decision before hitting the pit was to head back to Braithwaite and tackle some of the hills I hadn’t done on the Western arm of the horseshoe. Continue reading