Wainwright Walks 52: High-ly boggy in the Central Fells!

Hills: High Tove
Wainwright number: 108
When: Saturday 22 December
Weather: Rather wetter than it was supposed to be!
Time: 2 ½ hours. No breaks – too miserable a day
Conditions underfoot: Slippy stone pitching, followed by a bit of half decent path, followed by semi-quagmire!
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Loweswater Gold – later red wine
Post walk watering hole: The Lily Bar, Ambleside
Mishaps: Does the weather count as a mishap?
Uses of the arse crampon: None (surprisingly given how slippy things were underfoot at times).

By my standards, the last few walks have been pretty much free of any serious sort of mishaps – either transport related, gear related (picking the wrong trousers for the occasion, etc) or weather related. Notably, my last walk was done in glorious sunshine when I brought up the halfway point on Lonscale Fell following a glorious ridge walk up Longside Edge then a repeat of Skiddaw, which I had been meaning to re-do for ages as I saw absolutely nothing when I first climbed it way back in 2010. Inevitably something had to change!

When I came off the hill that day my back and knees were hurting and over the next week or so it became obvious I had tweaked one of my knees worse than I had thought. Unhelpfully the lift in my office was also broken and given I work on the 4th floor this was not conducive to it healing up quickly either. By the time Christmas – and our planned festive visit to a cottage in Ambleside – came round it was much better but I had done no exercise to speak of since my previous visit to the Lakes so my fitness was decidedly not at its best. Combined with very short days and a high level of knackeredness, long walks with lots of ascent were not going to be an option. 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