Wainwright walks 39: A Borrowdale Bogfest!

Hills: Grange Fell, Great Crag
Wainwrights: 81 and 82
When: Saturday 11 November
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Fabulous. Cold though!
Bog factor: Megabog! Absolute quagmire at times
Hangover factor: didn’t have one (for the 4th walk running. I must be getting sensible in my old age)
Uses of the ar*e crampon: Several (both deliberate and accidental)
Post walk drink: Strands Brewery Gold Wing
Post walk watering hole: Riverside Bar, Scafell Hotel
Mishaps: Transport, trousers.. read on!

Friday 10 November 2017 17.20… I’m standing at Euston station. Stuart’s about to be en route to Scotland to watch rugby at Murrayfield; I’m booked on the 18.30 train to Windermere, changing at Oxenholme and trying to decide whether to make a run for the 17.30 train. I’d hoped to make this easily, a meeting at work having finished unexpectedly early, but had been collared to discuss something on my way out of the door leaving me pretty tight for the earlier train. I decide in a split second not to push for it as the last thing I want to do is end up having to stand all the way to Oxenholme having missed all the seats in the unreserved carriages. Instead I decide it is a good idea to go and get myself a glass of wine and relax, then get my booked train which after all will still get me in to Windermere at 21.30.

Bad move! I have my glass of wine and head for the concourse. The 18.30 train is delayed and, it becomes gradually obvious, badly so. By the time the train is finally called it is nearly 7pm and it will obviously take 10 minutes at least to stuff everyone on to it and for it to actually leave Euston. It’s already clear to me that my visions of getting to my hotel in Grasmere before last orders are not going to be fulfilled and I seriously consider whether to give the whole weekend up as a bad idea and head home. I decide this is daft given the weather forecast and a quick couple of phone calls to the hotel and to the taxi company that’s picking me up in Windermere are made to reschedule things. The train loses even more time as it goes North and I only make the last train to Windermere by less than 10 minutes. I finally get to Grasmere just after 11 and have no energy to do anything other than collapse in to bed. The only saving grace is that I didn’t have too many glasses of wine on the train. Continue reading

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A weekend in the Lakes without the car: a Mountains and Malbec guide

As regular readers of my blog will know, I do a lot of my walking in the Lake District via public transport. This makes weekend jaunts possible without the need for a long and tiring drive – though some areas of the Lakes are a lot more difficult to get to without a car than others (Wasdale in particular springs to mind). However, doing things this way does require a fair bit of planning – with the inevitable possibility of things going hideously wrong! Which of course has happened on more than one occasion.  Continue reading

Wainwright walks 38: legging it in Langdale

Hills:Lingmoor Fell
Wainwright: No.80
When: Thursday 12th October
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Overcast but dry; very windy at times
Conditions underfoot: Good paths for most of it with only the odd bit of bog or scree
Hangover factor: Moderate (though could have been a lot worse!)
Post walk drink: Malbec
Post walk watering hole: The White Lion, Ambleside
Mishaps: None to speak of. WTF?

I think it is fair to say that after my last walk, up Whinlatter on the 10th, the post walk drinks were not particularly restrained. The weather forecast for the Wednesday 11th October was, to put it mildly, resembling Noah’s Flood with strong winds accompanied by torrential rain. On waking up that morning with a reasonably sore head I took one look out of the window to see that the forecast had been pretty accurate… and promptly went back to bed. It was a day for pottering about rather than attempting to go anywhere near any sort of hill and the amount of water in the beck was something to see.. and also a bit worrying. It was clear that any subsequent walk was going to have to be carefully planned as everywhere underfoot was likely to be awash.

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On the Wednesday evening we had booked to have a meal at Fellinis combined with seeing Coriolanus streamed live from the RSC – so some rather cultural evening entertainment! The (vegetarian) food was pretty good and we accompanied it by a nice bottle of white wine… at Fellinis you can also take wine into the cinema so needless to say more wine got bought and we did. Although we ended up going to bed at a reasonably restrained time the wine consumption had not exactly been that restrained so plans for the Thursday – where the forecast looked potentially walkable but windy – were left fluid. Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 36: Yet more bog and the wrong trousers (again!)

Hills:Troutbeck Tongue
Wainwright: No.78
When: Sunday 8th October
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Generally pretty good
Conditions underfoot: Good track then megabog
Hangover factor: Didn’t have one
Post walk drink: Shandy, then Loweswater Gold
Post walk watering hole: The Lily Bar, Ambleside
Mishaps: Read on…

I struggled with the title for this one. Given the name of the hill a number of alternatives came to mind but all of them were slightly rude and although this blog – given it sometimes seems to focus as much on alcohol as walking – is not exactly PG rated there are limits. Yes honestly there are!

I am sure I have said before that the faffing with transportation that can often accompany my walking trips is a mishap in itself. Or certainly brings with it the potential for mishaps and this one was to be no different. The occasion was a week staying in a lovely 16th century cottage in Ambleside which we have stayed in before and whilst I normally use the train for shorter visits it seemed silly not to take the car with us this time which gives a bit more flexibility in terms of walk options – not to mention in terms of what gear gets taken. The flipside to this is that getting away at a sensible time on a Friday night involves getting up shortly after 5am to drive the car round to north London, dump it in Stanmore tube station car park, get the tube into the office and then drive up from there after work, hoping to leave at a sensible time. The first part of this should have worked fairly well having got up at what I always think of as ‘silly o’clock’ but I hit heavy traffic on the M25 and was slightly late into work, with early departure already starting to seem unlikely. I am never great after not enough sleep either and although I probably got about 5 hours this is not really enough for me any more. Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 35: Steel-ing myself in the Central Fells

Hills: Steel Fell
Wainwrights: No.77
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
When: 23 September
Weather: Low cloud but stayed mostly dry until nearly at the top… then rain and wind. Ugh!
Conditions underfoot: Wet grass and wet rock
Bog Factor: Not that much actual bog, but see above
Uses of the Ar*e Crampon: 2 (due to slippy wet rock)
Post walk watering hole: The Unicorn Inn, Ambleside
Post walk drink: Unicorn Ale (seemed appropriate)
Mishaps: Read on….

18.30, Friday 22nd September and once again we were on the Virgin Train service to Glasgow Central, heading due North. It sometimes feels as though I spend half my life on this train as I usually catch this whenever I am going off to do some walking. Only the getting off point really seems to vary as depending on where my ultimate destination is it will either be Oxenholme (2 ½ hours from Euston) Penrith (3 hours) or Glasgow Central (4 ½). It’s also the first train I can get which doesn’t involve having to leave the office rather earlier than would be ideal. On a Friday night it’s always packed as well, which isn’t necessarily a transport malfunction in itself unless I’ve forgotten to reserve a seat (which has happened before necessitating an Usain Bolt type sprint to the unreserved carriages the minute the train was announced). What the heck, it’s still less tiring than driving, and the public transport in the Lakes means that having the use of a car isn’t strictly necessary… well up to a point which I was about to find out. 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