Wainwright Walks 26: Raven about the views from Raven Crag!

Hills: Raven Crag
Wainwrights: ditto
Who: Just me
When: Monday 2nd January 2017
Weather: glorious!
Bog factor: zero
Dodgy path factor: medium
Bizarre summit feature factor: high

January through to March is usually my off season for walking. A combination of short daylight hours (given that I am not a morning person) together with a tendency for the weather to be rotten has meant it hasn’t usually been worth taking a punt on a trip. There has been the odd day in February or the end of January where a winter walk has come together, but they have been few and far between, and certainly early January hasn’t traditionally been a good source of days on the hill.

That was about to change! A week off in the New Year had been booked and we were visiting our old haunt of the Salutation Hotel in Ambleside. Given we would be there for a few nights we decided to drive up and break the journey part way. The morning of the 2nd saw us emerging from the Macdonald Tickled Trout hotel near Preston (pretty good) to glorious sunshine. Given our reputation as bad weather magnets this was not something we had necessarily expected, despite the weather forecast (which as everyone knows can be wrong, and indeed, often is).

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Wainwright Walks 25: unfinished business on Low Pike

Hills:Low Pike
When: 23 September 2016
Who: just me and the mountaineering minion
Why: unfinished business
Weather: overcast but windy
Bog factor: mostly ok but one patch of megabog near the top
Post walk drink: Pinot Grigio
Post walk watering hole: The Golden Rule

It was April 2014 when I did the Fairfield Horseshoe. Well I say ‘did’. I was walking in a big group on a glorious sunny day; we started from Rydal and took in the ridge starting from Nab Scar, breaking the walk by celebrating someone’s birthday on Fairfield itself with some champagne. Mid walk drinks were a bit of a new experience! At the time, I didn’t have a Harveys map of the relevant bit of the Lake District… I did however acquire one a couple of days later, and was horrified to realise that I had bagged only 7 Wainwrights of a possible 8. Why? Because we had dropped off the ridge after High Pike on a path which contoured below the summit of Low Pike, the summit of which is underneath the ridge wall… which at that point we had been nowhere near (as I thought). It therefore became unfinished business, and had been bugging me ever since although on a few subsequent visits to Ambleside I had never quite got round to it. Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 18: Helm Crag to Calf Crag – weird rocks, waterfalls and too many false summits

Hills: Helm Crag, Gibson Knott, Calf Crag
When: 22 September 2015
Who: self and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Sun!
Distance: 8 miles approx
Bog factor: fine until Calf Crag, then pretty awful
Path factor: Great path on Helm Crag, okay on Gibson Knott; boggy after that until the descent through the valley (steep in parts)
Post walk drink: Shiraz
Post walk watering hole: The Lamb Inn, Grasmere

After an uninspiring weather forecast on Monday 21st – which was borne out by the actual weather and therefore we decided to go see the Everest movie at the cinema in Ambleside rather than attempt a walk (this has killed any residual desire I might have ever had to try anything at higher altitude than Scotland!) the forecast for Tuesday was unexpectedly good. However, we both felt rather tired (not due to any excess intake of wine, just generally not a brilliant night’s sleep) so decided a relatively short and lower level walk was in order. The loop over Helm Crag from Grasmere seemed a good bet, with decent paths at least some of the way and also the option of taking the bus which would enable us (a) to avoid the extortionate parking charges in Grasmere and (b) sample one of the local hostelries after the walk. We were off the bus in Grasmere shortly before 11, and ambled past the Sam Read bookshop towards the Easdale road which would lead us to the path up Helm Crag, the summit rocks of which we could already see from the village. The sky was blue, the birds were singing and the route was clear – what could possibly go wrong? Continue reading

Great day on Great Whernside!

Hills: Great Whernside
Hewitts: Ditto
Ydiotts: (Yorkshire Dales ‘ills Over Two Thousand) ditto
When: 13 September 2015
Who: self, the mountaineering minion, and Ibex Mountaineering Club
Weather: lovely!
Distance & time: 8 miles, 4 ½ hours
Bog Factor: mostly okay, though pretty glutinous in parts

It’s been a long lay off from the hills, with us deciding – given the foul weather we usually get in Scotland in August – to dispense with our normal 2 weeks holiday to the Highlands in favour of two weeks in Egypt, snorkelling, looking at tropical fish, drinking cocktails and generally chilling out. However, before too long the mountains were calling; I’d arranged to go to Yorkshire with my London walking club (www.ibexmc.org.uk) and hopefully tackle a couple of the hills there. We were staying near Kettlewell in Wharfedale, a place I hadn’t been to in years but which I had been to many times on family holidays when I was younger.

Inevitably there is a transport debacle of some sort to contend with on my walks and this was no exception. The traffic on Friday night heading out of London was spectacularly bad and it was midnight before we got to the bunkhouse we were staying in. After a companionable couple of glasses of wine with club members it was nearly 1am before I actually got to bed. I then slept appallingly – I often do when Stuart’s not there and also when in dormitory accommodation. I can’t even blame it on snoring as nobody was! On Saturday morning, we awoke to torrential rain and although the forecast was for it to clear up late morning the idea of going up a hill did not inspire. I settled for an 8 mile flat walk with another member of the club, which was a nice walk with a pub stop en route and a good waterfall. It chucked it down until about 2.30pm at which point it finally did clear up, but we were soaking wet by that point and I was delighted the bunkhouse had a half decent drying room which was more than necessary! Continue reading

Snowy Snowdonia – above the clouds!!

Hills: Moel Eilio (Hewitt), Foel Gron (Hewitt) Foel Goch
When: Saturday 7 February 2015
Who: just me
Weather: see for yourself!
Ascent: about 720m in total
Conditions underfoot: Snow and ice on ascent of Eilio: patchy snow on the other hills over about 550m
Time: About 5 hours including breaks – but who cares.
Post walk drink: Merlot

Having started this blog on 1 January this year, so far it has contained rather a lot of old walks, with me steadily posting up some old favourites or walks that have for whatever reason been memorable, whether due to stunning winter vistas, stinking hangovers or pouring rain and wind. What it hasn’t contained is any walks this year, for the simple reason that there haven’t been any. Living in a rather flat part of the country doesn’t help with the highest part of Kent apparently being in someone’s back garden! It was well past time to sort that out, and therefore a trip to Snowdonia with my walking group was planned. Rather to my surprise, the weather forecast was actually pretty good!

The first law of my walks: if the weather does not go wrong something else will. If it does not involve a hangover/ unintentional visit to the pub then it involves either a transport debacle or mechanical failure of some description, or a case of human error (e.g. forgetting or losing the map). The second seemed to be the case this time as I couldn’t find my map of Snowdonia, necessitating a panic buy of a replacement. I then found my original map in a drawer in my office and remembered I’d lent it to a colleague and never taken it home. So now I had two maps.. I also remembered that some time ago I had splashed out more money than I care to think about on a new GPS with OS mapping which we hadn’t been able to figure out. The evening before heading off was spent fiddling with the GPS and eventually realising I had put the memory chip with the OS maps in wrong – but still couldn’t get the map to display at the correct size. A phone call to the help desk being of zero use I eventually worked out all I had to do was zoom in and bingo, OS mapping at 1:50000 for the whole of the UK. Result! 🙂

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