Wainwright walks 64: The high way to Hell (vellyn)

Hills: Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn (a repeat)
Classification: Wainwrights (129 and 130)
When: Thursday 5 September
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 7 miles, but felt like twice that.
Time: 5 hours approximately. Not much in the way of breaks – too cold!
Weather: Quite mixed. Cloud blowing in and out for most of it – pea soup and raining on Helvellyn. Also cold at height.
Post walk drink:  Lake District G&T
Post walk watering hole: The Inn at Grasmere
Uses of the arse crampon: 2
Mishaps: Mild insomnia. Not packing warm enough gear. Also choice of descent route…

This blog has been pretty quiet for a couple of months for various reasons. Firstly a lot of work which has meant that this post itself is a bit late in arriving but more significantly nothing really resembling walking during that time. We always have two weeks off in August but these days rather than spending them looking at the rain lash down outside a cottage in Scotland, we go to Egypt for two weeks of sun, sea and snorkelling. Egypt is a fascinating country but given the heat it’s really not somewhere you go for walking so our exercise while we were there consisted of snorkelling the reef at the hotel (which is about 1k long so definitely counts as exercise!) and raising various alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to our mouths (which on balance doesn’t count given you are only really working out the muscles in one arm). Continue reading

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Wainwright walks 63: a nice walk Arthur a long journey

Hills: Stone Arthur
Classification: Wainwright (128)
When: Thursday 18 July
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 3 1/2 miles
Time: 2 ½ hours, including breaks
Weather: Cloudy, but above summits. The odd shower
Post walk drink: Crafty Pale Ale
Post walk watering hole: The Crafty Baa, Windermere
Uses of the arse crampon: MIA again
Mishaps: Drink related (though not alcohol related this time); packing
Time of journey to time of walk ratio: About 3:1

Since the end of our holiday in Keswick, there has been no walking of any substance done – and being honest very little exercise. A very busy period of work hasn’t helped on either front, but at least we had a planned break to look forward to attending the Hawkshead Beer Festival – Stuart was originally meant to be away working that week and travelling to the Lakes separately, so I’d decided to travel up early and try and fit in some walking. Inevitably once we had booked things it turned out Stuart wasn’t going to be away after all but I decided I would still travel up – this time we were staying at Windermere as I wanted to see whether it made a decent base for walking as well as for other stuff to do.

Earlier in the week, the weather for the whole few days looked to be pretty good. However, as time moved on the forecast gradually got worse with Friday now in particular looking dubious. Thursday looked decent, but I had an early morning meeting that morning which couldn’t be rearranged, so travelling up the previous night (or very early on the Thursday) wasn’t an option. A plan was hatched… it was going to be one of those walks where the journey to the hill took far longer than the actual walk. I would leave work as soon as I could once my meeting was over, work on the train, drop my bags at my B&B in Windermere and take advantage of the long days to cram in a walk in the late afternoon/ early evening. Given I have done a lot of the smaller hills or shorter walks in the South of the district already, and would be reliant on buses, this didn’t leave me too many options – but one obvious one was Stone Arthur near Grasmere. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 59: Souther the clouds (but not of the rain!)

Hills: Souther Fell
Classification: Wainwright (119)
When: Friday 31 May
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 4 miles
Time: 2 hours
Weather: Cloudy, but above summits. Rain at times on the way up which got heavier on the way down.
Post walk drink: Malbec
Post walk watering hole: The Salutation Hotel, then the Lily Bar (also Ambleside)
Uses of the arse crampon: One – a return!
Mishaps: Traffic, weather, and having to work… again.

After my damp, foggy walk up Longlands Fell on the 30th May, followed by an afternoon of work, I did at least manage to have a reasonably relaxed evening including a decent Thai meal in Ambleside. The weather forecast for the following day was a little bit better (although not by much) but I had again had the email of doom which meant I would need to work for at least some of the afternoon. In fact I ended up working first thing in the morning and then again in the afternoon as the forecast seemed to indicate the weather would be worse earlier on than it would be later… so once again, I needed something which would suffice for a quick blast, and once again I was faced with chasing the weather North. I did feel it was slightly ridiculous having to drive from Ambleside to the Northern Fells when I was staying in Keswick in a few days time, but I have got to the point I have done most of the hills near Ambleside that fit the definition of a ‘quick blast’ – the obvious exception being Stone Arthur which is (at the moment) the only Wainwright I have had to turn back on and if anything is asking for trouble doing a bogey hill on a marginal day is!

Continue reading

Wainwright walks 58: the journey from Hell, and a foggy Longlands Fell

Hills: Longlands Fell
Classification: Wainwright (118)
When: Thursday 30 May
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 3 ½ miles (maybe less) but felt like twice that.
Time: 1 ¾ hours. Definitely no breaks, too miserable a day
Weather: Basically dire. Low cloud, windy and later rain.
Post walk drink: Initially coke. Though Malbec later.
Post walk watering hole: Assuming the coke doesn’t count, the bar at the Salutation Hotel, Ambleside
Uses of the arse crampon: None. Though I could have seen a use for the can’t be arsed crampon…
Mishaps: Weather, traffic…. See below

Some of you that read this blog on a regular, or semi regular basis will know that usually something goes wrong. This is either weather related, transport issues, or self inflicted i.e. having one too many drinks the night before the walk, though I have been a lot better behaved on that score recently – must be getting sensible in my old age! However, mishaps have been surprisingly absent on recent walks, leading one commentator to wonder if there was a gigantic one lurking around the corner in order to compensate. This didn’t quite count as that, but in some ways it wasn’t far off as several unconnected mishaps were present to a pretty high degree..

Most of my readers know that I do a lot of my walking using public transport and only bother to drive if I am up for the best part of the week or longer. This time I was in the Lakes for nearly two weeks as a celebration for a significant birthday. We had a week booked in a cottage in Keswick but had also tacked on a couple of days in a hotel and given Stuart was working away the last week of May I decided to tack on another couple of days and travel up on Wednesday 29th May after doing a few hours work in the morning. I was not leaving at a busy time so surely a reasonably decent run in the car would be feasible… Continue reading

Back on track in the Pentlands

Hills: Black Hill (Pentlands)
Classification: Sub 2000 Scottish Marilyn
When: Tuesday 5 February
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 7 ½ miles
Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Weather: Started cold and clear but clouded over
Post walk drink: Tempest pale ale
Post walk watering hole: The Hanging Bat craft beer bar
Mishaps: Transport

Tuesday 5th February 2019: the sky was blue, the birds were singing, and I was sat at Edinburgh bus station at the unearthly (for me) hour of 8am waiting for a bus to Flotterstone. 8am is not an hour that I often see when not at work unless I am planning a walk that for whatever reason requires an early start – or I have insomnia. This one was, I guess, a bit of both.

My regular readers will probably already be wondering where the mishaps are. Well I guess there were 2, although neither of them on the day of the actual walk. We were up in Edinburgh for a week mainly so Stuart could attend the rugby at Murrayfield and had rented a town house very close to the city centre; we had decided not to bring the car as my only real hill walking plans involved the Pentlands and were therefore easily doable by bus. The flipside to this is it required lugging a ridiculous amount of stuff across London on Friday 1st February and onto the train. Oh yes, the train! Mishap 1… 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