Wainwright walks 68: Wild out West!

Hills: Burnbank Fell, Blake Fell
Classification: Wainwright (135 & 136)
When: Sunday 8 March
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 5 miles at a rough guess.
Time: About 3 ½ hours including breaks and faffing
Weather: Does ‘mediocre’ work? Some views for some of it; blooming windy
Post walk drink: Cabernet Sauvignon
Post walk watering hole: The Ambleside Tavern
Uses of the arse crampon: None
Uses of the can’t be arsed crampon: One
One that got away: Gavel Fell
Mishaps: Trousers (again); almost a gear mishap

For some reason this blog post has taken a while to crawl out of my consciousness and actually make it to the page. It is probably because world events having taken the course they have has rather overtaken any desire to sit down and put pen to paper (or at any rate finger to keyboard). It is also probably because had I realised this was likely to be the last walk for some time I would have most likely gritted my teeth and carried on to Gavel Fell rather than bailing as I actually did, and/ or made myself actually do something the following day which for various reasons I didn’t. Anyway we are where we are and we can only hope the current situation is over before too long.

Following my stint of ‘character building’ on Bowscale Fell, the forecast for the day after looked at least a bit better with some promise of a view, if somewhat windy. I did seriously consider heading back to the Northern Fells and either do Bannerdale Crags or head for Bakestall, however I now only have 3 of them left to do and given I had a car handy for once, it seemed to make sense to go a bit further afield. My Wainwright map is now seriously skewed with the area which has been touched the least being the Western Fells. I was also in a bit of discomfort as my back was playing up and the walk the previous day, in less than ideal conditions, had taken quite a bit more out of me than it should have done. Given these factors and the forecast strong winds, I decided that something fairly low with not too much ascent fitted the bill. Time to head to Loweswater again where the fells on the other side from Fellbarrow and Low Fell, which I had done back in November, would give me the chance to string a couple together assuming both the weather and my back held out. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 67: Boggy, foggy and thoroughly soggy!

Hills: Bowscale Fell
Classification: Wainwright (134)
When: Saturday 7 March
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 5 miles. Though given the conditions it felt like at least twice that.
Time: About 3 hours. Far too miserable a day for any breaks.
Weather: See the title of the blog post. Miserable!
Post walk drink: Malbec (what else?!)
Post walk watering hole: The Golden Rule, Ambleside
Uses of the arse crampon: One
Uses of the can’t be arsed crampon: One
Mishaps: Weather; transport; trousers

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog front recently for various reasons. It’s pretty usual for me to have a few months off walking over the winter months, but this time my time away from the hills was compounded by a number of factors which included (in no particular order) a problem with one of my knees which has been giving me quite a bit of trouble, various work going on regarding the house and an extremely busy period at work. However, I did have a booked trip to look forward to at the beginning of March and after a couple of weeks of work being particularly manic – as well as a lot of things in London seemingly going to hell in a handcart due to coronavirus – I really needed to get out of London for a bit and clear out my brain. I had arranged to pick up a hire car in Kendal as I am getting to the point of starting to run out of hills that can easily be done by public transport and it would enable me to chase the weather a bit – as well as look at some of the smaller hills I have yet to do; as a result of the knee problems and also work being manic my exercise regime has been pretty much non-existent for months, so I was conscious that any sort of epic was not going to be an option. Continue reading

2019: a year in review

Total hills climbed:
Wainwrights done: 24 – 133 done in total
Wainwrights left to do: 81
Other hills done: Only one new one (Black Hill in the Pentlands)
Number of ascents of Orrest Head before getting the train home: Just the one this year
Best hill names of the year: Has to be Great Cockup by a country mile.
Beer festivals attended in the Lake District: 3
Beer festivals attended elsewhere: 2
Favourite beer of the year: Probably still Lonesome Pine (Ulverston Brewery) closely followed by Loweswater Gold

This post has taken a bit of time to crawl out of my subconscious and actually make it onto my blog. Sometimes posts almost write themselves and sometimes they just don’t – maybe this is because 2019 was a good year for walking but not necessarily a great one; maybe because apart from a few exceptions I didn’t have all that much luck with the weather; but probably also because work has been really busy as well.

Numbers wise I added 24 new Wainwrights to my total, finishing the year on 133 which leaves me 81 to go if I do decide to try and do the lot – actually my second best year for Wainwright bagging. If I do decide to do the lot though it will need some planning – I’m starting to run out of hills that can easily be done by public transport, and my Wainwright map is really skewed now with some areas where I have done most of the hills and some that I’ve hardly touched. I’ve only got 4 of the Northern Fells left to go for instance, and the same number of the North-Western fells, but loads left to do in the West, South and Far East – inevitably the areas which are a bugger to get to without a car. I have at least managed to identify a car hire place in Penrith that is open at the weekend, which does open up more possibilities, albeit with additional driving involved (not to mention extra cash outlay, oh well). I’ve also got a lot of annoying outliers left from when I was too wiped/ hung over to tack on an extra hill or was running tight for time – things like High Hartsop Dodd which realistically I’ll have to do as one-shots. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 65: Another eastern fell – by the Seat of my pants

Hills: Seat Sandal
Classification: Wainwright (131)
When: Saturday 7 September
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: 6 miles approximately
Time: About 4 hours including breaks
Weather: Lovely!
Post walk drink: Various real ales
Pre walk drink: Various real ales
Post (and pre) walk watering hole: The Grasmere Guzzler beer festival at Tweedies
Uses of the arse crampon: 1 – the first use to assist in ascent!
Mishaps: See ‘pre walk drink’…

After my walk up Dollywaggon Pike and Nethermost Pike on the Thursday, I think it’s fair to say the forecast for the Friday was a bit mixed with heavy showers and sunshine forecast (as it turned out sometimes at the same time). I was also struggling a bit with m back and knees which clearly hadn’t recovered from the walk and I was in quite a bit of discomfort and regardless of the weather I was not really in any state to do any sort of serious walk. A day off and a pottering about day was clearly required and so it transpired; we had a loose arrangement to meet up with our friend Kets at the Grasmere Guzzler beer festival that evening too once he had finished his walk. Continue reading

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

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