Wainwright Walks 81: a Hartsop Doddle

  • Hills: Hartsop Dodd (also a repeat of Caudale Moor)
  • Classification: Wainwright (152)
  • When: Sunday 20 June
  • Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
  • Distance: About 6 miles (I think)
  • Weather: Sunny 
  • Post walk drink: Hawkshead Pale Ale (too warm for Malbec)
  • Post walk watering hole: The Queens, Windermere
  • MAMBA factor: Medium. Had the hills more or less to myself to start off with but that didn’t last!
  • Uses of the arse crampon: Still MIA. 
  • Mishaps: Unless the fitness level counts, nothing really. Work was a mishap later in the week.

One of these days I will write a blog which does not start with either an apology for not having written it before, or a COVID related rant… yet again, this is not that blog! Once again this post has taken a long time to crawl out of my brain and actually make it on to the internet and yet again the usual reasons are in place. 

I’m still fed up with how the last two years have panned out. I’m still completely unfit and it seems to be getting worse rather than better. I’ve still got too much on at work and specifically in respect of this blog work totally got in the way. To cut a very long potential rant short I ended up having to work on several days of my supposed holiday which meant that this was the only hill walk I managed during what was supposed to be a week away. I did do a wonderful swim/ hike later in the week but far too much of the ‘holiday’ was taken up working which is emphatically not what a holiday is meant to be about. 

As regards the pandemic, whilst things seem to be returning vaguely to something which bears at least a passing resemblance to normality in some areas, in others they are still a long way apart. I still have friends who are hardly ever leaving the house. I got caught by the ‘pingdemic’ despite being double jabbed (though I do know people who have had COVID despite having been double jabbed). I still hate wearing face masks as I feel as though I can’t breathe, though I do when I need to. I’m actually starting to wonder if ‘normal’ will ever actually return or what it will look like (and hearing the phrase ‘new normal’ still makes me want to punch something). This disease isn’t going to go away – we have to get on with our lives eventually. 

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Wainwright Walks 78: Dodging the weather on Loadpot and Wether

  • Hills: Loadpot Hill, Wether Hill
  • Wainwrights: 148 and 149
  • When: 1 May 2021
  • Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
  • Weather: Sunny but cold
  • Bog factor: Mostly dried out
  • Distance: About 7 ½ miles
  • Time: 4 ½ hours including breaks
  • Post walk drink: Malbec
  • Post walk watering hole: The Sun Hotel, Lancaster
  • Mishaps: None to speak of
  • Uses of the arse crampon: I think it’s in hibernation

It’s taken a couple of weeks since the date of this walk for this blog post to crawl out of my subconscious and onto the internet – and it’s been a very long time since I’ve done a blog post at all. The reasons for this are obvious; lockdown 3.0 having extended for a considerable amount of time, there has simply been no hill walking to write about, with anything even remotely resembling a hill being out of bounds for exercise on grounds of being too far away. I suppose I could have written a blog or two about the politics of hill walking – there’s certainly been a lot of that about on Facebook with arguments about how far it is or isn’t acceptable to travel in order to do a walk (at the various stages of lockdown easing), whether it was really morally acceptable to stay overnight even once doing that in self catering accommodation was legally allowed, whether we should in fact all be confined to the house for the foreseeable future and so forth – but to be quite frank I couldn’t be bothered. 

I’ve found the last lockdown harder than the other two. The first one had a sort of novelty factor and at the start of it, felt very temporary (at least until it started to drag on). The second one was time limited which made it easier. But the last one felt interminable – even had the weather not been foul and most of the country near me turned into a sea of mud I was quite frankly bored to tears with our local walks. A period of sustained pressure at work was not helping either – this included being too busy to take the day after my first vaccination off sick even though I felt pretty grim. I was getting to the point of being desperate to get out of London though at least when the open water swimming venue near me finally reopened at the end of March that helped a bit. But at the date of writing talk of variants and whether lockdown easing will have to be canned (as a result of less than 2000 cases of a particular variant) is frankly just depressing. There has to come a point where we have to just get on with things before what passes for normal just totally ceases to exist.

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2020: a year in review

  • Total hills climbed: 17 (I think) one of which was a repeat
  • Wainwrights: 13
  • Wainwrights now done: 147
  • Wainwrights left to do: 67
  • Marilyns (outside the Lakes): 4 (including one repeat)
  • Number of ascents of Orrest Head: 2
  • Beer festivals attended in the Lake District: None
  • Beer festivals attended elsewhere: None
  • Trips cancelled due to COVID-19: Don’t ask.

Well where do I start with this one?!

Let’s start with the positives I guess. Despite a global pandemic, this wasn’t actually my worst year of hill bagging – it also wasn’t even my worst year for Wainwright bagging since I started making more of an effort to do them; that was back in 2016 where I did 13 hills in total, 11 of which were Wainwrights. Included in the 13 Wainwrights I managed to do this year were a couple of really good days on the hill, although for the most part I was picking off hills as singles or pairs. I’m getting to the point where I’ve already done a lot of the walks where you can pick off four or five in one go, and those that I have left to do are in the more obscure/ inaccessible parts of the Lakes, mostly in the far West. This is a direct consequence of me having tried to do a lot of my Lakes walking via public transport with the far West being pretty much impossible to do that way – the far East still has its areas where public transport is a pain but is generally more accessible thanks to things like bus links around Glenridding, Pooley Bridge and Penrith.

It would be impossible for me to carry on with this post without getting diverted into a rant and I’m not even going to try. As of the date of writing, and in spite of the fact the vaccine roll out seems – rather surprisingly – to be going pretty well, there is no suggestion of the easing off of lockdown measures any time soon. Schools in March, non-essential shops in April and pubs/ restaurants/ accommodation in May seems to be what everyone is saying despite there being no real evidence pubs are a vector for transmission in any real way. Whilst COVID is clearly a very nasty bug indeed, the repeated lockdowns, and particularly this one, are starting to get to people and this one in particular is hard; during the first one I spent some time discovering things closer to home, such as that we had a bluebell wood near us and some rather nice artificial lakes, all of which helped. But now everywhere is under a sea of mud, a lot of the paths are impassable and it’s too cold to sit drinking wine in the garden in the evening and feel like you have been somewhere. The days all blend into one; get up, have breakfast, do some work, have lunch, do some work, have dinner, drink some Malbec/ Shiraz/ Merlot/ Pinot Grigio/ gin and tonic (strike out drink which does not apply) go to sleep, and repeat… I’ve no idea when I’ll be able to get back into the hills and even the South Downs (which is actually quite nice) is probably too far to really be justifiable for a walk during the current restrictions. Let’s just hope that the end of all this is in sight.

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Wainwright Walks 77: Snow going in the Far Eastern Fells

  • Hills: Bonscale Pike
  • Classification: Wainwright (147)
  • When: Saturday 5 December
  • Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
  • Distance: About 7 ½ miles (felt longer though)
  • Time: About 5 hours including breaks. So way longer than it should.
  • Weather: Glorious!
  • Bog factor: Medium. Some was frozen but a lot wasn’t.
  • Snow factor: Loads of deep soft snow.
  • Post walk drink:  Malbec
  • Post walk watering hole: The Black Bull, Sedbergh
  • Uses of the arse crampon: Still missing in action…
  • Mishaps: Snow, traffic, boots (not in that order)

In my last blog post, when I had a few days off at the end of September, I thought that my walk on Whin Rigg and Illgill Head was likely to be my last Wainwright bagging expedition of the year. World events looked to get in the way of anything further, with England being slammed into lockdown at the start of November – a planned holiday in the middle of November being canned as a result, though fortunately this time we hadn’t actually booked anything. This left me with several days holiday to use up before the year end and no real idea of what to do with them: I hate taking time off and not going anywhere as I inevitably end up working which is not really what taking time off is supposed to be about!

I’m going to try and resist the temptation to go on too much of a virus related rant. But I think that the current situation is a shambles. At the date of writing London has just been put into tier 3 and given there is nothing even remotely resembling a hill around here even my plans for early next year are up a certain creek without a paddle. None of the restrictions make any sense to me – schools are a hotbed of transmission whereas pubs aren’t yet what gets shut down? Pubs. Quite why it is fine to go shopping on Oxford Street amongst loads of other people, travel into work on a packed Tube or train, or go to the gym but you are not allowed to go for a drink escapes me; even in tier 2, I cannot for the life of me understand why the virus seems to know whether I have ordered a pizza or a Scotch egg alongside my glass of red wine. Anyway #end rant!

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