Wainwright Walks 55: A great Dodd-le toddle and a wee blether

Hills: Great Dodd, Clough Head
Classification: Wainwrights (112 and 113)
When: Saturday 23 March
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion, Hils and Carol
Distance: About 8 miles
Time: About 4 ½ hours
Weather: Quite windy and cold on the tops – fine lower down
Post walk drink: Cabernet Sauvignon
Post walk watering hole: The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas i.e. the Wetherspoons in Keswick
Uses of the arse crampon: None as such
Mishaps: Mobile phone issues

After getting blown about on Knott Rigg and Ard Crags the previous day, a good blether/ conflab was had in the pub afterwards with much discussion about what we would do. There were 6 of us on the walking meet and a lot of plans being kicked around with Kets in particular being keen to go and have a bit of an epic on the Helvellyn range. 3 of us however had all been thinking about the same set of hills – at the Northern end of the Helvellyn range but with convenient access from a car park near Dockray at a height of around 300m. As I didn’t have a car with me I had initially dismissed it as a possibility but since the others did it seemed like a good plan. We would start by going up Great Dodd and then take a call as to whether to continue to Clough Head or not. I arranged to meet Hilary in Keswick and we would get Carol at the car park at 10.45. Continue reading


Wainwright Walks 54: Ard work on a Knott great day

Hills: Knott Rigg, Ard Crags
Classification: Wainwrights (110 and 111)
When: Friday 22 March
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 5 miles
Time: 3 hours
Weather: Blowing a gale. But stayed dry until I was off the hill (phew!)
Post walk drink: Well the actual first one was a pint of coke (what?!). The first proper one was a glass of Malbec.
Post walk watering hole: The Golden Lion, Keswick (if the coke counts, the Bridge Hotel, Buttermere)
Uses of the arse crampon: One (semi-intentional)
Mishaps: Weather (if that counts) and work (Stuart’s).

This year, my Wainwright bagging has been rather slow to get off the ground. I didn’t have any particular targets for this year, and still don’t, having got the ton up and the halfway point last year (the first of which was a target but the second was an unexpected bonus). I’d also had to cancel a planned trip at the beginning of March due to a dreadful weather forecast, annoyingly finding out later on that the actual weather on one of the days was a lot better than forecast (inevitably). It was still the right decision though as I had one of those cough/ cold bugs that seem to take ages to go away and the last thing I fancy when feeling ill is getting soaked or blown over.

Needless to say, the weather forecast for the first day of my Keswick break wasn’t great – the main issue being wind. The other mishap was that Stuart ended up having to work rather than coming with me on the Thursday night and the plan of him potentially coming later on was kiboshed by a points failure outside of Euston. Had Stuart been there I probably would have at least considered postponing any walking until Saturday (when the forecast was good) but with a day to myself and the others not turning up till the evening (we were meeting friends from the Scottish Hills website) I thought I might as well get off my backside and go and do something. For once there were no real issues with transport but I had a rubbish night’s sleep so what with that and impending weather doom any sort of epic was not an option. Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 53: A bit of festive Barfing

Hills: Barf
Wainwright number: 109
When: Monday 24 December
Weather: Glorious!
Time: 2 ½ hours, including breaks
Conditions underfoot: Mostly ok, though terrain in shade was frozen at times. (On the plus side, so was the bog. Result!)
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink:  Prosecco
Post walk watering hole: The Ambleside Tavern
Mishaps: None whatsoever!
Uses of the arse crampon: No need for it.

Christmas Eve. The sky was blue, the birds were singing, and on surfacing from bed in our holiday cottage, the conditions on the day would have been ideal for a long walk. However, a few libations the night before, and not setting an alarm, had meant that by the time I was actually awake, showered, gear sorted and ready to throw said gear into the car and get underway – as well as needing to engage in some serious de-icing of the car – it was already gone 11am and the time to do any sort of walk other than a short one was fast disappearing. I was also knackered despite having not done very much the day before, following on from the high Tove bogfest on Saturday, and a pretty frantic period of work in the run up to going on holiday. However it was far too nice a day not to do something. Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 52: High-ly boggy in the Central Fells!

Hills: High Tove
Wainwright number: 108
When: Saturday 22 December
Weather: Rather wetter than it was supposed to be!
Time: 2 ½ hours. No breaks – too miserable a day
Conditions underfoot: Slippy stone pitching, followed by a bit of half decent path, followed by semi-quagmire!
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Loweswater Gold – later red wine
Post walk watering hole: The Lily Bar, Ambleside
Mishaps: Does the weather count as a mishap?
Uses of the arse crampon: None (surprisingly given how slippy things were underfoot at times).

By my standards, the last few walks have been pretty much free of any serious sort of mishaps – either transport related, gear related (picking the wrong trousers for the occasion, etc) or weather related. Notably, my last walk was done in glorious sunshine when I brought up the halfway point on Lonscale Fell following a glorious ridge walk up Longside Edge then a repeat of Skiddaw, which I had been meaning to re-do for ages as I saw absolutely nothing when I first climbed it way back in 2010. Inevitably something had to change!

When I came off the hill that day my back and knees were hurting and over the next week or so it became obvious I had tweaked one of my knees worse than I had thought. Unhelpfully the lift in my office was also broken and given I work on the 4th floor this was not conducive to it healing up quickly either. By the time Christmas – and our planned festive visit to a cottage in Ambleside – came round it was much better but I had done no exercise to speak of since my previous visit to the Lakes so my fitness was decidedly not at its best. Combined with very short days and a high level of knackeredness, long walks with lots of ascent were not going to be an option. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 51: a stunner on Skiddaw

Hills: Ullock Pike, Long Side, Carl Side, Skiddaw, Lonscale Fell
Wainwrights: 104-107 (Skiddaw was a repeat)
Furth Munros: Skiddaw
When: Saturday 17 November
Weather: Glorious autumn sunshine, windy at times
Time: 6 hours including breaks
Conditions underfoot: Paths generally good – a few rocky bits on the ridge, scree on the ascent of Skiddaw
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Wainwright (aptly enough); later a nice Merlot
Post walk watering hole: The Wainwright Inn, Keswick; later the Inn at Grasmere
Mishaps: None to speak of. Yes really.
Uses of the arse crampon: None. Though if it would have been any use on one of the rocky bits on Ullock Pike, or the scree slope on Skiddaw I would definitely have considered it.

I should point out for the record that the stunner in question was the weather. Being pushing 50 I am making no claims about myself!! 😄

On the evening of 16 November, I was sat in the residents lounge at the Inn at Grasmere studying my maps and trying to work out a plan of attack for the following day. The weather forecast for the Saturday was – for November – unexpectedly good; for once I had had no issues at all with the trains, having managed to leave work early and do some work on the train, then make a tight connection at Windermere. A taxi pickup from Windermere got me to Grasmere at an unexpectedly civilised time, and instead of worrying about missing the last train, stressing about getting a taxi and then turning up at 11pm totally knackered I was able to have a civilised evening, a nice meal and a glass of wine as well as spend plenty of time thinking about walk options.

Of course, if something does not go wrong with the weather something else will usually go wrong instead. In order to try and prevent this I probably checked my kit about 3 times and the bus timetables just as many times if not more. I changed my mind about which trousers to wear about 3 times too – I never know at this time of year whether to go for the winter lined ones (and risk boiling if too warm) or not (and freeze if temperatures are lower than expected). I also had various different options for the walk, from not ambitious to rather more ambitious. I was, however conscious that it was a long time since I had been on a hill of any real size and since my Cornwall walk I had done basically no exercise at all due to being very busy at work. 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

Wainwright Walks 49: Blue sky but no bluebells in Rannerdale

Hills: Rannerdale Knotts
Classification: Wainwright – no.101
When: Wednesday 30 May
Weather: Blue sky and clouds. Humid and very hot at times
Time: Just under 2 hours, including a break
Conditions underfoot: Dry grassy paths, some rock underfoot at times
Who: me and the mountaineering minion
Post walk drink: Merlot
Post walk watering hole: The Oddfellows Arms. A beer festival the following day too (if that counts)
Mishaps: None to speak of – ??

After getting my ton up on Steel Knotts on Bank Holiday Monday, the Tuesday was – at least sort of – a rest day. We were shifting our accommodation from the Glenridding Hotel to a self catering apartment in Keswick, where we were sponsoring a barrel of beer at Keswick Beer Festival. Having got the ton, the pressure was off regarding walking for the rest of the holiday although I hoped to do at least one more walk before the serious beer drinking ensued; Keswick Beer Festival is a pretty big event and there would be something like 150 real ales available to try, both local ones and those from further afield. It was therefore unlikely any serious walking would be done once that kicked off – although beer seems to affect me a lot less than red wine does.

The Tuesday was actually a really nice day as it turned out – but having done a big walk then a shorter one on back to back days, I was pretty knackered and my back was playing up again. Had there been any obvious small hills in the area we might have thought about doing something but realistically I was not up to much. We chilled out in the pool in Glenridding in the morning then drove down Borrowdale where we had a drink (well a coke in my case) in the Langstrath Inn which I had not been to before and looks worthy of a visit by bus at some point. We checked in to our apartment at 4pm and did some shopping before having a few beers in a couple of local hostelries then cooking a meal and opening some wine back at the apartment. The view from the apartment was terrific – the flip side to the view was 6 flights of stairs up the side of the apartment building which was a bit of a pain in the arse given the need to lug stuff up them. Oh well! Continue reading