Wainwright Walks 86: Hart Side and the bog of semi-doom

  • Hills: Hart Side
  • Classification: Wainwright (161)
  • When: Saturday 26 March
  • Who: Me, Squiz, the mountaineering minion, and Tiny Paddington
  • Sadly absent: Hils
  • Distance: 7 miles approx. (again)
  • Weather: Sunny and quite warm (again – honest!)
  • Conditions underfoot: A bogfest for much of it
  • Post walk drink: Keswick Brewery ‘Park Yerself’ – later Shiraz
  • Post walk watering hole: The Fox Tap, Keswick Brewery
  • MAMBA factor: Medium – saw hardly anyone till nearly at the summit, but then quite a few people about
  • Uses of the arse crampon: Still MIA
  • Mishaps: Sort of Covid related..

Regular readers will be wondering where the now traditional opening rant has got to. For once, this report does not really contain any serious ranting, although the odd grumble will no doubt sneak in from time to time!

After my walk the previous day, we met up with the Scottish Hills crew in Wetherspoons in Keswick. In hindsight this was a bit of a bad idea – the food was not great and the noise level was ridiculous. Maybe I am getting old but when I go to a pub I actually want to be able to talk to people rather than listen to loud piped music. To be honest I was the same even when younger and ever since my accident when I broke my back, finding a seat in a pub has become a worry as I can’t stand up in a crowded bar for much more than half an hour without my back starting to grumble. Given it often doesn’t on a hill walk, I can only conclude it is to do with standing up without moving, as the same thing happens if I ever fail to get a seat on a train in to the office (if the train is full on turning up at my station, then unless I have an early meeting I’d usually wait for the next one). Food and noise notwithstanding we had a good blether and several plans were made for the following day – specifically I would meet up with Hils and Squiz to do Hart Side, which would be a new hill for all of us and also had the advantage of a high start point – I don’t have many of those left!

Unfortunately a sort of mishap ensued the following morning. We had arranged to all meet at 10 where Hils’ car was parked. However on getting up I got a text from Hils saying she wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be able to join us as she wanted to get a LFT to be on the safe side. The chemist in Keswick didn’t have any so this necessitated a drive to Cockermouth as with the things about to stop being free they were becoming like gold dust. I sent a text to Squiz which then didn’t seem to be delivered so was wondering what was going on and whether the whole thing was going to collapse. Fortunately a message on Facebook did get through and Squiz met me at our AirB&B shortly after 9.30 as I had offered to do the driving having been at least vaguely sensible the night before and therefore not hung over! Stuart decided that instead of coming with us he was going to do the circular walk around Derwentwater which he’s wanted to do for ages.

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A walk that went swimmingly (and a small hill thrown in)

  • Hills: Irton Pike
  • Classification: Outlying Wainwright (only my 2nd!)
  • Swim spots: Tongue Pot and Kail Pot, River Esk: Wast Water: Gill Force (near Boot)
  • When: Friday 17 and Saturday 18 September
  • Who: Me and the mountaineering minion (at least for the walking bit – he doesn’t swim)
  • Distance: No idea
  • Weather: Bit mixed, but lovely for the 2nd swim.
  • Post walk drink: Pale ale, followed by Merlot (again)
  • Post walk watering hole: The Strands Inn, Wasdale (again)
  • MAMBA factor: Surprisingly high given where I was
  • Uses of the arse crampon: Came in pretty useful for getting in and out of the water.
  • Mishaps: None to speak of, though the straight up the front route up Irton Pike was a bit brutal. Almost a car mishap.

Apologies in advance to my usual readers: this blog post does not contain much in the way of hill walking. It does contain a bit of hill walking, and definitely contains plenty of photos of the Lake District, but the hill walking was a peripheral part of this walk – well walks really as it was spread over 2 days – rather than the prime focus.

My usual readers are probably also wondering where the now inevitable opening rant is! At the time of actually doing the walk / swim, there didn’t really seem to be a lot to rant about – for once on the Friday work managed not to intrude on my supposed day off, and I was able to just enjoy the day without stressing about being pulled into conference calls whilst either on or only just off the hill. That said, at the time of writing I am still reading news posts suggesting impending doom; increasing case rates of the Omicron variant which may yet lead to us all being locked up again in the not too distant future, despite that (at the moment anyway) it seems to be significantly milder than previous variants and not to be translating into increasing numbers of people actually dying. I suppose we can only wait and see but the whole thing seems to be never ending and staring into a Covid- hit 2022 when I haven’t really mentally processed 2020, never mind 2021, yet is frankly just depressing. A scientist friend thinks it might be another five years in a worst case scenario before we are out the other side of this which is even more depressing. We have got to find a way to live alongside this and try and get back to something approaching normality before it is gone for good.

Anyway, back to the walking / swimming! Where this all started dates back to summer 2020 and Stuart giving me a voucher for Swim the Lakes which runs guided wild swims in and around Ambleside. I’d wanted to try wild swimming for ages – I used to swim in the sea in Wales when on holiday as a kid / teenager and always enjoyed it but had never really swum in rivers or lakes. Suffice it to say that I loved the swim in Windermere and have now found a managed open water swimming venue in a lake about 2 miles from my house which I go to regularly. It’s fair to say that I now have even more kit to store as what started off with a swimming costume last Autumn then led to the acquisition of increasing amounts of neoprene in order to enable me to carry on swimming in the winter (lockdowns permitting). Stuart also started coming along and we both now swim at the lake including a rather bracing dip on Christmas Day. In some ways, I’m probably enjoying the swimming more than hill walking at the moment – as I’ve said in a previous blog, as I’ve come closer to finishing the Wainwrights I’ve started to put increasing amounts of pressure on myself which given I am prone to getting stressed anyway is not particularly helpful. That stress doesn’t really exist for the swimming, and it’s actually a brilliant way to de-stress, as well as a fabulous cure for a mild hangover (it isn’t sensible to go cold water swimming with a stinker of a hangover though, as you can lose the ability to regulate your temperature). 

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Wainwright walks 75: send in the Calva-ry!

  • Hills: Great Calva
  • Classification: Wainwright (144)
  • When: Friday 18 September
  • Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
  • Distance: About 7 miles
  • Time: 3 ½ hours including breaks
  • Weather: Glorious
  • Bog factor: Moderately high
  • Post walk drink:  Prosecco, then Malbec
  • Post walk watering hole: The Boot Inn, Eskdale
  • Uses of the arse crampon: Still missing in action!
  • Mishaps: None to speak of – ???!

After my insomnia fuelled amble up Grike and Crag Fell on the 16th September, I awoke on the 17th to a glorious morning. Well technically I awoke to a glorious middle of the night as once again I didn’t sleep too well and although I actually managed to get back to sleep for a while it still wasn’t brilliant. Once the sun was up it was clear it was going to be a fantastic day – but this time I wasn’t hill walking as I was booked in for an open water swim in Windermere as a birthday present from Stuart. Although I’ve recently done a couple of open water swims near where I live I was a bit nervous about this one not least because of the prospect of having to stuff myself into a wetsuit given that I am not a small girl! As it turned out I did just about manage to get in to the wetsuit and the swim, which ended up being about a mile in total, was absolutely great. I was done by lunchtime and in theory could have done a walk in the afternoon but given possible issues with parking, plus having already done a decent chunk of exercise, I decided against doing any sort of significant walk in favour of a potter up Orrest Head (again) followed by chilling out and pottering around in the afternoon.

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