Wainwright walks 66: The finest wines known to humanity, cake, and Loweswater

Hills: Low Fell, Fellbarrow
Classification: Wainwrights (132 & 133)
When: Saturday 16 November
Present in fact: Me and the mountaineering minion
Present in spirit: Withnail & I
Distance: No idea but whatever it was it felt like twice that. Ditto the amount of ascent.
Time: About 3 ½ hours including breaks
Weather: Overcast but at least it was dry. Cloud base about 500m.
Post walk drink: The finest wines known to humanity… well Cabernet Sauvignon anyway.
Post walk watering hole: The General Wolfe, Woolpack and Royal pubs, Penrith
Uses of the arse crampon: MIA (again)
Mishaps: Weather forecast gone to pot, plus insomnia

We’re in Penrith. Penrith! We want the finest wines known to humanity, and cake. We are on holiday by mistake! Well, I wasn’t on holiday by mistake, but since I had decided to stay in Penrith rather than my usual haunts it was probably inevitable that my head would be stuffed full of Withnail & I quotes. For those of you not of a similar vintage to me, Withnail & I is a classic film where two out of work actors with a fondness for large quantities of alcohol go on holiday to Cumbria and end up in Penrith looking for fine wine and cake, amongst other shenanigans.

I was not in Penrith specifically looking for fine wine and cake and nor was I intending to go hill walking by mistake (probably an oxymoron). The reason I had ended up there was that I had found out there was a car hire company in Penrith that was open over the weekend which most hire car places aren’t – and I’m starting to get to the stage I’m running out of hills that I can do by public transport without a lot of faffing about, and certainly when the winter timetables are in effect. Having a car would allow me to chase the weather a bit and pick off some of the hills that fall into the awkward to get at category. Given the hire car place I also decided to see how much use Penrith was as a base – I’ve only stayed there one night (after getting stuck thanks to the ‘Beast from the East’) although I’ve now lost track of how many times I’ve disembarked at the train station for a taxi to Keswick or Glenridding. Another reason that I was not hill walking by mistake was that I was keen, having not done any walking since September, to get a couple more hills in before the end of the year and also had been having a really busy time at work. To be quite honest I needed to clear my brain out a bit and getting out of London and getting some fresh air would be the perfect way to do it.

Those of you who read this blog will know that inevitably things were not going to go to plan in some way or another. A couple of days before the trip the weather forecast was looking pretty good. Inevitably this did not last and by Friday afternoon when I was waiting to board my train at Euston the weather forecast had basically gone to pot (not a Camberwell carrot reference for those of you that have seen the film). My best bet for any sort of view was going to be to head as far west as possible and to stay fairly low down. This fit the bill given that I had access to a car and also have been having issues with one of my knees – not helped by the lift being out of order at work. I decided that the plan of attack was to head to Loweswater and pick off some of the hills around there depending on where the cloud base was sitting. My journey was reasonably smooth and I was installed in a pub in Penrith with rooms by 9 for a couple of pre walk drinks and a fairly early night, avoiding any Withnail type levels of inebriation. Continue reading

Wainwright walks 61: a milestone on Graystones

Hills: Graystones
Classification: Wainwright (No.122)
When: Tuesday 4 June
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: Short blast – about 3 miles
Time: 1 3/4 hours, including breaks
Weather: Cloudy but above summits. Showery on the way down.
Post walk drink: Keswick Brewery Thirst Flight. Later Prosecco. Then Malbec even later.
Post walk watering hole: The bar at Keswick Brewery
Uses of the arse crampon: Still missing in action
Mishaps: None, unless you count advancing age!

The day after my High Pike walk, I wanted to try and get out and do a hill of some sort. Why? Well let’s just say that when the day dawned I was in a different decade from the one I was in when I went to bed the previous evening and that I am older than 40 and not as old as 60. Oh what the hell, I was hitting my half century and me being me wanted to celebrate it with (a) my husband and friends, (b) getting up a hill of some sort (c) doing some other fun stuff and (d) Malbec (obviously). The day got off to a good start as I woke up to find my friends Jo and Steve had decorated the cottage with loads of balloons, actually having found black, gold and silver ones (since I am a bit of an old goth) and I also got some lovely presents including some beautiful jewellery from Stuart. 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

The A to Z of Mountains and Malbec

No walking planned for a few weeks, so with a bit of a tail off in blog posts as a result, I thought I would nick an idea from a friend’s blog and do an A to Z of Mountains and Malbec. Though mine is a little less serious than theirs was!

A is for arse crampon. Well it has to be really doesn’t it. Otherwise known as five points of contact which I am well aware is not a recommended scrambling technique. But although he didn’t use the term Wainwright himself commented that a sturdy posterior was an excellent tool for a hill walker indeed only second to a good pair of feet. The downside to use of the arse crampon can be looking stupid but I would far rather look stupid than fall over.

B is for bad back. . As regular readers will know I suffered a spinal injury some years ago (broke a vertebra in my lower back) and my back still plays up from time to time. Often it doesn’t affect my hill walking but sometimes it does and I have to listen to what my body is trying to tell me and plan accordingly. Also B is for beer (a good thing) and bog (not a good thing, unless it’s frozen or by some miracle has dried out). Continue reading

Wainwright walks 38: legging it in Langdale

Hills:Lingmoor Fell
Wainwright: No.80
When: Thursday 12th October
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Overcast but dry; very windy at times
Conditions underfoot: Good paths for most of it with only the odd bit of bog or scree
Hangover factor: Moderate (though could have been a lot worse!)
Post walk drink: Malbec
Post walk watering hole: The White Lion, Ambleside
Mishaps: None to speak of. WTF?

I think it is fair to say that after my last walk, up Whinlatter on the 10th, the post walk drinks were not particularly restrained. The weather forecast for the Wednesday 11th October was, to put it mildly, resembling Noah’s Flood with strong winds accompanied by torrential rain. On waking up that morning with a reasonably sore head I took one look out of the window to see that the forecast had been pretty accurate… and promptly went back to bed. It was a day for pottering about rather than attempting to go anywhere near any sort of hill and the amount of water in the beck was something to see.. and also a bit worrying. It was clear that any subsequent walk was going to have to be carefully planned as everywhere underfoot was likely to be awash.


On the Wednesday evening we had booked to have a meal at Fellinis combined with seeing Coriolanus streamed live from the RSC – so some rather cultural evening entertainment! The (vegetarian) food was pretty good and we accompanied it by a nice bottle of white wine… at Fellinis you can also take wine into the cinema so needless to say more wine got bought and we did. Although we ended up going to bed at a reasonably restrained time the wine consumption had not exactly been that restrained so plans for the Thursday – where the forecast looked potentially walkable but windy – were left fluid. Continue reading

Wainwright Walks 37: windy Whinlatter and the wrong type of mint cake

Wainwright: No.79
When: Tuesday 10th October
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Windy and overcast – a bit of light rain at times
Conditions underfoot: Forest track, then boggy paths
Hangover factor: Didn’t have one – again!
Post walk drink: Malbec followed by Kendal Mint Cake liqueur
Post walk watering hole: The Golden Rule, Ambleside
Mishaps: None to speak of. I know. Had to happen sometime!

After my initial walk of our week in Ambleside – a somewhat boggy traverse of Troutbeck Tongue accompanied by a trouser malfunction due to losing weight and my walking trousers therefore being a bit on the big side –the forecast for Monday wasn’t too good and we ended up having various post walk drinks on Sunday night. On surfacing from bed on Monday morning the weather was actually rather nice however I didn’t get up until pretty late and whilst the weather looked walkable I was really tired and a long lie in seemed a good idea. I think after a pretty busy time recently I was running on empty a bit and just needed a bit of a rest so Monday turned into a pottering about day near Hawkshead doing Beatrix Potter stuff. The decision not to walk was vindicated by it starting to rain in the afternoon and Tuesday’s forecast was okay so no harm having a day off followed by a chilled out evening cooking and relaxing in the cottage

Got up at a reasonable hour on the Tuesday with a clear head – the weather however whilst dry was overcast so not exactly playing ball. Having spent a couple of days in Ambleside we decided to head North – I would drop Stuart in Keswick and go and do a short walk somewhere then we would catch up with each other in the afternoon. I’d had a really nice short walk at Whinlatter in January on a glorious winter day when I had done Lord’s Seat and Broom Fell, so I decided to head off there and pick off Whinlatter itself which I reckoned would only take me a couple of hours; the other obvious possibility was Barf but I am keeping that vaguely in mind as my last Wainwright in the event I ever do decide to do the lot, on the grounds of the silly name factor if nothing else! Continue reading

Mountains minus Malbec: thoughts on Dry January

To be strictly accurate this post contains no mountains either! No walking since Sandwood Bay, and unlikely to be any for another month or so. I am trying not to get too jealous of all the posts of snowy hills popping up in my Facebook feed – and failing miserably.

As to dry January – I decided to do it largely to try and kick start getting myself back into some sort of decent physical condition. There have been pluses and minuses so far. The pluses – I have lost 4lb; my skin is clearer; I’m generally sleeping better; and my brain seems sharper, I’m definitely getting more done.I have managed to start going swimming again, although not as often as I had hoped. I’ve also spent less than usual, although the price of soft drinks in pubs is pretty shocking. Plus there is the obvious one of no hangovers (which these days take less and less Malbec to induce) Continue reading