Friday saw us battling the traffic on the A5 & M6 to reach Patterdale Youth Hostel at a reasonable time. After skirmishes with feckwit drivers who have somehow achieved "Highway Code Not Applicable" status, and hold-ups due to temporary road-closures (due to accidents, no doubt caused by more feckwits in the aforementioned category), we managed to miss the evening meal. Fan-bloody-tastic.
Friday night was a cold night in the hostel, I would have been warmer sleeping in the car. In the morning we found out that the warden had forgotten to turn on the heating. Fan-bloody-tastic again.
Saturday's breakfast was a downer - it seems that the standard YHA breakfast no longer features bacon. It does, however, feature a strange yellow mulch that is reputed to be scrambled egg. It wasn't. It was shite. Fan-bloody-tastic yet again.
The weekend was beginning to turn sour. We dressed for action and made our way to the quarry car-park just outside Dockray. A final check of the gear before heading off revealed that Ella had forgotten to fill her water-bottle... Fan-bloody-tastic in spades.
It wasn't going well, but we made peace and set off up the track towards Hart Side...
(click the pic for more bigness and a lightbox-type thingy. Be advised that the panoramas take a while to load.)
Ella on the stepless stile
Looking up towards Common Fell and beyond
Looking back towards Great Mell Fell
Just beyond Round How we found a source of unfrozen water. While Ella repacked her filled bottle, the clouds over Glenridding started to break, allowing the sun to reach the ripples on Ullswater:
The head of Ullswater
We pushed on through the deepening snow at a good pace until we reached the section between Swineside Knott and the wall, where the the snow was waist-deep in places. Care was needed to avoid breaking through the slab into the soft stuff beneath:
Slow progress below Swineside Knott
At the corner of the wall we made snow-seats and took a snack-break. The view over the wall merited a few more pics:
The head of Ullswater again
We trudged up to the small top of Brown Hills where we deployed the Bothy4 and sat in the snow to make a brew and cook lunch. While we were there, the clouds cleared and the sun lit up the landscape:
The approach to Hart Side
Glenridding Fells panorama
After lunch we made our way over to the summit of Hart Side. Ella managed to find most of the snow-covered pits:
A helping hand
Lengthening shadows from Hart Side summit
We stopped at the top to play in the snow and to chat to a family who had arrived a while before us, but before long it was time to leave:
Far Eastern Fells panorama
Leaving the top of Hart Side
Our return route took us over the tops of the hills that we had skirted on the way up. On the way, we found some impressive areas of wind-sculpted snow:
After that, the clouds returned and the view back towards Helvellyn was a tad gloomy :
Looking back towards Helvellyn
but there was still some clear sky about on the way to Common Fell:
Ella on the route to Common Fell
and the sunlight on Blencathra was a stunning sight:
That was the last time I used the camera that day, but the fun didn't stop there. After crossing Common Fell we decided to leave the ridge-path and take a more direct route back to the car. We found many steep iced-over drifts which were perfect for practicing self-arrest, glissading or just rolling down the slopes. Some of the cornices were fun - quite low and safe, so we just jumped through them and slid down to the bottom. When we reached the car we were frosted-up, but we were happy.
Back at base we found that the heating was on, so I didn't have to "sort out" the warden. We dried our kit, made ourselves presentable, and booked an evening meal at the hostel. A tad expensive, but it was good food. Ella was too knackered to go to the pub, so we dossed in the common-room, warmed by the open log-fire and by hot chocolate, before having an early night in preparation for Sunday's walk...