A few days at Borrowdale – Part 3 – Long and gentle

Posted by @ 7:32 am on Wednesday 27th April, 2011.
Categories: Great Escapes, YHA

Thursday morning and yet again some of us were up bright and early. Some of the others were reluctant to part company with their duvets, until they were informed of the possibility that they might miss breakfast.

Fed and packed, we loaded the cars and drove indirectly (I made a few wrong turns) to the free-for-all that is otherwise known as the Gale Road car-park. After spending some time finding a less-boggy and less-pot-holed bit of verge for the car, we started to make our way up the zig-zag path towards Jenkin Hill for our ascent of Skiddaw:

 

Looking back to Latrigg and the Gale Road car-park from the Skiddaw zig-zags

 

Again, the youngest members of the party needed a fair few pit-stops on the steeper sections, as the sun was beating down again and the temperatures were higher than the previous day. Truth be told, the older members were glad of the rest too.

After the last steep section the path almost levels out across Jenkin Hill and we made good progress to the gate and stile below Little Man where we stopped for elevenses.

 

The gate and stile below Little Man

 

The un-barbed fence that runs towards Lonscale Fell

 

There was much discussion as to whether to go up Little Man before heading for Skiddaw proper. I'd been up these fells already and didn't mind either way, and eventually the decision was made to head for the main top and then decide about Little Man on the way back down, based on how the kids were faring. Looking back from the upper slopes of Skiddaw, it did seem a shame to be bypassing the lesser Wainwright. No matter, onward and upward!

 

Outflanking Little Man

 

After pausing for the application of a little blister-prevention strapping, Anna made good speed up the final slope:

 

Home-made all-terrain personnel

 

The worst bits over, it was just a short stroll from the South Top across the top to the trig point

 

From the South Top the view westwards opens up, bringing back memories of a great walk along Longside Edge a few years ago, back when the route was a delightful thin trod winding through the heather. Looking down at it now, it looks like somebody's bulldozed a road along the crest:

 

Long Side, Longside Edge and Ullock Pike

 

A few minutes later and we were at the summit, restocking with carbs and rehydrating. The views would have been outstanding were it not for the haze:

 

At the top

 

Geoff makes it to the North Top as Natasha returns to the trig point

 

After a suitable amount of loitering we started to head back down, declining the option to take the Little Man path. As we passed by we noticed many of these critters defending their territories:

 

One of the many Wheatears that lay claim to the upper slopes

 

Back at the gate and stile me and Geoff veered off to make a beeline for Lonscale Fell while the others continued down the original route of ascent. After a leisurely 30-minute stroll we were sat at the small cairn trying to identify distant fells through the haze:

 

Blencathra from the top of Lonscale Fell

 

Panorama - Blencathra to Skiddaw

 

Panorama in a scrolly-thing

 

From there we took an indistinct track that led through grass and then heather in the rough direction of Gale Road. After a bit of meandering down steepening ground we found a distinct marker post (part of the "gateway" in Wainwright's Pictorial Guide, the fence being long-gone) at the head of a dry stream. We followed the straight line of that stream until it reached a new fence that prevented us from negotiating the ravine of Whit Beck, so we had to follow the fence across very steep and slippery ground until it reached the broad Cumbria Way trail that leads to Skiddaw House. After crossing Whit Beck at the ford and having a good bellyful of the cool clear water there we strolled the short distance up the ravine-side track to the junction with the path that we'd started on only a few hours before.

Five minutes later the rest of the group got down to us and after a short break we all headed back to the cars. Back at the hostel it was the same routine as before - showers, another great YHA meal, deal with the sunburn and a chill-out before bedtime.

All in all it had been another great day, most of the others hadn't walked as high as Skiddaw before and there's something special about someone's first 3000-footer, all the better because of the distinct lack of the customary rain. The only downer was the persistent haze - I'd been telling them all about the magnificent views to be had from the top, only to be banjaxxed by ironically good weather. Never mind, it's an excuse to go up there again sometime.

To be continued...

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