Saturday morning and I was up way before sunrise. Predictably, Ella was reluctant to relinquish her duvet until I reminded her that she might miss breakfast. As we sat in the restaurant munching our fry-ups we watched the skies lighten and the light snow falling. A quick check of the MWIS forecast confirmed that we'd get high winds and some snow on the tops, with temperatures dipping to -5C and a significant wind-chill factor. The plan was to bag The Nab, a peat-hag-infested fell best attempted when the ground's either fully-frozen or dessicated due to drought.
After we'd filled the flasks we packed the gear in the car and headed off for Hartsop. The drive was a doddle (apart from the diversions set up in Keswick) as the roads were fairly snow-free without much frost. We parked up in the small car-park at the far end of Hartsop and stuffed some cash into the honesty-box - none of yer National Trust Fund Cash-Extractor shenanigans in this neck of the woods. We kitted-up and headed for the path that rises across the breast of Brock Crags. While we'd stopped above the intake-wall to allow Ella to faff with hats and gloves I nabbed a few pics:
Ella in Blue Mode
Hartsop Dodd et al
We soon reached the open fellside and made for the gap in the wall where we had a tea-break and donned crampons - the snow wasn't deep but the grassy track was full of frozen run-off which made spikes a sensible option. A bit further on we got the first of our many sightings of deer, and Ella took a shine to some trees:
Looking towards Hayeswater
Tree in icy ground
Before long we'd reached another gap in another wall, this time at the col between Brock Crags and Satura Crag. By then the wind was picking up and the temperature had dropped to -7C. Time for a cuppa and some more pics:
Hayeswater from the col
Ella, in Yellow Mode, heading for the gateposts on Satura Crag
When we got to Satura Crag we got our first look at the route to The Nab. It wasn't far but didn't look very appealing:
The route to The Nab
We took stock of the situation... three miles there and back, three ups and three downs, temperature down to -8C, winds 25mph gusting 35mph throwing around plenty of ice, lowering cloud, conditions deteriorating. I knew that I wasn't fit enough after a year of having to take it easy, so I decided that carrying on wasn't worth the risk. We took a few pics while waiting to see if conditions improved:
Ella in Technicolor
Muggins looking down Bannerdale
Field-testing the beard
While waiting we met a couple of folk coming down from Rest Dodd way. Pleasantries were exchanged before they headed off, they said that they were bound for Angle Tarn. Conditions didn't improve so we decided that we too would have a look at the view over to the tarn. We stood for a while watching the wind whip up Whirling Dervishes of spindrift which raced each other across the fellsides:
From there we took the track towards Brock Crags. The two folk that we'd chatted to were already on the skyline as we started off, it seems that they'd either gone the wrong way or had changed their plan.
Brock Crags (true summit on the right)
Angle Tarn again
At the true top of Brock Crags the views were surprisingly good:
Looking back to Buck Crag, Satura Crag and Rest Dodd
Looking forwards to the Brock Crags cairn
On the way to the Brock Crags cairn Ella couldn't resist the lure of the frozen tarns:
At the cairn we sheltered from spindrift while having a cuppa and a snack. The view from there was impressive, the Eastern Fells looking particularly moody under snow-laden cloud:
Panorama from Brock Crags cairn
From the cairn we made a bee-line for the grassy track that we'd started up a few hours before. On the way Ella snagged a crampon while crossing a collapsed section of a wall, turning an ankle which made walking painful for a while. All the fuss attracted the attention of a herd of deer which we managed to get quite close to before they took flight:
We found the track without difficulty and trudged back to the car without further incident. It hadn't been a long walk but we'd enjoyed it. Ella was happy to have bagged another Wainwright, taking her total to 13, and was chuffed with her first walk in crampons. We didn't find enough snow for self-arrest practice but that's a good excuse for another weekend away.
Soon we were back at the hostel. After we'd got cleaned up and after checking that Ella's ankle was OK we headed into town for our evening meal. Our chosen pub was The Bank Tavern where the food and service were excellent:
Ella's steak pie , my game casserole
Back at the hostel we prepped for Sunday and then chilled out before another relatively early night.
To be continued...