After Friday's nightmare seven-hour drag up the M6 I was glad to be back on the familiar A591. The further I drove the deeper the surrounding snow was, and I was unsure as to whether the Kirkstone Pass would be navigable. In the end, after discussing the conditions with a few local folk, I decided to go for it and found that although the road-snow at the top hadn't iced over it was beginning to do so on the leeward side and that made the descent into Patterdale quite interesting.
After getting installed at the hostel the evening was spent planning routes, chatting with a Mary and Paul (a nice couple staying at the hostel) and going out into the frosty night to take some pics of the amazingly clear sky.
Saturday was cold and windy but dry with the odd bit of sunshine - perfect weather for taking in a few easy fells. I decided to nab Red Screes and Middle Dodd via Caiston Glen and the Scandale Pass. Not too far a journey, but walking into the wind and spindrift on the way up towards the Pass and then with a strong ice-laden side-wind on the pull up to Red Screes made it seem twice as far. I'll let the pics do the talking for a while...
The Red Screes and Middle Dodd route - about 4 miles and 2000ft of up and down.
Middle Dodd and High Hartsop Dodd from the Kirkstone Road.
A better view of Middle Dodd.
Looking back towards Hartsop.
Little Hart Crag and High Hartsop Dodd from Broad Crag.
The wall above Broad Crag.
A wider view of Broad Crag and beyond.
Light over Morecambe Bay.
The Red Screes trig-point.
The Red Screes summit-cairn and shelter.
Looking down Smallthwaite Band towards Middle Dodd and Brotherswater.
Looking northwards from the upper cairn on Middle Dodd.
Red Screes from the upper cairn on Middle Dodd.
Westwards towards the Little Hart Crag and the Fairfield fells.
Eastwards - a glimpse of the Ill Bell ridge.
A better view of the lower cairn on Middle Dodd.
Steep ground on the descent.
As the descent got steeper, the views got better.
Moraines and fields.
A bit of blue sky above Little Hart Crag.
Sunlight on Angletarn Pikes.
The evening was spent much as before but without the photo-opportunities - rain had set in and cloud-cover was almost total. After a fine hostel meal and hours of chin-wagging with Mary and Paul I turned in for the night.
Sunday morning was different again - full of incessant driving rain and low clouds. Looking out from the hostel during breakfast I had half a mind to bail to the shops of Ambleside and Windermere, but managed to summon enough gumption for a quick slog up to Shipman Knotts. Another minor walk, but the clag, the wind and the abundant run-off made it quite an ordeal. There was still plenty of deep snow up there but sorry, there are hardly any pics from this walk - for most of the time the conditions were just too wet to risk soaking the camera. Here's what you get:
The Shipman Knotts route - about 4.5 miles and 1250ft of up and down.
Plenty of water in Stile End Beck.
A clagged-in Shipman Knotts from near Stile End Farm.
In spate - the Kent in Staveley.
And that's about it. I negotiated the A591/M6/A5 and was home in time for tea and a long session of sorting/washing/drying the gear. Job done.
Wainwright tops reached: Red Screes (2541 ft), Middle Dodd (2106 ft), Shipman Knotts (1926 ft). All first-ascents for me.
Number of Wainwrights still to do: 9
On Saturday I was expecting that the overnight freeze would mean that the tops would be more icy than snowy, so I carried crampons. My expectations were wrong, though, and I didn't need them. I really should have taken the snooshows and the clackysticks instead - they would have saved a lot of post-holing in the seriously-deep drifts. The axe saved me several times on the steepest bits of the descent of Middle Dodd. On Sunday I took no such metalwork, I'd have been better-off taking a diving-suit and flippers!
Regarding gear taken for test-and-review... I took one item supplied by Adam Smith representing Go Outdoors. Yes, I actually got around to properly using that Montane Lite-Speed H2O jacket that I've had for months! Conditions on Sunday's walk were so wet and windy that I decided to use it as a shell over my Rab VR Climb jacket as an extra layer of defence. It kept out most of the driven rain and the hood worked well underneath my L.A. Mountain Cap. My only gripe with it is that because there are no pockets in the Lite-Speed I had to resort to gloves, and the cuffs of the jacket aren't glove-friendly. On the plus side, it kept me warm and dry and I didn't have to walk around with pockets full of water!
I was also trying out some base-layer stuff, but more about that later.