Posts tagged 'Wainwrights'

A weekend based in Keswick – Jan 2013 – Part 3

Posted by on January 24th 2013 in Great Escapes, YHA

Yet again I was up before sunrise and yet again Ella was reluctant to relinquish her duvet. After a quick breakfast we checked the MWIS forecast which confirmed that conditions would be pretty much the same as they were on Saturday. We decided that our half-day walk should be up something a tad tamer because my butt was playing up again so we chose Binsey for a simple up-and-down stroll.

After we'd filled the flasks we packed the gear in the car, said our goodbyes at the hostel and headed off for the short drive around the Back o'Skidda. We parked up in a small lay-by near Binsey Cottage, from there the track was straight up and obvious, no crampons required. If there had been a good covering of snow it would have been an excellent sledging hill with no problems going from top to bottom in one go.

Binsey's an odd fell, set apart from the others. It lacks altitude and technical appeal but it affords great views:

 

Snowclouds breaking over Skiddaw

 

On the way up we spotted from a distance what we thought was an injured sheep lying in the grass:

 

Sheep?

 

We should have gone to Specsavers  😎 ... on closer inspection it turned out to be a boulder with a peculiar covering of moss and lichen:

 

Notsheep

 

As usual, Ella couldn't resist playing with the ice:

 

Frozen

 

A few hundred yards further on we were nearing the obvious summit where the wind was tearing up from behind us and whistling over the top:

 

Ella makes for the top

 

Surveying the scene

 

Snug in the shelter

 

We got comfy in the shelter, it was time for cuppas and snacks. The view from the top is well-worth the minimal effort of getting there, it's a great place for appreciating the layout of the Northern Fells. I managed to take a few pics when the wind wasn't flinging ice at the lens:

 

The Uldale Fells

 

Pano from Binsey

 

The stroll back down to the car took around twenty minutes and soon we were back in Keswick - Ella wanted some retail therapy. While shopping we ran into the two folk that we'd met up on Satura Crag the day before... what were the chances of that happening?

I was determined to keep my hands off my wallet but couldn't resist using my YHA-membership discount in the Cotswold shop when I saw the snow-scooters. Yeah, I might well be fifty but there's nowt in the rules that says that I have to act like it! We'll try to remember to take the thing up Binsey in the snow next year.

 

 

The drive home was fairly easy with hardly any bad roads until we got within 100 yards of home. Four hours of simple driving and then an hour to get the car on the drive. While we'd been away our village had been more-or-less snowed-in and iced-up.

Here's the tale of the tape:

Saturday: 3.04 miles of walking, 1341ft of up/down, 1 new Wainwright for Ella, none for me;
Sunday: 1.48 miles of walking, 592ft of up/down, 1 new Wainwright for each of us;
Wainwright totals so far: Ella 14/214, me 209/214

A weekend based in Keswick – Jan 2013 – Part 2

Posted by on January 23rd 2013 in Great Escapes, YHA

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:

 

Deer

 

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:

 

Angle Tarn

 

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:

 

Island Girl

 

Water Margin

 

Slab

 

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:

 

More deer

 

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... 

Easter Around Eskdale – Part 1

Posted by on May 3rd 2012 in Great Escapes, YHA

It was a dull and damp Easter Sunday afternoon when we arrived at YHA Eskdale and met up with the Maynes...

 

YHA Eskdale.

 

The optimistic BBQ area.

 

The weather forecasts for the next few days were grim - storms, high winds and snow - but we were determined to make the best of it so we got settled in and started planning what to do. The plan started with us assuming command of the log-fire and the associated furniture. Maps and guidebooks were consulted, a fine hostel meal was consumed and the rest of the evening was spent shooting the breeze in front of the fireplace.

Monday morning started with a fine drizzle but nothing worse so after breakfast we set out for the old peat-tracks that lead up towards Green Crag. The further we went, the wetter it became and a short halt was called after the zig-zags at the derelict Low Birker peat-hut. Natasha was feeling a bit off-colour so a bit of rest was taken:

 

Natasha feeling a bit poorly.

 

Chris and Anna at the peat-hut.

 

We pressed on for a short distance but at the turn where the track heads off over the marshy plateau it was too windy for the young ones and Natasha decided that she'd had enough. We agreed a safe spilt in the party - I was pleasantly surprised when Anna declared that she wanted to carry on with me and Geoff while the others retired to the hostel. Goodbyes were said and then we were off across the soggy ground heading for Green Crag a mile or so away:

 

Heading for Green Crag.

 

Of course, as soon as we'd started off the weather got progressively worse, so much so that the camera wasn't brought out again for the rest of the walk. After passing Tarn Crag we gave Anna the choice as to whether we should proceed or turn back, amazingly she not only wanted to carry on but she took the lead, picking out an interesting (and damned steep) off-piste route that took us through the col just west of Great Whinscale Crag before we got better views of Green Crag through swirling clouds. We had a short breather in the lee of a small outcrop before pushing on up to a point within sight of the boundary stone where we dumped the packs and went up the final slopes unhindered.

The summit was an airy place, sometimes wreathed in cloud but with intermittent clear views of distant places, we did get a glimpse of the coast where the weather looked quite pleasant. This would be a fine place to be on a warm summer's evening but this day was somewhat different so we legged it back to the packs (after a minor detour which meant that actually finding the packs took longer than expected). After a quick snack we decided against nipping over to the clagged-in Harter Fell, instead we took the obvious path back to Foxbield Moss and from there retraced our steps back to the peat-hut and then to the hostel. It hadn't been a long walk but battling the wind and rain while not being hill-fit made it seem like a full day out.

We got washed, dried and changed and then hit the lounge where the others had set up camp. Natasha had had a rest and was feeling a bit better, especially after we'd got the fire roaring again 🙂

 

Fireside #1.

 

Fireside #2.

 

 

A proper fire 🙂

 

"Scawfell from Kirk Fell", a fine over-mantel painting.

 

The rain abated so we took a short stroll to The Woolpack for an evening meal and some liquid refreshment. The place had changed a lot since I last nipped in for a beer, I wasn't particularly impressed by the "improvements" but the food was good value and there was a fine range of beers and ciders on offer. After that we headed back to the hostel, chucked more logs on the fire and lazed the evening away.

 

To be continued... 

R & R @ Ambleside

Posted by on February 20th 2012 in Great Escapes, Illness and injury, Shiny new kit, Testing for review, YHA

After Thursday's drag up the M6 there was an unpleasant surprise waiting for us at Ings - the Little Chef was boarded-up! It's a sad loss - they used to serve fine food there and the service was always excellent. Fortunately we already had our evening meal planned at the hostel. We pushed on to Ambleside, nipped into Gaynor's to buy Anna a new pair of boots and then eventually booked in and settled at Ambleside YHA.

We'd taken up the YHA's "Winter Family Magic" offer - a family-room for four including an evening "family feast" for just £29.95 per night... it sounded good but the YHA website was a bit vague about the terms of the offer so I had enquired as to how they would cope with one of our party being a veggie, they said it was no problem. Since I made the booking the website details have been changed - turns out that they expected all four of us to have the same meal from the "family feast" menu... no good when we all eat different foods. Chris was sent in to negotiate the terms of their surrender and eventually we all got a meal of sorts. Chris ended up with a full 12" pizza, the kids and I got mashed spuds and non-Cumberland sausage covered with onion gravy. None of us got any vegetables despite the website saying that there would be peas or seasonal veg. It was disappointing, only the attitudes of the staff saved the day. The upside was that the dorm was fine with a view out over the upper reaches of Windermere.

Sometime during the evening the clouds cleared and the skies were ablaze with stars and meteors. I went out to grab some pics but for some reason the camera's focus started playing up and all the images were rubbish. Never mind, just seeing such a glorious night sky was enough.

We slept well that night.

Us adults were up bright and early on Friday. Predictably, the kids weren't so bright or so early. Outside it was a calm daybreak so I nipped out with the camera for a while:

 

Towards Coniston.

 

Reflections in Windermere.

 

 

Towards Langdale.

 

Back inside the kids were still in bed but they soon got a shift on when I told them that breakfast was being served. Breakfast was good, it made up for the disappointment of the previous meal. After that, we hit the road and headed for Longsleddale. I figured that a couple of easy Wainwrights would be a reasonable test for my new arse.

We parked up at Sadgill and made ready for the steep pull up the side of Grey Crag:

 

The steep approach to Grey Crag. Mouseover for an indication of the route.

 

Towards the head of Longsleddale.

 

Much steepness.

 

We had a short break at the top of the gully - Ella needed some heel-blister treatment:

 

Ella and Chris get to the top of the gully.

 

Another view up Longsleddale.

 

From there we traversed to the right around the crags in search of the survey pillar. The temperature was dropping and it started to drizzle so we found a sheltered spot for a snack-break. I'd imagine that on a fine day the views from there would be quite good:

 

Taking a break.

 

A few minutes of walking brought us to the survey pillar. A quick look through the slot confirmed that the next pillar, on Tarn Crag, was in plain sight:

 

The survey pillar, with Grey Crag in the background.

 

Lined up on the distant Tarn Crag survey pillar.

 

From there it was a gentle stroll across easy ground to the intake fence. The weather closed in and this was our last view of the valley:

 

Looking back towards the survey pillar and Longsleddale.

 

After crossing the intake fence we had a short breather - Anna was feeling a tad sick, possibly due to the sight of the multi-coloured Ella wearing my Montane Lite-Speed H2O jacket:

 

Rainbow Girl.

 

A few minutes later we made the top of Grey Crag. All was clag and rain so I didn't take any pics. We left the top ASAP and made off on a bearing for Tarn Crag - this was the first time the girls had walked in clag, I think that it may have taught them the value of being competent with the old-fashioned compass/map combo when there are no visible references.

Crossing the marshy depression to Tarn Crag was fun - much bog, some huge peat-hags and a fair old tarn had to be negotiated before we reached the relative dryness of the snowy up-slope. The final slopes were confusing and finding the summit cairn took a while as visibility was quite poor:

 

Anna and Ella atop Tarn Crag

 

The survey pillar on Tarn Crag.

 

Anna was still feeling poorly so we hastened northwards to find the fence and followed it down the peat-hagged slope to the col and turned left at the gate, heading for Brownhowe Bottom. There was a fair bit of waterlogged ground to be crossed and it proved to be the undoing of the kids... over the years I've developed a "trying to run over the water like a Basilisk" technique which generally keeps my feet dry, the kids think it's hilarious and call it "Geckoing"... they try to emulate it but always fail - Anna managed to get her boots and socks fully-dunked and waterlogged in a mad dash across a deeper-than-expected puddle, and Ella managed to kick the back of her own leg while trying to run across water. There was much moaning. And a little sympathy.

Eventually we reached the firm ground of the Gatescarth Pass track. The clag meant that it wasn't very scenic but we did manage to get a fine view of the falls below Wrengill Quarry:

 

The falls below Wrengill Quarry.

 

From there it was a simple if long trudge past Buckbarrow Crag before heading off into the clag once again:

 

Buckbarrow Crag - the notice says that it's off-limits due to nesting ravens.

 

The car's down there... somewhere.

 

Needless to say, it rained constantly for the rest of the day. After reaching the car we dumped the soggy stuff in the boot and drove to Ambleside via Kendal, not wishing to risk the back-roads as we had on the way in.

Back at the hostel we jumped through the fiery hoop of the evening meal arrangement again... this time Chris had a veggie-option pre-arranged, we had the chicken and bacon hot-pot (which wasn't a hot-pot at all, it was a bowl of roast-spuds with three roasted chicken drumsticks and some bits of micro-bacon, all covered with the same onion-gravy that had bedecked the previous-night's sausages) and still we didn't get any vegetables!

Eventually we summoned enough courage to decant the car's contents into the drying-room. The rest of the evening was spent playing cards and comparing our physical conditions... in addition to the injuries and ailments of the kids, Chris was feeling a tad asthmatic. Surprisingly, I'd had a good day - no bad pain or other difficulties, just a bit of soreness and thrush in the antipodes.

Friday night was stormy but Saturday morning didn't live up to the forecast - it was supposed to start down at zero and drop to minus 6C throughout the day, with a heavy hit of snow. In reality the morning was quite warm and bright - here's the view from our window:

 

Room with a view.

 

A bit closer.

 

Daughters on the stage.

 

Over breakfast we'd decided that we'd have a bit of retail therapy in Ambleside before spending a few hours at The Lakes Aquarium at Lakeside near Newby Bridge. As the day went on the weather got better, not worse:

 

Windermere at Lakeside.

 

There's plenty of interest thereabouts...

 

The end of the line.

 

Carp.

 

More carp.

 

Otters.

 

Otters again.

 

Aventacludea fuctifino (a relative of the Piranha).

 

Big Cat.

 

Crocagator.

 

It was as if I was looking in a mirror.

 

Yet another otter pic.

 

The most dangerous creature in the building...
holding a snake
.

  😈

 

Friday Summary:

Distance: 5.4 miles
Total ascent/descent: 1722 ft
Wainwright tops reached: Grey Crag (2093 ft), Tarn Crag (2176 ft). These were first-ascents for all of us.
Number of Wainwrights still to do: 7

Regarding gear taken for test-and-review... I took one item supplied by Adam Smith representing Go Outdoors - the Montane Lite-Speed H2O jacket. It was worn by Ella and, after her initial reluctance to don it because of the colour, she quite liked it. It kept her warm and dry without any condensation problems. She says that she'll prepare a review as soon as she's cleared her school-work.

Soloing from Patterdale

Posted by on December 15th 2011 in Great Escapes, Testing for review, YHA

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.

 

Caiston Glen.

 

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.

Summary:

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.

More Far Eastern Fells Wildcamping

Posted by on October 15th 2011 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, Testing for review, Wildcamping

After the Friday drag up the M6 and the traditional fill-up at the Ings Little Chef we nabbed a roadside car-parking space at Church Bridge, Troutbeck. Having changed into our scruffs we hoisted our packs and set off past the church and along field-paths past High Green and Town Head, using Ing Lane to access the fells via Hagg Gill.

 

Church Bridge church.

 

On the field-path heading towards High Green.

 

Ing Lane with the lowering Sun lighting up the tops of the Ill Bell Ridge.

 

As before.

 

The view from Ing Bridge.

 

The white sheep of the family.

 

Looking back down the Troutbeck Valley from Hall Hill.

 

We had intended to nip up to the top of Troutbeck Tongue and to walk off the ridge northwards to find a suitable pitch near the sheepfold. Unfortunately we were losing the light and Chris wanted to get settled for the night, so we continued up along Hagg Gill and found a nice place to set up camp. While setting up we noticed that we weren't alone - there was a small tent set up a bit further up the Gill, so I went off to ask if the owner minded if we set up where we had chosen. The owner was Linda, she said that she didn't mind where we pitched and we had a fine chat about fellwalking and other stuff. After a while I returned to finish setting up camp while Chris went off for a chinwag with Linda.

After dark we stood outside watching the sky before turning in for some sleep - although there were a few small clouds about, there were prolonged clear spells during which the stars were amazingly bright. We could see fantastic detail in the Milky Way, much better than we can see at home in the light-polluted Midlands.

The night was quiet and uneventful but the first light of dawn was heralded by the echoing roars of rutting deer - we couldn't see them but we were fairly certain that the commotion was coming from high on the slopes of Ill Bell, directly East of us.

After breakfast we headed off packless to bag Troutbeck Tongue before sun-up.

 

Looking towards Threshthwaite Mouth from the low ridge along Troutbeck Tongue.
Mouseover the pic if you want to see where our highly-conspicuous bright orange landscape-defiling tent was pitched.

 

Some way along the ridge Nature called so we ducked away from the track for some privacy. Attending to one of the most basic human needs, Muggins here made a stupid mistake that was to cause intense pain for quite a while, and ongoing stinging and regret for the rest of the day - I decided that, in the interests of good hygiene, it would be a good idea to use the water-free hand-cleaning gel on my arse. Trouble was, it wasn't the alcohol-free sort that I usually carry, it was the heavy-duty solvent-laced stuff that I use at work. Of course, by the time I found out, it was too late - by then I was jumping around the fellside like a madman, trousers and kegs around ankles, shouting expletives that echoed around the hills and imploring the powers above to make the burning stop! I don't know if Linda heard the commotion, but if she did I've no idea what she would have thought was going on.

Eventually I could walk again (albeit like John Wayne) and we reached the top after a few more minutes:

 

Chris on Troutbeck Tongue, mist in the valleys.

 

At the the top of Troutbeck Tongue, Chris was still giggling at the hand-gel incident.

 

We strolled back down to the tent to start packing up. Linda was up and about, she struck her camp and was away up Scot Rake well before we set out.

 

Lone tree on the slopes back down to the tent.

 

Striking camp next to Hagg Gill.
A bit further up is Linda at her pitch.

 

Nearing the top of the harder-work-than-expected Scot Rake we paused for a snack-break where there was a fine view of Froswick.

 

Froswick from the Scot Rake path.

 

Although we would be going that way later, we were going to Thornthwaite Crag first. As the weather improved the crowds grew - at one point I counted 56 people around the summit. We settled behind a wall a short distance from the crowds and had our main meals.

 

Buff-adjustment, Thornthwaite Crag

 

The Sun lighting up the beacon atop Thornthwaite Crag.

 

A busy place.

 

Easy slopes heading towards High Street (L) and Mardale Ill Bell (R).

 

Suitably fed and watered, we set off along the Ill Bell Ridge in increasingly-good weather.

 

The Kentmere Valley, Froswick and Ill Bell.

 

Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke.

 

Muggins atop Froswick, with Thornthwaite Crag in the background.

 

Ill Bell from Froswick.

 

A closer look at the path up Ill Bell.

 

Ill Bell's North Cairn.

 

Ill Bell's Main and South Cairns.

 

Having a breather at the Main Cairn.

 

The Main Cairn.

 

From Ill Bell we could see one of the options for our next tent pitch - the tarn on Rainsborrow Crag, the western spur of Yoke.

 

Rainsborrow Crag and Yoke.
Mouseover the pic if you want to see the location of the tarn.

 

At Yoke's summit-cairn we paused for a while to consider our options. We could carry on down the ridge to the Garburn Road, reach the car by twilight, find a mild-camping site and walk more fells in the morning, or we could pitch early at Rainsborrow Tarn, have a leisurely evening and, if the night was clear, maybe see the Aurora Borealis that was tentatively forecast to be on show in the small hours. We took the lazy option and headed for the Tarn.

 

Chris heading towards Rainsborrow Tarn.

 

The tarn is a jewel in the hills - surrounded on three sides by long steep drops, it sits in a rut almost at the end of Rainsborrow Crag. The views from there are immense and there's a real feel of wilderness about the place. Needless to say, we saw nobody else there - it was our own little bit of Lakeland. After pitching I went walkabouts with the camera:

 

Looking southwards.

 

Wave!

 

Looking north towards Harter Fell.

 

Looking east towards Kentmere Pike and Shipman Knotts.

 

From Ill Bell to Shipman Knotts, with a view of Kentmere Reservoir.

 

After a leisurely evening meal we sat up waiting for the sky to put on a display but late on it clouded over and started drizzling. Even so, it was warm and calm, and we slept well.

On Sunday I woke just before dawn and ventured outside. The drizzle had stopped and the valleys were full of clouds being driven up and over the ridges and cols by the light breeze. It was utterly silent for an hour or so while I sat there watching in wonder and taking pics that don't do the scenes any justice whatsoever. It's times like that when I pity the folk at home in their beds:

 

Ill Bell, Mardale Ill Bell and the Nan Bield Pass wreathed in cloud.

 

Cloud being driven up and over the eastern arm of the Kentmere Round.

 

Breakfasted, we shook the dew from the tent and packed it away with the rest of our kit. After trudging back up the damp grassy slope to reach Yoke's cairn again we were overheating in the still, warm air so we stopped for a breather:

 

The summit of Yoke, with Ill Bell in the background.

 

A few pics later we headed down the newly-repaired path that leads to the Garburn Road. From there it was an easy downhill stroll all the way back to the car, followed by retail therapy at Windermere's Lakeland shop, another Little Chef at Ings and a manic drive back down the M6 and A5.

 

Looking back towards Yoke from the gate at Garburn Nook.

 

Summary:

Distance: 13.9 miles
Total ascent/descent: 3879 ft
Wainwright tops reached: Troutbeck Tongue (1191 ft), Thornthwaite Crag (2569 ft), Froswick (2359 ft), Ill Bell (2476 ft), Yoke (2309 ft) twice. Those in bold were first-ascents for me.
Number of Wainwrights still to do: 12

Yes, I know that this was a walk that many folk would easily do in a day, but I'm happy that we took our time about it. I'll never forget the overnight at Rainsborrow Tarn, it's a place that few one-dayers bother to visit and I'd have regretted omitting it during a walk against the clock. Indeed, it was Wainwright himself that said "Time is intended to be spent, not saved".

Regarding gear taken for test-and-review... I took two items supplied by Adam Smith representing Go Outdoors. While the Lifeventure Downlight 900 sleeping bag didn't have to contend with low temperatures, the mild nights meant that it had to put up with a fair degree of condensation and sweat. I'm happy to report that it fared well, at no point did it feel clammy or damp. As for the windproof, I still maintain that the mere act of carrying that Montane Lite-Speed H2O jacket is enough to deter inclement weather! I'm sorry, Adam, yet again I took it and never got the opportunity to wear it!

The Keeltappers and Grunters Social Club 2011 Wildcamp Weekend – Part 4 – Facts and Figures

Posted by on July 16th 2011 in Great Escapes, Testing for review, Wildcamping
Tags:

Some lists, numbers and thoughts about last weekend's outing...

Kit carried:

  • LA Warp 70 pack
  • Argos Pro Action Hike Lite tent
  • Sleeping: Lifeventure Downlight 900 sleeping bag, POE Max-Thermo mat, Ajungilak air-pillow
  • Jetboil PCS with spare half-full Coleman 100 canister, plaggy legs and long-handled spoon
  • Clothing: Rab Corrie eVENT jacket, Montane Featherlite windproof trousers, 1 spare kegs, 1 pair spare socks, 1 spare baselayer top, Buff
  • Food: 2 Decathlon Aptonia dehydrated meals, 4 cereal bars, 4 Pepperamis, 2 packs instant custard, 4 Cofresh coconut bars
  • Drink: teabags, sugar, milk-powder
  • Navigation: Maps (printed on A4), A5 mapcase, compass, HTC Wildfire running MMTracker
  • Wash-kit
  • 5h1t-kit
  • First-Aid kit
  • e+Lite headtorch
  • D50 dSLR in LowePro bag
  • Hipflask (Drambuie)
  • Ciggies

Total carry-weight at start: 11.7kg

Kit worn:

  • Rab VR Climb jacket
  • Quechua Bionnassay trousers
  • Baselayer top
  • LA Mountain Cap
  • Aku Croda boots
  • Socks
  • Kegs

Taken but not used:

  • Rab Corrie eVENT jacket
  • Montane Featherlite windproof trousers
  • Buff
  • Compass

A few observations:

  • Crumble a Cofresh coconut bar into a pack of Sainsbury's Instant Custard (the "Basics" 6p a pack stuff), rehydrate it and it makes a simple, quick and tasty hot breakfast. Next time I'll take some dried fruit to add too. Papaya and banana, perhaps?
  • The Downlight 900 sleeping bag was excellent, but I've told you that already.
  • The Decathlon Aptonia dehydrated meals (Chicken and Rice Curry, Shepherd's Pie) were much better than any other brands that I've tried before. More taste, more chunks, quicker to rehydrate. More e-numbers, though - I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing. The integral holding-area on the side of the bags was a useful touch, as was the printing of the fill-lines inside the bags.

According to Memory-Map:

  • Total distance: 14.3 miles
  • Total ascent: 4302 ft
  • Total descent: 4292 ft (where the missing 10ft are is anybody's guess!)

Miscellaneous:

  • Wainwright tops vistited: 7 (Hallin Fell, Steel Knotts, High Raise, Rampsgill Head, The Knott, Rest Dodd, Beda Fell)
  • Wainwright tops considered optional but not visited: 6 (Wether Hill, Kidsty Pike, The Nab, Brock Crags, Angletarn Pikes, Place Fell)
  • Wainwright tops ticked off the to-do list: 4 (Hallin Fell, Steel Knotts, Rest Dodd, Beda Fell)

 

 

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The Keeltappers and Grunters Social Club 2011 Wildcamp Weekend – Part 3 – Sunday

Posted by on July 14th 2011 in Great Escapes, Testing for review, Wildcamping

Saturday night was dry but a little more chilly than Friday, with a cool breeze coming from over the tarn. I woke briefly at first light and saw some Red Deer on the slopes above us, but unlike back in 2007 they didn't wait for me to get the camera out. I'd been warm enough with the flysheet open all night, but Mike had been cold again despite being fully-dressed in his bag. Again, sitting in the sunshine while demolishing a decent breakfast and lashings of tea was the cure.

 

Almost ready for action

 

One last shot of the island

 

By the time we'd struck camp the sun was well up and it was clear that it was going to be a hot day. The short pull up to the eastern shoulder of Angletarn Pikes afforded us a fine view of the tarn:

 

Angle Tarn

 

Once over the shoulder we got great views - on one side Heck Crag and Bannerdale, on the other Place Fell and Glenridding:

 

Bannerdale and Heck Crag

 

Glenridding and Place Fell

 

We plodded on past Heckbeck Head and up to the first cairn where the view of the ridge ahead opens out. Mike was clearly afflicted with some sort of madness, maybe the thought of going home had caused delirium:

 

The ridge to Beda Head

 

We parted company where a good path led off and down to the right - Mike had to be back at the car by noon and so would take the valley route, I wanted to walk the rest of the ridge. After our farewells the walk along the saddle and up the final rise to Beda Head was a doddle:

 

Looking back along the saddle to Heck Crag and Angletarn Pikes

 

Beda Head and the last bit of up

 

Beda Head cairn

 

Hallin Fell and Eastern Ullswater from Beda Head

 

That was enough high stuff for me. I descended the craggy northern ridge until I got to Nickles where a track led off to the right, down a steep bracken-clad slope. I was almost back at valley level when I noticed Mike dawdling along the Howe Grain road so I yelled to him and he waited a few minutes for me to reach the road.

We finished the walk together and after reaching the cars just before noon Mike reached into his car-boot and played his aces - he had a boxful of beers that had stayed ice-cold all weekend, thanks to the superb cool-box that he was testing/reviewing for Adam Smith / Go Outdoors. Needless to say, I had to help him to consume them, it's what friends are for.

Goodbyes were said again and we went our separate ways. It had been an excellent adventure - I'd had a great time in good company. 14.3 miles, seven Wainwrights visited (four that I can tick off the to-do list) and a couple of nights out might not be much for some folk, but it's good in my book.

Thanks, Mike.

 

Scots Pines at Knicklethorns

 

To be continued...

The Keeltappers and Grunters Social Club 2011 Wildcamp Weekend – Part 2 – Saturday

Posted by on July 13th 2011 in Great Escapes, Testing for review, Wildcamping

Friday night was uneventful - some light breeze and some occasional drizzle but not enough to warrant closing the flysheet. I'd been snug as a bug, the Lifeventure Downlight 900 bag on test being on the warm side of comfy. Mike said that he'd been a bit cold and was regretting having left his down bag in Wales the previous weekend. Nothing that a good breakfast couldn't cure, though.

 

Drying the gear in the morning sunshine

 

Looking back at Brownthwaite Crag and Pikeawassa from the overnight pitch

 

By the time we'd packed up and checked that we'd left no lasting trace the morning was heating up nicely and it was only a matter of time before the sun would break through the clouds. We wanted to be on the High Street before it got too hot so we crossed the shoulder of Gowk Hill to intercept the track to the Keasgill Groove, scattering many moths and Small Heath butterflies from the grass as we went:

 

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

 

On the track to the Groove we stopped for a breather and were rewarded with great views behind and below us:

 

The Gowk Hill - Steel Knotts ridge, our first-night pitch is in the dip below centre

 

Looking down on The Bungalow that was built for Kaiser Wilhelm

 

After reaching the ridge we headed southwards and after drawing water at Redcrag Tarn we sat in the sunshine in the lee of the deer-wall. Snacks and tea were consumed while I strapped my heels. Refuelled, we struck out for High Raise to find some rocks for Mike to walk on:

 

Mike strides out towards Redcrag Tarn

 

High Raise summit

 

A mushroomy thing

 

Snapping him snapping me

 

We considered a detour to Kidsty Pike but opted for the direct track to Rampsgill Head instead. After that we headed for the Straits of Riggindale and after a good look down the valley we made our way to the easy summit of The Knott:

 

Mike contemplates the scenery

 

The summit of The Knott

 

We made our way down to the wall near Sulphury Gill where Mike had a doze while I nipped up to the top of Rest Dodd:

 

The three cairns on Rest Dodd

 

Rampsgill Head crags from Rest Dodd

 

A glimpse of Angle Tarn

 

I had intended to bag The Nab from there but I wasn't sure that I had enough water or energy for the return trudge. The day was hot and I didn't want to get Mike worried if I got myself into hassle, so I retraced my steps back down. The Hayeswater valley looked particularly good in the dappled sunlight:

 

Thornthwaite Crag, Gray Crag and Hayeswater

 

Another Small Heath

 

R & R

 

From the wall we made our way down the track towards Angle Tarn:

 

Mike crossing Cheesygrin Beck

 

From the track there were fine views back towards High Street:

 

Hayeswater and surrounding fells

 

We paused for a while on Satura Crag, and even contemplated overnighting there. It's a curious place with good views, small tarns, outcrops with interesting geology and quite a few secluded places to pitch small tents:

 

Bannerdale from Satura Crag

 

Gray Crag from Satura Crag

 

Outcrops

 

Small tarns on Satura Crag

 

From there it was a simple stroll down to Angle Tarn. We could see two other tents set up there but it's a big enough place for pitching without encroaching on anybody else's privacy. On the way down I took a small detour for a look down into Bannerdale:

 

Bannerdale

 

Down by the tarn we were soon set up for our second night. Before long we were fed and watered, the rest of the evening was devoted to sitting in the sunshine, shooting the breeze and a little exploring with the camera:

 

Pitched at Angle Tarn

 

Towards Angletarn Pikes

 

A big cloud with fuzzy little cloud on top - quite an odd thing. A pileus cloud, perhaps?

 

Camo bird

 

Down by the waterside

 

Rock

 

Moon over Tracy Island

 

To be continued...

The Keeltappers and Grunters Social Club 2011 Wildcamp Weekend – Part 1 – Friday

Posted by on July 12th 2011 in Great Escapes, Wildcamping

I managed a reasonably early getaway on Friday but still arrived at the M6 in time to be caught up in a major snarl-up near J12. After being backed off the slip-road by the Feds I lost a lot of time detouring cross-country to J14 so it was still a race to get to J40 before mid-afternoon. After a stop for a quick bite at the Penrith Little Chef I set off again for Howtown and eventually parked up near the church at the top of the twisting road:

 

The Church of St. Peter, Martindale

 

With Mike not due to arrive for an hour or so I grabbed the camera, stowed the rest of the gear in the car and strolled up the easy slopes of Hallin Fell. I started off in warm sunshine but within minutes it was hemping it down and I was thoroughly soaked. No matter, I spent a while at the top rain-dodging and taking a few pics. I'd imagine that on a clear day the views from the top would be excellent but this wasn't such a day. I did have the place to myself, though, which was unexpected as the fell-top is usually a popular place:

 

Rain over Martindale

 

Looking along Ullswater towards Pooley Bridge

 

Looking across Ullswater towards a distant Little Mell Fell

 

Moody skies over Angletarn Pikes

 

The Obelisk atop Hallin Fell

 

On the way back down the rain eased a bit and the southwards view opened up. My camera-skills don't do the vista any justice whatsoever:

 

Martindale, Boredale and surrounding fells

 

A few minutes after I'd returned to the car Mike signalled his arrival with a two-fingered salute. After a more customary handshake I changed into proper (dry) walking attire and we shouldered our contra-lightweight loads to head for the hills.

Passing the church we skirted crags and waded through sodden bracken along a thin trod that led towards Gowk Hill. The rain had set in and Mike was soon regretting his decision to wear shorts. At the first wall we stopped for a breather before nipping up to the neat top of Pikeawassa, the summit of Steel Knotts:

 

Pikeawassa

 

Me "bagging" Pikeawassa

 

Despite him not being a "bagger", Mike was pleased to get to the top

 

Back at the wall Mike started acting a bit strange. I think he needs professional help:

 

"Look! Up there! Two Swedish blondes!"

 

From the wall the view up the valley was excellent with clouds grazing the fell-tops and ridges:

 

Looking over Martindale and into Bannerdale

 

We continued along the path towards Gowk Hill, skirting Brownthwaite Crag and heading for the derelict buildings at the watersmeet at the head of Fusedale. After squelching around for a while we found a fairly well-drained level area and set up camp for the night as the rain started to ease. We shot the breeze as evening fell and the midges rose... there was much talk of Sudocrem, Swedish blondes, sea-kayaks and work (or lack thereof) - basically, we put the world to rights. After watching the clouds obscure a fine sunset we retired for the night:

 

The first pitch

 

Mike's crapper 🙂

 

To be continued...

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