Posts tagged 'YHA'

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 1

Posted by on January 22nd 2013 in Great Escapes, YHA

The drive up was interesting - we started with occasional light snow on icy minor roads which led to salted major roads that were a 15mph slush-fest. We drove out of the falling snow at A5 Cannock and all was clear up the M6 to J36. There was no snow whatsoever on the ground between Preston J27 and J34. Leaving the M6 at J36 we found the A591 to be clear all the way to Keswick although the fells were suitably snow-clad, overcast and broody. In all we'd spent about six hours on the road. Keswick itself was practically snow-free despite Thursday's forecast of a heavy dump during the afternoon.

We were soon getting comfy in the hostel. YHA Keswick has changed a fair bit since I last stayed there but it's still a great place. We'd booked a two-bed room but were given a three-bed up on the third floor, it was spacious and had a great view over Fitz Park to the Skiddaw group. Everything in the room was good, everything worked and it was nice and warm.

We stayed in the hostel for a fine evening meal in the restaurant before having a mooch around the town window-shopping and deciding on a pub for Saturday's evening meal. Back at the hostel we planned and packed for Saturday's walk and then turned in early.

I suppose you'll want to see some pictures of the fells...

 

 

 

 

 

This pair was hanging in the hostel's reading room. Yes, two more works by Delmar Banner, the same artist whose work hangs above the fireplace at YHA Eskdale. I must admit that I'm developing a liking for his works, and the more I look the more of them I find. The top one is dated 1948, the other 1947. There are no visible indications of the subjects (I was reluctant to look on the backs to see if they were labelled) but I reckon that they're views of the High Stile ridge. If you know or think different, feel free to speak up.

A few Delmar Banner links:

 

Anyway, that's enough for now. Saturday's events will be posted soon, along with some proper outdoors pics.

 

To be continued... 

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.

Sherwood Forest YHA – 11th September 2011

Posted by on October 12th 2011 in Great Escapes, Testing for review, YHA

Sunday morning was a little overcast with the threat of rain. We were soon breakfasted and the cars were loaded up with our luggage. The venue for the day was to be Rufford Abbey Country Park, just a few miles to the south-east. We'd heard that it was a peaceful place with well-kept grounds, a fine lakeside walk and some indoors stuff for when the weather turned bad.

We paid our three-quid car-parking fee, parked up and made our way towards the Abbey. We noted a few odd vehicles being driven around. Folk were wearing khaki, bowlers, hairnets and seamed-stockings (but not all at the same time, obviously!) - it was as if we'd driven through a rift in time and had emerged in the 40s. We'd turned up during their "On the Home Front" Living History weekend. There were period cars, mock-battles, field-gun firings, tank-engines blasting away, 40s dancing and live singing, Winston Churchill lookalikes and much more besides. And then there were the grounds and the lakeside to explore. More photo opportunities!

 

Leyland Titan Water Tender

 

Morris Quad 4x4 tractor

 

Not-so-lightweight camping

 

A fine tree in the grounds

 

1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30hp Saloon with a Park Ward swept-back body

 

As previous

 

Hmm...

 

Rolls-Royce Meteor tank engine (developed from the Spitfire's Merlin III) at full throttle

 

Teasels

 

Rufford Lake

 

 

Robin

 

Brackets

 

Rufford Lake dam and overflow

 

The Watermill, Rufford Lake

 

Avenue

 

You'll have noticed that the weather got better, not worse. Instead of having to dress for howling winds, we were in T-shirts for the whole day. I tell you, the act of carrying that windproof jacket is enough to deter inclement weather.

After leaving Rufford we called in for some minor retail therapy at Decathlon before getting home. Oddly for me, I didn't buy any more outdoors gear (but I did have to tear myself away from the Forclaz 400 fleece hoodies).

Sherwood Forest YHA – 10th September 2011

Posted by on October 11th 2011 in Great Escapes, Testing for review, YHA

As we were travelling to Sherwood Forest YHA on the Friday afternoon we were expecting the weekend to be grim - 80mph winds were forecast for the next few days, courtesy of the tail-end of Hurricane Katia. Not the best of conditions for woodland walking, but ideal for finding the limits of the Montane Lite-Speed H2O windproof jacket that was supplied by Adam Smith. Well... nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.

 

Sherwood Forest YHA

 

After getting sorted at the hostel we went out into the calm warm late afternoon and walked into Edwinstowe in search of bar-meals. Enquiries at pubs drew blanks, but we were directed to Dukeries Lodge on the High Street. Their restaurant room was booked for a celebration but they made up a table for us near the bar and gave us great service. The food was excellent, a cut above our usual standard of fare, the servings were huge but the prices low. Result!

We strolled back to the hostel wondering where the bad weather was.

Next morning we were up bright and early for the mandatory YHA breakfast, and after that we kitted up for a walk around the local woodlands and headed off for the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre.

 

On the way to the Visitor Centre

 

On arrival a guide-map was purchased for a nominal fee. On the back was a 10% discount voucher for meals at Dukeries Lodge, so that was the evening vittles sorted. Serendipity or what?

Anyway, there was plenty of "Robin Hood stuff" going on all around. He was in the tress, on posters, inside key-rings, in a movie and even in the toilets. He's going a bit grey in his old age, though:

 

Robin Hood

 

There was a good choice of well-graded paths through the woods so we concocted a DIY circuit that would tax the kids a bit and eventually bring us to the Major Oak. As you'd expect, there was plenty of interesting stuff to point the camera at:

 

Confused bracket fungus on a fallen trunk

 

One of many old oak trees

 

A mushroomy thing

 

Fallen wood #1

 

Fallen wood #2

 

Stragglers

 

The stragglers sent up front

 

To the adults it was a Chestnut, to the kids it was a baby hedgehog. It had to be cared for, mainly by feeding it biscuits:

 

The Woodlanders

 

Red Admiral

 

Some of the enclosures were set aside for grazing. In one there were many of these beasts, I got fairly close but legged it when the leader started to scrape the ground and got set for a charge:

 

Close enough

 

Too close!!!

 

Back on the path all was sweetness and light...

 

Hands

 

until I was brutally attacked by a stick. I was walking a pace or two behind Chris when she stepped on the end of a fallen branch. The other end was levered into the air just in time and at just the right height for me to walk straight into it, thus spearing my knackers with some force. There was much swearing while I crouched doubled-over at the side of the path. Anna laughed but the younger kids were curious as to what I was doing, luckily they were satisfied with the honest explanation that I was "checking for nuts". As far as I know, there are no photos of this event or of the aftermath.

 

Storm damage

 

A spot of easy tree-climbing

 

The Face Tree

 

The Knobbly Tree

 

At last we arrived at the Major Oak and sat at the picnic-tables while scoffing our packed lunch. The kids had a go at archery, the adults declined (I was in no fit state to be toting a 50lb-pull bow):

 

The Major Oak

 

Anna on the pull

 

The trunk of the Major Oak

 

Note the wide stance and the pained expression

 

 Back at the Visitor Centre I got my revenge on Anna:

 

Gotta get me one of these for home!

 

After that we spent a while at the kids' playground and then made our way back to the hostel. Despite the forecast it had been a dry, warm and calm day.

Washed and changed, we went off to Dukeries Lodge again for another fine meal. While we were there the heavens opened and a storm hit, the roads were more like streams and the drains didn't cope. I was hoping that it would last until I could get the Montane jacket wet but by the time we'd finished desserts the storm had passed on and all was warm and calm again. The jacket would have to wait another day - the forecast for Sunday was for some badass weather.

Back at the hostel we stayed up to watch yet another Last Night of The Proms bereft of Henry Wood's Fantasia on British Sea Songs. Barstewards!

 

To be continued...

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

Posted by on April 27th 2011 in 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...

A few days at Borrowdale – Part 2 – Short and steep

Posted by on April 25th 2011 in Great Escapes, YHA

Some of us were up bright and early next morning, outside taking pics well before breakfast...

 

Looking over the hostel grounds

 

The River Derwent from Longthwaite Bridge

 

High Spy and Castle Crag

 

Woodwork

 

Eventually the others surfaced and after we had breakfasted we headed off towards our objective - Bessyboot on Rosthwaite Fell. Even though it was still early a heat-haze was beginning to develop:

 

Heading for the crossroads

 

The first time I've ever seen this sign dry!

 

From the crossroads we headed for Stonethwaite, there were plenty of opportunities for the kids to lag behind looking at the newborn lambs:

 

Lamb-watchers

 

Beyond Stonethwaite we took the lane above the fields to the crossing of Big Stanger Gill, from where a steep but well-tended and delightful path winds up through Bull Crag Woods towards the notch between Hanging Haystack and Alisongrass Crag. The steepness and increasing heat meant plenty of stops for the kids and hence some photo-opportunities:

 

First pit-stop

 

Alisongrass Crag and the fells above Watendlath

 

The path twists and turns between the trees

 

Looking down on Stonethwaite and the Borrowdale valley

 

After another pit-stop at the "very awkward stile" and another after the wall-crossing, we reached the open fell and made our way along the track to find a suitable place for lunch. By then the sun was beating down with some ferocity and the SPF50 had to be wielded:

 

Chris poses for scale

 

In search of a place for lunch

 

Curiously-weathered mineral veins

 

A peek at Eagle Crag

 

After lunch we crossed the marsh that is the standing source of Big Stanger Gill and made our way around to the perched boulder which marks the start of the easy short pull up to Bessyboot, the summit of Rosthwaite Fell. As you can see, Millie was quite chuffed to have reached her first ever Wainwright summit, so chuffed that I had to take two pics:

 

Millie and Anna atop Bessyboot

 

Ditto

 

Although Bessyboot is a low summit, it has great views of  the surrounding fells:

 

The two Gables, Base Brown, Brandreth, Grey Knotts and Fleetwith Pike

 

Tarn at Leaves, Rosthwaite Cam and Glaramara

 

The Skiddaw group in the distant haze

 

We left the top and went down to the waterside to catch some rays or to dip toes in the cool clear water. Wainwright says "Tarn at Leaves has a lovely name but no other appeal". I beg to differ - it's a fine place, a wildcamper's delight:

 

Tarnside

 

Reeds and weeds

 

Muggins spoiling the view of the crags around Rosthwaite Cam
Anna took this pic

 

Anna and Millie after the toe-dipping

 

Offers to nip up to the Cam for a look-see were declined, so we shouldered the packs again and made off for the track down to Combe Gill.

 

Rosthwaite Cam and Glaramara again

 

We had intended to intercept the OS's green-dashed path but it turned out to be a map-maker's flight of fancy. Before long we were going down a worryingly steep grassy and craggy slope on the north side of Dry Gill. Some of the party found this section unpleasant, but our pathfinders were enjoying themselves:

 

Pathfinders

 

Anna found and photographed some interesting pink rocks in Dry Gill. Not sure what they are but they're different to the other rocks outcropping thereabouts. I suppose I'll have to dig out the BGS map of the area to find out what they are:

 

Pink rocks in Dry Gill

 

One more view of Rosthwaite Cam and Glaramara

 

Eventually we crossed Dry Gill to easier ground and found a fair track that's not marked on the map:

 

Descending on the south side of Dry Gill, with a great view before us

 

Chris nearing Combe Gill

 

After crossing Combe Gill we had a breather. The kids amused themselves by throwing stones from our pathside perch to the gill below, with no other folk about we thought it was a bit of harmless fun until Anna accidentally let one go vertically instead of across and down. With no idea where it would land, we just hunkered down and hoped for the best. After what seemed ages, there was a loud thud and a shower of gravel in the small area around which we were sitting. Lucky, eh? The ensuing rollocking echoed around the fellside but soon we all saw the funny side of it and a course of proper stone-throwing was instigated.

From there it was a simple but delightful walk back to the hostel via Mountain View, over Folly Bridge and along the short via ferrata riverside chain-walk section just as we entered the hostel grounds.

After we'd got ourselves showered and changed we booked in for a superb meal at the hostel and chilled for the rest of the evening before turning in early again to get some rest in preparation for the expected rigours of the next day.

To be continued...

A few days at Borrowdale – Part 1 – Tuesday drive-in

Posted by on April 23rd 2011 in Great Escapes, YHA

This was our third trip away with our hostelling friends. Another bargain break, courtesy of Tesco Clubcard tokens and YHA Borrowdale.

The Tuesday journey up the standard A5/M6 route was again trouble-free, apart from a minor diversion near the start-point. Breaking with tradition, we bypassed the Little Chef at Ings and pulled in at Windermere for an excellent late-afternoon meal at The Elleray.  After a couple of hours there we pushed on to Borrowdale, stopping for a while at Derwentwater's Cat Gill car-park to give the kids a chance to play at the waterside. Apologies for the speckly pics - this time it's not down to sensor-dust or grubby lenses, it's a midge thing...

 

Cat Bells and Kids

 

Towards Skiddaw

 

A few minutes of driving later and we were at the hostel. After decanting from car to room we spent part of the evening chilling out in the hostel grounds bird- and bat-spotting beside the river, then we retired to the lounge for chats, brews and route-planning before turning in for an early night.

To be continued...

The Keeltappers and Grunters Social Club 2010 Coniston Meet – Sunday

Posted by on December 18th 2010 in Great Escapes, YHA

Sunday morning dawned bright and frosty but without any overnight snow. The area around the hostel was picturesque in the morning light:

 

Looking towards Dixon Ground

 

Far End cottages

 

We were soon breakfasted, packed and away to Dunmail Raise - we had limited time for Wainwright-bagging as Frank wanted to go to the Montane sale in Ambleside and then to The Outdoor Warehouse sale in Windermere. We would only have time for one top, so we opted for Seat Sandal. Managing to get to the top of that one would be good for me - twice before, I'd sweated up Raise Beck only to be held back by reluctant friends or relations. Third time lucky, I figured.

We opted for the direct and steeper ascent up the West Ridge, reserving the Raise Beck route for the descent. Being in the open meant that the views were much better than what was on offer along the beck:

 

Moraines on Dunmail Raise

 

Thirlmere with Skiddaw in the distance

 

On the way up I was faffing with the camera and Frank had got well ahead. In my efforts to catch up I slipped on a patch of iced grass and landed on my knee. It didn't feel too bad at first so I ignored it, but after a while it started to give me hassle. I popped a couple of Ibuprofens which reduced the pain but the joint just wasn't acting right so I strapped it up and carried on. Common-sense said that I should bail after phoning Frank, but I wasn't going to fail on this mountain again. With much use of the "f", "b" and "c" words, I got beyond the break in the slope and managed to limp stop-start up the easy ground to the top.  Frank must have been waiting in the shelter of the wall for half an hour when I hobbled into view:

 

From the top of Seat Sandal

 

At the wall I popped a couple more pills and had a breather until I felt better. After a snack and a brew I managed to get a few pics before and during the knee-crunching descent northwards to Grisedale Tarn:

 

Fairfield and St. Sunday Crag

 

Dollywaggon Pike and the ridge to Helvellyn

 

Alcock Tarn, Grasmere, Coniston Water, Esthwaite Water and hints of Windermere and Morecambe Bay

 

Around Grisedale Tarn

 

After reaching the top of Raise Beck and having another few minutes to allow the knee to recover, we pushed on down the icy path back to the cars, stopping only to take a few (poor) pics of some of the cascades:

 

Upper cascades

 

Lower cascades

 

After we'd got ourselves sorted at the cars we nipped off to Ambleside so that Frank could have a look in the Montane sale. There was plenty of nice discounted kit in there but we resisted the urge to buy. The same couldn't be said of our visit to The Outdoor Warehouse in Windermere though, where Frank brought forth and wielded his wallet for the purposes of Christmas-pressie shopping.

After that, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Aside from a few miles of dodgy traffic on the M6, there was no more excitement. The knee now seems to be sorted, I expected it to be a problem for a few more days but I'm happy to report that I was wrong.

The Keeltappers and Grunters Social Club 2010 Coniston Meet – Friday and Saturday

Posted by on December 15th 2010 in Great Escapes, YHA

I'd started out a couple of hours earlier than usual which meant that I had time to call in at Windermere to do a bit of Christmas shopping. While walking the town I got quite a shock when I saw that the shop-front of The Outdoor Warehouse was plastered with "Closing Down" and "Sale" banners. Despite my solemn oath to stay out of such places, I had to go in and find out what the story was. Turns out that they're closing down the shop early in the New Year but they're going to continue as an online retailer. I suppose it's a good move financially, but it does mean that there'll be one less place to actually get hands on quality kit before deciding about buying it. If you're in the market for some seriously-reduced gear, I'd recommend a look in there before it's too late. They had a good selection of half-price down-filled jackets on display, including much stuff that's not on their website.

After that I made my way to Coniston, stopping occasionally to take pics from the roadside:

 

Looking towards Skelwith Fold and Black Crag

 

I arrived at YHA Coniston Holly How mid-afternoon, took my gear in, made a brew and sat reading in the lounge. After a while Frank arrived with the news that Mike was ill and wouldn't be arriving on Saturday morning as per his original intention. As we already knew that the other two invited folk couldn't attend, we went to The Crown ASAP and planned accordingly. It wasn't going to be a weekend of serious snow-play  - temperatures were on the rise and a thaw had set in. Frank's prime objective was to climb an in-condition gully, I wanted to bag a few "undone" Wainwrights and christen my snooshows, neither of us would get what we wanted. Over a fine pub-meal we played with the options before heading back and bunking down for the night.

Bright and early next morning we were up, breakfasted and parked up in the quarry car-park on the Walna Scar Road below Timley Knott. The sun was out and there was hardly any snow visible on The Old Man of Coniston:

 

The Old Man

 

After seeing the conditions, it was obvious that crampons and axes wouldn't be required and that there was no chance of a gully-climb. We lightened our packs and headed North with the intention of taking the popular quarry-path to The Old Man's summit. There were plenty of photo-opportunities on the way up:

 

Panorama - The Old Man to The Yewdale Fells

 

Looking back to the quarry car-park

 

A lonely tree overlooks the path

 

The Old Man - gnarled, craggy and weathered
The mountain also looks like that
🙂

 

YHA Coniston Coppermines from The Bell

 

Another look back to the quarry car-park

 

Quarries below Sweeten Crag

 

At the crossroads we turned left and headed up the track towards Low Water. There was evidence that others had been this way before us:

 

We never found the matching Therm-a-Rest 🙂

 

We paused for a cuppa at a convenient place and went off to investigate the relics of a long-gone industry:

 

Quarry buildings

 

More quarry buildings

 

How are the mighty fallen

 

Inside one of the quarries

 

A short while later we were on the track above a thawing Low Water. One look at the gullies justified our decision to leave the pointy metalwork in the car:

 

Low Water

 

Low Water again

 

From there it was a short pull up snow-filled tracks and crag towards the busy summit. There were more photo-opportunities:

 

The final stretch

 

Coniston Water and distant clouds over North Wales

 

The summit was a busy place so I wandered off to take some pics while Frank took shelter for a snack-break. There was much to see:

 

There were poppies tucked into the cairn - poignant reminders of folk that no longer walk these fells

 

Looking towards the Scafell range

 

An old survey mark carved into a rock in the plinth of the cairn.

 

The trig-column and the summit cairn

 

The Dow Crag ridge

 

From there, we headed off towards Brim Fell. Here's me, pausing during the easy stroll:

 

Still refusing to wear a hat despite the lack of natural insulation up-top

 

Looking back at The Old Man from Brim Fell summit

 

Brim Fell cairn and another view of the Scafell range

 

From there we headed down to a snowy and busy Goat's Hawse:

 

Goat's Water

 

We paused alongside Goat's Water for a while, there was much to see, do and discuss:

 

Dow Crag's magnificent rocky architecture

 

Ice on Goat's Water

 

Impact on ice on Goat's Water

 

Light on ice, water and rock

 

From there it was a simple walk back to the car. We discussed much on the way down, not least the fact that the absent Mike was supposed to be providing a hearty chilli for the evening meal. Frank's selection of cheeses and my Chicken Tikka bites with Tempura Prawns weren't going to be enough...

After we'd got ourselves sorted at the hostel we headed off to the village shop in search of ingredients. Fish, rice and onions were liberated from the Co-op. The fish needed time to defrost so we took it into a warm pub for an hour or so, as you do. After suitable rehydration we went back to the hostel to concoct our evening meal - the prawns made a decent starter, Frank's rice, fish and chicken dish was good and the bread-pudding with custard and caramel was indeed as stodgy and filling as ever. The bottle of red went down well too while we set the world to rights before turning in for the night.

To be continued...

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