Thursday, 17 April 2014

2 great days in the lakes

Bob planned some big days out using Wainwrights. To match his 70th he decided on the 7 books- a day for each which would include the highest peak and at least 9 others. ie 7x10.
The Wasdale circuit was fantastic(8 April)- bit of a weird route but it was his planning and he isn't as quick to spot fell race routes as me. I let Bob leave and then settled to my breakfast. It wasn't long before I was out of the van and chasing after him.
I took his old poles as an experiment- should I buy some for the UTMB? I hadn't quite decided whether to stick to his route or do my own thing but it would be nice to keep him company. We met not far before Kirk Fell climbing up a slippery red gully. Then it was off to Great Gable and Green Gable. It was too cold to hang around on the tops and although some tops had cloud each one we came to cleared and gave us great views. We headed over Brandreth and modified the plan as we went. Grey Knotts and Fleetwith Pike were binned and we shot off for Haystacks.

 It was boggy and the path wanders around a bit and but was here we met the first groups of walkers. It was a fairly big climb up to High Crag and then High Stile. This time to cloud did not quite clear but we still got views down to Buttermere and entertained ourselves spotting old RAB control sites. After Red Pike and a quick appreciation of Bleabury Tarn we decsended to Ennerdale. We started across the fell side but by the time we reached the stream there was a small path. It felt tropical in the valley bottom but I was sure it would be chilly once we climbed to the ridge.

 After only a minor faff we found the concessionary path up to Caw. It was cold and windy- I now had on everything I had with me, over trousers, hat, waterproof gloves etc. The ridge to Haycock and Scout Fell is beautiful and it was empty. We did the short out and back to Steeple and remembered Chris getting stressed at the idea some years ago.

Then it was decision time- over Pillar or down Wind Gap. Bob was tired and said down, but if you are ever in doubt I'd opt for over Pillar and down Black Sail. Wind Gap was steep and loose, then boggy at the bottom. Still we were back with plenty of day light.
Looking back to Wind Gap
It was good to be able to accompany him on one of the 7 books. As for the poles- well I am not a convert and don't think I will be using them much but I could see and advantage in keeping up a rhythm going uphill and saving the quads a bit on the descents so I think I will ask for some very light ones for my birthday.
Not just one book now I get to go with Bob on book 5 and 6 as well. We drove up to Braithwaite and found the ideal parking spot.
Ideal in that it was quiet, flat enough to sleep and right at the start of our path. It was chilly at first but I was prepared for walking not running today- more clothes and more food.
Grisedale Pike is big but it didn't take quite as long as I expected and the views were amazing. The wind was cooling but no problem and the sky was clear.  From there the drop and climb to Hopegill Head was easy and the out and back to Whiteside didn't take long. I spotted where I slipped on the DH memorial race- it looked so dry and easy today.
We spent a few minutes admiring Buttermere and the peaks of our last adventure and then it was back and over Sand Hill, even if it isn't a Wainwright. We could not see others on top of Grisedale so we dropped to Coledale Hause and started the climb up Grasmoor. This took longer than it should due to numerous phone calls from Matthew who had found the exhaust was falling off the car. Mobiles kept cutting out but eventually we were all happy. From Grasmoor we dropped and went out to Whiteless Pike and although an out and back it was a great little ridge with fantastic views. We also bumped into some ultra friends out running.
We turned and came back over Wandhope and then Eel Crag. It was busier now but that was hardly a surprise on such a lovely day. We were using our old RAB maps and it was fun spotting where controls had been as we headed over Sail and then Scar crags. By now it was warm enough to sit in the sun and eat.  The trip to Causey Pike only took a few minutes and then it was off down the boggy path and up to Outerside. Barrow would make it number 12 for the day so off we went. The path off Barrow would take us too low and to the wrong end of Braithwaite so we went back to barrow Door and then went cross country to regain the big track that leads up to the mines at Low Force. It meant we finished with a stroll along the track in the sunshine and then a brew in the sun at the van.
We moved the van having given up on any attempt to park in Keswick.  Arriving at the car park behind Latrigg it was very full. We squeezed in and watch walkers, bikers and para gliders going out and coming back. It was good to have an hour or so lying in the sun with a coffee and a book. Once everyone had cleared off we mover to a level spot and settled for the night.

Day two would be cooler, cloudier and windy but dry. First top was Lonscale Fell which seemed to be ignored by most that were just heading for the big tops. From Skiddaw Little Man we dropped and contoured to Carl Side and then Long Side.
Skiddaw No70!
The wind was freezing and I stopped to put another layer and gloves on.  The path from Carl Side tarn up Skidda was was steep and loose but thankfully quite short. We stopped to admire views and register how big Grisedale Pike still looked then it was off down to Bakestall. As we followed the fence we remembered a day many years ago (23?) when we cycled past Skiddaw House and pushed our bikes up Skiddaw so we could ride down the bridlepath. 
After a discussion on route choice we opted for the direct ascent of Little Calva via the fence line. It was steep and eroded but it got the climb out the way and I think faster than the big valley track. It was, as the map predicted,  boggy but we both had seal skins on so who cares. The ground to Knott was damp but easy going without too much climb. Debate. Where next? Great Sca Fell and others looked invitingly close but we still had Blencathra etc to do. Looking for an easy line off Knott and towards Bowscale Fell was not easy.
We found and lost a trod, contoured on an old water course and then yomped down the heather to the River Caldew. Next difficulty was crossing it. In the end we gave up and waded through. The route up Bowscale took for ever. It just went up and up over a convex slope that kept promising to end. From there the going was considerably easier across to Bannerdale Crags and then up to Blencathra itself. Sharp Edge looked imposing and there were tiny people silhouetted on the skyline. We both confessed that the drop off for a BG did not look inviting. We had considered Blease Fell and dropping off the end but it was going to be steep.
Sharp Edge in the background
Instead we saw we had stacks of time and plumped for Mungrisdale Common.
Mungrisdale Common
We found the BG trod  which is now quite a wide boggy path and despite Wainwrights warnings about an inconclusive to we found a cairn and checked the altimeter. 12 Wainwrights done, time to head for the van. A trod led up safely to the bridges and it was only a short climb up onto the Cumbria Way. We contoured below Lonscale Fell in glorious sunshine and arrived back at the van tired but happy. It was too cold to sit outside that evening but the sun streamed in through the windows. Bob was tired and insisted that tomorrows walk might be a bit too much. In the end the weather decided it- VERY windy and cloud on the tops.
We shopped in a near deserted Keswick and came home having checked out a parking spot just south on Dunmail. Oh Bob did go out and do Latrigg before breakfast too. Only One more Wainwright book to do now... unless Bob decides to do all the other tops as well.

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