Thursday, 8 May 2014

A long weekend in the Lakes

No running but that is OK. My knee was still sore from Evesham, I was tired and mid week started with a cold. The forecast was OK although not great.
We drove up on Friday night after a birthday tea and cake for Bob. The best card was from his brother " 70 is only 21 (degrees C)".  We  had planned a big route and were in bed early ready for our early start. It took minutes to move the van to the farm at Town Head where we settled down for breakfast. £1 for a days parking seems very reasonable. We set off up the lane and then headed up the steep hillside on some very easy zigzag paths. We were on Helm Crag before most people were even out of bed.

 After a quick play and scramble around on all the rocks we set out along the ridge to Gibson Knott which seemed a bit insignificant. I took us on a short detour to Rough Crag and then on to Calf Crag where we nearly caught up two runners on a BG recee. Dropping to the col and Mere Beck we got wet feet and it stayed that way even as we climbed. With heads down we climbed and climbed some more..... and then realised we were almost at Sergeant Man. Oops that was not the plan. We shot off downhill to Tarn Crag and then headed south to Coledale tarn.

Three tents were wild camping here and it was very still and peaceful. Heading up to Blea Rigg we started to meet other walkers.

The views were now great , especially into Pavey Ark and the Langdale Stickles. Now we did head for Sergeant Man and the summit was now quite crowded. There was also a control for the GL3 day event which we then had to explain to the other walkers. I had thought GL3D was quite expensive but Bob thought otherwise so maybe we will do it next year. The next section was going to be easy as the out and backs were over and we were up on the ridge.

It also got even more crowded but I suppose it was Bank Hol weekend and we were above Langdale. We contoured across to Pavey Ark and then Harrison Stickle quickly followed by Loft Crag (Gimmer to climbers).  We got a bit separated here as I got the bit between my teeth and Bob slowed down.

There were plenty of views to drink in and past mountain marathon routes across this area to reflect on so I did not mind. Looking back at Gimmer I could see climbers but it must have been chilly. Pike of Stickle has a little scramble to the top but we did not linger in the wind.
A great Birthday treat
It was time for more wet feet as we went north to Thunacar Knott, although in fairness it was drier than I have sometimes seen it. The wind was behind us now as we climbed Raise and it was decision time of how many more to include. We had hours of day light left  and it seemed a shame to miss out any at all. From Low White Stones we set off downhill to Sergeants Crag. It was a big drop but did not take that long. Neither of us had been on this fell side before although Rowena and I had run close on a SLMM. Eagle Crag was even lower but too close to miss out now. These two had tiny paths and despite being close to Stonethwaite I did not think they are visited that often. Sitting admiring the view I had a brain wave. Rather than climbing back to Long Crag and contouring round Greenup Edge as Rowena and I had done we could drop to the big coast to coast path, climb the big craggy but unnamed nose and cut the corner to Ullscarf.  It had a bit more climb but was definitely shorter and was more interesting.  We got separated again en route to Ullscarf when I found a lovely little sheep trod that took me directly to the fence at the northern end of the bogs. I was just starting to worry and think of retracing my steps when by luck I spotted Bob on a totally different line.

The cloud built up at this point and we had a few spots of rain. Fortunately it came to nothing but it did make me want to push on. We knew the next leg would involve a drop and a climb; there was no alternative. We hit a great line just west of Cat Gill and the rocks. It was very steep and there was no path  but it led us perfectly to an easy stream crossing. It avoided The Bog and the climb onto the Steel Fell ridge was very gentle there. Despite avoiding The Bog it was still wet underfoot until we gained the fence and stated to climb to the summit cairn. It was warmer now we had dropped out of the wind and the threatened rain had disappeared.

 My knee complained badly as we descended the nose all the way down to the lane but it had been a great day out.  16 Wainwrights for Bob as his birthday treat!!

Sunday was spent helping at the Northern O Champs that our orienteering club were organising. Neither of us were planning to run, just a day of volunteering. I had a rather nice job of manning the road next to assembly. Not lots to do really and a great place for meeting lots of friends. We were one of the first there and I knew by the time Bob and Chris etc had done download all day we would be one of the last to leave. It drizzled miserably for some of the morning and the cloud was very low but it could have been much wetter. I did not really regret not racing as I seem to damage ankles when I take my eyes off the floor to run and study the map. Instead I collected some controls at the end of the day and David kindly gave me the ones on the open fell which were relatively straight forward and gave me lovely views across Windermere. The last time I had been on Blakeholme was the fell race where you row across the lake, run up and down and then row back. It was years ago now. Eventually all the gear was collected in and we were free to leave. We drove to Walna Scar road for the night. It is a favourite of ours and was wonderfully quiet.

I had never noticed this before?

The overnight light rain stopped by morning but the cloud was very low. Bob decided it was so low we should do our planned route backwards. I wasn't at all convinced but I think my cold and sore throat were making me grumpy.  It seemed a long time to climb to the col and then drop all the way down to the Duddon Valley. We crossed the fields and aimed for Birks where the forest felling had not been quite so destructive as at Grassguards. Now there was a big climb.

Up and up on Harter Fell. I went exploring and found the tarn near my control on the Klets we did there and then I scrambled around the summit before chatting to a fell runner receeing the Duddon race route.  It was sunny but cold now as we set off for Hardknott Pass. Today was certainly a day for wet feet! We started up the race route and then wandered across to the summit crag. There were a couple of spots of rain and then it stopped.

 We made a beeline for Cockley Beck. The only path was in Mosedale and I was sure that would be at least as wet as the open fell side. As we joined the road we met more fell runners and a biker who wanted his photo taking.  The fields behind the farm at Cockley Beck were a muddy swamp. The cattle had created a real mess and didn't look too pleased we were joining them either. It was a joy to gain the fell side and start the climb to Grey Friar.

 Bob already had that Wainwright and he was lagging a bit so we cut the corner and picked up the contouring path below Swirl How towards Levers Hawse and then Goats Hause. It gave me time to contemplate the CPs and routes Matt and I had taken on the SLMM there. Wow some stiff climbs and big distances (perhaps that is why he won't do another with me now).

The wind was fierce on Dow Crag and I pitied the climbers that had camped near us ready for a long day on the rock. Back at Goats Hause I met the fell runner from Harter Fell again but it was too cold to stop and compare routes for long.

 Brim Fell was calmer and we stopped a few moments before our last peak of Coniston Old Man.
Old man on Old Man?

 We quickly overtook a descending party and struck due south on a route we had never tried before. We arrived at the quarry area and carried on. Bob moaned his feet were wet again but it was a nice grassy descent and dropped us nicely onto Walna Scar road with just a short section to retrace back to the van. What a joy to be able to climb into the van, make a brew, sit with the door open and soak in the view, have a bite to eat, get changed....  and then think about driving home.
111 Wainwrights now done since New Years Day and although Bob has completed what he set out to do I think he will now go for doing all of them if he can.

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