Sunday, 22 June 2014

Weekend in the Lakes

Bob fancied a trial of a sea kayak. We have both canoed and kayaked before on rivers, lakes and even the sea but were interested in how these long slim creatures would handle. We booked a day of hire and company on Ullswater. We were parked up and ready to go before 9.30. Leigh and Patricia arrived and unloaded the boats.

 Various bits were explained and we were soon on the water. It didn't take long to get the hang of the kayaks and they were more stable than I had expected.

 After a quick trip to Silver Bay we carried on down the lake to Howtown. It was windy so we hugged the shore line and thought about how easy it would be paddling back.

They were a friendly pair and we nattered away. The weather was superb- warm, sunny and just enough wind to make it interesting. Near Howtown we found a quiet beach and laid out our picnic. Patricia was Italian and had baked bread, made pastes and more.

 After this leisurely lunch we packed up and set off back towards the sailing centre. The wind had reversed in this time so we had a headwind again, but nothing too serious.

 The wakes of the steamers gave us some fun and it was interesting spotting all our well loved Wainwrights from down at water level. We opted to forgo the cliff jump and make the most of the time in kayaks.

While Patricia went to check what time the centre would shut we explored up the river towards the bridge at Side Farm. We had some fun and it was a different environment to the lake but really it was too shallow and needed some rain.

 Plans then changed a little as Leigh rescued a swamped sailing dingy and we had a laugh at their conked out safety boat. It all added up to an extension until 7pm so off we went again. We headed for one of the larger islands in the middle of the lake and sheltered behind it before padding to the west shore.

There was a stiff breeze coming down the valley from the Helvellyn range but the foot controlled rudders let us keep a straight line. We had some wind assistance on the return and the sun came back out in time for our final picnic. 

The lake emptied fast although there were a few parties having BBQs on beaches. By 7 we were unloading the kayaks and thanking them for a great day out.

 Then we found we were locked in! No problem- we couldn't undo the padlock but we could use a screwdriver and undo the whole thing, drive out and then replace it. Supper in the Glencoyne car park was a simple affair but the midges kept us inside.  An early night and a good sleep, ready for our next adventure in the morning.
The kayaking was pre-booked so despite the SLMM venue being announced we were in that valley and not prepared to drive further in summer. We decided that if we stuck to the northern end and the main paths we were not doing anything wrong as we were seeing nothing new and gaining no advantage. We found space in our desired lay by (not a surprise before 8am really) and set off on the most hazardous part of the day - the road towards Glenridding for a few hundred metres. It was a relief to reach the track and leave the road behind.

The sun was out and it was warm. At the road junction we dropped away from the mining cottages down the the bridge and campsite. Then it was a long steady climb up beside Mires Beck and onto Birkhouse Moor. There were few people about and the views were stunning. Unfortunately it was also still and midgy.

Wainwright did not chose the highest point for his peak but it did give good views into the valley. Then we wended our way upwards towards the Hole in the Wall.

We left the wall that would lead to Striding Edge and contoured across to the tarn and the path that would take us below Catstycam. This peak is truly beautiful. We played on Swirral Edge trying to find the trickiest lines and most rock for entertainment.

Even up here the midges were out! I pointed out all the places I had had MM controls in the past and laughed at my silly error during the Tour de Helvellyn when I missed Little Man. The path was easy to Whiteside Pike and then on to Raise.

We met a few people but I had thought it might be more crowded, perhaps we were benefiting from out early start. We contoured below Stybarrow Dodd to Greenside on a tiny path that is probably wet for most days of the year.

 It was soft but dry as was the path out to Hart Side. Another trod took us around the head of Glencoyne and gave us great views to last nights camping spot and Ullswater. By Sheffield Pike there were more people but most were still on their way up. This is an interesting little lump with really intricate contour detail and a rocky path to the col before Glenridding Dodd.

We had spotted a path just north of this last lump and it looked ideal as the map showed it leading down to the lay by where we left the van. I do not think it is a path used by many and some serious tree uprooting had blocked one section. We found a way through and carried on down the steep and fairly overgrown way. It did indeed take us straight back to the van. Now, decisions. It was hot and we were a bit tired but it was far too early to end our day. Once Bob had managed to drive out on the blind bend without any major incident we turned round and headed for the peace of the outer fells. We worried that parking could be difficult by now, especially for a vehicle as big as the van, so it was off to the twins Great and Little Mell Fell. I felt a bit guilty driving through Matterdale End that we were not calling in to see Claire- we should have tried last night but were both too tired. We found a wide part of lane and set off up a track. It wasn't long before we came to what seemed to be a promising stile. We should have carried on another 100m but we were not to know. After some jungle warfare with mammoth bracken we were back on a wide grassy track and making better progress.  A short section of ancient trees led to the open grassy top and wonderful views of Blencathra. The descent was much easier! We cheated and moved the van- I did think of Steve B and his epic run last week. How he must have cursed Wainwright for these outliers and then Binsey as well. This time no paths seemed to go where we wanted once we were through the gateway so we wandered up the pasture until we found trods heading the right way. The summit had a lovely stone trig point and views out to the Pennines as well as back into the eastern fells. A grassy path led south from the summit and what looked steep on the map would probably have been an easy and shorter way up but never mind. Another 7 Wainwrights done and Bob only has 70 odd left to do. Hopefully he will get some on the SLMM - the ones we steered well clear of this weekend.

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