: The Second Year
2005 we were better organised in terms of scheduling
days out and in a GOBO (glimpse of the blindingly obvious)
discovered that the more frequently you try to get out,
the more often you do actually get out.
13th January 2005
outing started in beautiful weather as we drove up Longsleddale.
We walked up Gatescarth
pass and then took a most intriguing route up by the
disused Wrengill quarry. By the time we had reached
Adam Seat and looked down on Haweswater the sky was
clouding over and I feared that we might get snowed
on. However Bryan was confident it would not snow
and he was right but it was cold as we made our way
up Harter Fell and along to Kentmere Pike with quite
a lot of snow underfoot.
Seat with Haweswater in background
from Kentmere Pike
Underneath the cloud we could
see the sun spectacularly shining on Windermere, the Leven estuary
and the Kent estuary and it eventually shone on us as we started to make our way
back down to the car. All in all, at 8
miles, a rather longer trip than I had expected but not too strenuous. A really good start to the new year and a
route to which we want to return to explore the quarries when the weather is
better- possibly a summer evening.
13th January 2005
27th January 2005
good stroll today, roughly five and a half miles up Yarlside (a Hardaker special
direct ascent), down to the Saddle (a Hardaker special even steeper descent)
near Little Randy Gill then up Kensgriff and working our way round to Backside
beck and back to the car and then the Dalesman in Sedbergh. Fortunately the cloud level stayed just above
us and we had some fine glimpses of distant vistas but what was John Lyons
saying to Bryan Hardaker at the photo opportunity?
to read Peter McLaren's winning entry
the caption competition
27th January 2005
More Wheregills than Howgills
3rd February 2005
don't want to be going up there today" said the
eighty four year old, one eyed farmer as the three mature
gentlemen passed through his farm yard in Sedbergh.
"You'll get lost- you won't be able to see
you hand in front of your nose".
worry" said Philip, "Our friend here
knows these hills like the back of his hand" and
the intrepid heroes pressed on regardless.
few minutes later, having agreed that there can only
be one leader on the fells and having accepted the nomination,
Bryan declared that we had missed the path. "I
hate to have to do this to do you but we need to cut
straight up to find the path".
Bryan- we asked for a Softaker route today, not a Hardaker".
follow our leader we did vertically through gorse and
up scree to the point where he confessed that we could
go no further as the gorse at the top was impenetrable
I am not lost- if I need to get out my compass that's
when you need to worry- I just can't see our way out
down out of the gloom we headed only to find, 50 metres
below, our farmer friend clearly enjoying our discomfort
at his prediction coming true in record time. He
launched into a lecture of the danger of the fells but
it was then that Bryan showed true leadership skills.
"Shut up you squint-eyed wind bag" he
demanded. "It was me who taught Hugh Symonds
everything he knows about fell running".
a dramatic and immediate transformation. "Oh
Sir, you must be mighty man of the mountain, please
may I clean your boots with my wife's best knickers?
Obviously you were reconnoitring a new and extreme
route. Sorry for casting aspersions on your navigational
abilities. Of course with such a pedigree you
would only want to go out on a day that presented a
with such reflected glory ringing in our ears, off we
set into the unknown (for Philip and I).
time to time Bryan made encouraging noises like "This
is the path to Arant How" and "Oh no it isn't" and then
"Well, it must have been".
Greater certainty was
shown in respect of Calders, Bram Rigg Top and The Calf
and in respect of the latter he proved it by magicking
a trig point out of filthy air.
the ascent I discovered a trick or two that John Lyons
and others may care to remember. If you need to
have a stop to "admire the view" but are challenged
by the fact that actually there is no view to be admired,
here are two stratagems that achieve the same objective.
is to ask Bryan a question that requires reference to
his map. E.g. - "if we could see anything
from here what would we be able to see over there Bryan?"
(rather better than "how much further is
there to climb?" as that presupposes the current
situation is known.)
second needs some preplanning but works equally well-
send Philip a text message.
lunch was had at the summit in a ditch overlooking a
massive lake which due to a trick of perspective turned
out to be a little pond, where we were surprised to
be discovered by three more idiots who thought themselves
the only ones daft enough to be out there. But
the question that perplexed Bryan was how come he was
up there with two old geezers when this newcomer was
up there with two lovely ladies. Philip and I
just wondered why this interloper could not find something
warmer to do with the two lovely ladies.
on to the return. We followed the direct route
to the top of Winder but the path down was not certain.
It was then that Bryan "If I need to get
my compass out, that's when you need to worry"
got his compass out.
is little more to add except that the cloud then lifted,
Sedbergh could be seen and Philip, motivated by having
to get back to read a mountain of paperwork for a meeting
tomorrow set off down the hill like a chamois on a promise.
reaching the base of the hill we could see that Bryan
had indeed almost succeeded in taking us up a totally
new route. There is only one patch of scree on
Winder, we could see it surrounded by gorse with the
marks of recent descent clearly to be seen down the
middle. And there, just above the gorse was a
motorway of a path.
3rd February 2005
time I bloody offer to lead!
few lessons to learn however for the person/s amongst
you who will lead future trips.
Look at the map when leaving the farm gate and
going on to the open fell. It would have shown that
the obvious path in front of me was the wrong one!
Once realising (within 200 yards) that it was
the wrong path, go back to the farm gate and take the
right one. Don't try a 'fell runner's direct variation'!
However if you do embark on a 'fell runner's
direct variation' don't wimp out when the others look
a little out of breath. We were only a few feet from
re-joining the correct path when we encountered the
Get a bit of practice in the mist - it's surprising
how careless you get when you only walk in clear weather!
Don't tell them anything. If I hadn't mentioned
missing Arant How, Don couldn't have written a bloody
paragraph about it!
Keep your compass up your sleeve instead of in
the haversack. Then they wouldn't know you'd used it!
Don't expect gratitude for navigating them safely
through serious conditions to the highest summit in
the Howgills, then getting them back down again in time
for Phillip to be back in time to prepare for his meeting.
Just be grateful that they don't attack you with those
damn ski poles!
I'll put off doing my Mountain Leadership Certificate
until I've gained a bit more experience!
4th February 2005
for the record- had it not been for our confidence in
Bryan to find his way around the fells in the most awful
conditions, I think it doubtful that Philip and I would
have got into the car last Thursday, never mind out
the real reason that the souvenir picture is totally
grey is that there was no juice in my camera battery!
Mind you, even if it had juice, the pictures would
not have been much different.
5th February 2005
A High Street tribute to St Sotheris
10th February 2005
gentlemen in England now abed will think themselves
accursed that they were not here on this, St Crispin
! ?? !!!
so it was. I did tempt Bryan with a trip southwards
to where the sun seemed stronger. Perhaps we could
park on The Knott at Arnside and watch the bore come
in? Or prepare for our dotage on the prom at Grange?
But no, Bryan had decided that Hartsop was the
destination and I have to say it was an excellent call.
We went up Pasture Beck to Threshthwaite Mouth
(invoking the spirit of John Lyons once or twice in
the latter stages, I must confess). Then stormed
up to Thornthwaite Crag despite the wind.
Then along the ridge to
High Street, around The Knott (perhaps that's what he
thought I was talking about when I mentioned Arnside)
and down Hayeswater Gill back to the car. All
in all, according to the computer 6.8 miles, 2,566 feet
of ascent and a target time of 4 hours 39 minutes, which
we bested by at least an hour!!!
Crag / beacon
a mountain spotting and lake bagging route, I doubt
if there if there are any finer- Brother's Water, Ullswater,
Windermere, Coniston, Hayeswater, Haweswater and Esthwaite
Water all to be seen with fine views in all directions
of an increasingly impressive number of peaks over which
Boot Boys have prevailed.
as for the Blessed Sotheris- Bryan commented about
the need to punish one's body on the hills and how appropriate
for it is her day today:
how could it come to pass that holy Sotheris should
not have been the originator of your purpose, who is
an ancestor of your race? Who, in an age of persecution,
borne to the heights of suffering by the insults of
slaves, gave to the executioner even her face, which
is usually free from injury when the whole body is tortured,
and rather beholds than suffers torments; so brave and
patient that when she offered her tender cheeks to punishment,
the executioner failed in striking before the martyr
yielded under the injuries. She moved not her face,
she turned not away her countenance, she uttered not
a groan or a tear. Lastly, when she had overcome other
kinds of punishment, she found the sword which she desired.
10th February 2005
This week's star prize goes to whoever can give the
best explanation of what Bryan has in his left ear!
nice day with a bit of a breeze on the tops
and I kept the map in my pocket all day and didn't get
17th February 2005
sun brought out an increased attendance this week for
what turned out to be one the best days we've had this
was Crinkle Crags. First question to me on entering
the car was "where from?"
do I keep getting nominated as Leader? Is there a conspiracy
against the young? Have I upset someone?
true to form I had failed to remember rule 5 - 'Don't
tell them anything'. Apparently I must have said
we could go from the top of HardKnott Pass when speaking
to John the previous day so they were 'intrigued' as
to the route we were to take. It was of course a slip
of the tongue and I had meant the top of Wrynose Pass.
we set off from the top of Wrynose Pass with the sun
shining. Fairly soon after setting off we encountered
an electrified fence. Ostensibly this is there to allow
the reintroduction of hefted sheep following foot and
mouth. However it became clear as the day went on, and
the extent of the fencing was seen, that this was a
cover story. We believe it is being built to fence in
Lakeland (with an extension southwards to enclose Pete's
house) to keep out these foreigners who are such a drain
on our welfare system!
can tell from this the standard of some of the conversation
that took place!)
plodded on up to a frozen Red Tarn and turned off to
the north-west towards the Crinkles, now with the top
few hundred feet covered in mist. As we climbed superb
views into the Langdale valley began to appear. Sadly
however no photographs were taken as the official cameraman
had taken the day off! A couple of stops were taken
for John to check on the view (so he says!) before we
arrived on top of the first Crinkle. The sun by this
time was out again and the tops were clear. Snow was
still hanging in some of the
gullies of the Crags and the views westwards over Eskdale
to the Scafells and the Duddon Estuary were magnificent.
the top we approached the fearsome Bad Step. There was
snow on the ground under the Step and the holds were
somewhat slippy. A short spell of grovelling around
ensued trying to find the best way up before JPL rolled
back the years and 'delicately' stormed up the tricky
bit. He was quickly followed by Pete and Graham leaving
me (the one with the shortest arms!) to bring up the
rear (another conspiracy?).
up, we progressed to the the final top and found a splendid
spot in the sun and out of the wind to partake of lunch.
Following this pleasant interlude we made our way back,
bypassing the Bad Step, and headed for Cold Pike. A
pleasant summit and chance for a final rest before descending
a lovely grassy track that meandered its way back to
the car. It is worth noting that, yet again, we didn't
get lost and I didn't need to use the compass. Quit
while I'm ahead?
splendid day in good company. A good route to repeat
some time (Don?)
17th February 2005
10th March 2005
o' Blisco? That's brute of a climb!" With
those encouraging words from Bryan, off we set in John's
car. More encouragement followed. "The
fells are getting like a graveyard- I'm fed up of all
these people dying on the hills and having a monument
erected in their memory". I started wondering
if the people who did the research that showed the A65
to be the most dangerous road for bikers should start
analysing the Wainwrights- "Our latest information
indicates that 27 people over 50 have had heart attacks
on Pike o' Blisco in the last ten years...."
getting kitted up in the car park I showed Bryan my
strap-on soles with their metal studs for ice-walking.
"If we need those, then I'm not going",
he said. Taking the hint, I left them behind and
so John, Bryan, Philip and I set off up the brute of
a road from Dungeon Gill over towards Little Langdale.
Half way up we turned onto the brute of a trail
up towards Pike o' Blisco. John thought we were
in thick mist and was quite surprised to find that it
was just his glasses that had steamed up.
was going well, half decent weather, good craic, good
pace with plenty of photo stops (although the cameras
strangely didn't come out), and then we reached the
scramble up the top 400 feet or so.
readers of this column will know that there is a moment
to fear and that is when Bryan gets his compass out.
This is particularly the case if John is wearing
his magnetic knee bandage at the time. However
we now know there is an even more serious moment- when
Bryan says that he needs to get his ice axe out. And
then adds that at least he would have done had he brought
it. We later realised that we were on the north
face of the Pike, which is why the gullies were all
iced up and called for some rather hairy manoeuvres.
I said to Bryan, as he was kindly shepherding
me up a particularly tricky bit of rock that I was trying
not to think about the way down. It was strangely
relieving that he said that he too was trying not to
have the same thought.
we triumphed over the adversities and made it to the
summit, there to be greeted by a couple at least 20
years older than us and a phone call. Wainwright fetes
Pike o' Blisco for the fact that it is one of the rare
peaks where you can see the valley floor from the summit
and you could understand what he meant. Although
there was plenty of high cloud, the visibility was good
all round. And then suddenly, during lunch, it
wasn't. And then it was again.
dancing Lyons on the Red Brick Road
down on the Red Tarn side proved much easier although
two very fat (I mean enormous, or perhaps fashionably
obese) teenagers from some special
school were far from enjoying being taken up that way
by their instructor. "Can't walk, won't walk"
said the 22 stone weakling.
Tarn looked grey and too cold and icy even for Graham
but the path gave the clue to the name- red dust (iron
ore particles?) everywhere. Displaying an unexpected
grace, John danced his way down as he followed the Red Brick
only other point of note was when I was instructed to
stop and look at some feature on my left. The
only thing I could see where they were pointing was
a sheep and whilst it was quite a good looking one I
couldn't believe they were that desperate.
then they explained that you could see the great gully
on Crinkle Crags. Then they decided oh no you
can't. And then in true panto style...... you
know the rest.
safely back to the car in good time for Philip and I
not only to get to our meeting in Kendal, but to go
home first and get changed thereby sparing Michael Hart
a good dose of sweaty hiker pong.
10th March 2005
6th April 2005
of opportunity between rain and storm
Twisleton Scar with intent of crossing over to go up
change of plan to carry on up Whernside.
than we thought.
least two of us in bother.
6th April 2005
Some twenty months later when compiling the pages for
web site I found the photographs. My recollection
is that it was a bitingly cold day and I resorted to
my full face ski mask and goggles to ward off the ice
cream head. Bryan was in despair and prayed that
we didn't meet anyone on the hills that might see him
accompanying such a wimp.
was more concerned that I might be mistaken for the
gunman who had help up a local post office. However
when the hailstorm set in, it was me who was warm and
these pictures of Whernside and Ingeleborough as seen
by Bryan and John:
these as seen by me:
me it was a bright cheery day!
18th December 2006
21st April 2005
a pity that there were only two of us as this has to
go down as one of the most satisfying walks I have been
on, all thanks to Bryan's curiosity and advance reconnoitring.
We parked at the Aira Force car park, just off Ullswater
and made our way gently up through Glencoyne woods,
disturbing a couple of deer on the way. The view
over Ullswater, both up and down could have been spectacular
but on the way up there was a persistent cloud cover
and haze which is probably a good thing as I was following
the old adage of not casting a clout so I was warm enough
as it was in my thermals. Eventually the going
got steeper as we climbed up to Brown Hills but a bit
less so up to Hart Side for a cup of tea in a snow gully.
Off then to Green Side and up to Stybarrow Dodd-
not too bad a heave and must be one of the few places
where you can see Bassenthwaite, Thirlmere and Ullswater
all at once.
then to Sticks Pass and down the pass through various
strange natural and man made formations to Nick Head
on the shoulder of Sheffield Pike. At last the
sun started to come out and there was not only a spectacular
view of Ullswater but we could see the traverse that
Bryan had planned all around the head of Glencoynedale.
An excellent place to linger longer than one should
over lunch but then off along the traverse which you
can just make out running left to right in the picture.
had been worried that there might have been an uncomfortable
level of exposure but that was not the case. Although
the hill is steep the path is good and it was an excellent
traverse (from which we could see an inviting path coming
up under Sheffield Pike which when linked with the traverse,
could provide a superb round the head of the valley
walk one day). At the end of the traverse we retraced
our steps down Brown Hills and Glencoyne Wood (with
cuckoo and magnificent sunny views) to the car park.
At which point Bryan suggested we visit Aira Force.
Now I had never been there and if you have not,
then I suggest that you do as it is a really nice waterfall
in a really nice setting with some really nice really
steep steps going down to it and by strange coincidence
I suggest you do it before your really long walk as
really tired legs found this really a bit challenging
that late in the day! Sun now in full force so
a most pleasant drive back where at home I was greeted
by the first swallow of summer. Definitely time
to put away the thermals.
distance 9¾ miles with nearly 3,000 feet of ascent.
21st April 2005
Tickle- and much more!
26th May 2005
not going out in that awful weather, are you?"
said the dearly beloved as she sat up in bed eating
her tea and toast when I pulled back the curtains to
reveal a rather damp and misty morning. "Have
no fear" said I, "the Mountain Weather Information
Service" says it will start to clear at 9 a.m..
And so it did. As John drove up to pick me up
at 9 a.m. the sun started to shine and carried on shining
also predicted excellent visibility and considerable
buffeting by wind- the latter not being too surprising
as I had been celebrating Liverpool's remarkable victory
the night before. My claim to fame in that respect
is that at half time when the dearly beloved said that
it was all over and they could not come back from 3-0
down I told her that that was a situation made for heroes
and of which fairy tales are made. But did I really
Tarn from Harrison Stickle
we parked near the New Dungeon Ghyll and headed up to
Stickle Tarn, then round to the right to ascend Pavey
Ark by North Rake. On to Harrison Stickle thereby
getting John two ticks towards his next Wainwright badge.
We thought about going up Pike O'Stickle but he
already had that tick so we set off for High Raise and
then returned by Sergeant Man thereby getting two more
ticks towards the badge, then back to Stickle Tarn and
down the beck side path to the car.
Stickle and Pavey Ark across Stickle Tarn
visibility was indeed excellent and there were great
views of all the hills and five of the lakes. And
the wind didn't half buffet particularly on the top
of the Stickle. A most enjoyable walk which seemed
rather longer than the 6¾ miles my computer
says it was.
believe the 2,766 feet of climbing though.
even more so, the 2,766 feet of descent.
26th May 2006
abject failure to conquer (or possibly even identify)
9th June 2005
shall we go? Said John.
Fell. Said Don
that? Said John
a Wainwright! Said Don
that's fine by me. Said John.
Waineychops, as my daughter calls him, warned that it
was a wilderness deeply enclosed by Kentmere and Longsleddale-
a no man's waste land that behoves a walker to endure
a companion. He goes on to recommend that you
should choose a good looker as you never know what might
John and I were left wondering which of us was the good
looker or whether we had both made a bad mistake. The
lone fisherman at Gurnal Dubs, on being told this tale
offered to lend us his wellies- John having already
commented on how nice and white the sheep looked up
not only did we intend to tick off Potter Fell but also
Brunt Knott, Ullgrave and two lesser unnamed summits.
sought to park at Cowan Head near the old ink vats -
remember the days when you could tell what day of the
week it was from the colour of the River Kent after
the ink vats were washed out? However with all
the gentrification that has taken place round there
with the conversion of the Cowan Head Mill into luxury
flats for retired golfing estate agents, unauthorised
visitors are no longer welcome.
John on a guided tour of parts of the Lake District
he had never seen before, like Bowston. This is
the bungalow where Eric Pringle wrote Dr Who stories
(whatever did happen to Eric Pringle?). Here is
the house that Peter McLaren built in his spare time
(whatever did happen to Peter McLaren?) then round to
the back road to Staveley and a bit of verge just big
enough to wedge an MR2 into.
we set along Waineychops recommended route from near
High Hund Howe, up past Side House until, about
a half a mile further on, old Waineychops vindicated
the old John Shiels name for him - Wainwrong.
entry. No footpath. No passage. Bugger off
and don't even think of quoting Right to Roam."
there was an alternative path that led us up to Potter
Tarn then down to Ghyll Pool while John practised his
map reading skills and then back to Potter Tarn once
John realised Ghyll Pool was not Gurnal Dubbs.
be fair we had been swapping stories about the late
great Neil Proctor, which is enough to distract anybody
(apart we suspect from Bryan).
to the delightful Gurnal Dubbs and past James Cropper's
private boat house. On to a track which headed
in the right direction (we thought). Off into
a huge field, or rather an enclosed bit of fell, where
the foot gate was padlocked but the big gate not. Up
and on to the top of an unnamed something or other (so
it might earn us a tick) and a big debate as to which
was Potter Fell and how on earth could we get to it.
Did a complete circuit of the enclosure but who
ever owns it was quite determined to keep us in with
new high level barbed wire. Completed the circuit
back to the gate and decided that what we were really
doing was a reconnoitre for a girls' trip or alternatively
research for the right to roam police.
down to the car by way of Gurnal Dubbs for lunch and
a spot of rain, Potter Tarn and Ghyll Pool and then
off to Wilf's for a coffee and an ogle at the big new
glass showroom being built very slowly, presumably for
the Lakeland Whisky people.
pedometer said it was 8.9 km. My map says 5.9
miles and 1,237 feet of ascent to an unnamed (by us
at least) summit.
evening, my answerphone, mimicking a voice not unlike
John's, said that my map was completely wrong and we
had been going up the wrong hill. Hmmm. Come
today's picture competition shows John at Gurnal Dubbs
pointing at something. But at what? is the question.
And why? Could it be anything to do with the quickest
way to New Zealand?
Answers in not more than 20
9th June 2005
Not or Knott
9th August 2005
you are coming, be at our house by 10 a.m., I said in
my e-mail. So one of our number, who shall remain nameless
to spare his blushes, arrived on his bike, out of breath
from having dashed, just a few minutes after ten. Initially
relieved to see I was still there, he was puzzled to
notice the rather unusual mountain wear- dressing gown
thought I was going to be late, he said. Are you
today I replied. We went yesterday!
Stuart and I plus Stuart's dog, Zoe, parked down near
Holme Park Farm and set off up the bridle path where
we met, and gave opportunity for a break, the dry stone
waller from Kirkby Lonsdale who used to live in Holme
(well that's enough, like, of his life story, like,
if you want the rest, like, you'll have to, like, find
him for yourself. Like.). Still he did give us
a useful tip for the best way up- to go up the gully
which we did and it was a very pleasant and only mildly
challenging climb to the summit. Great views all
round and just the ticket for those of us that have
done very little in the last few months.
a little too long festering up top and then headed off
south east to try and find the other end of the bridle
path to make a convenient circuit.
couple of dry stone wallers, from Ulverston this time,
the lady wearing a T-shirt advising that Viagra is for
Or was it Wimps?
They seemed very
concerned to learn that there was competition on the
on we went following the line of the wall, missing our
path, and ending up doing more of a round tour than
intended. As John says, there's only one thing
more dangerous in war than an officer with a map. That's
three officers with a map.
at risk of not being back in time to push the wheel
chair to the hairdressers we were relieved on getting
to the bottom of the bridle path to find that the first
waller, like, was otherwise occupied, chatting to the
on Farleton Knott- a really nice slipper walk- can't
understand why I haven't done it before.
9th August 2005
18th August 2005
after a summer spent cycling from one end of the U.K.
to the other (LEJOG),
knocking off the Three Peaks, then the three national
peaks, guiding up Ben Nevis for two days, climbing for
a fortnight in the Alps and ditto a week in Majorca,
what is the logical next step for Bryan before tackling
an outing with the Boot Boys up the 159 metres of Arnside
Knott with old farts who can't remember where they parked
their cars, or who they had taken to meetings only days
before or how many times they had to get up in the night.
weather forecast strangely reminded me of our patroness-
Big Josie of Boot. Five different organisations
giving five different forecasts. Those who were
there on the first night at Boot (St Patrick's day 1973)
will remember. Those who don't- see Big
the BBC had it about right and it was a three quarters
decent day as we headed out through Grubbins Wood and
along the sea shore to Far Arnside (actually with a
bit more exposure on the cliff path than I find comfortable).
Lunch at the caravan site and no sign of Kevin
from Coronation Street who can often be seen walking
his dog round there.
to Middlebarrow and Arnside Tower, which made such an
impression on Stan that on later reaching the path to
go up the Knott he commented that he thought we had
to go by Arnside Tower first.
Arnside Knott, which Pete informed us is the technical
expression for taking it by surprise from behind. Actually
quite steep and no chance of taking anything by surprise
due to the panting noise made by Stan's son's dog, Harvey.
for team picture at headless giraffe- the knotted tree near
the summit and then for round two of lunch near the
view point where John ticked off the peaks on the display
that we had collectively conquered.
down through the woods and along the shore to the house
where Stan and Joan are spending their summer holiday.
Not the most challenging of walks but a really
delightful one with great variety and magnificent coastal
views. So good, that Pete announced that he is
re-appraising his decision not to move back up here,
even if did mean living in the same county as
Knott headless giraffe
the way back we discussed next Thursday's outing and
decided that Red Screes could be interesting. And
when Bryan told us that he had been lost more times
on Red Screes than on any other hill, that clinched
18th August 2005
Screes and various shades of women
earliest recollection of Red Screes is of Harry Bramley,
Provincial Insurance's statistician, pointing them out
to me from the windows of Sand Aire House back in the
early 1970s. Since then I had given them very
little thought until Bryan suggested them as the target
for today's walk.
forecast was not encouraging and understandably put
Pete off making the journey, perhaps fortuitously given
the massive diversion off the M6 onto the A6 between
junctions 32 & 33 with long delays.
Bryan assured us that it would be all right today and
so, once Stan and Harvey had arrived having negotiated
the hazards of Arnside being closed for a new caravan
to go by and Sedgwick being closed for milking, we decided
to risk it.
at the Ambleside car park nearly caught us out- £6
for a day's parking is more than we have paid in total
all year and we could only muster £5 in coins
between us. However your scribe knew his duty
and set off to find a shop to buy some sweeties with
a £20 note. The first shop selling anything
modest was the Apple Pie shop. No sweeties but
a splendid looking line in Cornish Pasties, lamb and
mint flavour. So what had to be done was done,
the Cornish pasty bought and the change obtained.
ticket in hand I returned with offerings of pasty. Bryan,
Stan and Graham not altogether impressed with this for
a late impromptu breakfast.
distinctly more interested and I have to say he was
right, it was delicious. If in Ambleside and in
need of a pasty- try them- the best I have tasted in
many a long time. Not just on the first tasting but
on the many repeats on the way up the hill.
we set up the Struggle looking for where the bus ran
out of control. However we branched off onto the
hillside before any tell tale signs of rebuilt wall.
It was a relatively steady three and a half mile
pull up to the top of Red Screes with plenty of opportunity
for admiring the view or asking Bryan for the name of
an obscure tarn, knowing he would have to stop to get
his map out. The air quality was good and visibility
was excellent. Not just of the fells, lakes and estuaries
but also of the rain clouds coming in and just skirting
south of us. Not quite good enough to make out
the Provincial building from which Harry Bramley had
pointed the way all those years ago but clear enough
to make out Kendal.
Inn from Red Screes
at Red Screes shelter
looked longingly down to the Kirkstone Inn, no doubt
hoping for food. He didn't have to wait long.
Lunch at the shelter on the top. Stan's
sandwich was not intended for Harvey. Indeed when
he saw him eating it, he didn't realise whose it was.
Anyway Harvey was very grateful and decided to
reward Stan in a very thoughtful way- he would find
Stan a woman. Round and round the fell he bounded,
searching, searching, searching.
ladies soon appeared and Harvey selected the Chinese
looking one for Stan. "WoooooFFF" he cried
as he tried to round her up. No! no! cried Stan,
not my type.
was a bit miffed at being rejected in this way so when
Bryan undertook his detour to bag a Wainwright- Little
Hart Crag- he abandoned Stan to go with Bryan. I
am not sure if Stan was more upset at his disappearance
or his reappearance with Bryan before we had managed
to reach High Beckstones. Anyway Harvey had clearly
forgiven Stan and decided to find him another woman-
white Caucasian this time.
not single and not impressed with where Harvey put his
paws! Clearly no more of these shenanigans could
be allowed so the poor fellow was put onto a very short
lead from then on whenever there was a female in sight.
Which to be fair was not often.
the long ridge which apparently is part of the Fairfield
horseshoe, the full extent of which Stan had once done
in 97 minutes but didn't get a Blue Peter badge, or
something like that, but Graham had got his badge when
doing it disguised as Dickie Mercer!
was now threatening as we came down High Pike and Low
Pike so we pressed on and, when given the choice of
three final descents, chose to go down to Sweden Bridge.
Partly this was because I had never heard of this
apparently very famous packhorse bridge and partly because
Graham is developing an interest in such things and
intends to publish a photo collection of them. Shown
is one for his collection, with Harvey doing what Graham
had sadly failed to do in two tarns en-route.
have received several requests from readers of this
column for more photos please of Graham swimming in
the buff but would he oblige? No.
got very slightly wet on this descent but it didn't
last long and soon dried out.
regaining the road into Ambleside, the golden rule is
.., well actually the Golden Rule is a pub which welcomes
dogs as long as they are on a lead so we went in and
had a couple of pints. In fact we might have been
there yet but for Harvey remembering his mission and
suddenly leaping to his feet dragging Stan, whom I have
never seen move so fast, across the pub floor to meet
two rather large but otherwise very friendly ladies.
And a bonus treat for Harvey in the shape of a
fine looking bitch. At this point we deemed it
advisable to make our excuses and retreat for home.
home to be greeted, rather gleefully I thought, by Margaret
saying how we must be drenched as it had poured down
in Kendal all afternoon. Not at all. We
had been very lucky- another excellent day out. Distance
about 9 miles and 3,280 feet of ascent. A bit
more for Bryan. Or in Harvey's case 28.7 miles
and 5,489 feet of ascent
25th August 2005
1st September 2005
Boar Fell (not to be confused with Baugh Fell which
it sort of joins).
to the Mountain Weather Information Service without
whose accurate forecast we might not have ventured out-
certainly not with such confidence as first thing the
mist was down. Indeed Pete almost turned back
on the motorway the rain was so bad. But MWIS
said that humid, misty weather will move away erratically
eastwards as much clearer air off the Atlantic pushes
eastward. Extensive low cloud on many mountain areas
will lift with most summits eventually becoming cloud
free by 1 p.m.. And so it did!
route took us to a start point rather more northerly
than those recently and it was off my map. Once
we arrived at the intended start point we found that
it had been turned into a gypsy encampment with great
big lurchers guarding the site and as we wanted to have
a car in which to return home, we decided to go a mile
or so further on to park near a railway tunnel on the
minor road above Pendragon Castle.
Nab in mist from Little Fell
off up Little Fell we could see the mist swirling round
The Nab but true to forecast it was progressively clearing
and by the time we got up there (having disturbed several
partridges and spotted wild ponies en route) the cloud
level had lifted. Lunch at the Nab with good views
looking down Mallerstang and over to the distant fells.
No one else to be seen anywhere on the hills until
we realised that only twenty yards away there was another
person- looking away from us wearing a nice white bonnet
and purple bum bag.
just so that you don't make the same mistake that we
made, I should add that when said person turned round,
there was a beard to rival Captain Birds Eye. Not
a mistake that Harvey would have made.
up again with Captain Birds Eye at the cairn on the
top of Wild Boar Fell where, by now, there were very
clear views over the Howgills and the whole of the lake
back across the boggy plateau to the south end of the
Nab, an impressive glacial escarpment. I must
say that my understanding of geology is coming on a
treat thanks to Bryan's instruction.
Nab no longer in mist
there we headed north along the Nab and retraced our
steps to the car, which fortunately had not been spotted
by the gypsies.
Distance according to my pedometer:
Distance according to Bryan's map:
Distance according to my computer:
and 2,238 feet of ascent.
Take your pick. I
must have been taking giant strides!
our second picnic by the car in what was now bright
summer sunshine and spotted our second walker of the
day, pacing jauntily down the road towards us. Isn't
that a walkerine? I asked Pete. I don't like to
say after my last mistake, he replied. But it
was. Was it lish young buy-a-broom come to entice us
back to her encampment? Seemingly not. Seeing
three aged roués she turned off down an imaginary
track to somewhere else. Or maybe to a magic glade?
shall never know. We were more intent on discussing
to where our next excursion should be.
1st September 2005
Pike Expeditionary Force
13th October 2005
once the Thursday syndrome had not affected the weather
and the MWIS predicted cloud progressively clearing
from the fell tops. The drive to and up Langdale
showed the early autumn colours to good effect.
at the ODG and set off up the long trail up Mickelden,
with, as predicted the tops, just out of sight. We
decided that the accursed Rossett Gill was better going
up than coming down so took that path with plenty of
stops for photo opportunities. Unfortunately however
none of us had remembered to bring a camera. When
that excuse for a stop was clearly no longer viable,
another presented itself. In the distance we could
clearly hear a pack of foxhounds baying and the occasional
toot of John Peel's horn. But could we see them? Not
from here. Or perhaps we might see them from here?
Or from here? And so we went up until there was
no longer any possibility of seeing hounds.
over the shoulder we looked down on Angle Tarn, looking
very lonely and even colder than when Graham plunged
in. Turned off towards Rossett Pike which had
cleared although the higher peaks were still a little
shrouded and had lunch out of the wind on a precipice
that had me not inconsiderably worried. Even more
so when John announced that he might not be able to
get up again and might need a hand. Not from me
pal, you're far too near the edge!
the Black Crags with some magnificent views down the
valley- why oh why had I forgotten the camera? Going
round Langdale Combe we came across a couple from Hertfordshire
- "we're used to walking but not to hills"
-who seemed intent on, but at the same time fearful
of, being lost on Bowfell as night closed in. Tried
to get them to go down the way we had come up and gave
them a print out of the Harveys map- "here's one
I prepared earlier"- which Bryan thought was a
pretty cool move!
was just after that, on the early descent that the argument
started. Not between Bryan or John or me. Between
two of my toes. It was like two naughty children
in the back of the car. "Stop hitting me".
" I'm not". "Yes you are, you're sticking
something into me". "Not". "Are".
"Not". "Are, Dad! Dad! Tell him
to stop sticking things into me, Dad!"
from DS to self. Remember to cut toenails before
from JPL to DS. Please send me a copy of your
note to self.
despite the mud & puddles (not as much as expected
given that allegedly a month's rain had fallen in 24
hours only a day or so earlier) it was definitely the
right way round to do the walk. The descent of
Stake Pass is far less strenuous than the descent of
Rossett Gill. And bang on cue at 3 p.m., as predicted
by the excellent MWIS, the final wisps of cloud cleared
the tops and we had magnificent views of where we had
been, of Pike o' Stickle, Bowfell and down the valley.
Where oh where was that damn camera?
a bit of a trek back along Mickleden which explains
why the whole was 8 miles and only 2,150 feet of ascent.
We didn't see the Hertfordshire couple coming
down Rossett Gill but we did see the foxhounds. Lots
of them high under the top crags of the Langdales and
a chap in red tooting his horn.
at the car Bryan and I had that glowing feeling of a
good day's exercise. John muttered something about
drive back was even more spectacular with the low but
strong sunlight showing off the turning trees superbly.
Who needs New England?
we dropped Bryan off at his house he predicted that
we would be stiff when we got out. Could it be
that this was because he was stiff? That would
be a first but he skipped away in his usual fleet footed
way. Back home and he was proved right. Two
very old men creaked from the car! But at least
John has now completed all the Langdale peaks this year.
of course you count Silver Howe as Langdale.
no pictures this time for reasons that currently escape
13th October 2005
Wrong Trousers. And Boots.
19th October 2005
and Gromit, having lost their famous film set by fire,
need look no further for a new set for their next instalment
of The Wrong Trousers. Kentmere.
moral of the story is not to over-rely on the MWIS when
deciding what to wear. They are not completely Delphic
in their prophecy and occasional things might not work
to plan. However such has been its accuracy lately
that I was so confident that the drizzle would cease,
the cloud and mist would clear to order and that it
was a day for thin summer trousers. Wrong.
(Bryan, Stan & I) decided to head up Kentmere expecting
things to be starting to clear by the time we parked
by the church. To be fair, the drizzle was easing
and we decided to head on up the valley to the reservoir
and take to the hills as and when the cloud lifted.
Trouble was when we got there, it hadn't. So
we went a bit further up when Bryan said that he knew
a cunning way up to the top, he'd run up and down it
several times, it was only about 450 feet and provided
we kept to the right of the beck we'd avoid the crags.
As we could see next to nothing of the climb or
the crags and it being Bryan who told us this, we agreed
it was a good idea.
first part of the climb was quite reasonable- in skiing
terms a bit like a double diamond black only rather
boggy and of course uphill! And then it straightened
up and suddenly hands were needed to make progress.
As there was no exposure my vertigo didn't kick
in but my little heart was pumping away (fortunately).
Stan was seriously worried his might not!
about what seemed like 6 or 700 hundred feet of this
we asked Bryan if he had meant metres but he assured
us he had converted the metres to feet. We forgot
to ask him what conversion ratio he had used. Then
it got steeper. And windy. And cold. And
damp. And my calf muscles hurt. And my boots
were leaking. At least I had read my note to self
from last week and the toes were behaving.
this trial came to an end we were able to stagger out
of Over Cove and on to the top of Froswick near which
we found a modicum of shelter for lunch. And actually
saw two more idiots. But not much else as it was
still thickish cloud.
warned me that the haul up to Ill Bell was mean but
actually it was a doddle compared with what we had been
through. On to Yoke with the hint that the cloud
might actually be thinning a bit- see souvenir photo.
As we came down through the bogs and puddles to
the Garburn Pass the cloud did indeed start to lift
and there were glimpses of Troutbeck and Windermere.
It was an easy stroll down the pass and as we
reached the car, it happened- the sun came out!
MWIS was right after all- it was just a little awry
about the timing and although I had been in the wrong
trousers they had dried. Which is more than could
be said for the boots I was wearing. My Salomon
4-seasons boots bought from the Great Outdoors on 19th
January 2004 at great expense have both cracked around
the big toe knuckle and are letting in water. Pretty
poor and guess what my next grumpy old man compo seeking
exercise is going to be? And Bryan had a similar
problem and would be having a similar moan to Shutty.
We agreed that next time round, it's back to good
old leather boots.
post walk review was admirably summed up by Bryan. Today
we weren't tourists. We'd been a proper walk and got
the climbing out of the way early! 8.8 miles and
2,780 feet of ascent, most of which seemed to happen
in 450 feet.
19th October 2005
and Sour Howes
24th November 2005
not a newly discovered Arthur Ransome but today's Bootboys
Only a shortish walk (6.4 miles) with 1,334 feet
of climbing but, in a 50 mph gale, parts of it were
seriously challenging and even Bryan had to go down
one bit on all fours to avoid being blown away.
forecast a window between the rain and the snow and
perhaps we should have set off a little later for as
we climbed up the Dubbs Road to the Garborn road it
was trying to rain / sleet / hail / snow but not very
convincingly. As we left the path to ascend Sallows
the weather faired up and there was very good visibility
but I did get a bit of an ice cream head at the top.
It was even blowier on Sour Howes but funnily
enough it didn't feel quite as cold.
shows Philip and Bryan with backs to the wind, hence
the Michelin Man look!
The descent was at times
quite exciting but the views were splendid and in particular
the Mississippi Delta with the sun glistening on it
reminded me of that line in Paul Simon's Graceland "the
Dubbs Reservoir was shining like a national guitar".
We managed to find a sheltered spot for lunch, with
a view of almost all of Windermere and debated whether
there was a point from which one could see the full
length of Windermere.
Men on Sour Howes
route back down to the Dubbs Road and to the car was
a gentle stroll compared to the buffeting we had had
on the tops.
was a new walk for me and one that would make a delightful
summer evening amble. Or an ideal place to go when the
high peaks are suicidal, like today.
24th November 2005
Howes and Blea Rigg (Probably!)
8th December 2005
was a surprisingly nice morning. Given that various
forecasts (but not MWIS) had predicted snow, rain and
ice, I borrowed daughter Emma's extra large rucksack
that she used to travel all round China and filled it
to the brim with gear for all seasons. But when we parked
at Grasmere the sun was shining very kindly on us. We
had chosen Silver Howe because it was the last peak
John needed to complete all the hills surrounding the
Langdale Valley. Or so he thought. Bryan
pointed out that John had not done Blea Rigg so that
had to be added to the trip. It turned out that
Bryan also wanted to do it as he was up there recently
but wasn't sure that he had found the right peak! Bryan
described the area as one often used for orienteering
exercises and now I understand why. We were going
to be navigationally challenged. However the first
challenge arrived only half a mile from the start. Emerging
from a footpath on to a road, four heads grouped round
three maps and couldn't even agree where we had parked
the car. A passing farmer took pity on us and
asked if we needed directions. Unity of purpose
was restored- "no" we said in concert, too
proud to take advice. Nonetheless he added "That's
the way to Grasmere".
we know that! Very helpful, thank you!
path determined, we set off up the relatively straightforward
ascent of Silver Howe. Lovely day, lovely views
so lots of excuses to stop when it got a bit steeper.
Celebratory team picture taken on the top. We
then set off to find Blea Rigg, navigating by means
of finding tiny tarns- little more than big puddles.
Only the wretched objects proved quite elusive
and we kept going round craggy things and across boggy
bits with views ahead of more craggy things and boggy
bits but not the required tarns in the right places
in the requisite numbers.
it clouded over and the beautiful day had gone decidedly
effect of bright sun behind cloud on Coniston Old Man
reminded me of those old adverts that Provincial Life
used to run with dramatically lit pictures of the Lake
District. Repeated consultations with the map
eventually got us on to the top of Blea Rigg. Or
so Bryan thought. However some of us thought that
the next bump was higher (probably the one Bryan had
been on last time!). As it was just off the route
back we climbed that next bump and the consensus was
that this time it was the top.
that John and Bryan had now got their ticks in the relevant
boxes, we headed on to try and find the motorway down
to Easedale Tarn, which we could see still as you like
(or as Graham would like had he been with us on what
could have been another impromptu swimming expedition).
The weather had taken a turn for the better and
Fairfield, in the distance, was looking magnificent
in the afternoon sunshine. Eventually found the
motorway (we had been too impatient and should have
stuck to the path longer)- reminiscent of a Roman Road
with large cobbly stones laid by the National Trust
and absolutely lethal in wet or freezing conditions.
And then the motorway stopped and we had to do
some fairly rough scrambling down some nasty rocky bits
before picking up a decent path that led down to the
tarn. Sour Milk Gill demonstrated why it had been
so called and little else of note happened on the lengthy
stroll back to the car. Other than agreement that,
from the rear, Stan (whose brother we discovered is
an actor, darling, and best man to the stars) was giving
a passable imitation of Anton Du Beke with his figure
8th December 2005
Crag and more
14th December 2005
sun was shining so Stan and I decided to have another
day on the hills. I am so enjoying this pensioner lark!
if to prove us wrong following last week's walk, Stan
turned up with his state-of- the-art kit - posh fleece;
proper gaiters, flashy haversack - a proper tourist
decided to go up Helm Crag from Grasmere. On arrival
at the summit rocks we tried to scramble up on to the
top block but a combination of age and, in my case lack
of bottle, left us unable to sit astride the summit.
still, reversing the scramble to that point proved even
more difficult but we survived. It's definitely a top
that Don would have enjoyed! The rest of the trip was
more straight forward. Along the ridge to Gibson Knott
and Calf Crag. A quick coffee (John - note - first of
the day, just like proper walkers!) and a discussion
on the merits of an out-and-back to Steel Fell (it was
it was off the path and on to using our surperb navigational
skills to plot a route around to Tarn Crag. As usual
no problems. (for those readers of Don's write-ups I
should point out this is the usual way of things, although
you may sometimes mistakenly be lead to believe that
it's a bit of lottery as to where we are!)
10 minute lunch stop was taken at 14:00 (second stop
of the day) on the hillside above Codale Tarn, with
the sun beginning to drop low in the sky.
a lovely plateau / ridge lead us down to the splendid
top of Tarn Crag. From there we took the ridge down
to Far Easedale. This was one I hadn't been down before
and proved to be a real pleasure.
so another excellent day ended as darkness arrived in
Grasmere. Isn't life wonderful when you don't have to
go to work tomorrow!
14th December 2005
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