BB0705  Out of the Mist and into the Cloud

Thursday 1st February 2007

It is difficult to describe today’s walk.  “Out of the mist and into the cloud” comes to mind as it sums up what we were able to see.

However the remarkable prescience of my fitness guru (JPL) has to be commended:   
“I guess most of the muscles used in ski-ing are in the legs - walking is good for this and Bootboys habit of finding the steepest route and going diretissimo up it is definitely beneficial --no other work needed”

Diretissimo the first stage most certainly was.  You would think that parking at the top of Dunmail Raise with the mist below you in the valley would mean that you had got the hard work over and could just saunter onto the tops.  However the route chosen to get up Steel Fell was far from a saunter.  The funny thing is that it didn’t look so bad.  Just a fairly even paced grassy climb up by a fence leading up into the clouds.  But once you got on it you quickly realised that actually it was quite steep and actually your heart (or at least my heart) was booming away with the effort and actually it wasn’t a fence at all but more lie a banister to help keep your balance and then, actually, it was more like a net which you used to haul yourself up to give your legs some light relief.

Modern Art on Steel Fell

Team  photo not at Steel Feel summit!

And then, after passing an interesting example of Modern Art, we were up and at the summit of Steel Fell.  Approximately.  And then at the real summit.  At which point Tony, who had found the climb every bit as hard as I had, did something very strange.  He started running.  He explained that as this formed part of the Bob Graham route he wanted to be able to tell his pals in the pub that he had run part of the Bob Graham route. It must be said that although he looked remarkably nimble for a man who only ten minutes earlier had been gasping for breath- it was only a very short part of the Bob Graham route that Tony ran.

The plan was to work our way over to Ullscarf via Greenup Edge and back to the car. Having taken the precaution of an early start (pre 8:30 pickups are a problem to some non-working types; Stan even gambled on me being late and lost, so was caught out in his undies) we were confident of completing the route and getting back to the car in good time for us to get home, and for me to get showered and changed for my 4 p.m. meeting in Kendal.

What we did not take into account (and to be fair the weather forecast led us to believe it would not be such a problem) was the unrelenting poor visibility on the tops giving rise to frequent stops to check maps, take bearings and generally wonder where on earth we were.  Eventually we found Flour Gill and made our way up onto Greenup Edge where lunch was taken not long after noon but, given the early start, it still seemed far too late for Tony.

After lunch the realisation dawned that if we were to tackle Ullscarf (assuming of course we could find it) there was not the slightest chance of me making my meeting and indeed time was start to get tight even if we baled out then.  

 A very handsome sheep

A debate ensued as to the best route to take to return and despite Stan’s warning of the bogginess of the area, Bryan, whose navigational skills were being severely tested but proved to be comfortingly sound, determined that going down by the side of Wythburn was the best option, even if did mean first finding again and then descending Flour Gill to the amusement of a very handsome sheep- about the only creature we saw all day.

Out of the cloud at lower Wythburn

On a clear day I imagine this must be a very attractive route.  However in the continuing mist we could only guess at the scenery until, at last, we came out of the cloud in the lower Wythburn valley from which point we could spot a very full Thirlmere. From Steel End farm it was an easy stroll back to the top of Dunmail Raise and the car. Too late however for me to go home and change so I arrived at the meeting apologetically in my muddy hiking gear and no doubt reeking of sweat and worse. Perhaps that’s why it proved to be shorter than expected!

Bryan had kept his GPS on during the walk and logged it as 8.95 miles and 2,057 feet of ascent.  Tony was anxious to have this checked so I plotted it manually into the Anquet version of the Harveys computer map and came up with only 8.0 miles but 2,119 feet of ascent.  Perhaps the difference in distance represents our inefficiency as we tested different directions!  Shown below is the route as downloaded from Bryan’s GPS into MemoryMap.  Note the initial diretissimo!

Don, 1st February 2007

Afternote:  What a difference a day makes.  By one of life's strange coincidences I was up Dunmail Raise again the next morning and what a morning it was.  Beautiful clear day with the fells screaming to be climbed.  

This time, however, I was on my way to Workington and as I was being driven I could re-examine the route we had taken up to Steel Fell.  I was quite taken by surprise by the way the path by the fence appeared concave- the part that had been lost in cloud yesterday could be seen to be getting ever steeper.  You can just make out the line of the fence to the right of this picture and if you click on it, you will see in the enlargement how it seems to scoop up the hill!  No wonder we were puffing!

Don, 2nd February 2007




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Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large picture.

This page describes a 2007 adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature years who enjoy defying the ageing process by getting out into the hills as often as possible!

As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.

As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an item of footwear but is in memory of Big Josie, the erstwhile landlady of the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day 1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!

If you want to contact us, click on BOOTboys