BB1021 : The Mile High Club

Thursday 27th May 2010

Today I joined the Mile High Club.  Stanís been there many times before, including once this year, but for me it was a new experience.

6:30 a.m. is a lovely time of day.  Normally, I am not very good at getting up so early but, when I do, I wonder why I donít do it more often.  Everywhere is so fresh and with the mist lifting, rhododendrons in full bloom and little traffic on the roads, it was a grand time to drive across Lakeland.  Which is how Stan and I were able to set foot on trail at Gatesgarth before 8 a.m. today.

We were unashamedly Wainwright bagging, determined to bring the outstanding total down into the teens.  Our aim: the ridge of peaks to the west of Buttermere.  It was intended to be a big day.  Just how big remained to be seen, partly dependent on which prediction would prove the more accurate about the incoming rain- the Mountain Weather Information Service or the Met Office Mountain Forecast.

Looking back to Fleetwith Pike, Haystacks and High Crag

We started with a gentle stroll along the west side of the lake, through fields and woods, listening to this year's first cuckoo.

This is :
one week later than last year (
BB0916),
three weeks later than 2006 (
BB0610) and
five weeks later than in 2005 (
BB0508).  

Is there a trend emerging?

Mellbreak from Buttermere

Scale Force

On reaching Crummock Water, we bore left in the direction of Scale Force, allegedly the tallest waterfall in the lake district.  

It had been my plan to climb onto the fell by the Scale Beck path but Stan had other ideas.  Being more adventurous than I am, he found on the map an unpathed route that would avoid us having to backtrack along the ridge.

Looking across Crummock Water

We headed up the valley toward Floutern Tarn but before it came into sight, turned south up by the side of Red Gill, then on to Floutern Crag.  

Floutern Tarn

From here to the summit was a steep and unrelenting grassy slope.  Time to dig deep and switch on the climbing song in my brain- Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer- and coordinate my breathing and footsteps to the tune of Cum Rhonnda.  It worked, as it generally does, and we arrived at the summit of our first Wainwright of the day- Great Borne.  Had it not, there was a tiny shepherd's shelter part way up in which we could have recovered.

The Shepherd's shelter

Comitibus: Great Borne

Starling Dodd and Red Pike from Great Borne

Next was a simple down and up to number two- Starling Dodd, although it was unseasonably cold.  

Starling Dodd sumiit carins

Red Pike summit cairns

Looking back to Ennerdale Water and Great Borne from Starling Dodd

And likewise to Red Pike (number three),  Here we saw the first folk we had seen in four hours.

Crummock Water from Red Pike

High Stile from Red Pike

Bleaberry Tarn

Onwards, past the steep drop to Bleaberry Tarn, across rockier terrain to High Stile.

The mist was swirling around and for a while it seemed as if it might disappear, but fortunately it cleared as we approached.

Not only was High Stile number four, for Stan it was of particular psychological significance as now we were down into the teens outstanding.

After the dramatic drops to Burtness Comb, number five was High Crag.  

Looking back to Red Pike from High Stile

Across Burtness Combe to High Crag from High Stile

Having survived the scree on the far side of High Crag, we had a decision to make.  The logical route to continue the ridge was over Haystacks, which we did not need having been there on BB0732.  But that meant unnecessary climbing.  An alternative, if we had the legs to carry on, was to drop down someway to Warnscale Bottom then traverse across to meet the path that leads over to Honistor and then return by number six- Fleetwith Pike.  Or if we had had enough, we could just call it a day.

Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike from High Crag

The weather had improved (congratulations MWIS) and we were both going well so opting out was rejected in favour of the traverse.  However, it soon became clear that the amount of height we would need to lose in order to bypass Green Crag was too much. Instead we did a high level traverse along a sheep trod around a small bump called Seat, thereby possible saving a bit of climbing before rejoining the path to Haystacks.

Looking back to Seat and Red Pike from Haystacks

This the first time I have been up Haystacks from this direction and it is an enjoyable, easy scramble if a bit frustrating with its false summits.  Near the real summit Stan made a beeline for a cosy lunch spot that he knew ,only to find it full of youths enjoying strange smelling smokes and a lot of giggling!  On we pressed, past Innonminate and several other small, unnamed tarns.  I was almost beyond hunger by now- we had been going for almost six continuous hours with no breaks other than photo or comfort stops. I think Stan was getting his revenge for what I put him through on BB0802 where I made him wait fifteen miles before eating.  Eventually, we halted at the head of the Black Beck gully.

An unnamed tarn near Haystacks summit

Lunch view of Buttermere and Crummock Water

Quarrying in action

After lunch, we were heading towards the Hopper Quarry when I discovered that I had no glove on my left hand.  

A check of my pockets and rucksack failed to produce it.  

I remembered taking it off so I could open my flask.  But by now I was too bushed to go back and look for it.

Stan found new energy and led the charge up Fleetwith Pike.

Soon, I, too, thought I had renewed strength. But the descent proved that to be a myth.

The view from Fleetwith Pike; High Crag and High Stile to the left of Buttermere

I have to say that coming down the Fleetwith Pike nose is probably the most dramatic descent on which I have ever been. There are steep drops on both sides and a spectacular panorama of hills and lakes ahead and around. You can see the path picking a careful way for twenty or thirty yards in front of you and then it disappears, seemingly over a cliff, only to reappear much lower.  You get to the cliff edge with some apprehension only to discover the path picking a careful way for twenty or thirty yards in front of you before disappearing over another cliff.  This process is repeated many times.

The Fleetwith Pike descent

If you legs are working fine, it must be a joy to come down.  Unfortunately mine had had enough and protested as much all the way down until we reached the car. Nevertheless, it was a memorable descent for good as well as bad reasons.

Flettwith Pike nose, as seen that morning

Stan hadn't seemed to have had such problems.  After making a new friend at the farm, he pointed out a white cross on the hill near the path we had just come down.  I don't know whom it commemorates but I'm not surprised!

Stan's new friend

The Fleetwith Pike cross

Back at the car, we congratulated ourselves on now only having seventeen Wainwrights left to do- a total that must surely succumb this summer.  We rewarded ourselves with an English Lakes Ice Cream that helped me briefly forget the ache in my knees.

We knew we had done over 15 miles but the gps does not tell you the height climbed (and, worse, descended).  It wasnít until I was home and ran the tracklog through the computer that we got the answer: 5,286 feet.  One vertical mile and a bit.  A personal best.  Stan, of course, had done far more than this with Bryan on BB1016.  How, Iíll never know.  As I think I said at the time: Respect.

One last thing- the Glove Fairy has been kind to me again.  Members of the Mile High Club are entitled to special consideration and, without me even knowing, she flew back to our lunch spot, picked up my glove and put it safely in my rucksack for me to find when I got home.  Quite like the miracle on the Dales Way (DW5).  

Thank you, Glove Fairy.

I wonder if she's any good with knees?

Don, 27th May 2010

 

PS A problem arising from such a long, scenic walk is the processing of the multitude of photographs.  Here are a few panoramics that didn't make the final selection:

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STATISTICS:

BB1021

21st May 2010

Distance in miles:

15.1

Height climbed in feet:

5,286     

Wainwrights:

Great Borne, Starling Dodd, Red Pike, High Stile, High Crag, Haystacks, Fleetwith Pike

Other Features:

-

Wainwright Countdown:

Don & Stan: 17 (-6)     
Bryan: 7
(unchanged)

Comitibus:

Don, Stan

 

If you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow our route in detail by downloading BB1021.

To see which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?

For the latest totals of the mileages and heights see: BB Log.

 

 

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BOOT boys

This page describes an adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature years who enjoy defying the aging 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!

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Home Page

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Archive

 

2010 Outings

BB1001 :
The Most Perfect
 Winter Day
Thursday 7th January

BB1002 :
Snowcumabulating
 Potter Fell
Thursday 14th January

BB1003 :
A Snowy Equipment Test

Thursday 21st January

BB1004 :
Leave It To The Professionals

Thursday 28th January

BB1005 :
That's A Lyth Record
Sunday 31st January 

BB1006 :
Reasons To Be Cheerful
One, Two, Three
Thursday 11th February

BB1007 :
Can You See Clearly Now?
Thursday 18th February

BB1008 :
In Memory Of
Thomas Williamson
Thursday 25th February

BB1009 :
Almost a Mountaineer!
Wednessday 3rd March

BB1010 :
The Beginning Of The End
Thursday 11th March

BB1011 :
The Free Men on Tuesday
Tuesday 16th March

BB1012 :
We'll Get Them In Singles,
Stanley
Thursday 25th March

BB1013 :
The Fools on the Hill
Thursday 1st April

BB1014 :
The Windmills on the Moor
Wednesday 7th April

BB1015 :
By Lake, Ridge and Wainwright
Sunday 11th April

BB1016 :
The Ten Lake Tour (+5Ws)
Thursday 15th April

BB1017 :
The BessyBOOT
boys
Thursday 22nd April

BB1018 :
The Kentmere Challenge
Saturday 24th April
 

BB1019 :
Winter in Springtime
Thursday 14th May

BB1020 :
Red Screes and Sausages
Thursday 20th May

BB1021 :
The Mile High Club
Thursday 27th May

 

BSB2010 :
BOOTSKI
boys in Zillertal
Saturday 30th January
to Saturday 6th February

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Wainwrights

To see which Wainwright top was visited on which
BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?.

To download a log of heights and miles and which Wainwrights have been done by which BOOTboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of BOOTboys
click on BB Log.

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!