Low Pike, High Pike, 27 November 2011

Parked up in Ambleside for £6 for 5 hours. Bit pricey. I left the car park just after 11.00 and quickly found my way, always the hardest bit when starting off in towns. The Nook takes you along a lane which has several boarded up old buildings which appeared to be part of the University of Cumbria. It’s about a kilometre to Nook End Farm which also appeared uninhabited but they had left their outside lights on. You have to walk through the farm and then very soon you are at Lower Sweden Bridge which is to do with swithins although other than the saint, I’m not sure what they are. I did a bit of leap frog with a couple who annoyed me because I didn’t want to do that, but I soon left them behind. Going to the gym every day for the last week has paid dividends and I felt quite fit. It was pretty cold and windy but I stayed on the east side of a very tall wall which goes all the way up and it was a good windshield.
I was looking for what Wainwright describes as a “Bad Step” but didn’t see it. It made me think of the Hillary step but I’m not planning on going looking for that!
I got to Low Pike after a bit of scrambling and had a chocolate biscuit. I was wearing lined trousers which was just as well. I’d put them on after seeing the forecast that said on the tops the wind chill would be -15C.
Just before the land of bog I climbed a stile that had been constructed for giants, I consider I’m fairly averagely proportioned but I could hardly hold the 2 sides at the same time and the steps were also very deep. Then the huge expanse of bog which was quite hard to work through, but there are helpful signs saying “Deep Bog” and pointing the hapless walker to yet more bog. Considering this is part of the Fairfield Horseshoe, this section really needs sorting with stepping stones. I managed only to get a few footfulls. I also made a mental note not to be returning in the dark for this section.
At High Pike I got out of the wind and had my lunch of pate in a garlic pitta bread. It was still very cold with the wind. After wrapping up I decided to head back down as it was just too cold and windy to be much fun, I momentarily pondered how to deal with frost bite but soon warmed up my hands with the exercise. As I had remarked to Becks only the day before, on her not reaching the top of Cadair Idris, “the mountain will always be there”. Except of course if you live in the Appalachian mountains where mountain top removal has being going on for the last 50 years. I just find this thought so upsetting. After Carol and I watched Bladerunner last weekend, I checked up to see what Daryl Hannah was up to these days and found that she has been arrested several times for protesting about various environmental outrages including mountain top removal. Oh and Bladerunner is dire. What a gloomy film, it hasn’t improved in the 30 years since I last watched it.
I would probably have done more if it had just been one of those factors (cold or windy). I only had a few little bits of rain on me during the walk. My new hat works very well as it covers my ears, mad that I’ve been wearing an ineffective hat for so long.
On the way down I came across a few pounds and 3 keys. I was in a bit of a dilemma as to what to do with these and in the end I left them there on the grounds that if I had lost mine, I would retrace my steps to find my things. I hope the people to whom I think they belonged did that. I decided that taking them to the police probably wouldn’t help much.
On my return route, I located the “Bad Step” as I took a slightly different route and then came upon it and was glad that I was just going down it as it would have been quite hard to get up it, not possessing the giant arms and legs.

Back at the car, I changed my footwear and then went to the loo in the car park and although it was still light outside, there was no light inside so this was a real lot of fun. I had a quick look in the shops but failed on that particular mission so went home for a warm up.

Looking back at Windermere
The wall
Looks innocuous but made for giants
Back towards Low Pike
My picture to echo Wainwright’s drawing of the same. Note horizontal courses of stones.
Ray of light
Low Pike again
Strata
Blasted bog
Oh yes, and where exactly is the path?
The Bad Step looking really harmless
My actual ascent, not having noticed the Bad Step
Some colour at the end of the day

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Withens Clough 20th November 2011

Babs, Chris, Jay and I met up at the Hinchliffe in Cragg Vale. I was hoping the Hinch would be open as I fancied a coffee but they don’t upon until midday on a Sunday.
Babs led our walk and mostly she led us into bog! We set off going down towards the river which is the Turvin Clough. This was the first boggy stretch of many. Very lovely down by the river where there is an old clapper bridge. The sun came through the trees at this point and then we went up a long stretch of stone steps onto the moor. We stopped for a bit, near Tenter Wood, Babs told us how the expression “being on tenterhooks” comes from the fabric having to be hung out using hooks made of glass as metal or wood would stain the fabric.
We ate cake that Chris brought which was a bit like a Christmans pudding cake with yummy fruit and nuts in. The sun went in and the mist came down. It didn’t really manage to lift again so we spent most of the time in the cloud, very good for nav skills practice!
Along the contour for a good kilometre until we arrived at the end of the reservoir. There is still a lot of work going on here and it doesn’t look very nice at the moment but it should be done by the spring. I was a bit upset by how horrible it looks as this is one of my favourite places to walk. I suggested that it would be nice if Yorkshire Water resurfaced the road up from the Hinch to the reservoir and we had a little grumble about this, I’ve looked this up and it seems they have filled in the potholes and cleared the gullies. So I should think!
We walked around the reservoir and then headed off up the hill going through some more bog.
Stopped for our second meal break, this time it was lunch for me, a pitta with hummous. I produced my homemade flapjack and this went down fairly well. Babs was a little surprised to find that she could eat it despite almond essence and sultanas!
Around the edge of what Chris and I know to be an extremely boggy wood, but still managing to be quite boggy along its perimeter, then round to the road for a short stretch. Down a nice track and then the road, going past Cragg Old Hall and back down to the Hinchliffe.
In the Hinch, we had hot chocolates and coffee. Since getting home through the thick fog, I’ve looked up the Hinchliffes and found this gem about them.
Our walk featured a lot of bog, lots of walled in packhorse tracks and lots of paths on the ground that aren’t on the map.

Clapper bridge
Shadows in’t mist
Blue, blue Withens Clough
Babs (she said she was smiling), Chris, Jay
Rashers
Cragg Old Hall

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Old Man of Coniston and Dow Crag 12th November

Got up at the crack of dawn and whizzed off to Chris’ house. We set off smartly and stopped at Lancaster services for so C could buy out M&S and get coffee. I’d had a coffee at her house and it was very strong so I held off any more caffeine.
We took the top route to Coniston, via Windermere and Ambleside. The road to the Old Man is very steep but there is plenty of free parking once you get to the vehicle end of the Walna Scar Road.
There was a group of young lads carrying a very large log. More later.
It was 11.15 and not raining by the time we set off but the tops were in mist. We went along Walna Scar Road for a short distance. A girl appeared for a chat just as we were about to commence the climb. She seemed quite nice but clearly was going to be going much faster than us so we emphasised this as I don’t think either Chris or I wanted her to tag along.
A slow, steady climb past some old quarries, but the spoil heap higher than us so we couldn’t see inside it. Then we were in the cloud and stayed in it with some brief bursts of light and even some sun at times until we reached the top. The path we were on took us directly to the Old Man but on the map we should have reached a path across and then turned left so this was a path on the ground and not on the map.
It was still very misty on top of the Old Man so we sat to eat our lunches. Chris on falafel and hummous wrap and me on hummous and tomato pittas. We’d been very warm climbing up but now it was cold in the wind and we were glad of our layers and hats and gloves.
The boys with log appeared out of the mist. They all had Eddie Stobart shirts on and were doing “team building”. I am now considering instituting log bearing up steep hills for my team at work! We thought they were probably being rehabilitated. Then some mountain bikes came past and then another team of log bearers, so after a very quiet walk up only seeing 3 people, it was suddenly very busy.
I took a bearing and we headed off for Goat’s Hause. This is the col between the Old Man and Dow Crag. Just when we needed it the clouds parted and we got a view down to the col. Then up a bit more ascent with good views to Goat’s Tarn and onto Dow Crag, this has great gullies which were all in mist. On the ridge and along to Buck Pike and Brown Pike. It stayed misty but we had occasional openings to see a wider vista.
Down from Brown Pike and onto the Walna Scar Road where we turned left and headed back down and along and back to the car at 4.15 where we finished off our supplies and then drove home, stopping again at M&S for various future meal supplies.

Starting to rise
Log men
Chris at the top of the Old Man
Across to Goat’s Hause
Looking back to ridge between Old Man and Brim Fell
Very steep gully on Dow Crag
Chris disappearing into mist
Bridge on Walna Scar Road
Across towards west
To the west
Jak

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Fairfield, Great Rigg and Heron Pike 5th November 2011

I got to Grasmere at about 10.30 which was ok as I’d stopped at Lancaster services to buy some lunch and a coffee. I had an Americano. Back on the coffee. This is worse than giving up fags! The loos in Grasmere car park smell of old wee so not recommended. I drove through Grasmere as I’d always bypassed it before. I noted a Cotswold Rock Bottom shop for future reference. It’s clearly dining out on Wm. and Dorothy, more later on them.
I parked up on the verge of the A road along with everyone else. Across the road and up a track past some nice houses and then straight up through a bog. Great start to the walk. The path goes along Tongue Gill and winds up quite gently passing waterfalls. I saw no one all the way up to the top of Grisedale Hause. There’s a big flat plateau which may be the Fair Field. I ate my packet of crisps looking at Grisedale Tarn (nowhere near either Grizedale or Grisedale Pike!).

There was a man swimming across the tarn, must have been very chilly indeed. Also a helicopter rescue of someone on Striding Edge (again). Then the steep ascent to Fairfield which I found hard as have now had 6 weeks of the gym being shut so not had any exercise since we were in Scotland. The gym is being cleaned out from top to bottom because they found a tiny amount of legionella. I chatted to the manager the other day and as well as the refunds we may be getting a spin room set up to encourage us back in. I will go back as the best thing will be that the showers will have to be hotter because of this. Plus the convenience factor. It will be good to get up early because I’m doing something for myself and not just because I want an easy parking spot.
There was a large party of elderly women coming down from Fairfield but they all forgot the code to give way to those ascending which mildly irritated me as there were loads of them.
The top of Fairfield is another flat plateau and looks over to Seat Sandal which I summited in thick mist some time ago, you can also see a really long way around all the Lakes and nearby to St. Sunday Crag, Helvellyn and Great Rigg. I ate my lunch (1.5 bean and cheese wraps) and kept some back as had no energy bars or flapjack for an emergency. I pondered about Wm. and Dorothy Wordsworth as I recently read a Guardian freebie which was a sample of his pomes and her diary. I didn’t read the pomes but the diary was very like the Wordsmiths of Gorsemere which
was on Radio 4 Extra recently. When Wm. and D weren’t being ill with headach etc. they were charging about the hills a lot. But no Goretex, fleece, or Vibram soles. Did they take a packed lunch, did they just take a cup, what sort? And fill it from a stream? D picked a lot of plants from the fells and put them in her garden. They also came across a lot of beggars and had an active social life, sometimes out very late indeed,and it would have been very dark then. And of course the trials of having drug addled S T Choleric to stay!
A quick lunch and then what Wainwright describes as the easiest mile in Lakeland to Great Rigg and then on to Heron Pike so 3 Wainwrights all in one day. Here I took a right of way that had no path on the ground to get back to Grasmere. I’m glad I did this as I had to really navigate properly to do this safely. I went through a rocky outcrop (Butter Crag) and did a short scramble and then met up with a path back. This was good as I feel my nav skills have improved greatly and it’s good to put it into practice. 3 more elderly people were going up at 3.30 which seemed late to start going up hills.
I got back to the car just after 4 and it was dark by 5.
A good day with great weather and I have decided to do my exercises when I get in from work until the gym reopens.

Here is the only quote I can find of The Wordsmiths of Gorsemere by Sue Limb:
Dorothy – “Oh William! Look! DAFFODILS! Fluttering, and, as it were, dancing in the BREEZE!”
Wm. – “Not now, Dorothy, I am contemplating my Withered Turnip”.

Tongue Gill
Nearly at Grisedale Hause
Grisedale Tarn
Across to Striding Edge
From Fairfield
Butter Crag
Nearly back

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.