Babs and I did a route from the AA. Babs led the walk and I followed on the map. We did about 6 miles, good walking weather. Stopped at the Dog and Gun for the loo, on the moors for lunch. Saw a dead lamb, also what I thought was a dead fledgling but it moved so Babs put it off the track so at least it wouldn’t get trodden on.
We finished up at Oxenhope station which has nice loos and sat on the very uncomfortable seats in the stationary buffet train. I had a nice ice cream and Babs had toast and jam.
I started off by taking a sight bearing to what I thought was a trig point quite a long way away. Mulled this over as the 290 seemed a bit short angle wise of where the trig was on the map. Worked it out, my sight bearing was actually to an obelisk on Watt Crag which was at 290.
Down to Barden Lower reservoir, on access land but following a permissive path. Some confusing signage like don’t go this way and do go this way both at the same place. I just did what the map said I could do. Up to Barden Upper reservoir where there is a big old waterworks house, very remote feeling and exposed, seemed empty but was in good nick with non broken windows and new ridge stones, looking like they’d only recently been bedded in. Slightly spooky because there was no-one around.
Had some lunch and stood up only to see a man’s grey head in the sheep fold. Slightly surprised as I’d had no idea there was anyone around.
I then took a bearing to ensure I was on the correct path for the return. The bridleway wasn’t very clear on the ground so this helped. No dogs or cycles are allowed on it despite it being a bridleway because it’s part of the Bolton Abbey estate.
When Charles and Di got married in 1981 I was 23 and walked up what must have been my first mountain, Pen y Ghent, from Horton in Ribblesdale. Two things I remember about that day – my Greek American friend M, stayed back to watch the wedding on a portable TV brought up from Cardiff just for the wedding, and someone wanted a steak sandwich, which most days in 1981 would have been quite a challenge in the Yorkshire Dales but because of the wedding was amazingly an easy find. These were the days when avocado was a colour for bathroom fittings. We’d moved on from buying olive oil in a chemist but opening hours and food choices were nothing like today.
I drove up to Malham and parked near the tarn. I did a 15km circular walk avoiding the cove and all the busy places. At first there were quite a lot of people but I soon got away from them and had the place pretty much to myself.
Passed Victoria and Jubilee caves. Didn’t go in because I reckon the interesting bones of elephants, rhinoceroses and bears discovered by the Victorians are long gone (and so they are, see the link) and I don’t much like caves.
It was warm and sunny and great weather for walking.
This trip had been a long time coming. In 2010 Chris and I had a Lakeland Adventure around Ennerdale Water where we wild camped then stayed in Ennerdale YH and finished up in the Castle Inn on Bassenthwaite Lake for a proper treat. We discussed climbing Pillar and how we would do it.
In 2014, we returned to Ennerdale and walked to Black Sail YH and then Chris got sick. It was very sudden and very clear that we were not going to climb Pillar that day. So we changed our plans and did some other things. She was such a tough woman that she did go up Catbells the next day albeit very very slowly but she was so determined to do it. That was the last mountain she climbed.
I went to Wasdale in 2015 and tried to ascend from the other side. I hadn’t allowed enough time and my boot lace disintegrated and although I had a good walk that day, Pillar was just a stretch too far.
Easter 2018: I booked a break on Derwent Water. I set it up so that I had a choice of 3 possible days to walk and I would just take the best of the 3 from the weather forecasts. The first day had very limited visibility on the tops, day 2 was looking good and day 3 looking very pants. I opted for the Sunday.
I drove round from Portinscale where I was staying to Wasdale Head, an hour’s drive. Parked up with no problems near the campsite. And then just walked. You have to go quite a long way in what feels like and is completely the wrong direction but that’s so as to avoid things like the screes. So it’s up to the Black Sail Pass and then basically back along and up and up, including a sort of knarly, knobbly knot which was hands on and fun. It’s a good long walk and always another bit to do but after 3 hours I got to the top and just the top plateau was snow covered, I knew it was a plateau but with the name Pillar you are expecting something else! There is Pillar Rock which is a climbing challenge and why the place is called Pillar. Fantastic 360 views of the sea, Ennerdale Water and Sellafield!
The last of Chris’s ashes are now scattered on the top of the mountain she didn’t reach in life.
I had planned to do a circuit but it looked a lot more snowy ahead so I returned via the same route because I was on my own.
It was very much still winter on this Wainwright fell. I started from Ashness Bridge and plodded my way up the side of Ashness Gill. It was cold but I was able to see for the first half of the ascent and then visibility went down to about 10m. I got to the top of the fell where it was less than that!
Back down and it was nice to come out of the cloud and snow and to look across to where I was staying at Derwent Bank on Derwent Water. A good warm up walk to get me back in the swing of it.
I stayed in an HF Holidays house, it’s the UK’s only cooperative holiday company and it was excellent. So good that I became a member after one night, the room was good and the food was great.
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.
Last day. Mountain drive up some more interesting roads with either no barrier or such a small one that it seems pointless. To Col de Lobe then Rocca Sparviera mediaeval village and chapel. Saw lots of wolf droppings also those of wild boar. The wolf had been eating the boar as some droppings were mainly boar hair. Golden eagle. We wore the ice grippers for a bit. It had been hot when we did this walk last year, this time started off in 3 layers and increased to 5. We walked about 15km.
Back down to the bar in Lantosque for St. Thomas beer. Then home to pack up.
Dinner chez Liz and Mel. Chili popcorn, tomato and mozzarella type cheese called burrata and basil, couscous with veg and meatballs in sauce, cheeses, chocolate and ginger mousse. All excellent.