Helvellyn 060909

Wythburn church

Left nice and early so managed to get to Wythburn car park at 10.00. The car park would have cost me £5 but the ticket machine was “Not in use”. Great.

A group of Polish (I think) people were smoking in the car park and set off before me. A short time later I overtook them, to say they were inappropriately dressed just doesn’t cover it, ready to go clubbing more like it!
Lovely walk through pine woods, rising steeply onto the fell with a few craggy bits and water chasing down. I’m starting to see what Wainwright means, it’s more interesting in terms of variety of landscape.
Fairly got up quickly. Had a chat with a bloke on the way and even patted his dog. Turned right at the junction and whizzed up to Nethermost Pike. Windy and some hard drizzle on the tops. Short whizz up to Helvellyn having looked across at large quantities of mad people doing Striding Edge despite the great wind and cold. I was told it was only 5 degrees on the top, but in my new Paramo I didn’t feel cold at all.
There was a tent on the summit which may have been connected with a triathlon (swim, “run” [not when I saw them!], bike). Also saw another tent down by the tarn and another one on my way down.N
Quick look round the top, had my sandwich in the rather grim shelter, sharing it with a couple and 2 small dogs with coats on. Wretched dogs far too close to my sandwich for comfort so had to eat it fast. I did feel cold in the windiest section of the shelter so didn’t hang about. Then more whizzing back down. A little rain on the way down but got down very quickly.
I never saw the Poles again so think they must have given up quite early on.
Great to have a walk with actual views for a change and not loads of rain.

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Some Dodds 300809

Where the old YH sign used to be
Castlerigg Stone Circle

Started off from home a bit later than usual as would have more time later in the day. Getting through the Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere bottle neck was immense fun and made the journey seem never ending.

My original plan had been to pitch tent and then walk but it was so late I parked at Legburthwaite car park and got walking.

Up to Sticks Pass having lunch on the way with my back to the wind and rain and then left this time to reach Stybarrow Dodd. The tops were in total mist although it did clear enough for me to get an idea of what was where. The now properly waterproofed jacket did the job fine this time, as did the new waterproof gloves. Went across to Watson’s Dodd and then returned by the same route.
Got down in almost half the time it took to get up, despite the wet and grassy slopes. Wainwright hated grassy slopes. During his account of his walk up the Pennines during the outbreak of WW2, almost 70 years ago to the day, he describes his footwear in detail and it was not up to the job so I reckon he skidded around too much on the grass and didn’t like it. In that book, he comes over as a very selfish and grubby man. No change of clothes for his weeks of walking and only one handkerchief! My favourite episode is where he arrives at a farm which has been flooded and Mrs Farmer is busy trying to deal with a flood. Instead of pitching in or offering to help, he demands tea from her!
As well as some more physical fitness, all this solo walking is also giving me more mental stamina and confidence which is great. So some good has come out of the apparent lunacy!
Back to the car, passing the old Thirlmere youth hostel at Stanah, now a very sorry sight, neglected and left to rot. The YHA shut it in 2001.
Decided to go to Castlerigg Farm Campsite as opposed to Castlerigg Hall Campsite. These are literally next door to each other but the Hall has lots of facilities and the Farm has fewer and is cheaper plus it has a “no noise after 10.30” policy.
I put the tent up very quickly, the dry run in the sitting room proved useful. It actually stopped raining whilst I did this which was nice, although not strictly necessary as the tent pitches with the fly attached, fab.
Got settled in and cooked my supper, pasta with stir in sauce, excellent. I was so hungry. Pocket Rocket worked like a dream, heated water fast. Pots also efficient as well as light.
Got warmed up with Paramo gilet and got into sleeping bag. Also warm and comfy. Dark early so read my book and tried to sleep but foam sleeping mat just not enough for my bones. Then it rained and rained and blew and blew so finally dozed off sometime around 3.00. Woke at 7.00, very groggy.
Brewed up coffee and had breakfast. Now so wet that decided to cancel walk to Helvellyn. Felt a bit crap about giving up walk, that had been purpose of camping trip but rain was extreme.
Struck camp, throwing all wet stuff, i.e. nearly everything, straight into the boot. The tent had kept me warm and dry and did very well for its first outing. A good test for future wild camps. All gear had worked well.
Went to Castlerigg stone circle and wandered round it in the rain. Then went and took some photos of the youth hostel at Stanah. Into Keswick to wander round all the gear shops for an hour.
Set off for home. Yet another crawl most of the way. Bit disappointed but the mountain will still be there next week.

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Seat Sandal 230809

WET, that’s really all there is to say about this walk.

Arrived in good time at the lay by next to the AA box at Dunmail Raise. Waterproofs on straightaway. Went along according to wretched AW to the wall and ended up head high in the bracken trying to find the start of the path. Anyway it’s not by the wall, it’s actually to the south of the then dry beck.
The path leads up along the beck and is pretty even in the torrential rain and there is some fun in crossing the waterfalls. The ascent was very wet but I managed to stay dry myself. At the top of the gorge, there is a crossroads marked by a rusty old iron post. I stopped here to make sure of my position. What fun trying to change the batteries on the GPS in the downpour. In a very brief lift of the cloud, I saw Grisedale Tarn ahead of me so didn’t really need the GPS anyway.
Took off up to the right and quite quickly arrived at Seat Sandal. The summit was also windy in addition to the wet, so had my beef sandwich very quickly and soggily and set off back. Far too horrid to go any further. At this point started to feel very wet on top as my jacket clearly needs reproofing.
Fairly whizzed back, only stopping to take the photos of the waterfalls. By now the fairly wet path had turned into a torrent. How glad I am that the boots are so good.
Getting back I managed to find the “right” path staying south of the beck all the way. Where the beck had been dry a few hours earlier it was now filling up.
Back to the car to steam it up. Pools of water in the boot.
Treated myself to a pair of waterproof gloves in the cheap shop on the way home as reward for sticking it out.

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Raise 160809

Managed to get up early enough to arrive at Legburthwaite car park at 10.15. This was really down to having packed and prepared every thing the day before. This car park is pretty quiet and has loos. They’re not very nice but what’s more important is that they exist and are free. The car park fee is hefty at £5 for over 4 hours. I couldn’t guarantee that I would get the walk done in that time but only had £4.60. It took 4 and a quarter hours. Luckily a nice woman gave me 50p. But then I felt I had to chat a bit with her so ended up not starting until 10.45. Short walk along the road then straight onto the fell, very steep for the first section but no scrambling. Once I reached the sheepfold it looked necessary to tog up for the wet, judging by those on the descent. So everything on. Steady ascent up to the crossroads – Sticks Pass. By now no sight of anything except my feet. Turned right onto what looked like a municipal track. Lots of people descending out of the gloom. A white dog appeared from nowhere, laid down and whimpered, only to disappear just as quickly. Short steep part and then just as suddenly arrived at the summit of Raise. The weather at this point was so hideous – big winds, horizontal and rattling rain and quite cold, I decided to descend quickly to somewhere to eat lunch. Got back to the crossroads very speedily, carried on back down and then sat on a rock for my sandwiches. And then the mist cleared for me so I enjoyed actually having a view across to Thirlmere Lake.

Carried on down, gradually getting warmer and drier. On way down saw 10 of the Red Arrows in formation. They were on their way from Kent to Scotland and were flying low and slow! Drove back via Settle to avoid the M6 roadworks, big mistake as lost all the time I had gained otherwise.

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Training for Mont Blanc

St. Sunday Crag 090809
Parked in the hotel car park at Patterdale. £3 for the day.
From Patterdale went through field with cows all lying down. Then up Thornhow End and Harrison Crag, no scrambling. Whilst stopped for short break, 2 women came past with concerns about the bull in the field who had been lively on their way up. I reassured them that all the cows were lying down and that I hadn’t spotted a bull and then forgot about him!
Carried on along the contour on the side of Birks and then up along the ridge to St Sunday Crag. There was one man and two girls on the summit, well we all arrived at the same time and all looked a bit like we wished the others weren’t there. I stuck it out and had my lunch in peace on the top! Whilst there a flare went up from the sheer scree east side of Helvellyn and a helicopter spent a lot of time trying to do something. I found out afterwards that a woman had fallen 3 metres from the top path onto a man on the lower path. She had hurt her leg. She also managed to get herself to hospital after being rescued. Given that the Mountain Rescue is a charity and receives no government funding, it seemed a lot of effort for someone who was walking wounded.
I went across to Gavel Pike as it was about a hundred metres away. It was a lovely spot, quite different, and worth the short hike. Then cut back to the main path and returned the same way.
When I reached the field with the cows, the bull was up and about, he was a very big chap in every way. I just said hello as I had done before and gave them a good wide berth. No problem.
High Street 020809
Parked for free on the road at Mardale. It was a bit busy here but then Julia Bradbury had been on the TV going up High Street earlier on in the week. After all, that had made me think of it too.
First turned towards Haweswater to reach the far end of the ridge. Then up along the ridge all the way to the top. The ridge is quite craggy and scrambling is needed. Could be a bit scary to those who don’t like heights. The top is fantastic, really does look like a Roman road, which it is, from I think, Ambleside to Keswick. Lot of effort up there in a toga I can tell you. It was very nippy and I had to put various winter layers on. Bit busy on the top.
Went across to Mardale Ill Bell and then down the Nan Bield Pass. Pleasant route via Small Water.
Shipman Knotts and Kentmere Pike 260709
Parked for free at Sadgill.
Took the path towards Stile End. Then turned off right to ascend. Quite a lot of scrambling on Wray Crag to get up to Shipman Knotts, by this time in thick mist so have little idea of what it looked like. Continued up following a wall and then fence which I kept in sight. There was one bit when I couldn’t see the handrail but fortunately this part was served by a good path. Got to Kentmere Pike and have no idea whether it has a lovely view or not. Very wet indeed.
I met 2 people on this walk. The cloud lifted a bit on the way down and surprised me with what was there, i.e. lovely views across to Longsleddale but quickly shrouded again.
Grey Crag and Tarn Crag 190709
Parked for free on the roadside at Sadgill which is at the end of Longsleddale. Very small road to get to it and Sadgill literally is the end of the road.
Straight up from the road onto the fell, through a lot of very high bracken, up what AW calls an easy gully, ha ha, there is no scrambling but it’s quite wearing. Onto Great Howe and across to Grey Crag. So far so good as good weather but would be hard in mist with no marked paths. From Grey Crag (the E in GrEy very important as there is another fell called GrAy Crag), I could see Harrop Pike was only a couple of hundred metres away so skipped over there, then skipped back and across to Tarn Crag. Then I decided to head back and thought I would go a different route from that planned. Over confidence rushing in here having detoured to Harrop Pike. I tried to get down but it was too steep, didn’t panic, just came back up again and went off an easier way, and followed the fence line across and then back over to just below Great Howe, some very steep bits where I had to hang on to the fence. It was ok and I found a handrail of a wall I recognised and then was back on track. Got back to the car and felt in trouser pocket for the keys, pocket was unzipped and no keys in it. So gave myself several moments of sheer unadulterated panic. Then remembered they were where they always are, on the key ring in the rucksack. Lessons learnt – make plan and stick to it, don’t go off piste unless completely sure of navigation. Be fully prepared and confident in knowledge that I can accurately navigate and not make mistakes.
Red Screes 110709
Parked in Ambleside in the college car park, opposite the main car park. £6 for the day. The route went up the Stock Ghyll waterfall which was nice but quite busy. I didn’t really need to do it to get onto the hill. But once past, a pleasant route up Red Screes. Notable for the big walls. Also no actual scree slope to cross, that’s on the east side, and yes the stone is red.
Quite a long old trudge up to the top but once there, the delight of reaching the trig point and then the reward of the view to Brothers Water. Fantastic and a surprise. Had the summit to myself. Came back down the same way.
Scafell Pike 010609
Parked in the free village car park at Wasdale Head. Went into tiny little village church, very sweet and cool. Headed on up along the valley. Whilst having a rest got interrupted by a man from Bangor who wanted to chat, at this point I managed to be quite pleasant to him but he was clearly quite needy.
Further on up the road, he had stopped just where I needed to, it being a very hot day and I had to do a reccy. Then 2 more people who wanted to chat to him came along, the man of the couple was a bit weird and asked me what I was laughing at in a very defensive way i.e. hostile. I decided I didn’t need any of it or them and so left them all to it, after all my walk was nothing to do with any of them, and I’m not a social worker.
I went up the corridor, a nice interesting route with a bit of low level scrambling. Stopped again for my lunch and they all went past so I happily ignored them. Carried on, the worst bit was the scree slope to get to the top but that done and then I was there, on top of the highest mountain in England, along with a great many other people. Needless to say, the man from Bangor, who I thought I had lost, appeared with another new friend. He asked me if I’d worked out a route down for US. At this point I said I’d found one for me and that he would have to find his own, I know it was rude but then so was his imposition on me.
Came down the west side which was a nice easy route, I had no idea it was there! I’ve done the big one now and feel no need to repeat it. Bit like Snowdon really, there are lots of nearly as high mountains without crowds or indeed loonies. I will go up Ben Nevis just to be able to say I’ve done the 3 Peaks and I am quite happy that Snowdon was done with the assistance of the train. At least we did walk all the way down it!

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Koenigstein Monday July 6th 2009

After a surfeit of eggs the day before, I thought it would be kinder to forego them for breakfast – C had a fried one.

We worked out how to ask if we could leave the luggage there to collect later and that achieved and bills settled we went off to do some bits of shopping and sight seeing.
First had to have a coffee, this was at the cafe next to the green seats one of the night before. Whilst there noticed that their fare claimed to be real German and locally sourced so decided to return later for lunch.
Looked in a cheap shop, C attracted by candles. Held back for time being.
Went up to castle and for E2 had a great time looking round. Very nice tickets too with old picture of the castle on. We were the only visitors. C looked through telescope. Wandered round and then went up the tower, 7 flights but the views at the top were worth every step. Could see the Grosser and Kleiner Feldbergs, the Altkoenig and then very oddly, Frankfurt appearing like a futuristic metropolitan blot on the landscape. Looked very out of place somehow.
A short walk through the trees brought us to the open air swimming pool again. Much quieter as all the children were in school and all the adults were making money in Frankfurt. Had a nice swim, not too long as the weather was quite a bit cooler. As soon as we’d got showered and dried under the body driers, great invention, it started raining. Back through the forest to the town and didn’t get wet.
Back to the cafe but went inside as it did quite a big short shower. Chris had pork medallions and I had Wiener style schnitzel. Some beers. All very delicious and properly cooked, yum.
Did a bit of shopping, the cheap shop got raided by Chris who decided to let go at last.
Then back to the hotel to pick up the bags, and back to the train station. Back to Frankfurt main station, posted the postcards. Train to the airport.
All very smooth. Bit more shopping at the airport, bum bag for J. And then a smooth flight home. The plane was jammed full and we couldn’t sit next to each other which was annoying. But many others in same situation so someone had cocked up that lot.
Eventually located the car park and the car at Manchester! Drove back to Fountain Villa, gave C her bag of bits and off she went. A totally lovely holiday, thank you so much.

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Koenigstein Sunday July 5th 2009

After not sleeping very well (a lot of traffic noise because of being on the corner for J), we went for breakfast. A nice array, muesli, yoghurt, salamis, hams, cheeses, jams, nice fresh bread, not very nice coffee, possibly with chicory in it. J had a boiled egg.

We asked the lovely breakfast frau, possibly the one on the right in the picture of Cafe H about how to get to the Grosser Feldberg. Actually weirdly none of the people in the pictures on their website or the dog look like anyone that we met.
She gave us the bus number so we went to the train station to get the bus. The bus turned up with a very nice bus driver (Chris’). We climbed up in the bus to the top of the mountain (hill) as it’s only 878 metres where there was the annual town sports rally taking place as well as a biker convention. Despite all this, it was all very calm, there were a couple of cafes and kiosks, so we went to get a coffee.
On the short way, Chris picked up an old geezer who was taking a photo of a car. As well as the challenging language situation he had also had a stroke and so it was amazing that we were able to communicate at all. I kept trying to drag C away from him but this was very difficult so struck was she. Finally got away and into the cafe only to have him come and sit at the next table. At this point we gave in. Anyway his granddaughter lives somewhere in England and is very intelligent. The Americans taught him his English after the war, he was born in 1933. Actually he was quite a nice old man but most of the chat had to be done at high volume so guess we all entertained the cafe customers.
After some small purchases, we set off to walk the so called 7 km back to Koenigstein with the map which took a lot of working out so we just followed the signs and then just the general direction (down).
We had our substantial packed lunch, ate up some of the bits from the previous days extreme hunger rations, ate our new rolls and cheese and ham and tomatoes.
The walk through the forest was lovely, very quiet, a man passed by on a horse, the odd walker. We crossed the big road going up to the top and then came across a cafe/pub so had to investigate. It was next to a campsite and seemed to be part of an old Nature Movement. C had a beer and I had an espresso. Lovely.
At this point I finally managed to work out where we were on the map, better late than never. We walked back into Koenigstein and the Cafe H. Had a nice quiet couple of hours, I had a nap.
Then refreshed, went into town and after some photo opportunities went to what we thought was a real German restaurant that we’d picked out the night before, only to discover it had a Greek theme to the cooking. We sat outside and C had a lamb kebab and I had a lamb steak with cottage cheese in the middle of it. Not a good choice and mainly because I couldn’t remember what Schafkaese was. More beers.
Wandered back, stopping at a bar for a cocktail (C) and a big whisky (me).

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