Coniston March 2020

Monday 9th

Set off in the dry but the rain arrived heavily as I reached Ambleside. Had to make an emergency purchase of waterproof trousers because I discovered yesterday that I’m too fat for my old ones. Checked into a nice room in the Counting House at HF Holidays Monk Coniston. This house was once owned by Beatrix Potter and now by the National Trust who lease it to HF.

The first person I met was the first person I met here last July and to whom I took a violent dislike. Bollocks. For dinner I had veg quiche, salmon and veg, fruit salad. And a bottle of Coniston lager. I sat next to a Gove voter but the whole table agreed we wouldn’t talk politics. Jackie gave us a talk on red squirrels. I listened to The Archers who clearly think that what we need when there is a worldwide health crisis, is a traumatic storyline with multiple repercussions for most of the inhabitants of Ambridge. No dark humour now about Kenton concealing that he had run over Eccles the peacock.

Monk Coniston side entrance from The Counting House
Painting by Bertram Potter, Beatrix’s brother

Tuesday 10th

Lots of rain. Clambered into the vast waterproof trousers. All onto the bus. A short drive and 4 of us plus Dave the leader got off. We walked about 14 km in wind and rain and some respites of dry. From the A593 to Colwith Force in full spate, to Skelwith Force, Loughrigg Tarn, Grasmere lake, Rydal Water and Rydal cave then to Ambleside. I’d walked some of this with Carol in June 2012.  Hot chocolate (horrible) and the bus back. Lovely hot shower. Dinner of broccoli and Stilton soup, veg risotto and ice cream. Total sugar fail day. After dinner I played skittles and surprised myself by being very good at it. Last played 10 pin bowling when I was 16! I can see myself playing bowls in years to come!! A good day but more Tories. I was completely unable to hold back my views on the shower of shite they’ve given us. Mostly wet with some windy blasts.

Herdwick sheep
Sugar beet
Grasmere
Rydal Cave

Wednesday 11th

On the bus a short way. 11 of us plus Geoff the leader for the intermediate level walk today. The first part we had done a bit of yesterday. We climbed up a bit to Lingmoor Fell to look over Elterwater to one side and Grasmere to the other. We got just below Silver How (I got Carol to the summit in 2012) then we dropped down into Chapel Stile passing the place we had stayed in. Hard to think of how well she had been then just before dialysis kicked in. Along the valley to Dungeon Ghyll for beer then bus. Nice chats today. Mostly windy with some cold wet blasts. For dinner I had avocado and feta salad, boeuf bourguignon, fruit salad. We then had the HF inter house quiz. The team I was in did ok. One woman turned out to be a big Bruce fan.

Thursday 12th

In bus to Water Yeat. To Beacon Fell. Across the Blawith Fells to Torver. Windy but dry. Into the Wilson pub at Torver for soup and a sandwich paid by HF, A pub Carol and I visited in 2015. The pub has great loos! Interesting design using big slabs of slate and wood. Andrew bought me a birthday juice. Outside again to walk along Coniston Water to Coniston. A heavy shower as we reached the village. Into cafe where Audrey and Norie kindly bought me a coffee and A shared her cake. Back to the house. Quite a long walking day. Mostly dry. Dinner fresh fig salad, lamb with veg, choc mousse. Pre birthday lager. Quiz and chat. Starting to feel scared about the incompetence of our so called leaders (not the HF walk leaders).

At Beacon Tarn
Coniston Water
Coniston Hall, now owned by the National Trust

Friday 13th

Farewells to all my new friends. Drove to Wray Castle (National Trust), “this is not like most National Trust properties, there are no paintings or furniture”. An interesting building, one of the guides took me onto the roof (not normally accessible). I listened to a couple of guides telling the history of the place and how Beatrix Potter’s family had taken the castle as a summer let and she had met Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust during that time. I took a stroll to the boathouse and jetty and along the lake a little. Then into Grasmere where I knew not to go to the deli because I had a horrible coffee there previously so instead I tried the Mathilde’s at the Heaton Cooper Studio. They do a Scandi food theme so I had an open sandwich which was really nice. Walked up to Allan Bank (more National Trust), “this is not like most National Trust properties, there are no paintings or furniture”. There were in fact some hideous ginormous paintings of the 3 people most connected with the house – Wordsworth, Coleridge and Rawnsley. I can’t think of Wordsworth and Coleridge without thinking of the Wordsmiths of Gorsemere which is one of the funniest radio programmes ever, Sue Limb, brilliant. Coleric is always under the influence and chasing after anything that breathes. Available on Audible. There’s not much to see in the house so I went for a walk round the grounds. The house is in a lovely location with views of lakes and mountains. Then I set off for home, calling in at Booths in Windermere where there wasn’t any panic buying. I got 18 loo rolls on a BOGOF promotion and got home without any problems during the Friday rush hour.

Wray Castle
Wray Castle
Windermere
From Allan Bank
Allan Bank House

The last few days have been good because I met some lovely people and had great chats while out walking. Also laughs. Today I felt weepy most of the day. I’ve got used to everywhere I go near home or in the Calder Valley being full of memories of things I’ve done with Carol and Chris. The Lake District is also full of both of them, walks, hills, lakes, cafes, pubs, restaurants, you name it. Carol rarely remembered anywhere we’d been. Whereas I’ve always been able to say which table we sat at and who sat where, going back years and years. I can’t not remember. A year ago I felt cast adrift. Now I feel shipwrecked, broken, shattered. Still alive but in pieces that have tumbled and spilt. We are all at a very strange period of time because of Covid 19 and Corona virus. As I walked about in the sun this morning in the loveliness of the Lake District it felt like the lull before the storm.

GPS Training 13/10/2018

Carol was in hospital waiting for surgery to repair her failed new fistula graft. Storm Callum and I was on my way to the Lake District after work. On the way I passed a tree that had fallen and squashed a car, miraculously no-one was hurt. Because I had to pass Tebay services, I also had to get out in the teeming rain and buy provisions for the next day. And also because it was a ritual that Chris and I stopped at Tebay whenever we could.

I got to Mosedale End Farm B&B just after 6. It’s beyond Mungrisdale (pronounced mung as in bean and Grizedale as in Grizedale). There is more road beyond the farm but it felt like the end of the line. The farm backs onto Carrock Fell which looms steeply over it. I’d like to return to climb the fell especially as the B&B is fully geared up for walkers with an honesty fridge full of sandwiches and various other snacks, and a boot room.

I rang Carol who had finally had the surgery. After settling in, I drove the 2 km back to Mungrisdale. It was very dark by then and very wet. The Mill Inn was quiet. Chris and I came here back in 2011 but it felt like yesterday despite the weather being totally different. And that time we stopped at Tebay on the way home after summitting Grisedale (with an s) Pike! I had a chicken curry which was fine and some Cumbria Way beer, very good beer. Carol and I came to Bowscale Tarn in 2010 but not the pub.

Back to the B&B to watch Never Say Never Again. And never watch it again either. Twice is too many times.

Good breakfast is somewhat dark and gloomy room. Lots to eat, homemade bread. I had a poached egg and baked beans. JoAnne was a good hostess and let me get on with what I needed to do, i.e. get to the course on time.

It was still raining very heavily but I only had to go the 2km to Mungrisdale Village Hall. There were 6 of us on the course, run by Andy of GPS Training. I’d recently bought a Satmap GPS device and the course was just for Satmap GPS units. Andy was excellent and knew his way round the 3 different models. It was raining so much the river rose during the day so we only went out briefly a couple of times. I can’t fault the training and now feel much more in command of the unit and what it can do. There’s also a year of access to an online resource. Andy has done loads of video resources to answer any possible question you might have!!

I had a short chat with Carol before leaving for home. It had been a good use of my time as she was out of action, but I was nagged by the underlying anxiety of the surgery.

I got home Saturday evening and then broke Carol out the next day. Surgery successful.

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.
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Lakes August 2018

Weds 15th

I got to Monk Coniston early enough to settle in to my room in the cottage and plan my walk for the next day.

HF had sent me a voucher for a free bottle of wine so I made a start on it. Dinner of chicken with Parma ham, a bit tough and then ice cream.

The HF inter house quiz was on and the team I was in won in this house. We each got a cloth bag prize!

Thurs 16th

Breakfast of poached egg and sausage and a croissant.

I drove to the end of Langdale and parked off the road. Rain was on and off. Walked up to Pike of Blisco. Some short scrambling sections. Very windy at the top. Started to go to Cold Pike but retreated because the weather was so unpleasant I wasn’t enjoying myself and it was a long detour. Down via Oxendale, last walked with Chris when we did the ruddy Crinkle Crags.

Back to a hot shower and a local produce dinner. More wine (same bottle). A vegetable soup, a mini Cumberland sausage, salt marsh lamb, very tender, with creamed potato and half a parsnip, a dessert trio of sticky toffee pudding, cold, not my favourite at best of times, Kendal mint cake cheesecake which was nicer than it sounded and a lemon torte which was delicious and which I wished had been my entire dessert.

Chatted with Sally while we nibbled cheese and biscuits.

Went to bed early and fell asleep straight away.

Coniston

This woman is in the garden at Monk Coniston and I had to keep walking past her. Something seems to have slipped a bit…

Fri 17th

Breakfast, surprisingly hungry. Fruit, yoghurt and granola, hash browns, poached egg and beans and toast.

Parked up on road in Coniston. Had no change or inclination to pay £7 in car park.

2.5 hours to reach the summit of Old Man of Coniston. This is another hill I’d done with Chris. Stayed mainly dry on the way up but hideous weather at the top. V poor visibility. Went to Brim Fell but abandoned the idea of a circuit because I couldn’t see enough. Returned to the Old Man for a bit of shelter and met Sally and her 2 friends. They decided to return the way I and they had come up so I tagged along.

Not far down Jenny twisted her knee. She kept going but very slowly. One of the HF groups passed us and advised that we call Mountain Rescue. Sally and I were reaching that view also. I rang 999 and asked for Police Mountain Rescue, a very calm woman took our grid reference and description of where we were. We kept going. After a while the Coniston MR team rang us and said they were on the way, another calm chap who said they could drive up quite a way and they would ring from Crowberry Haws. We kept on. Then hooray, heard a siren. Before long the team of 8 arrived and stretchered Jenny down to their Land Rovers. Sally, Abi and I walked to the Land Rovers. Once the team arrived with Jenny, they unstrapped her and got her into the warm van. Then they all pitched in did fiddly weaving with all the stretcher straps. The team gave the 3 of us a lift down a very bumpy mine track. It was all done extremely efficiently and kindly. An ambulance was waiting for Jenny on arrival at the MR base in Coniston, she was whizzed off for x-rays at Barrow in Furness hospital. Abi went to her home in Coniston. Sally and I were given hot drinks and Mars bars in the MR base.

The weather had deteriorated from about midday. Certainly all my gear (summer showers rating only) was soaked by the time we got back so there had been a real risk of hypothermia at the speed we were going. Fab HF drying room sorting out the wet gear.

Finished off my bottle of wine. Dinner of fresh tomato soup, home made pizza with potato wedges and coleslaw, raspberry creme brulé. I’d originally asked for small portions but after our adventures I was very hungry. I had a half of beer watching a game of skittles! Yes indeed!! I did 10 pin bowling when I was 16 but was terrible at it then so didn’t even try it.

Mine workings

Low Water, not visible at all on our way back down

Cairn on Brim Fell

Hats off to these people

Sat 18th

Sally updated me that Jenny had no broken bones or torn ligaments, muscle damage so that should heal more quickly. She also got a lift home with the doctor who treated her!

After breakfast I went to Windermere and looked at an exhibition about the Windermere Boys (and girls) who were housed briefly in Windermere after leaving the Nazi concentration camps as orphans. An impressive exhibition in the library.

The rain had dropped off and I did think about walking up Lingmoor Fell but decided to go home.

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.
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Pillar 1st April 2018

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.

Derwent Water

Derwent Water

Pillar

Ennerdale Water from Pillar

https://my.viewranger.com/track/widget/7559522?locale=en&m=miles&v=2

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

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High Seat 31st March 2018

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.

Derwent Water from Derwent Bank

Derwent Water

Derwent Water

Summit of High Seat

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

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