Friday, 26 August 2011

From Glennridding, up Striding Edge, on to Helvellyn and down Swirral Edge

You’d think I’d learn wouldn’t you?  Once again I was tired through lack of sleep, but, not content with my last attempt to completely wear out every muscle in my body, we decided to have another go.  This time, the planned walk was to go up Striding Edge.
Glenridding Beck
I’ve heard about this one and I’ve seen the pictures.   But Peter assured me that it isn’t as bad as it looks.  Not only that, my boss tells me she’s been up there.  (She’s not a wuss, but she’s not stupid either, so it can’t be that bad.)
After rain all day Wednesday, I was dead chuffed to wake up to a gloriously clear day.  So we packed up camp, (our last day in Langdale), and drove to Glennridding.
From the car park, we started our walk by following Glenridding Beck, because it’s always nice to walk alongside the water, and I love the sound.  Then we turned left just past Gillside and started the climb.
To our right, and just behind us were the wonderful colours of  Sheffield Pike and the Glenridding Screes,
Glenridding Screes
The path we followed is easy, in as much as it’s clear with plenty of  stepping stones to prevent erosion, but it was steep, and tiring and I needed plenty of rest stops.  But it was such a lovely day, Peter’s camera couldn’t stop taking photo’s.  As always, the further you climb, the better the views.  With the air as clear as it was, we couldn’t go wrong.  We just kept following the path up through the Little Cove to Birkhouse Moor.  Behind us, more and more of Ullswater came into view.  It was all picture postcard and breathtaking.  (Actually, the steep path up the hill had already done a good job of taking my breathe away, but those views………. just glorious.)
Ullswater from just above Little Cove
Up on the moor, we continued on to the Hole in the Wall, Bleaberry Crag, Low Spying Howe and High Spying Howe.  A fantastic place to be in fantastic weather.  Striding Edge, Hellvellyn and Swirral Edge spread out before us, sort of like a giant seat. We were to walk along one arm, up the shoulder, across the back and then down the other side.
Left is Striding Edge, right is Swirral Edge, Helvellyn in the middle is the third highest peak in England
Striding Edge towards Helvellyn
The path levels out a bit, and walking on the Red Tarn comes into view on the right. Finally, we get to the reason for all the excitement and trepidation…… Striding Edge.

It looks pretty awesome, and difficult, but as you move along it, you realise it isn’t.  Many younger and more adventurous walkers were delighting in finding the trickiest path they could.  Peter and I chose to walk along the easier bits of rock.  Not on the “safe” path lower down alongside, but not scrambling over whatever was topmost either.  And it was actually quite fun, invigorating and bringing out the child in everyone, (including the children, who were doing what kids do naturally, climbing all over everything and no doubt frightening the life out of their parents).  All the way, the Red Tarn is on your right, looking surprisingly blue and good enough to dive into.
In no time at all, we were at the other end.  At this point there is a bit of a drop if you haven’t taken the path that runs alongside!  Me being me made it difficult for myself, but I got down eventually.  I did have to move aside for a couple of mountain goats disguised as lads.  How do they do that?  They must have crossed the edge in a couple of minutes, and were probably up on Hellvellyn before I’d even got to the foot of the climb.
Now, as I said, I knew about Striding Edge and I’ve seen the pictures.  But the next bit caught me off guard, i.e. the “scramble” up the shoulder of Hellvellyn.  The first part of the climb that presented itself to me looked far too steep, I couldn’t see how I was going to get up.  For a moment I was quite worried - until Peter pointed out a different route which looked easier.  Hey Ho, onwards and upwards.
Striding Edge from Helvellyn
Finally we got to the top, and what a very flat top it is.  Flat enough to land a plane apparently, as some guy proved in 1926.  After all that uphill walking and scrambling, the top of Helvellyn is so wonderfully, pleasantly flat.  The sun shone, the air was clear and we could see for miles.  I was back on top of the world again!  Time for a well earned bite to eat, a bit of a rest, and to take loads of photo’s.
From the top of Helvellyn.  We can see forever.......
Now I should mention at this point that the place was like Waterloo Station.  There were so many people including a group of kids out on some kind of church trip.  There were girls were wearing skirts and pumps and clambering up Helvellyn like it’s playtime in the local park, families, the occasional older man or woman, and hundreds of younger people, sort of early 20’s and 30’s, absolutely relishing the opportunity to climb everything.  Amazing!  Especially when you think that Striding Edge claims regular victims. Peter made a short video, Striding Edge walkers are about a minute in, and you have to scroll through photo's to get to video at the end:  Striding Edge Walk  
Swirral Edge from Helvellyn
And then it was down again.  I personally found the Helvellyn shoulder down to Swirral Edge much easier to deal with than the other side.  True, there was a lot of scree, and you had to be careful where you put your feet, but it seemed to shorter, and in no time at all we were on a nice easy path.

Our way home
Sadly, my camera battery ran out as we started to come down and I didn’t manage to get any pictures of the pretty stream or the old mine workings as we followed the route alongside Red Tarn and Glenridding Becks back to the town.  Shame, because the sun was beginning to lower, and the light was lovely.
And then there was our car ready to take us home.  Another challenging and tiring walk, but once again, looking back, I'm glad we've done it.  I think I might even want to do it again.

Info from Peter: Route & directions and Peter's journal entry

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Pike O’Blisco and Crinkle Crags.

We arrived at Langdale Camp Site Monday, and after a very poor night’s sleep on my part, we started the first of our three planned walks on Tuesday.  Initially, it looked like it would rain any minute, so I put my heavy waterproof on. Peter on the other hand thought the weather would improve and didn’t bother.  Turns out he was right and within 10 minutes we started stripping off.  It did stay cloudy, but it was warm, and no rain.

Looking up at Pike Of Blisco
We started by walking up towards Side Pike.  I was tired and finding it difficult to get into my stride and this is quite a steep hill but it was nice to be out.  At the Cattle Grid, we turned away from Side Pike and made our way up to Wrynose fell.  (More steep hills!)  With all thoughts of an easy day now beaten out of my mind, we walked from Wrynose Fell to the top of the Pike of Blisco.    

According to our map we’d climbed just short of 2000ft, or 600 mtrs by now and we’d taken aaaaaaages over it.  I blame it only my normal slowness added to the fact I was very tired. Luckily, the views were handsome and Peter had plenty of opportunity to take pictures whilst he waited for me.  The birds up there were either very large crows or ravens.  I think they were ravens because they sounded different.  Rather than CAWing, they were CROWing, and at one point they were HAH HAH HAHing (at me perhaps?) 
Looking back at the Pike of Blisco from Crinkle Crags
From Pike O’Blisco, we walked down to Browney Gill which is fed by Red Tarn (work that one out).  At the bottom, we came across an interesting couple wild camping.  Interesting because they were not a young couple - easily in their 50s or more- and obviously much hardier animals than I.  We were on the level for all of three minutes (my legs had forgotten what that felt like), then started back up towards the Crinkle Crags.  I had finally managed to wake up, but at cross purposes - now my head was awake and enthusiastic, the body was starting to slow down.  Now though, the sun was breaking through the clouds to encourage us on.

Peter Climbing "The Bad Step"
The five Crinkle Crags are sort of fun, you have to get up and over each one (and other smaller outcrops) as you move towards the Three Tarns and Bow Fell.  This includes climbing over the “Bad Step” to reach the peak of the highest Crag - Long Top.  It wasn’t until we got there that I remembered I’d seen a video on U Tube  Climbing down the Bad Step  I also remember thinking I didn’t want to do that! 
But we were here now, so, after watching Peter climb up and deciding that the other options and “scrambles” weren’t really for me, I followed him. I’m not a climber, or a scrambler and at one point I had a mini panic because I wasn’t sure my leg could lift me the distance required, but I did it.  (I awarded myself a chocolate bar for that)

Looking down from The Crinkle Crags to Oxendale and Langdale
Gunson Knott on the left
Although they are fun, the Crags are also hard work, and as we got further and further on, we were beginning to wonder when they would end.   We finally we got past the last one, (quite a lump) and reached the Three Tarns. 
At this point, with sore feet, we decided to take an easier route down than planned, and followed the path down The Band which is relatively gentle, with a lot of stones set into steps to stop erosion.  Walking on, and on, and on, and further down the hill made me wonder how far we had gone up to be taking so long to get down…….. 2800ish ft apparently.

Our route home, the Band on the left,
Langdale Fell and Langdale Pikes on the right
After a very long and hard walk (for me anyway), we finally got back to the campsite, and after the quickest wash and freshen up possible, we were on our way to the Sticklebarn for a hot meal, fresh coffee for me and Guinness for Peter.  Looking back I think we underestimated how tiring this walk can be, but I am glad we did it. I feel a better, fitter walker each time I am pushed like this. 

Today (Wednesday’s) weather forecast was for rain, rain, rain. (An excellent excuse for a day to recover). We decided to miss our second days walking to amble around Ambleside and check out the many, many walking shops in the town.  We also had lunch at Bilbo’s CafĂ©.  I recommend!
Info from Peter:  Route & directions. and Peter's journal entry

3 Days Camping in the Lake District

Before anything, I should explain that Peter is an experienced walker and camper.  He spent much of his earlier years wandering the countryside with a tent on his back, pitching it wherever he’d got to by the end of the day.  I have no such background.
This camping trip was a trial run for our C2C next year.  We bought an extremely lightweight tent, perfect for two, some extremely lightweight self inflating ground mats and couple of other items that needed replacing. If you read my last post, you’ll know I wasn’t sure about this trip.  Previous experience of sleeping on the ground tells me I am not good at it.  Peter was dead enthusiastic though, and really pleased with our purchases.  So we turned up at the Great Langdale campsite, got our pitch number and found our allocated patch of grass.

But as for the camping experience…………  Well.

Not Good:
·  The mats we’d bought were very very good, even I recognised that.  But they were not good enough for a couple of mature, less practiced folk.  Ooooh…. Stiff joints!

·  Langdale doesn’t allow you park your car next to the tent, which had been part of our plan. We ended up storing more in our little tent than originally intended.
Our little tent, tiny in comparison.

·  Rain.

·  The tent is so lightweight it’s perfect to carry on the C2C.  But it’s small, and there isn’t room to do much but sleep in it.

·  Why is it OK for grown women to walk to the shower block in their pyjamas?  People seem to lower their privacy settings.  Is it just me that finds this weird?

·  Listening to the woman in the tent nearby tell off her husband and kids, reminded us of the Howler Mrs Weasley sent Ron in The Chamber of Secrets.  This woman was much scarier tho’.

·  I have no experience of other campsites.  I can only tell you that this one had everything: little shop with weather forecast and milk, loos and showers clean enough to use, laundry room, even the kitchen sinks!     

·  Our little camp stove and the £2.50 lamp we bought.

·  Waking up in the morning to sunshine and drinking the morning coffee with those views.

Would I do it again?  Only with comfier sleeping arrangements.  But we’re working on that.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A short break

I don't quite know how I ended up agreeing, but we are going camping next week.  Just three days in the Lake District, but I am sure that will be plenty.  We'll have three days walking too, if my legs survive the climbs.

The questions going through my head are "Will it be comfy enough on that roll mat thing to sleep?  Will I last three days?  How long would it take to pack up and come home in the middle of the night?  Will Peter abandon me at the top a hill somewhere cos I'm tired n crabby? And why does everyone keep talking about rain?"
I'll know by this time next week!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Cautley Spout

Peter has been here before and wanted to revisit. We are both fans of The Walking Englishman, and with his help, Peter came up with a walk which included the waterfall and a wander around the Howgills beyond.  As usual, I had very little idea of what to expect, I just knew the word "climb" had been mentioned.
Cross Keys Inn is white.  We're going right at the bin.

We drove out and parked next to the Cross Keys, (the white building in the picture) which is a "temperance" non alcoholic inn  I didn't know such places existed.  It has it's own history here.

Over the bridge into another world
We took a path on the right, down some steps through the trees and across a little bridge over the river Rawthey.  For me it was like stepping through the wardrobe, there wasn't a lion or a witch to greet us, but it did seem like we had transported into another world.  And, as usual it just got better.  As always, plenty of sheep to see, and  several horses, grouped together and looking very fed up.  I don't think they're completely wild, but they seemed to roam freely.

We walked across the floor of the valley, (another one created by a glacier) towards the waterfall.  Like the bottom of High Cup, the ground is mostly wet, with loads of little springs appearing, rushing and bubbling to join the main stream, Cautley Holme Beck,.  The sounds of becks and streams and running water was constant from this point forward.  Wherever we went on this walk, there was the rush and bubble, trickle and gurgle of water near by.
We could see the Spout from way back, and it just got more and more impressive as we got closer. According to Wiki, it's the highest cascade waterfall above ground, falling a total of 650ft. Not deliberate, but we picked a really good day to see it because it had been raining for two days previous and there was plenty of water gushing over the top.

So, onwards and upwards, and upwards, and upwards.  It wasn't a real climb as there are steps most of the way.  But it is all the way up, steep and hard work.  And AWESOME.  I kept thinking, "How can anyone not be impressed by this?"  I could not stop taking pictures.   A photo can't capture the splendour of the falls or the views, but that didn't stop me trying.
The top falls at Cautley Spout.  Amazing
View from the top

Red Gill Beck

At the the top we continued the walk mapped out by the Walking Englishman, but we took a wrong turn. Very happily we decided later, because we ended up following Red Gill Beck and then Force Gill Beck to Bram Rigg Top.  And we loved it.  It felt truly wild and untouched.

From there we followed the "highway" (an obviously well used, gravelled path) to the trig point at the top of The Calf.  It felt like being on top of the world.  I knew we were high up, cos everything else was below us.  We could see as far out as Morecombe Bay on the West coast, across as far as Pen-Y-Ghent in the South East, with the Howgill Fells to the North and East of us.  Magnificent!
And the Howgills are magnificent.  The name Howgill apparently comes from Old Norse.  "Huagr" means hill and "Gil"means narrow valley.  And that is exactly what they are, a series of hills and valleys. They've been described as sleeping elephants.  If so, the sleeping beasts are covered in quilts - there aren't any real cliffs to these hills, they appear like rolls of dough.  But boy, are those slopes steep!  Even the sheep struggled to get up them. There is very little life about, just swathes of grass and sheep.....and water! You'd think it would drain off down the steep slopes, but no, we got wet feet up there too.  No matter, the views were breathtaking.
Walking on, we once again we took a wrong turn, or in this case a wrong straight.  That is, we walked little further along the top of the hill than intended and ended up getting down using the channel gouged out by some unnamed beck, mostly on my bottom.  (Not totally true, but we did need sticks to keep us upright, and they didn't always succeed in my case.)
From there we followed the beck up Bowderdale, with it's steep sides, to Bowderdale head, still with the sounds running water all around us.  Once at top, Cautley Spout was to our right and we descended back down the steep, knee crunching hill into the glacial valley of Cautley Holme Beck, finally arriving back at the little bridge, very tired, but very satisfied. Once at the car, even as we were taking our boots off, I said to Peter "We have to go there again".  Absolutely Class!
Info from Peter: Route & directions. and Peter's journal entry

Cautley Spout Video

Monday, 1 August 2011

A visit to Cumbria and a walk from the village of Dufton to High Cup Nick

Dufton is a very lovely little village in the Eden Valley, just a short distance outside Appleby.   Peter had planned a walk where we followed Pennine Way which travels through the village to make our way up the hill and to the tip of the glacial valley called High Cup.  Apparently, "High Cup Nick" is the "pointy" bit at the very tip of the valley (I think).  
View from Dodd Hill half way up the path.
Peter described the walk up the hill as a gentle climb -  or a long slog!  For the unfit such as myself, you can add the words very and hard, but it is well worth it.  It's not long before you reach a height where the views expand out below you and it just keeps getting better from there on. 
The path going up was quite busy, and the first couple we met coming down asked if we were going to descend into the valley.  When Peter said yes, they commented that they had been unable to see how it could be done, which is why they were coming back the way they had came.  Ooooer!  Seeds of doubt planted! 
Moving onwards and upwards, we eventually made our way through a few hillocks and over the grass to the edge of the valley.  Fantastic views of steep cliff edges giving way to the classic U of a glacial valley.  A geography teachers dream!  This is where we sat down to have a bite to eat, overlooking this awesome sight.  Admittedly, at that vantage point, and bearing in mind the comments of the earlier walkers, we couldn't see how we were going to descend into the valley either.  But Peter was confident there must be a way, because the path along the valley floor was plain to see.
View from High Cup Nick

Then, a bit more walking and we got to High Cup Nick.  There were loads of people there, and it was obvious why, the views down the valley are magnificent. 

We managed to climb down the cliff (easy),
and then the slope (not easy)

Now, to get down......  Me n Peter had a good look and decided that despite first appearances, it would be quite easy to get down the cliff part of the descent. From there though is a very steep grassy slope.  Peter had brought walking sticks for this very reason, and we used them to keep us upright as we carefully stepped down. I would say those sticks were absolutely essential for this part of the walk.

Onwards and downwards, across the scree into the valley bottom.  We had seen rain water collect into little waterfalls and streams at the top, but it disappeared into sink holes and underground streams.  Here at the bottom, springs appeared all over, and the cool fresh flow hurried off to join the gill. It becomes quite a stream by the time it leaves the valley.  Peter said he wouldn't fancy being at the bottom in wet weather.  Actually, being at the bottom in dry weather wasn't that good either, the ground was soaking and our feet kept sinking into it.
I'm always on the lookout for new birds and bees to learn about, but it is Peter that always sees them first.  Particularly herons it seems - the one he spotted this time it was very large and darker than most.  Lovely. 
View of High Cup Nick from High Cup House
Eventually we got to High Cup House (or farm) at the entrance to the valley.  Even from there the views were wonderful.  A lovely place to live I should think.  Tired and footsore, we made our way from there past skittish young beef cattle (which always make me nervous) and settled Fresian dairy cattle through fields to eventually arrive back at Dufton and our car.  

Another lovely lovely day.  Info from Peter:  Route & directions.       and Peter's journal entry