One point I'd not raised in the review of my year was that despite feeling as if I was going to the same crags all the time I visited fifteen crags or venues that I'd never been to before. This equates to around 25% of all days out on the crag which isn't bad. Obviously it gets harder and harder to visit new places though there are quite a lot of crags that either I haven't visited for many years, in some cases over twenty, or have only visited once. Still plenty to go at to keep me enthused, especially in Scotland.
The weather has definitely turned now - mild and wet is the order of the day. No good for low lying ice-falls but it should help bring the higher stuff in to condition with proper freeze - thaw cycles.
Last weekend was a bit of a washout - literally! My usual partners were either busy or not available so I decided to get some winter hill fitness in - walking in plastic boots and with a heavy sack. Went to the Howgills on Saturday for a walk up past Cautley Spout, now back to being a waterfall - there's more ice on the path by the river than on the falls themselves - before heading up on to The Calf. I'd not been up the valley behind the spout before, I'd run along the edge of Cautley Crags then on to Yarlside but it was new ground though little view due to the low cloud level. Out of the mist appeared a sheepfold and what I thought at first to be a hut but it turned out to be a fancy spire built in to the corner of the sheepfold with the inner quadrant removed. Think three quarters of a cake. Whatever the reason it was an impressive example of dry stone walling.
Shortly after I thought I was heading too far along the valley and ought to cut up to The Calf. By the time I got on to the summit plateau visibility was only in the tens of metres and there was a driving wind carrying sleet and hail. After some slight relocation I came to the summit trig point and another party. Easiest now to head along the Borrowdale track, which I'd been only a few metres from on my approach to the summit. This was very icy until down beneath cloud base and it was easier to walk to the side. By the time I got to the col below Yarlside I wasn't too fussed in heading up in to the mirk again so headed back to the car.
Sunday began with driving rain so after a lot of prevarication by which time things had cleared up I set off up the local top - which I used to go up for my training runs - this time with a full sack of winter kit, it felt as if it was all metal! Let's just say that I'd a good sweat going on the climbs. By the time I got home after a couple of hours or so, I was rather mucky so had to wash boots and overtrousers under the outdoor tap. Let's just hope that the winter weather returns...