Thursday, 24 November 2011

Outriggers and Outliers

Following on from last week's short walk I was up for some more. A perusal of the map and the appropriate Wainright guide identified two possible circuits in the Eastern Fells suitable for ticking off some more minor fells. I'd a choice between a circuit based on Fairfield or one further north around Glencoyne, both would take in three tops. In the end I decided on the latter as it was an area I didn't know as well as that to the south.

A 6AM start in very thick fog got me to Ullswater for around 8AM with little let up in the fog. After a chat to the farmer at Glencoyne farm it was onward and upward, the initial ascent being interrupted by a fox running past, the first I've seen in the Lakes away from the family farm. Originally I was going to do the circuit anti-clockwise but as I was climbing I figured that the opposite direction might be better. So Glenridding Dodd became the first top, quite a nice top and I'm sure that the view is also very nice, except there wasn't one!

Getting on to Sheffield Pike was just a steady climb with the occasional rock step and boggy section. I pulled out of the fog about 200m before the summit and in to the sun. A runner appeared at the top just before I got there - the only person I saw on this walk. A quick chat and we went our separate ways. As I dropped down to the col and back in to the fog I noticed a Brocken Spectre with Glory (the rainbow).

Brocken Spectre and Glory on Sheffield Pike

Something I'd not seen before was a white ring much further out than the glory, I'm not sure if this is an artefact of the phenomenon or not. The post in the photo is an old boundary marker from the Marshall estate. Brocken Spectres are much more common than most people realise, basically it's your shadow cast on to clouds usually from the sun low in the sky. The rest is simple physics.

On the other side of the col was a short steep pull then it was just a grassy stroll round to the last top - Hart Side - all of 20 metres above the surrounding ground. Getting back to the car was done by the simple fell runner's tactic of straight down hill to join the outward path.

Looking south from Hart Side to Fairfield and Helvellyn. The cloudy col is where I saw the Brocken Spectre.

To the North West of Ullswater are three isolated fells: Gowbarrow, Little Mell and Great Mell, none of which I'd ever set foot on. Getting these done was a simple matter of driving to park the car somewhere suitable and a quick up and down. In the case of Little Mell Fell this took all of twenty minutes, possibly the easiest fell in all the books to achieve. There were quite a few walkers out on these tops also getting the ticks done.

With the day's objectives done it was time to head home.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Lakeland Fells

With the rather dull and damp weather we've been having lately climbing has taken a back seat so on Sunday I headed over to the Lakes to do a bit of fell walking.

I'd done some checking in my records and other than the three tops of Skiddaw, Great Calva and Blencathra done whilst recceing or doing the Bob Graham Round I'd only done two fells that I'd not done before 1990! (And one of those, Rosthwaite Fell, was done during the Borrowdale fell race).

An area that I'd only been to twice before was Martindale: once after work for a run on the northern end of the High Street ridge and once to climb at Thrang Crags (so good I never went nor wanted to go back). An early start saw me get to a parking spot at the end of the ridge of Beda Fell. 

Steady walking soon led to the summit and from there a long broad ridge led to Angletarn Pikes. Mostly uninteresting ground, only livened by a kestrel and coming across a stag - unfortunately he saw me as I was getting my camera out. A quick drop down to the tarn and then round to Brock Crags, which to be honest isn't the most prominent of tops. In fact a lot of the "tops" in this area are really little more than bumps and in somewhere like Scotland the whole range would only be considered as one or two tops.

After some lunch alone on the summit of Brock Crags I had a choice, either head east and pick up a couple of tops but this would mean leaving Place Fell as a lone top to come back for so I headed west and down to the col and then up the graded path towards its summit.

There were a few people round the summit but once I began heading back north along the ridge there were only a few walkers. The ridge had a steep drop down at the end but soon I was back at the car having another four tops in the bag.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Christmas Cracker Sportive 2011

It's been a while since I posted anything which is as much because I haven't really being doing a great deal. 

We had a rather greasy day at Giggleswick South a couple of weeks ago, even doing a route or two that I'd not done before. It's not a particularly good crag, though there are some good routes if you look around, so it's best treated as an outdoor climbing wall.

Most weekend activity has been biking in preparation for yesterday's Christmas Cracker Sportive in the Lakes, brought forward as the last two have been affected by severe weather. As it happened, the weather was glorious with not a cloud in the sky and little or no wind.

An early start saw us in Grasmere with me doing battle with the car park's telephone payment system - seven minutes of "press this button", "Did you mean ... ?" only to be told right at the end that my card type wasn't accepted! Coins in the slot worked. Registration done and once the safety info had been given out we were away.

The first mile or so is easy pedalling. This can't be said for the next half mile, also known as Red Bank. Whether it was the cold morning air or me just being out of condition I'm not sure, but there was some serious gasping going on. Fortunately that's the hardest climb on the whole route and I didn't feel too bad once I'd got warmed up. Going alongside Coniston Water I was grabbing an energy bar when I was passed by a couple of riders who were just that little bit faster than I was going so I got on to their back wheel and soon we were at the A590 crossing.

The next section is the fastest of the route and we got to the food stop at Cartmel just on the 2hr mark. I didn't stop too long as I was starting to chill so left them to enjoy the log fire and set off on the return leg. The start is actually the second big climb on the route but it's a series of short climbs of varying gradients and you don't really notice that you climb as much as you actually do, it's only the big descent back down to Haverthwaite that gives it away. Back across the A590 and then up through Rusland to Grizedale (via a short detour because of bridge repairs). I get to Grizedale in exactly three hours and grab an energy gel before the last of the big climbs over to Hawkshead.

A quick check of the cracking views of the eastern fells from the top of the climb before the steep descent down to Hawkshead (quite a few cyclists were heading the other way) then it was just rolling terrain to Ambleside, some of the climbs just seemed wrong and felt hard work whereas others felt OK. Finally there was just a busy (and semi submersed) Loughrigg Terrace where I got my only mechanical - my chain came off - then the main road back to Grasmere.

I clocked 3:49 of actual cycling time but there's the added time of the food stop which took it just over the four hour mark at 4:06. (Results here ) Even so, my time for last year's event, held in Feb this year(!) was 4:47 so much quicker. A quick change and some food later I sat in the sun waiting for Cath. She was also an hour quicker than her previous time so obviously some of the LEJOG fitness is still there.

A quick look at some bike porn in Staveley on the way home and the day was complete. Definitely tired when we got in to the house. This morning was quite frosty so a gentle ride in was in order, I took nearly as long as going home can do! I think it's time to swap to the old bike for the winter commutes.