Monday, 26 March 2012

Three down, Four to go!

Things are getting a bit repetitive! Another day in the Lakes, another of Wainwright's books completed. This time it was the Far Eastern Fells. 

After a very foggy start when leaving home we broke in to the sunshine around Settle and had bright sunshine for the rest of the day. Cath dropped me off at The Queen's Head in Troutbeck and headed off to go mountain biking. The target was to pick up the last four tops on a linear route to Howtown, the first few kilometres were on tarmac but then it was up hill on to the lowest fell in the book, Troutbeck Tongue. The boggy ground to the north mentioned by Wainwright was fairly dry so soon I was on the first of the big climbs of the day up the old Roman Road on to the ridge leading to High Street.

This was very warm work despite taking it steady, the only people I saw were a couple of fell runners. The ridge itself was fairly quiet until Thornthwaite Beacon and along the ridge to Gray Crag where I lunched. Then it was a steep drop down to the outflow of Hayeswater and back up to climb on to Rest Dodd.

The sun was taking its toll now and I wished I'd brought a hat to provide some shade. One more top to do, The Nab, and it's one that used to be out of bounds as it lies within the Martindale Deer Reserve but these days access is permitted. Fortunately the very boggy ground between the two tops was nearly dry so it made for easy, well cushioned walking. 

With just a surprisingly steep descent down in to Martindale there remained only another long section of tarmac to gain the pier at Howtown and grab the ferry to Pooley Bridge for some well earned scram before Cath arrived and we headed home.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Two Down, Five to Go

With fine weather promised for Sunday it was time for another trip over to the Lakes. This week's target was to finish off the tops in Book Six - The North Western Fells. I'd only five left to do but they were spread out in four groups so no simple pickings.

I've reached the point where walking poles are a necessity not an affectation but I'd forgotten where we'd stored them so quite a bit of time was spent locating them - senility!

The advantage of early starts ( 5:30AM!) is that the roads are pretty clear so getting over to the Lakes is relatively painless. So it was before 8am when I left Buttermere for the first top, Rannerdale Knotts. There had been some spring snowfall on the higher tops and with the sun yet to reach the valley it was pretty nippy for the first climb. Once on the ridge it was simply a matter of traversing the false summits to the true summit. Being separated from the main mass of fells means that it is a wonderful viewpoint and with the snow on the high fells it was a classic Lakeland spring scene.

Look up towards Buttermere from Rannerdale Knotts

Back to the car then up to Newlands Hause for the Ard Crags - Knott Rigg ridge. Apart from the initial climb this is very easy walking, slightly spoilt by having to retrace my steps as there's no sensible alternative return route. I was finally getting used to the walking poles. Again these are small summits set apart from the main tops so the views are better than you'd expect.

Pillar and the High Stile range from Knott Rigg

Then it was on to Barrow - parking close to the wonderfully named Uzzicar Farm. Finally I began to see other walkers on the fells - I'd begun to think that there was a ban on stepping away from the road. The last top in the book was Castle Crag in Borrowdale, the lowest top in all seven books. Unsurprisingly this was the busiest with a large and noise family at the summit.

Skiddaw from Barrow

My current tally of fells from the seven books is:

Book One: completed
Book Two: 4
Book Three: 8
Book Four: 2
Book Five: 19
Book Six: completed
Book Seven: 9

I had originally considered doing a hill or two out of the central fells book as well but my legs felt I'd had enough so headed home among the crowds on the A65.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Back on the Bike

A bit of biking this weekend: mountain biking on Saturday and road on Sunday, plus an explanation for a persistent ache.

Cath wanted to go biking on Saturday but having not been out on any bike for ages, I didn't want to do something too technical so we ended up biking on the lanes around Bank Newton, West Marton and Coniston Cold. I hadn't been on many of the lanes and those I had I'd only ever done in the opposite direction so it all felt quite new. It was pretty muddy though :-)

Sunday saw me heading out on the winter bike for a quick blast over to Colne and back. It all felt quite hard work though there was a bit of a breeze for the first half. Fortunately biking in to work on Tuesday was a bit easier so maybe it was just winter cobwebs.

My shoulder is still sore so I had the physio look at it on Monday: whiplash is the likely explanation. Certainly hurts and I'm hoping the exercises I got given sort it out.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Lakes and Wales

A double header this weekend. Another couple of Wainwrights visited on Saturday and a trip to a couple of new to me crags on Sunday.

The fells on the western edge of the Lakes are pretty remote for those of us that don't live in West Cumberland hence there's a reasonable number of outlying tops that I've never been to. As usual they aren't in convenient groups so it's a case of picking off the odd top here and there. Having dropped Cath off in Broughton to go mountain biking I headed over a very foggy Corney Fell to the west coast and then up towards Ennerdale Bridge. The targets were Lank Rigg and Grike, the westernmost fell in the Lakes. 

Unusually the walk began with a long steady descent in to an intervening valley. It was while walking along this that I heard the sound of fell hounds braying, eventually I saw them on the skyline and after a few minutes they were scouring the hillside. The next time I looked a fox, their quarry, was heading towards me and was perhaps only 50 metres away. Five minutes later and the hounds swept past me, pausing only to sniff me and check that I wasn't what they were after. Then once again the valley fell quiet and it was on with the walk.

The clag hadn't lifted by the time I got to the summit of Lank Rigg so it was on over the interestingly named Whoap to join up with the route of the Ennerdale Horseshoe. While sheltering behind the Ennerdale Fence (actually a substantial stone wall) some of the hunt followers went by, so obviously the fox was still evading them. I wasn't totally sure if I'd been on Crag Fell so visited the top just to make sure, then it was on over boggy ground to Grike before heading back to the car just before a heavy shower passed over.

The clag had cleared by now and there were wonderful views of the western fells on the way back.

Looking in to Wasdale from the west coast road.

With a band of rain passing over the country, Sunday's plan was to head west and get the other side of it. We ended up at Dyserth climbing on a couple of south facing crags that were out of the chill NW wind. Our first venue was Waterfall Crag where we did six routes which were pleasant enough - without seriously upping our game to get on the routes over the big roof we effectively did all the routes we could.

Myself climbing at Waterfall Crag

The second crag was Dyserth Castle Quarry which is basically an easy angled, 60deg or so, slab with four main routes from F6a to F6b+. Genesis, the 6b+, was the best of the lot as the rock was reasonable quality, that on the others was very friable and just the weight of the rope rubbing across the surface was enough to loosen material. I didn't lead any of these as I don't seem to have got my head in order regarding climbing and was also concerned about my knees should I fall.

Gaz on the F6a+ at the right side of the main slab

Mike casting a shadow on Genesis - F6b+ on the main slab at Dyserth Castle.