An 11 day trip spread between The Lakes, Skye & The Lakes, a lot happened so you’ll be relieved to know that I am going to split it into 3 Blogs so that you can decide which bit if any is of interest to you. From my point of view all were memorable but Skye stands majestically way above the clouds (reality they & me were blanketed in them most of the time) as my personal high point & seems to have left me having finally moved on from the lows created by that Alpine bloody Rock!
Part 1 – The Lakes on the way up & on the way back.
Having called in at the Cafe un-unexpectedly to say goodbye to Dorina on the morning of Wednesday 31st August (the very least she deserves) I was surprised to see Georg had already supplanted me in ‘my’ chair, whilst the Cats away………..
Keswick was busy when I arrived at circa 4:00pm but a more than in hope than anything else at the Lynwood B & B was rewarded by Melissa admitting ‘the sign says No but yes it’s lying, we have a room for you’. It was a pleasant but cloudy late afternoon but with clouds above most summits there was only time to un-pack some running gear & I was off. Newlands Horseshoe, finally I would get to see what all the fuss about Catbells was all about. Parking up at just after 5:00pm a group of returning walkers no doubt thought it was a bit late to be starting. 20 minutes later I passed the human race for the last time & had the Horseshoe to myself for the rest of the evening. An exhilarating run taking in 6 summits (Wainwright’s being my purpose for The Lakes element of the trip) over some 22K with approx. 1,350 metres of ascent was concluded in a little under 3 hours despite the longer than expected road section at the end (note to self, is this the Bob Graham Round notorious road ending?) saw me reach the car just before needing to dig out the headtorch. Simply great start, now for food & wine!
Thursday dawned brightly but with a forecast of rain later in the afternoon, no rest for the Wainwright Bagger, by 09:10 I was parked at Braithwaite & heading off into the North Western fells with Grasmere as my high point target. Here I have to pick a little at Mr. Wainwright, with two more ‘Wainwright’ summits in the bag I head off for the obvious 3rd in what will be a long sequence, 20 minutes later I’m on it & confidently check the map for my next steps, what, you are kidding me, this isn’t a bloody Wainwright!’ Was it the scramble down onto it’s out & back ridge that put him off, or was it covered in mist & he failed to consult a map (as I had). Ahh well, it’s a summit & was worth doing even if some walkers I’d passed earlier thought, what’s he going over there for?
Some seven & a half hours after leaving Braithwaite I was arriving back there but no rest for the Bagger, a short hop in the car saw me parking at the Winlatter forest park to target the fell with the same name. A further hour (should have been less but I will confess at struggling to find the footpath at the start of the climb) I was again back at the car to complete an excellent day, just below the clouds & having avoided the rain. 15 Peaks of which 11 were Wainwright’s (should be 12!) over some 31K with circa 2,350 metres of ascent, ‘Paul this is going well, when do I begin bragging to the FL?’. Excellent Seafood Risotto & you guessed, Wine, were my self-inflicted reward.
Friday dawned, cloudy but dry although to the South West it looked grim, my path though was initially heading East as I parked up at the foot of the Watenlath road in Borrowdale at 09:20. All started well but somewhere between the 2nd & 3rd summit I began to think ‘this path is beginning to get annoyingly boggy, I’m a runner not a long jumper!’. Things as they so often do went from un-pleasant to bad to worse. Descending off the 3rd summit with the bogs multiplying like rabbits I looked up, ‘shit’, some 500 metres away was something big, black & scary, a real maneater & I was heading towards it. I don’t think any walker likes a bog but by now I had already been on my own for nearly two hours, I had not even seen another sole let alone passed one, if I was going into a bog no one would hear me scream.
So what happened, well I gave up being a runner & became a long jumper, once though this new mantra was not enough, right foot landed, right foot sunk, the rest of me over, right foot stuck, shoe or me, thankfully neither, deep breaths, act slowly, slowly the sucking sensation stopped & my foot together with shoe inch by inch left the black abyss. This was the worse it got but the next hour or so continued to be nervy & un-pleasant, bloody ‘W’, Why haven’t the National Park sorted this ‘path’ out? In truth by now I had just given up on paths & was navigating by sight & gut alone. Approaching the 6th summit, ‘what’s that, a human, it’ll be good to talk’. Reality he seemed more pissed off with his surroundings than me declaring this summit to be the bleakest in the Lakes, couldn’t let that go, ‘you should try High Tove mate if you think this is wet’. He did have the grace to admit ‘I don’t go over there these days’. Trying to brighten the conversation I turned to Skye, he asked was I going to do the ‘In. Pin’, well I hope so at which point he informed me he’d done it twice. It wasn’t the best conversation I’ve ever had on a summit but I felt back in the realm of people & soon we both moved on, little did I know that the best was still to come!
The 8th peak was Eagle Crag situated at the Southern end of Borrowdale, easy to reach on my circuit but then a steep descent back to the valley before a frustrating re-climb loomed towards Watenlath. Now here I have history, wrong line off the end, I was immediately into a scramble from hell. It was wet, sheer & I was in trouble, the point of no return came & went & I was still in trouble, bum slid over all kinds of slime (I didn’t care as long as it was the safest way to salvation), hands gripped at great hand-holds such as heather & blades of grass, eyes looked at the drops, mind calculated the consequences, bowels remained calm but in truth my shorts were by now so plastered that observers, had there been any, would have been forgiven for thinking otherwise. Finally the relative safety was reached, look left, a proper scramble route, f…… idiot!
The day had reached & passed it’s low point, the sky brightened, two more ‘W’s’ & then a long walk back down a delightful path (have raced up it more than once during the Keswick Mountain Festival) reaching the car some 9 or so hours after setting off but still no rest for the Bagger. As yesterday a short hop in the car saw me heading off on an out & back to bag No. 11, with glorious evening views over Derwent water with the setting sun lighting up Skiddaw for once I wasn’t alone. Three youths had chosen the spot too, quite honestly who could blame them.
It had been a mixed day, distance again 31K with a lesser 1,800 metres of ascent despite taking two hours longer than the day before, bog jumping & bum sliding apparently are not the fastest sports around. On reflection a great day despite the nerves & the idiot.
It was then a sojourn to Skye before returning to The Lakes on the following Friday a day ahead of schedule. This time a late afternoon arrival didn’t work so well, no room at the Lynwood, no room at two Inns, finally in Ambleside a B & B said yes but only for one night. The heavens opened, I’m not running in that!
Saturday dawned, the Fairfield Horseshoe beckoned (with two out & back variants) & the weather had cleared to leave a bright day. 5.5 hours later 10 peaks completed including 9 new ‘W’s’ bagged I was back in Ambleside when disaster struck. I had done well, the short day would allow me to get back to the Cafe by early evening, I had generally under-eaten during the trip, I deserved an Ice Cream! ‘That’s new, a Magnum Pink, Raspberry flavour, I like Raspberries, I’ll give it a try’. Two minutes later my fears were realised, even the chocolate was Pink. I’m walking through Ambleside on a busy Saturday with a PINK Ice Cream & then it happened, ‘Hello, what are you doing here’, as I removed my tongue from the PINK chocolate & lifted my eyes I saw the smiling face of Jo Worrell from OVMRO! The ground didn’t open up so I stopped eating & talked about mountains.
3 Hours later I arrived back at the Cafe, Dorina’s warm embrace, plenty of self-satisfied talking to be done, a truly great trip that has firmly put me back on my feet.