Having last written 8 days ago that I needed to re-evaluate my plans for my tired body for the remainder of June hours later I looked at the forecast & decided what better way to do this than to head off to The Lakes & notch up a few ‘easy’ Wainwright’s to help me on my way to achieve one of my easier goals for the year.
By early evening on Tuesday afternoon I was pitching my tent at the Wasdalehead Inn camp site which would be my base for the next 3 days, at £5 per night a bargain!
A beautiful Wednesday dawned as I set off in running gear with 2.5 litres of fluid & assorted gels, bars & Dorina’s lovingly prepared sandwich with spirits high & Kirk Fell as my first target. Wake up call number one, what a brutal climb that was & oh dear my legs are still tired from the Welsh 1,000’s. Plan revised, keep the pace down & just do the best you can.
Soon after leaving Kirk Fell’s summit the phone rang, ‘yes Dorina I’m fine, weather here is glorious but a bit hot, I’m on my way to summit 2, will phone you from the payphone this evening’. Summit 2 wasn’t as expected, wake up call number 2, I was actually on planned summit 3!
Summit 2 was actually a long out & back away, plan revised again, do it tomorrow & head for summit 4, are you keeping up?
Next shock was a look back to the way I’d come from, oh no, small clouds building, it’s not even 9:00 am yet, thoughts of lightning pounded into my brain. Over the next 2 hours 3 more summits were ticked off, glorious views of Buttermere & the famous Haystacks summit now well behind me I reached the col between Kirk Fell & Pillar, it was decision time. Do I ignore the ominous clouds which by now had enveloped all the higher summits around me & carry on or do I bail, head back to the safety of Wasdale & spend the rest of the day feeling seriously p….. off! Feeling very much alone I turned right for Pillar & headed into the clouds, raindrops, big raindrops, concern & then illogical relief ‘I’m not the only one up here after all’.
Over the next 7 hours, needing to ration my diminishing fluids, I danced with the clouds whilst dragging my tired self from one summit to the next. Thunder was heard only 3 times, distant but not distant enough to relax, by 6:00 pm I began the descent of my penultimate summit, Red Pike, with Yewbarrow as my final goal. Only days earlier whilst reading Steve Chilton’s book about the Bob Graham Round Yewbarrow’s slopes had been described as un-pleasant climbs by more than one runner, as I looked ahead I could see why. Map checked, yes it shows a path, looks like a climb not a scramble, get over there & hope it all becomes clearer, with black clouds closing in from behind & in-front this day is anything but over!
The climb turned into an exhilarating Grade 1 scramble, then the long summit ridge led to my final descent, tricky but every step took me towards the safety of the valley. Shortly after 7:00 pm, some 12 hours after heading off, with rain falling, rainbow’s gleaming & steam rising from the cooling tarmac I trotted back into the campsite with 15 summits behind me. It had been a hard day where concerns about lightning & fluid intake had constantly plagued me but it had ended successfully, job ‘well’ done.
Day 2 was managed better despite a serious pain in my back, halfway through (after 5 hours) I revised my plans & descended back into Wasdale to have lunch & more importantly take on an extra 2 litres of fluids to make for a much more comfortable afternoon than the day before. Only 6 summits today but they’d been well spread out & included that illusive number 2 from yesterday morning. Back at the tent wake up call number 3 came into my stupid mind, the back pain that had arrived without invite overnight had a cause, I’d slept for two nights with my head lower than my feet, you idiot!!
Day 3 saw me pack up early head North & tick off two more small summits before a drive back to café was made in varying degrees of pain. Arriving back at the Café Dorina’s loving smile did not get it’s deserved reward, the back pain was draining me & thoughts were generally more of it’s only two weeks to go until the Reach Out for Nepal charity run & ‘Paul you really are in a bit of a mess’. Thanks Angel for putting up with this self-inflicting fool.
A good few Days but Wake up call number 4 was clear, ‘Paul, you have been taking the Wainwright’s for granted, they are in fact going to take a lot of hard work & good planning in an already busy schedule, time to get serious! With 23 new summits visited there are still 120 to find’!
Saturday dawned, a better sleep but still in pain as I headed off to join Maggie, Dave & Dave’s son Dyfed to Marshall in the Cwm Pennant Fell race, do I hear you say WHAT! Well commitments are commitments & I’d made this one. With it being part of the British Fell race championships I wasn’t going to let race organiser Math Roberts down. So glad I didn’t, we had a great time walking in to the summit of Moel Lefn, Dave radiod, Maggie dibbed, & young Dyfed called out the racer’s numbers as I logged them down. What a team, in the mist we only lost two runners but Check Point 5 found them so we could all relax in a job well done. Well done too Math (who also found time to finish 3rd overall picking up several places after passing us) & all of his team & of course too to all the runners who ran through & out of the mists.
Aware I am going on as ever, time to stop hitting the keyboard, I’ll return to Café news separately but soon, did I tell you about my back pain………