A few outings in the lakes, 2012-2016

12/8/12 Coniston Old Man

Yesterday my wife and I drove through from Red Lodge in the Trent valley, to the Lakes. We stayed at High Grassings near Hawkshead, and had an OK dinner at the Queen’s Head in Hawkshead. Today a good walk up the Old Man of Coniston via Brown Pike and Dow Crag, starting by a long trek up the Walna Scar Road. There was a rain shower when we were on the top. It’s a long walk down through Goat Water and Lever’s Water and past the copper workings. This was the first time ever that my wife has joined me on a proper hillwalk.

7/8/14 Jacks Rake

Today a slow start walking up to Stickle Tarn in bright sunshine. From Stickle Tarn we walked round to the start of Jack’s Rake and climbed up it. I had climbed Jack’s Rake alone, with a big rucksack almost 25 years ago. I knew I could do it; I knew it could be done. We succeeded, though it took twice as long as if I’d done it alone. From the top we went to High Raise, and then back down to the top of Mickleden, and on home. That is to describe in a few lines, a long and pleasant afternoon’s hillwalking, for we were not home and dry until after 6pm. An eight hour day. Then after a quick shower, into the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel for supper. Good solid tucker for £21 total for two us. A couple of pints of Lakeland lager at 5% left me feeling pleasantly p*ssed, and shivering with cold, though it was a fine evening.

26/6/15 Blencathra via Sharp Edge

My son and I set off for the Lakes taking the Kirkstone Pass – because we could. We stopped briefly near Aira Force, but had no change for car park fees levied by the National Trust – £5 for two hours. We’d bought lunch from the corner shop in Patterdale. We drove through to Scales and set off up Blencathra at about 2pm. He hared off ahead of me in fine fettle; the weather was good.

As we got into the corrie of Blea Tarn, the weather broke big time, and our scramble up Sharp Edge was lethal. Conditions were very greasy and slippery underfoot. The mist was down, and for a time it rained quite heavily. The youth struggled with confidence and technique in foot and hand placement, and we got up Sharp Edge only after long meditation and careful consideration. In any case, to withdraw from Sharp Edge in those conditions would have been even more – much more – hazardous than going on. An ascent of the Sharp Edge of Blencathra is no mean achievement in ANY conditions.

So on and up we went and soon finished. We were further encouraged by three friendly men making their way slowly up the ridge with much talk and laughter.

After the summit we descended through pleasant afternoon sunshine to the car, and drove directly to Honister Hause YHA. We checked in and had the cup of tea we as Englishmen had been desiring for some time. I saw that Youth Hostels are now licensed. Supper was steak (for me) and Cumberland Sausage (for Nat) at the Fish Hotel in Buttermere, taken outside, on a very clear and pleasant evening.

Next day, it turned out that my son had slept poorly, but I was fine. We went to the Honister slate mine, which was an inspiring and excellent experience, good value for money. Thence a walk from Seathwaite, Borrowdale, and on up to Taylorgill Force and back.

Taylorgill Force on the path up to Sty Head, Borrowdale
Taylorgill Force

The walk back down was enlivened, as I recall, by having to provide technical and moral assistance to a group of young DofE bronze expedition hikers who had been sent this way by their teachers, who clearly knew nothing of the route at all. The main route over Styhead – a veritable motorway amongst Lake District paths – lies on the left bank of the beck going uphill. There is a much narrower and considerably less frequented path on the right bank; you would have to know from experience that it is over very steep ground above rapids. A very close reading of the high scale 1:25000 map does tell you that, but anyone might miss that. The teachers had clearly made neither a recce visit nor a close reading of the map. They had no idea what they were doing sending Bronze DofE pupils (14 year olds) with big rucsacs along such a route. When we got down, the concerned teachers saw us and asked if we had seen their charges. We told them we had; the youngsters were safe, if shaken. I held my tongue and said nothing more: it’s not worth it. Thence, down for tea in the Scafell Hotel, and then back home.