It is accomplished!
by The English Alpinist » Mon Mar 28, 2016 11:03 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Armboth Fell, Bleaberry Fell, High Rigg, High Seat, High Tove, Raven Crag, Walla Crag
Date walked: 25/03/2016
Time taken: 7
Distance: 25 km
Ascent: 1276m5 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
It is accomplished! 'The Wainwrights in Winter', Oct 31st 2015 - March 25th 2016. I couldn't resist the religious innuendo in the title, not least because of where I found myself after doing the final fell, but the day I happened to finish it on too. On Good Friday 7 p.m. I walked into St John's-in-the Vale Church, after coming down from the last of 214 fells (High Rigg). My physical and 'spiritual' finish line was intended to be Castlerigg Stone Circle, where I started all those weeks ago, contemplating the scale of the task ahead and the timeless mystique of nature herself. After darkness had descended, I did walk the final couple of miles to it, but on this day at least the Christian God won out over the pagan Gods. What an amazing corner of England the Lake District is, for the elements, geology, flora and fauna and history.
At 1 p.m. I struck out from the Stone Circle and the throngs of tourists, and headed for Walla Crag. I would inevitably finish in the dark, but should be off the fells before the light went. I didn't plan to start so late, but suffice it to say domestic circumstances have made it tough to shift myself, even now. It was a striking contrast to October when I had started there, being then a grey and drizzly dawn with only several other people encountered. Then a local woman had taken my pic and bade me 'be careful up there' (meaning Skiddaw). This time I was spoilt for choice for the favour, and got a guy of East European extraction to do the honours, clearly a skilled photographer (I was still relying on the camera with the bust view screen, but sentiment moi I wanted it to see me through). It was a beautiful spring day to look at, but chilly, and as it went on the sky got quite angry-looking but it never rained. The next day was forecast to be horrendous, so I really had to get this in with my deadline of British winter time ending on Sunday morning.
Bleaberry Fell was reached with ease on good paths, but between there and High Seat began hints of the dire boggy ground everybody had warned me about. At this point, from the vantage point of High Seat summit, there's a feeling of bleakness but nobility all around. The darkening clouds and strong cold wind added to this. It felt like it could not have been scripted better as a finale to the campaign, capturing an average out of season day on average-sized fells in the very heart of the district. A tropical day would be an unrealistic expectation, but neither I feel did I deserved a rain-storm after all my endeavours! The swampland between High Seat and High Tove was challenge enough. I picked up a stray fence post to lay as a bridge at one point. I left a shoe behind after not quite making a long-jump to the other bank. With difficulty, I managed to yank the thing out of the black mire.
Armboth Fell was well and truly time to give up on dry feet, but one thing in its favour is that it's not very big. After this, I was making the turn for the finish line! The treeline towards Raven Crag was obvious, even if a path to it wasn't. I ventured into the forest plantation at one point, and after seeing there'd be no way through without machete, I backed up and resigned myself to splashing along the fence on the moor above. I was delighted to find the big gate into forestry tracks and solid ground at last. It was hard to see what would stop me now, and I can safely say reconstruction work around Raven Crag's paths was NOT going to do it. I was lucky I was not doing this on a weekday, during working hours. Otherwise I reckon I'd have had a very interesting stand-off with a work's foreman: "Don't you know what I've been doing?! This is my Wainwright number 213! Yes I ****ing AM going through!"
Raven Crag made for a spectacular penultimate fell, the view cutting straight down Thirlmere and up to the last objective of High Rigg, a very modest crinkle of grass in the scheme of things. I had one last minor hazard, navigating onto the correct descent track through the forest, needing to scramble steeply down through the woods for about 100 metres. This brought me out at Southwaite campsite, and I was truly on the home run now. I crossed the main road, still not fully open after November's flood damage, and ventured on to High Rigg. It was bleak up there in the fading light, and did not feel like a glorious completion. I descended to St John's-in-the-Vale, and paid a visit to the little church there as intended. I'd heard about it, but didn't know much about it. I almost did not go inside, because it looked like a closed relic from the outside. However, you open the door and on come automatic lights. Inside, it's a fully working church. I have to say it felt magical, with darkness now down like a blanket outside and a cold wind gusting. I lingered. Silence and calm. After a while, an owl hooted. No other sounds.
It's a good job I brought the headtorch! I walked the final stretch along a gravel track and through farmland footpaths in pitch black, save for starlight and distant lights of civilization. There was a full moon somewhere, but it must have been smothered by cloud. I paid a final visit to the pagan stones, spookily visible only when I was practically upon them. I drove into the hive of civilization that is Keswick on a bank holiday to get myself a celebratory meal. I wanted to go to 'The Wainwright' (can't think why), but it was packed out. Instead I went to a smaller restaurant - the '20112' or something - and had what has to be the best sticky toffee pudding in the world.
This achievement is dedicated to my two angels, David and Kyle.
A special thanks to Liz, Nicholas and Al, without whose support I might have quit by half way and definitely in February.
Thanks also to those who followed the blogs here and on Facebook, your interest and encouragement made a difference!
by The English Alpinist » Mon Mar 28, 2016 11:31 pm
Coast to Coast.
Hadrian's Wall walk.
Joining my local ramblers - fancying some walks with company now!
by ChrisW » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:17 am
There's been great moments, turn backs and re-do's, busted camera and being momentarily lost, and there's been great pics, great food, and great personal achievement too, I've really enjoyed following along from my window - A sticky toffee pudding well deserved I think
I'd love to see a Hadrians Wall hike in full...........
by johnkaysleftleg » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:03 am
by yellowbelly » Tue Mar 29, 2016 12:38 pm
At least you had a dry day to finish on and a moment of quiet reflection at the end.
by Colley » Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:43 pm
by trailmasher » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:58 pm
by dav2930 » Tue Mar 29, 2016 11:16 pm
by goth_angel » Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:18 pm
by MiniRambo » Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:55 pm
by The English Alpinist » Tue Apr 05, 2016 11:02 pm
goth_angel wrote:Congratulations, been enjoying following your progress. What's next?!
Thanks for the comments guys Next is probably just the odd walk with the local ramblers. Fed up of my own company! Later in summer maybe a short-term challenge like the Hadrians Wall walk Also contemplating Geldihoppen (can't remember how to spell it!), highest peak in Norway if finances can stretch to it.
by Guinessman » Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:36 am
by georgeaquaterra » Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:23 pm
by Salfordwhite » Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:38 pm
Not bad for a Scouser .