Keswick Meet - F off Emma, we're going anyway
by malky_c » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:47 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Carl Side, Dodd, Latrigg, Long Side, Lonscale Fell, Skiddaw, Skiddaw Little Man, Ullock Pike
Hewitts included on this walk: Long Side, Lonscale Fell, Skiddaw, Skiddaw Little Man
Date walked: 04/03/2018
Time taken: 9
Distance: 32.5 km
Ascent: 1840m3 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).
Sub 2k Marilyns: S******e
Date: 03 and 04/03/2018.
Distance: 22.5 + 10 km.
Ascent: 1540 + 300m.
Time: 6 hours, 40 minutes + 2 hours, 20 minutes.
Weather: Sat - Grey, cold and very windy, eventually turning to hazy sunshine. Sun - Warmer and calmer, very grey.
In the weeks leading up to the Scottish Hills Keswick meet, I had been thinking about glorious spring sunshine and how to use all of the daylight that we'd have, but the week before, things suddenly turned decidedly wintery again! Travel really didn't look possible when I started looking on Wednesday, and when I left Sunderland on Friday afternoon, I wasn't sure how far I'd manage to get. With no car and the trains to Carlisle off, I turned to the bus, which was fortunately running. Unfortunately it is essentially a service bus, and takes 2.5 hours to get from Newcastle to Carlisle, visiting every sodding village along the way . Then there's still a train, a cold wait around Penrith and another bus to go
However, despite the slowness, everything ran to schedule, and I was quite pleased to be sipping a pint in the Bank Tavern in Keswick before 8:30pm. Tessa (goth_angel) and Stuart had made it up from Kent, but everyone else had pulled out due to the driving conditions (totally understandable considering how bad it was in places), making this the smallest meet I had been on yet .
I set out from the Denton House hostel the next morning shortly after 9am. I had actually got up with the intention of taking the first bus down Borrowdale to go up Glaramara and some other hills, but the weather wasn't very inspiring, so I opted for my Sunday walk - Skiddaw and adjoining fells, as it was right outside the door. I didn't have my axe or crampons, but knew I could always turn back if things were too wintery.
Skiddaw from Latrigg
It was grey and gloomy as I pulled steeply up the southern slopes of Latrigg. Windy as well - I really wasn't sure what this meant for the higher summits, but again I could always change my plans if required.
After crossing Whit Beck, I took a fainter path straight up towards Lonscale Fell, which soon disappeared into the heather. At the top I diverted briefly to the sharper summit of Lonscale Pike, the better to see down over the grassy east-facing crags and over to Skiddaw House. Even with the occasional glint of sun, it was extremely hazy and monochromatic.
N Ridge of Lonscale Fell and Skiddaw House
I soon picked up one of the main paths to the summit, which was obvious. I had expected the paths to be buried under snow, but there was very little fresh snow up here - more down in the streets of Keswick! The wind was varied, in places less severe than it had been on Latrigg, but quite fierce at others. Once over Little Man, I was in the cloud and there were some reasonably significant patches of hard, old snow around. It was just about right for walking on, leaving no footprints, but providing just enough bite. I knew it would be lethal on steeper slopes without crampons though, so I paid attention to my surroundings.
Heading for Little Man
The wind on the last stretch to the trig point notched up to another level, and I practically had to elbow my way through it - any stronger and I would've had to crawl. This was all well represented in the ice sculpture on the trig point, but although I managed to somehow drag my phone out for a photo, the battery pegged it in the extreme windchill. This was not the place to be plugging the spare battery pack in, so no photos! A shame, as I realised this was my last unclimbed UK 3000 footer. I'm not really sure why there was a 12 year gap between my last Munro and this, but that's how it ended up.
Going back along the ridge was worse so I dropped a down the western slopes a bit to get out of the wind. This was better, but a bit crap underfoot. A bit of a rising traverse put me back on the main path down to Carl Side, which was a little better.
Suddenly I was out of the cloud and the sun appeared to be emerging. I stopped for a bite to eat and to get my phone recharged for some more photos - it looked like the best part of the day was still to come .
Little Man from Carl Side
After Carl Side, it was a quick wander over to Long Side. I couldn't help noting how much quicker and easier it is to get from one summit to the next than it was in the Pennines last weekend.
Back to Skiddaw
Keswick and Derwent Water
At Long Side, I had plenty of time, the weather was improving and I was enjoying having the wind behind me, so I carried along Longside Edge to Ullock Pike (which is barely a summit at all, just a change in the gradient).
Bassenthwaite Lake and Lord's Seat
Across Bassenthwaite Lake
Back along Longside Edge
Skiddaw from Ullock Pike
After a look at my map, I decided that I didn't really want to carry on down to Bassenthwaite, so I decided to contour down the slopes of Long Side towards Dodd. Not sure why I did this as the ground was crap and heathery. Either I wanted to avoid retracing my steps into the wind, or I just subconsciously have to get a bit of heather bashing in somewhere .
After a picturesque but crap descent of Gable Gill, I was on a nice easy track again and it felt a lot warmer. I met my first people since a couple of dog walkers low down on Latrigg - how to get Skiddaw to yourself . I decided to nip up Dodd on the way past.
Dodd looked very Scottish - steep and covered in conifers and deep heather. However the path up was well made and easy going so it wasn't that Scottish after all - potentially good views a bit ruined by the haze, but lovely nonetheless.
Bassenthwaite Lake from Dodd
Lord's Seat from Dodd
I was vaguely aware of forestry operations on Dodd that would complicate matters, but I decided that they wouldn't be working today and walked past the 'no entry' sign. I should've paid more attention to the map - this path wasn't on it, and took me in the wrong direction for a while before I was able to drop down onto a lower forestry track and find my way through the felled trees to the Millbeck footpath.
Wrong way off Dodd
It is possible to avoid the roads back to Keswick for the most part, but as most of the deep snow was in the fields, I stuck to them. Being quiet back roads, I was only passed by a couple of cars anyway, and was back at the hostel before too long
Skiddaw from Ormathwaite
After a leisurely shower, I headed out to meet Tessa and Stuart again for a bit of a pub and Tapas crawl of Keswick. An enjoyable evening, but it was snowing again as I headed back to the hostel.
I had originally wanted to go up Borrowdale on Saturday and leave Skiddaw for Sunday, but it was becoming clear that the trains still weren't back to normal and getting home could be a bit of a trial, so I decided to go for a shorter wander instead, aiming to be back in Keswick before midday. I knew of something that would fit the bill perfectly. Well, plenty of things really, but why not use this chance to go up a certain Marilyn nearby, which might not be entirely accessible? I had intended to have a go last December on the way back from the Coledale hills, but had ended up having a couple of pints in the pub of the same (not-to-be-uttered) name instead.
River Derwent near Portinscale
I set off out of Keswick and through Portinscale, then down towards Catbells. A right fork in the road took me to a convenient corner where I was able to enter the woodland to the left as the fence had long collapsed. There were no 'gerroffmyland' signs here, but I understood that every track and gate onto the hill had them, and the area was used for rearing pheasants. Rather than trying to go up in the dark, I had opted for the brazen approach. It would hardly be the end of the world if I didn't make the summit, so I would just act a bit dumb if confronted (to be fair it wouldn't entirely be an act ).
Typical conditions on the hill
The woods were actually quite pleasant, although there were a few Larsen traps about - it definitely didn't feel like anywhere else I'd been in the Lakes. A number of quadbike tracks crisscross the area, and there were fresh tyre tracks suggesting that I might yet meet someone. I cut steeply between the tracks and soon reached the summit.
Derwent Water from the summit
It's a shame it was so grey, as the views would be pretty good over Derwent Water and into the Newlands Valley.
Cat Bells from the summit
Newlands Valley from the summit
Not very good hill ninja gear
I retraced the top part of my route before dropping down to the closest way back out to the road. As expected, there were 'gerroffmyland' notices to pass, but no locked gates or anything, and before long I was back on the road to Catbells.
A possible access point
I still had plenty of time before the next bus to Penrith, so I wandered south a short way to pick up the Cumbria Way back to Portinscale. I had hoped to come out on the shores of the lake somewhere, but I couldn't be bothered getting the map out and missed it completely, coming back out on the road again to retrace my outward steps back to Keswick.
Cat Bells from Hawes End
Alpaca at Lingholm
After a coffee and second breakfast in Keswick, it was time for the long haul home. Trains between Newcastle and Carlisle were off, and the ones between Penrith and Carlisle seemed to be largely cancelled too. I did manage to find one, and again the journey ran to schedule, but it was long and tedious, with cold waits in Penrith, Carlisle, Hexham and Newcastle, finally getting home about 5.5 hours later. This is a route you can drive in 2 hours - to be honest I'd expect to be able to cycle it in not much more than 5.5 hours! But I didn't mind too much - I had anticipated it and was glad that I had been able to get over to the Lakes and do a large amount of what I had planned on the least likely looking weekend of the year . Cheers Tessa for organising, and a shame it was too difficult for most to get there.
by Graeme D » Tue Mar 06, 2018 11:39 am
by Mal Grey » Tue Mar 06, 2018 8:34 pm
by EmmaKTunskeen » Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:08 am
by malky_c » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:48 pm
EmmaKTunskeen wrote:Gorgeous photos, Malky. You had me at the Whit Beck one! Well... you had me at "F off Emma"... Speaking of which...
When I wrote this report, did it occur to me that I might offend any Emmas out there? Didn't even cross my mind, I'm afraid - sorry!
Graeme - If you're lucky, you'll get better snow than I did - it might even be in the right place (on the summits)!
by EmmaKTunskeen » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:05 pm
by Alteknacker » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:27 pm
I was in the Swinside/Little Town neck of the woods this last Thursday and had my own share of amazing lighting conditions too ...
I'm impressed that you got over from Sunderland given the dramatic admonitions in all the media to stay indoors. But not half so impressed as with goth_angel making it up from Kent!
by dav2930 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:18 pm
Love the little map of the forbidden hill - can't argue with that!
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