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Three 'Celebratory' Days in the Lakes
by iangpark » Sat Apr 27, 2019 8:58 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Barrow, Birkhouse Moor, Haystacks, Helvellyn, High Crag, High Stile, Outerside, Raise, Red Pike (Buttermere), Sail, Stybarrow Dodd, Wandope, Watson's Dodd, White Side, Whiteless Pike
Hewitts included on this walk: Helvellyn, High Crag, High Stile, Raise, Red Pike (Buttermere), Sail, Stybarrow Dodd, Wandope, White Side, Whiteless Pike
Date walked: 24/04/2019
Time taken: 22.75
Distance: 42.4 km
Ascent: 3630m5 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).
DAY 1: Glenridding to Keswick
14.5km / 1238m / 7.75hrs
Early train down to Carlisle from Dumfries, then another to Penrith then bus to Glenridding - not bad for two hours! Plan was to do a traverse from Glenridding-Keswick via Helvellyn. I had only ever been in the Lakes once before, staying in Glenridding and catching a brownie out of Red Tarn, well before I was aware of the notoriety of Helvellyn, or, frankly, any British hills. After arriving, I bought a map out the info centre and we headed on up. The others had had a few too many the night before (I escaped with only 3 pints and two gins in almost 12 hours at the same pub, although was blessed with a cold and a throat so sore it was almost tear-inducing) and we all had had a short sleep, so the initial ascent up to Birkhouse Moor ended up being very difficult for the others. After being passed by even the most geriatric of walkers, we made it to the flatness of Birkhouse Moor, the only Wainwright I had previously, and unknowingly, bagged.
Csaba and Iain with Catstye Cam behind (I had always believed it was 'Catsye' before):
I was buzzing for Striding Edge so we clambered up to High Spying How and began making our way along. It was nowhere near as precipitous and much flatter than I had envisioned. The others had rucksacks so occasionally transferred themselves to the bypass path but I was adamant about going along the highest point of each pinnacle with my backpack. We had a brief break after the chimney before heading on up to the plateau.
The others at the top:
We wandered on over to the summit and down to Lower Man where we had a brief sunbathe. The others were considerably happier now that we were on flat ground.
A Helvellyn hangover:
It was an easy stroll up to White Side and along to Raise. Stybarrow Dodd required a bit more concentration as we were a bit low on water, the wind was picking up and the sun had mostly gone for the day. Views had been unbelievably hazy since the morning. The final hill of the day, Watson's Dodd, barely required any effort at all and we chatted in tandem on it's ascent.
Rambling over to Watson's Dodd:
Hazy Skiddaw and High Rigg:
After a second lunch we took the ankle-snapping and knee-jarring descent to Castle Rock slowly, taking a few breaks on the bone dry moss. Jack developed a technique of bending one knee in and sliding down gracefully which I also adopted. We took a quick sprint up to the castle, seeing some rock climbers on one of the faces and descending through a difficult area of regeneration, through a forest, lambing field and down to the road. The plan was to walk back but after Jack and Csaba spotted a bus stop, which in hindsight was definitely worth it, we chose that option instead. After arriving, we set up the tent in an undisclosed location, pit-stopped in Booths before returning and had an early night, up for 7am.
DAY 2: Seatoller to Buttermere
14.1km / 1290m / approx. 9hrs
After a hilariously discomforting night, we arose to a beautiful, calm morning and after missing two buses to Seatoller/Honister while at the bus stop, we eventually got on one. My intention had been to go south to Seathwaite and up to Great Gable, but after contemplation the day before, we decided to restructure and miss out the first four fells. The initial section involved getting to the top of the Honister Pass which proved to be really enjoyable. Mause Gill was bursting with species and Little Gatesgarthdale felt like a Bond film setting with the moody clouds.
In the woodland:
After seeing the Grey Knotts path, it was a quite definitive 'no' and we instead opted for the Fleetwith path, unsure if we would bother with the pike. The whole pass was so much more spectacular than I had imagined, in many ways much more impressive than what you could expect to see from a Scottish landscape. The excellent path meant we made good progress and were at the top of the pass in no time. After the others saw High Crag and High Stile and I said we were going there, followed by a brief period of uncertainty regarding my seriousness, Fleetwith Pike was rapidly omitted.
Csaba with the High Crag and Stile:
The amazing slate scenery continued past Dub's Hut and down to Little Round How where Iain and I paid a visit and overtook, then fell behind again, an older rambling group on their way to Great Gable. The views to Buttermere were outstanding and I was constantly in awe of the scale of the hills which were far beyond what I had seen in photos. We were soon taking a break at Innonimate Tarn on our winding ascent of Haystacks.
Great Gable and Green Gable from Innonimate Tarn:
We caught up with the earlier climbers of the day at Haystacks summit and after relishing in the views with a spot of lunch and me visiting the three summits, we began the winding descent. I agree with Wainwright in his love for Haystacks; it was undoubtedly the most characterful fell we climbed on the trip and it's intricacies never dulled me, not least the tantalising scrambling on the far end. The others were not looking forward to High Crag - it looked like Beinn Shiantaidh but plopped on an already high ridge. We opted to ascend Seat rather than taking the Scarth Gap route; Jack was displeased with our attempts to decimalise the difficult ascent into easily-managed numbers and targets.
Seat and High Crag from Haystacks:
After a brutally steep ascent on Seat, we walked over to High Crag to begin the ascent. Initially quick, it soon became scree-laden and we slowed down, except Iain, who never slows down other than to watch others below him. The summit provided little relief thanks to the sun, and rain which had now started, but it provided the most pleasing views of the day. Some quick wind shelter food eaten, we pressed on to begin the easy walk to High Stile. The summit wasn't very satisfying as I didn't know which cairn was the top (I had no idea how much Englishfolk love building cairns, much to my disagreement) so ran to most of them and we kept going, as the winds were really picking up.
Red Pike from High Stile:
Grassmoor and Dodd from High Stile flanks:
Chapel Crags was amazing to look down into and even more impressive from Red Pike, the easiest big fell of the day, which took no time. The colour of the rock was fascinating and the view down to Buttermere terrifying.
High Stile from Red Pike:
Ridge for the next day:
After traversing the dodgy path, Iain and I went up Dodd to transfer a painted stone while Csaba and Jack made their way down to Bleaberry Tarn to cool their feet off. We caught up 20 minutes later with the sun still out and some geese visiting. I thought we were on the wrong path as it was taking us the wrong way but it soon turned west again and we made it to the Larch forest.
Descending the forest:
The forest was magic - Larch has always been my favourite tree; shame it isn't native to Britain - but my knees, feet and shoulders were in agony by the time we reached the flatness of the glen. The footbridge was gone so we haphazardly went over some bog to a stone crossing and into our campsite for the evening, again undisclosed. I later took some photos of the lone tree before we got a nice blonde from the greatly-needed Fish Inn and returned to the tent for some sleep.
The lonely Buttermere tree; Fleetwith Pike in background:
DAY 3: Buttermere to Keswick
13.8km / 1102m / approx. 6hrs
I had a welcome full Cumbrian breakfast at the Bridge Inn in the morning with Csaba and Iain while Jack stayed in the tent. We returned to pack up in the rain, which had gone on all night. The path started out relatively pain free and only became difficult at the final ascent of Whiteless Pike. The others were starting to struggle with Jack, carrying the tent and the largest pack, falling behind. Considering he's not a hillwalker and had been going for two days with a 14kg pack, albeit with occasional help, he was doing unbelievably well.
Jack on the way up:
Csaba the lollipop man on his day off:
Ridge to Wandope:
The narrow pull up to Wandope was enjoyable but tensions were growing high. After the summit, we followed the unmarked edge-side path along and partially up to Eel Crag, where our problems started. Neither my map nor beforehand route mapping showed this path as being extremely faint as it joined the main path up to Eel Crag. Instead we ended up skirting an un-mapped path immediately above Scar Crags and we were traversing it in 80mph winds and powerful rain. The kind of wind where you can't actually breathe when you look into it. To make things worse, the clag was around 40m visibility, most of our 'waterproof' gear actually wasn't and Jack was well behind. We decided to wait on him catching up; neither him nor Csaba were up for waiting about on the hill any longer and had undoubtedly had enough. Regrettably, as I was de-facto leader and a bagger only 30m away from one of the biggest Lakeland fell summits, we ascended and descended Sail as if it was nothing before reaching the base of Scar Craigs.
The plan had been to ascend to Causey Pike and then over the Outerside-Barrow ridge, but we all omitted the former and Iain and I did the latter while Jack and Csaba descended the glen path. We ran up and down most of Outerside to keep ourselves warm and took our time on Barrow which was really easy as our last fell of the trip, descending the heather to the path and meeting up with the other two. Csaba had looked up a bus time from Catbells so we walked through the lovely villages of Stair and Swinside before waiting for half an hour, me standing paralysed, on the unbelievably warm bus.
We made it back to Keswick so dived into Booths for a warm up, decided on Grassmere YH for the night and made our way there on another bus. A great pub dinner later we headed to bed, an underappreciated luxury, and the next day got the next two buses back to Penrith and then Dumfries. A great few days in often challenging conditions, undoubtedly hindered further by terrible tent sleeping, but a truly wonderful reintroduction for myself back into Lakeland.
by thefallwalker » Sun Apr 28, 2019 9:41 am
by dav2930 » Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:25 pm
Great report. The photo of Fleetwith Pike and the lone tree is really good.
by iangpark » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:14 pm
thefallwalker wrote:well done on a challenging 3 days! It was a pity you didn't get up to Fleetwith Pike as the views down over Buttermere & Crummock water then onto the sea are, in my opinion the finest in the LD, glad to read that sense over rode ambition on the 3rd day & you all made it down in horrendous conditions safely
Cheers! Aye I had really wanted to see the view form the top (I suppose I could have nipped up had we had the time!) I was well up for searching about for the Eel Crag summit too but I doubt it would have gone down well
dav2930 wrote:Looked a cracking expedition. You couldn't have chosen 3 better walks IMO; just a shame the weather turned so bad on day 3
Great report. The photo of Fleetwith Pike and the lone tree is really good.
Thank you - I did put quite a bit of time thinking about the routes (definitely over-ambitious regarding the initial second day plan!) I must have taken nearly 30 photos of that tree
by johnkaysleftleg » Sat May 04, 2019 1:58 pm
by trailmasher » Mon May 13, 2019 7:43 pm