After a long time away from the hills due to starting a new job, I had a week off and headed to Keswick at the end of October. I quickly realised just how out of shape I had become, but I did get three walks done which have contributed to my running total.
The first walk was a well-known route I had never done before but one that probably features somewhere on lots of peoples’ tick lists.
From the car park at Gutherscale, I climbed up the ridge to Skelgill Bank, and continued on to the relatively diminutive but iconic Cat Bells, dropping down to the col near Gate Hause and continuing up the other side across Bull Crag, Maiden Moor, Narrow Moor, past Blea Crag and Minum Crag, finally arriving at my high point of the day, High Spy (with my little eye) where, in the week leading up to the centenary anniversary of the Armistice, a single small wooden cross, a couple of inches high, with a poppy on had been pushed into the ground next to the cairn. Standing in its solitary salute added to its poignancy.
I returned by descending to Dale Head Tarn, and then followed the beck that flows from the tarn back down to Newlands and finally the car park.
Total ascent: 649m / 2,129ft
A couple of days later, I set out to try and replicate part of a route I had taken back in the summer of 1993 during my life-changing Outward Bound course. I parked near the church in Buttermere, and set out across the farmland that separates Crummock Water and Buttermere.
At Scales Bridge I turned right and and followed the path round along the edge of Crummock water before veering left towards Scale Force. As I climbed the path above the waterfall I was thinking to myself, I don’t remember it being this much hard work before… Above the falls the going was tough, picking my way through trees, boulders and crags eventually arriving at a spot on the open fell where we’d camped 25 years earlier, although that day we had started from Braithwaite, near Keswick.
I had intended to continue over Red Pike and on to High Style and High Crag, to descend via Scarth Gap but I was in no condition for that, so I climbed up to Lingcomb Edge where I stopped for food and contemplation to find an alternative route off.
I finally elected to follow the faint path along Lingcomb edge and drop down to Blea Crag, then pick up the path at the side of Scale Force and retrace my steps back to Buttermere.
It turned out to be rather more hairy than I was expecting as the path became a narrow sheep-track through heather and damp slippery rocks on a descending traverse. Was I worried? Yes. Did I tumble? Yes, and pretty sure I broke my finger during this bit. But I am proud that my experience got me out of the situation, though I’d rather not be in that position again.
I continued on and retraced my steps, back to the car, Keswick and a beer.
Total ascent: 500m approximately / 1,640ft
My final walk of the trip was a short simple able from Honister Slate Mine and the top of the Pass to Haystacks and return by the same route. This was far from the biggest and most challenging few hours but it’s undulating and was a nice way to finish my break.
Total ascent: 530m / 1739ft
Overall ascent: 1,679m / 5,509ft
Cumulative total: 8,291m / 27,201ft