New year in Hawes

We spent the week after Christmas in Hawes, North Yorkshire with Tony and Catherine, our friends who are both runners and orienteers.

Day 1

The holiday started with a 7.5 mile walk into Widdale from our cottage in Hawes. After a short time on footpaths we were beating our way through moorland tussocks to get to the top of Widdale Fell. It was pretty windy and cold on the tops, so we soon descended the Widdale Valley and made our way down the valley via Snaizeholme where we saw a number of pretty red squirrels. Once back at the cottage we feasted on soup made by Catherine and ginger cookies made by Tony and then we headed into Hawes to have a look around and to say hello to my Uncle who runs the Whites of Wensleydale clothing shop. Tony is from Yorkshire and proved this fact by purchasing a very nice flat cap!

Running down the side of Widdale
Running down the side of Widdale
There was sun at times... just not where we were
There was sun at times… just not where we were
Happy people :-)
Happy people ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 2

T+C rode their mountain bikes on the local trails, whilst Richard and I went for a 14 mile run. We headed from the cottage up Wether Fell, to the Cam High Road. We then cut across the open access land to the top of the Bardale Valley and ran the 4.5 km descent to Semer Water, which was rather nice. We looked around the ruins of Stalling Busk Abbey and refuelled on cake, before continuing on to Butterset and back to Hawes. We spent the evening relaxing and working on a jigsaw (a very Christmassy activity!).

The long descent to Semer Water behind me
The long descent to Semer Water behind me
A view of Semer Water from the north
A view of Semer Water from the north

Day 3

The rains came down and no-one felt like going out! Eventually we decided to walk into Hawes and take a look at the creamery and the ropemaker. This took longer than expected as there was a flood on the main road just outside Hawes. I was wearing boots and trudged across happily giving Catherine a piggy back. Richard, who was wearing trainers, turned around and went off to find an alternative route. Meanwhile Tony, who was also wearing trainers, and his new flat cap, thumbed down the next car and managed to blag the world’s shortest hitch of about 25 m (probably because he looked like a yorkshireman in his hat)! The creamery was less exciting than the journey there, as no cheese was being made… the ropemaker was also closed. So, we headed into my Uncle’s shop where Richard purchased a very stylish harris tweed jacket. After purchasing supplies and a few bags of wood, we headed back to the cottage via the flood. This time, Tony braved the water and gave Richard a piggy back and I provided the same service to Catherine. By this time it was about 1300, so after a quick bite to eat Tony dropped Catherine, Richard and I at the top of Sleddale in the pouring rain and we ran the 6.2 miles back down to Hawes via the Roman Road and Wether Fell.

Day 4

On New Year’s Eve we went for a run-walk from Muker. We walked around the southern side of Black Hill and then along Jingle Pot Edge to Lownathwaite, from where we walked across to Keld and then back down the Keld Valley to Muker. At the end of the 9 mile route, we were displeased to see that the pub had closed, so we headed back to the cottage for tea and cake. To celebrate the new year, we ate at the Crown Inn in Hawes, which was very nice. We just about managed to stay awake for new year, but were in bed soon after!

View down to Muker from the side of Black Hill
View down to Muker from the side of Black Hill
The remains of mining activities around Gunnerside Gill
The remains of mining activities around Gunnerside Gill

Day 5

The weather on New year’s day was not exactly nice, so Catherine, Richard and I made a plan to run early and get home before the worst of the weather set in. Tony planned the same, but on the mountain bike. We ran from Hawes up the side of Great Shunner Fell. The weather was wet, windy and cold so after ascending a fair way, we realised that the view from the top would be rubbish (and cold), so instead of making our way to the top, we descended into Cotter Dale and then back to Hawes. About 0.5 miles from the cottage we bumped into Tony who was making his way back to the cottage after a wiery mountain bike ride. We were tired after the 11.4 miles; Catherine even needed an injection of cake to make the last kilometre back to the cottage! In the late afternoon and evening we were entertained with skeleton building… See Richard’s post!

Day 6

The weather improved and so we decided to entertain ourselves by taking a 13 mile run-walk on Ingleborough. We parked in Clapham and ascended Ingleborough via Gaping Gill. After a short cake stop on the top we headed back down through the limestone pavements above Horton in Ribblesdale, and then we traversed the slopes back to Ingleborough. A lovely day was enjoyed – Richard didn’t even put on his waterproof, which was quite amazing given the recent weather. We got back, feasted on Wensleydale cheese and worked on completing the skeleton ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Our route up Ingleborough, with the summit in the cloud
Our route up Ingleborough, with the summit in the cloud
On the top of Ingleborough
On the top of Ingleborough
Views over the limestone pavement on the route back down
Views over the limestone pavement on the route back down

Day 7…

… was unfortunately our leaving day. The holiday was very enjoyable. Catherine described it as like a boot camp… and I tend to agree, it was pretty active… but of course we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Aysgarth Falls
Aysgarth Falls

Remembrance of things past

No I haven’t been reading Proust this weekend. I went for a long walk up Skiddaw instead.

It is ages since I have been up Skiddaw even though, or possibly because, it is the closest big mountain to home. But it was the scene of my very first fellwalk on the first day of my first youth hostelling holiday many decades ago, when I came to Lakeland with my best friend Elspeth. We were about 14 and it was our first holiday without grownups and was great fun.

The main drag up Skiddaw. Last experienced in blisteringly hot sunshine.

I had a new pair of walking boots, and an ancient canvas rucsac from a junk shop. So I didn’t have “all the gear”, and I certainly had “no idea”. Most of my socks were nylon school socks and I developed blisters very early on. Sunscreen wasn’t a given in those days and my arms got terribly sunburnt. That wasn’t going to happen yesterday because it was freezing cold.

Some were suitably clothed for the conditions ๐Ÿ™‚

There had been quite a crowd of walkers on that first day and it was pretty busy yesterday too, although no-one was hanging about on the summit for long.

On the summit ridge

We continued north along the ridge then east and south past Skiddaw House to return to Keswick.

Looking back south whilst descending to the north
Skiddaw House – former shooting lodge, now a hostel (not open all year)

No need for a trip to a teashop as Frances put the kettle on at home. I had taken along a cake and for once remembered to take a photo. A first try at this recipe, it was deemed a success – not so hard really as it is full of lovely things like chocolate, cream and ground almonds. Very luscious and sticky and approximately 1.5 million calories a slice.

Pity it sank a bit in the middle, but cake is more about taste than appearance!

Letterboxes, Birthdays, Climbing Wall & eBay star

Awful Weather

The weather this past week (month!) has been utterly awful! June was twice as wet as any June in (at least) the past seven years – this table shows just how wet…

Rain Database (mm)
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2006 200.6 74.0 124.8 61.2 106.8 101.0 101.8 160.0 165.6 276.8 1372.6
2007 244.2 106.2 121.6 75.0 82.6 137.8 139.2 99.4 79.2 76.6 99.2 176.4 1437.4
2008 256.2 135.0 138.8 94.0 45.0 116.2 116.4 199.8 150.4 311.2 123.2 128.0 1814.3
2009 194.2 21.4 106.8 60.0 136.0 75.6 185.8 212.6 72.8 139.4 334.8 131.8 1671.3
2010 72.6 53.4 110.6 49.2 19.6 47.6 253.2 94.2 182.2 106.8 128.2 37.2 1154.7
2011 146.6 203.6 81.6 92.2 147.8 58.4 104.8 164.2 205.2 192.0 1396.5
2012 124.2 89.2 42.8 47.8 90.4 210.4 9.4 614.2
Database Summary
Min 72.6 21.4 42.8 47.8 19.6 47.6 9.4 94.2 72.8 76.6 99.2 37.2 1154.7
Max 256.2 203.6 200.6 94.0 147.8 210.4 253.2 212.6 205.2 311.2 334.8 276.8 1814.3
Avg 173.0 101.5 114.7 70.3 92.3 101.0 130.8 145.2 131.9 158.8 170.2 157.0 1519.4

This incredible weather has led to many things, some being: flooding all over Cumbria, a series of almost adventure-less weekends, my having to rescue Laetitia from Carnforth when the West Coast Mainline train system was brought to a halt by a rain-induced landslide near Tebay, and Rachel getting national exposure on BBC television for her knowledge and research in to sustainable drainage!


Anyhow, Saturday was only moderately wet, too wet to climb, but not too wet to get out for walk and a little letterbox hunting, or as Paul amusingly phrased it, “it’s a bit like cunning running in’it”.

Newby Bridge
Laetitia tunnelling through a dry-stone wall!
The weather turned out nicer than we’d expected as the day went on… In fact the evening was clear with a wonderful moon. Why is it that the fine wether never seems to coincide with the daytime?
Finsthwaite Tower stamp Finsthwaite High Dam stamp

Sorry the stamp impression for Finsthwaite Tower is so poor – it isn’t actually a stamp, it’s a B&W picture from the cover of the letterbox log-book. The stamp had been taken away and the book itself was water logged.

Fiona & Richard’s joint Birthday Party

As their birthdays are either side of summer in the damp and miserable winter months, Fiona and Richard decided to hold a joint birthday party in June to take advantage of damp and miserable summer weather instead! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ They’d chosen Consiton as there’s a great little hall there, the Coniston Institute. Plus it is really close to the MAM hut for those people travelling to join the revelry.

We all had to bring an offering of food to help create a very impressive spread that ranged from chicken curry to baked potatoes, from quiche to prawn salad, and from rhubarb pie to chocolate torte! :yum: In exchange – as well as the amazing company – we got treated to a brilliant band, and far too much Coniston Blue Bird bitter! Richard had bought a barrel from the Coniston micro-brewery and far too much of it found it’s way in to my glass… ๐Ÿ˜ณ

A party – beer, music, and climbers – a recipe for a hang over the next day!
(Sorry the photo quality is so poor ๐Ÿ™ )

Climbing Wall & eBay Stars

On Sunday, with a very heavy head (due to too much consumption of Coniston Blue Bird), we dragged ourselves out of bed, managed to eat a couple of slices of toast, drink a few mugs of tea, pop a couple of paracetamol, and eventually – as the weather was yet again raining – get ourselves to Kendal climbing wall. Not much to say about that really – I find pulling on plastic quite dull to be honest, I’m not very good at it as I lack the stamina, and I don’t go often enough for it to make any difference to my rock climbing ability.

Ah well, there were two much more fun events when we got home: 1) Sarah was calling round for dinner and to chat about a forthcoming trip to Chamonix she and Zac are planning, and 2) those nice people at eBay gave me my 100th star.

Busy weekend (ii): wedding festivities

On Friday Steve and Sally got married in a quiet, private ceremony. Their friends and relatives gathered on Saturday evening for a big party, feed, and dance.

As a contrast to the wedding ceremony, this time the bridal party made a big entrance – through a triumphal arch comprising climbers with ice axes and equestrians with riding whips.

Ian and Zac team climbing gear with exceptionally smart clothing - the new look for the crags?

This was a complete surprise to Sal but fortunately one with which she was very happy.

We had a great time and so much fun that unfortunately that photos for the the blog were not top priority – sorry – and so I have no pictorial record of many old friends and acquaintances present. In addition to the usual suspects, some climbers who do not often grace the blog included Max Biden, Colin Wells and Doug Scott. More importantly, here is a cake photo:

Dessert consisted of THREE puddings, hurrah!

After which there was a ceilidh featuring traditional Cumbrian dances to the accompaniment and direction of Striding Edge.

Natuarally this did not finish until the following morning, when we had bacon, eggs and coffee for breakfast back at the “Greenfoot estate”, which is why several of us failed to make it to the fell run …. see previous blog.

Very best wishes to the happy couple. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

Hawaiian birthday party

This year I’ve been lucky enough to have two birthday parties … earlier in the year we all met up in Derbyshire to celebrate for a weekend, but this didn’t stop us celebrating my actual birthday…. TODAY!

The celebration had a Hawaiian-theme! We arrived at the party through the driving rain and cold, in Hawaiian dress, with Leis around our necks and flowers in our hair (well, mine anyway). I wasn’t sure what to expect as we arrived at the party, but conditions were suitably tropical and the hawaiian atmosphere was certainly present. The wood burning stove had been going for a good few hours and the room was absolutely boiling! Hawaiian radio was providing summery Christmas tunes and there were palm trees shading the beach with the gently lapping ocean. Soon enough Richard settled into the hammock and with piรฑa colada in hand we soaked up the atmosphere.

The locals drinking piรฑa colada under the shade of a palm tree
Richard relaxing in the hammock

After a little while, we decided to have a go at some Hawaiian-themed origami and after a few attempts, we managed to create a fabulous crab who looked at home near the beach.

The origami crab looking longingly at the beach

Dinner, or luau, was suitably hawaiian-themed and consisted of a meze of delicious starters, then sea bass and crispy belly pork, hawaiian baked beans (containing beans, sugar, onions, pineapple and vinegar), roast sweet potato and hawaiian coleslaw, followed by fruit and chocolate fondue. Yum!

Luau - or dinner on the beach

By the end of the evening we were all fairly merry, but managed to stay awake until midnight so that I could open my pressies :-). Thanks for the paprika Dalma! It was a lovely surprise.

A great time was had by all, and it was certainly an evening not to be forgotten! Richard even made me a birthday cake on our return home!

Birthday cake, made by Richard

Penrith Rotary 10k

Penrith Rotary Club promotes an annual 10k race and as it’s in a cause I like to support, it was a must do. Perusal of the website suggested that it did not look to be too taxing, and the website photos of the route were rather attractive.

Also, I liked the idea of running past Lowther castle, a place I keep not quite getting around to visiting.

Andy and I turned up with half of our support team (the other half was at work in spite of it being a Sunday) to find rain and mud.

Warming up in the rain

Thirty yards from the start the trail began in three inches of very slippery mud.

Plodging through the clarts (translation available for Dalma if required)

Not too taxing?? I think this was the hardest route I have raced so far! Allegedly a 10k course, it was actually 10.5, but what puzzled me was how it seemed to be ALL uphill. I sort of recall a down section at about the 8 or 9 k point, but sadly this was followed by another “up” before we returned through the mud to finish back at the starting point, as usual exclaiming “Never again!”

Anna sloshes across the finish

Oh, and the Lowther Castle view was a “blink and you’ll miss it” one.

After a bit of rivalry, passing one another several times, Andy and I slithered across the line together, taking respectable positions in the field of 210.

No 84/210 (167 - FV50) and No 83/210 (114)

For the first time I got a medal that actually has my result engraved on it! ๐Ÿ™‚