Patterdale Walking

Saturday

I’d arranged to meet one of my work colleagues, Chris, on Saturday to help him learn a little navigation…

Chris is fairly new to whole hill-walking thing, but has enthusiastically booked himself on to a Kilimanjaro trek early next year. I suggested that he needs to get fit to make sure he does’t fail or hate the experience. With that in mind I’ve given him a proposed list of training objectives for the coming months. But Chris then asked, “How will I find my way round the Langdale Pikes Pete?” Only then did I realise he’d never used an OS map before. So I offered to teach him the basics, and thus a day out in Patterdale was planned… Our friends Chris and Helen joined us for the weekend.

On the way up to Keppel Cove dam
On the way up to Keppel Cove dam
Crazy kids ignoring the signs and using the ruined Keppel Cove as a bridge
Crazy kids ignoring the signs and using the ruined Keppel Cove dam as a bridge
Chris, Helen, Laetitia, Chris, and Pete on the summit of Raise
Chris, Helen, Laetitia, Chris, and Pete on the summit of Raise

Sunday

The rain was still falling on Sunday morning as forecast. And with that forecast we had arranged to meet Chris and Helen in Patterdale for some gill scrambling. Hoggets Gill was the chosen route. Gill scrambling was a good choice if only because you always fail to notice how heavy the rain is and how damp you are getting because the water in the gill is pouring down the sleeves of your jacket!

Pete, Helen, and Chris scrambling in Hoggets Gill
Pete, Helen, and Chris scrambling in Hoggets Gill
Laetitia, Chris, and Helen relishing the high water in Hoggets Gill
Laetitia, Chris, and Helen relishing the high water in Hoggets Gill
Helen and Laetitia enjoying the scrambling in Hoggets Gill
Helen and Laetitia enjoying the scrambling in Hoggets Gill
Laetitia following a grimacing Chris on the way up to Dove Crag
Laetitia following a grimacing Chris on the way up to Dove Crag

After we reached the top of Hoggets Gill, and we spent a few minutes enjoying our sandwiches on a convenient grassy lookout, we made our way across to Dove Crag to poke around looking for the Priests Hole

Chris poses next to the "Vlad  Stones" at Dove Crag
Chris poses next to the “Vlad Stones” at Dove Crag

After all that activity it was time for the time honoured post-adventure reward: tea and cakes. Back in Ambleside enjoying our cakes we got on to analysing Helen’s need for new waterproofs. Her trousers in particular were long past their best, having served three generations of her family well in the hills! But it was the debate about whether a waterproof jacket was rightfully called an “anorak” or not that was most fun. After some Googling – as promised – we can now confirm that Chris does not wear a “gay beaded item worn by Greenland women or brides in the 1930s”!

Exciting new adventure!

Recently I decided I ought to brush up my navigation. So one evening I went along to West Cumberland Orienteering Club‘s session after work.

This particular event was was held on a fell outside Lamplugh, miles from the nearest lamp-post, on a cloudy, moonless, starless night. So there are no other photos!

My First Orienteering Map

I had no idea what to expect of an orienteering event so fortunately I went with my friend Andrew; this meant I did not have to worry too much about approaching a strange man in a car parked in the middle of nowhere in the dark of the night. The strange man said, “Ah, two of you, you’ll be doing it separately of course.” “Yes, that’s right,” said Andrew. “NO WE WON’T!!” I replied. Andrew clearly had more faith in me than I did – I hadn’t done night nav since ML training +/-15 years ago.

Because it was pitch dark I wasn’t too worried about making a total fool of myself, and anyway nobody would know who I was; so imagine my surprise and horror when a head-torch beam pierced the darkness and someone said “Is than Anna?”. It was someone I knew from sensible running races, and I had lost my incognito. “I love orienteering,” she said, “But I’m really slow and always last.” “Hmmm, you aren’t any more!” I thought.

But it was fine, although I did indeed take Sarah’s place at the back, I fell over only once, had only one fight with a gorse bush, and got myself lost only twice. This week it’s near Lodore so I shall have to try not to end up in the waterfalls; watch this space….

Many thanks to Andrew for looking after me. 🙂

Bowfell Snowiness

Wintry weather was forecast, and that’s exactly what we were served up on Bowfell today.

Dave and Fiona stayed with us Saturday night – which provided a great opportunity to drink more wine than we should have and to catch up on the past year’s adventures etc. But this meant we were a little sluggish getting out of bed in time to meet Helen at the YHA in Ambleside, but we made it as planned and went on to meet Dave (and his two dogs Millie and Pippa) at the ODG in Langdale…

Pete and Dave practicing their micro-navigation on the way up to Bowfell
Dave, Dave, Fiona, Helen, and Laetitia grab a lunch stop behind a convenient rocky outcrop to provide a little shelter from the wind, hail, and snow.
Wintry conditions on the climber's traverse towards Bowfell Buttress
Hooray, Bowfell summit, Helen and Laetitia celebrate!
Catalogue poses!
Back in the warmth of the bar at the ODG ... where we used beer and hot chocolate (plain, or spiked with rum or brandy) to rewarm.

Richard’s Birthday Celebrations

Sunday morning I felt a little rough! I’m not a great drinker and after a few darker than I’d normally like pints of beer – preceded by a large gin and tonic – this fact was thumping away on the inside of my head to remind me that these drinks don’t mix, and especially don’t mix well with my drinking ineptitude.

Why was I feeling a little rough? Well, the previous evening a bunch of us had gone out for dinner in the Pheasant Inn in Keswick to celebrate Richard’s birthday…

Richard's birthday revellers...
Laetitia, Pete, Keith, Justin, Chris, Adele, Roger, Fiona, Ali, Richard, Rachel, and Ian

On Sunday the weather was supposed to be far nicer than Saturday, but as it turned out it was decidedly wet and extremely windy – perhaps the perfect way to clear my head – a trip out in Langdale for a bumble. However, it really was very windy and several gusts of gale force wind nearly blew us off our feet, so we decided to curtail the planned scrambling ascent of Jack’s Rake and do a little micro-navigation practice instead.

Pete points out, with a blade of grass, a tiny ring contour for Richard to find

The sharp eyed might notice my new jacket… I’m feeling quite smug, I’ve been sent a fantastic piece of outdoor clothing to review, a Berghaus Velum jacket. The Velum is from their EXTREM range, so it’s a proper technical jacket…

Several years ago (like 15 to 20 years!) Berghaus gear was the “must have” kit for all self respecting serious users and mountaineers. Jackets like the Mera Peak were like a kind of uniform. Then, perhaps because of this success they kind of went mainstream and everyone from those walking their dogs and skiing to those plodding up wet British hillsides had one. However, Berghaus have come back from the brink of becoming quite unexceptional to once again commanding a position as a technical high quality clothing manufacturer. I think the likes of Leo Houlding and Mick Fowler getting involved in product design as part of their sponsored hero lineup have to take some of the credit for this renaissance. Particularly in their EXTREM range.

Purportedly this is Berghaus’ most breathable 3 layer GORE-TEX® active shell. I’m not sure if that means there is a more breathable shell jacket that is not one of their “active” jackets or not. However, I can report that it is certainly super lightweight, definitely three layer (which is good for durability – I’ve had lightweight two layer jackets that delaminate in just a few months), and very breathable.

Berghaus say:

The Velum GORE-TEX® Jacket is designed for mountaineers looking to travel fast and light.

This is certainly a great jacket where weather protection, weight, and function are important factors on your list of buying selection criteria. Oh, and it looks pretty good too – although I’m not at all sure about the day-glo “Green Sheen” colour option, whereas my more traditional “Intense Blue” is very nice…

The jacket was looking pretty sharp even if the model looks a little rough!

Adele had wanted to join our walking team but as it turned out the volume of wine she’d consumed, combined with general tiredness from her recent Nepal trip, got the better of her, and so the walking, navigating, and wind-surfing team was reduced to just me, Richard, Laetitia, and Ali.

Richard, Laetitia, and Ali below Pavey Ark
Saturday's torrential rain meant the streams were quite tricky to pass!

After that, and a little moss and lichen naming interest, we headed back down to Chester’s café in Skelwith Bridge for massive portions of lemon meringue pie! :yum:

Lemon Meringue Pie!

Langdale Navigation & Kendal Fireworks

What amazing weather, a whole weekend of wall-to-wall sunshine! Even the evening was clear (and cold) for the fireworks… 😀

After planting nearly 100 mini daffodil bulbs (they were on offer ay Hayes, just £3 for 30) we headed out in to the fells to enjoy the weather. It would have been a great day for rock climbing on a suitably sunny south facing crag. But, because of the late start we opted for a walk with a late finish to allow for some night navigation and a quick dash in to Kendal to see the fireworks at the castle.

Pete on top of one of the many tops of Cold Pike
Laetitia with the Scafell tops beyond
At first I thought this little mushroom was a magic mushroom - it's the right colour, size, and basic shape - but thanks to Mike Raine's super little book, Nature of Snowdonia, I think it's actually an inedible Milk Bonnet...

The fireworks over Kendal Castle were spectacular! And free! 😛 Although we did chuck a few quid in to the Round Table collection bucket to support (unspecified) “Kendal charities”.

The amazing fireworks over Kendal Castle!
(with Photoshop enhancement, sorry couldn't resist! 😉 )

Almost Adventure-less

Not a particularly ‘extreme’ weekend … night navigation, dinner, and eBay … weird or what!

Night Navigation
Laetitia’s ML assessment is fast approaching so we took advantage of perhaps the last day (and night) of summer weather and spent Friday night trying to get lost on Loughrigg Fell above Ambleside … we failed … again! However, we did see a massive female deer (we assume it was female as it didn’t have any antlers and the rut must be nearly upon us?). What a beautiful creature, nearly as big as a pony and yet far more graceful. Sorry, we couldn’t get close enough to get a photo, the flash on our compact camera didn’t have the range and all I got was blackness.

Laetitia using a vague path as a handrail on they way to some minuscule tarn somewhere on Loughrigg Fell.

Australian Dinner Guests
On Saturday we had to spend most of the day tidying the house ready for our evening guests – all the way from Australia!

Steph is back in the UK from Canberra catching up with old friends. So to mark the occasion we held a small dinner party for Steph, Paul, Ian, Anna, Laetitia, and me. We ate one of Laetitia’s famous slow-roasted belly pork dishes followed by Eton Mess, and some fancy hand made chocolates brought along by Anna.

Steph was looking great and on top form – it was hard to see any change at all despite it being, I think, four years since we were all last together. Anna & Ian are super trim these days from all the running they are doing (obviously amazing, from a climbing point of view, for the power-to-weight ratio but maybe not so good for the head?). We even talked about Richard & Rachel’s fell-running adventures, assuring ourselves that they will ‘walk’ the Bob Graham Round next year given good weather and a date with maximum hours of daylight… Lets hope they do and then go on to take up what is more likely to be an actual challenge for them – the UTMB. Surely that is their game-plan with the Bob Graham being a qualifying event for the UTMB?

Sorry no pictures of the dinner! 😳 Pretty inexcusable really, not only to miss the chance to snap the ‘gang’ but, compounding the error, no pictures of the desert (‘cake’) or chocolates either! 😮

Steph will be back on an aeroplane back to Australia by the time this article gets posted. Shame, it was great to have the old gang together again if only for one day… 🙁

eBay
And what of Sunday? Well, after Steph and Paul had left us heading home to Barnsley, I continued my recent eBay campaign. I’ve evn got my blue badge…

I’m having none of that…
And finally, I’m having none of this lack of pictures of Eton Mess, so here’s one I prepared elsewhere… 😉

eton mess

Navigation

The forecast was for rain.

We made our way into the Langdale valley. I was pleased to see the hills had been swallowed up by a huge dark grey blob of nothingness and it was heading our way. “Oooh – perfect!” I exclaimed. Wet weather navigation practice, here we come.

Strangely for a Saturday, we easily found a parking space in the National Trust car park at the ODG. But then, perhaps it wasn’t so strange considering the amount of rain that was fast approaching. We got kitted out and started to head up towards Oxendale. Within minutes we were hit by the grey blob. We leaned into the wind and boldly marched on.

Ten minutes later, the blob changed its course and much to my annoyance it rushed up Mickleden and continued up and over Stake Pass and on to its favorite spot in Borrowdale – to maintain the reputation of being the wettest place in the country.

Oh well, if I couldn’t do wet weather navigation, then more micro navigation was required… this time using the 1:50k map.

Climbing up Oxendale

We continued up Oxendale, over Bow Fell and Esk Pike and down to Esk Hause, all the while navigating to tiny ring contours, spurs and reentrants. At Esk Hause we made the decision not to wait til dark, and instead we got the 1:25k maps out and started even more micro navigation: a tuft of grass here, a teeny weeny puddle in the middle of a marsh there, a pebble on a spur, and so on. Needless to say it was getting dark by the time we decided to head down, oh, and it had started raining again, but I was tired and hungry and just wanted to get back.

Descending Rossett Gill in the rain and growing gloom

A quick march down Rossett Gill and Mickleden and I was knackered.

Blencathra

The weather on the first day of the bank-holiday weekend turned out much wetter than forecast, so the planned rock climbing excursion to Borrowdale was modified into a poor weather navigation practice up on Blencathra. We based our activities around some of the controls on a copy of Rachel & Richard’s LAMM taster orienteering maps from 2007 which they had given us a few months ago. (Thanks for that R & R!) The team (Anna, Ian, Laetitia, and Pete) got blown about in weather varying from sunny moments to heavy wind-driven rain … a whole lot of fun, as thanks to the company we spent more time laughing than getting lost!

A moody view across to Derwent Water between the rain
"So, I think we are here ... a wet, featureless, lump of Lakeland hillside. What do think?"

After all that we retired to a cafe in Keswick for tea & cakes! :yum: