A glorious morning and I'm out of the house by 08:00. I've swapped the trail shoes for the mountaineering boots and as I head up Raise Beck from Dunmail Raise Ive got the ice axe fastened to the back of the sack and hidden under the lid my crampons. Overkill?
I am heading past Grisedale Tarn and down to the entrance to Ruthwaite Cove. I remember now why I decided last time never to do that again. It's a long way and you have to descend 500 Knee jarring feet into Grisedale.
The view ahead spurs me on and I decide not to stop for tea until I reach the tarn.
From Hard Tarn I head NE to pick up the ridge onto Nethermost Pike. Now Ive done this twice before.Once on hands and knees in summer when a gale was threatening to drop me into Nethermost Cove and once in winter with crampons and good conditions. What could go wrong?
As the ground steepens I realise Im sliding down in the knee deep unconsolidated snow. I look down from a little refuge above a boulder and realise theres a long drop below me now and I probably could not reverse what Id just come up. Gingerly I open the sack and ever so carefully get the crampons on.
There's 30 feet of steep snow above with a lip through to some boulders. The crampons bite into something and even the narrow alpine like ridge (above) dont cause any problems.
It's just a stroll along to Dollywaggon Pike taking photos as I go.
Heading south west from Dollywaggon I descend the little gill that brings you out onto Willie Wife Moor and the path off Reggle Knott. This is a much better descent rout than the eroded and often icy path down Raise Beck.
I had not realised Staveley was such an interesting place. There's Wheelbase, one of the biggest bike shops in the universe, there's the offices of Montane, Hagloffs, and Innov8 and the artisan bakers where if I had not been on a diet I could have stocked up on carbs. I parked the car in the main street and headed for Potter Tarn. Turning left here I headed up Brunt Knott where I ate my Hairy Dieters pie.
This ones for McEff, ( http://becausetheyrethere.com/ )
From here you look east across a big expanse of largely unvisited land towards Longsleddale, before descending towards Skeggles Water Dike.
View to head of valley with fells still to come.
Yes your feet are very wet by the time you reach here. After refuelling with a couple of sandwiches with just a taster of Blue Wensleydale grated into them I headed over Green Quarter Fell and filled up the 2 platypuses in a little gill coming down from Wray crag.
A flat dryish area was then secured for the tent on the side of Shipman Knotts.
I spent the long evening cooking and reading the book downloaded on the Kindle. I awoke at 2am with cold legs. Really must save up for a new sleeping bag. Brewed up some soup and then came up with the brainwave of wearing my fleece pullover upside down as a pair of long-johns. This worked well as I had my down jacket on the top half. For breakfast i finished off the Blue Wensleydale sarnies.
Then onwards over Kentmere Pike, Harter Fell, Mardale Ill Bell, and lunch stop on High Street.
After Thornthwaite Beacon I'm heading south again over Froswick and Ill Bell.
On the left between Froswick and Ill Bell is Over Cove where me and my dad ascended one snowy winter's day over 30 years ago. I am now the same age he was then.
The shadows are lengthening as I hurry over Yoke and get camped up as it gets dark in an old quarry on the south side of Sallows.
I have a warmer night wearing the newly invented long johns and in the morning get a quick photo before the wave of fog engulfs me.
To finish the horseshoe i finished by going over Sour Hows, Capple Howe and heading for the Williamson Memorial and Reston Scar. There may be an easy way between the last two that does not involve climbing and falling off high walls, keeping low profiles in case farmers see you, and wading through knee deep cow slurry.
The cheese bit, when in Orkney we went in a Spar shop for some cheese. Being on a diet I was looking for low fat. A bit optimistic in a small remote shop and yes they didn't have any. What they did have was 12 different varieties os cheddar, possibly the most boring cheese on the planet.
Why would anyone need so many choices in the Cheddar field?
The Staveley Horseshoe: approx 20 miles. Lakeland FRC Fells climbed: Brunt Knott, Green Quarter, Shipman Knott, Kentmere Pike, Harter Fell, Mardale IllBell, High Street, Thornthwaite Beacon, Froswick, IllBell, Yoke, Sallows, and Sour Howes.
I drove up to a campsite near Perth on Monday, the weather was atrocious on the motorway. Got the tent up about 7 pm and ate the sandwiches I'd brought. The Nammatj survived the night and I drove to Glen Shee on a breezy day and nipped up The Cairnwell. I then dossed about the Caravan Club site at Braemar as the next day was again atrocious.
Finally on Thursday I ditched the car at the Linn of Dee car park and headed up Glen Lui towards Derry Lodge.
This was about 3 miles and I wished I'd had a mountain bike for this bit. I then followed the Luibeg Burn heading for the Sron Rioch ridge on Ben Macdui.
That's the ridge in the middle of the photo. I've done about 5 miles and I'm still not near the bottom of the fell. These hills are bigger than the Lakeland fells then.
Eventually I'm on the ridge as a snow shower whips across. Yes it is August.
The long distances are worth it as I am now in granite heaven.
I think that's Ben a Ghlo on the horizon. I dont linger on the summit as it's very cold and I'm nacked. I head down past Loch Etchachan.
Its late as I head down past the Hutchison memorial hut. I'm looking for somewhere to camp but its all bog, midges and heather. May be those sheep in the Lakes have a use after all creating nice short grass for camping. After 3 more weary miles I start approaching the trees in Glen Derry.
The first flat dry place is a little patch of grass besides the beck and a bridge. I sleep but am awake and frozen about 3am. I put on all my clothes in the sleeping bag but am still freezing. In the morning theres frost and ice but no midges. Can't believe it's August.
Just a tip, dont drive at speed back to Braemar in the hope of getting breakfast cos all the cafes will be shut. Strange place.
Unpacking the Skoda at Maasticht Airport car park.
After picking up a map and possibly a waffle in the town we headed across the Maas on the LF6 cycle path towards Gulpen.
A late start meant we only reached the camp site at Gasthuis.
Next day we had breakfast in Gulpen before camping up at a farm site just before Vijlen.
This part of the Netherlands is quite hilly and the next morning we were quickly into Vaals near the German border for breakfast. I can recommend the bread with apple crumble on top. We crossed into Germany on the way to Orsbach and Bocholtz. There were eagles in a near by wood. How come they can preserve them in such a crowded country but we can't?
After Simpleveld and Ubachsberg we ran down hill to camp in the main valley near Valkenburg.
Valkenburg is probably a beautiful place but they seemed to be digging up the whole town at once so we passed swiftly on and back to the car at the airport.
A short leisurely tour in good weather and the best hotel Ive ever stopped at on the way back.
Saturday and not working, and it's reasonably sunny, so we head for Chapel Stile and Lingmoor Fell. Previous visits have all been from Blea Tarn side so we are soon lost amongst the quarry workings. Well at least its interesting amongst the workings. We dont find the path til we reach the gate to the ridge.
Must be one of the best viewpoints in the Lakes.
The views from this ridge are splendid. I could say breathtaking but I am still waiting to see a view that has me doubled up gasping for breath.
When you get to my age everywhere you go brings back memories of past trips. walking down Mickleden, nackered, with my dad when I was 12 after climbing Scafell Pike. My brother and me jogging down from Pavey Ark in trackies and trainers, 30 years ago, after a day climbing in the sun and wondering why walkers were dressed as if for the Antarctic. The arrogance of youth.
Well we go off track again and descend from Lingmoor Tarn to the Cumbria Way via some interesting little gills and detours to avoid vertical vegetation.
Another great day topped off by a visit to the cafe in Chapel Stile. I can recommend the bacon bun.
I was parked up by 09:00 in a small lay-by in the lane just south of the YHA at the foot of Wastwater. Crossing Lund Bridge I headed up Whin Rigg in a sleet shower. The primroses and blue bells were lovely in the woods and I heard my first cuckoo of the season. Yesterday, when I had once more been at work, had been a lovely day. Now the high fells were covered in grey clag and there was fresh snow on Gable.
At least the wind was light and I spent a long time exploring the small tarns and peering down into the incredible gullies dropping to the screes below.
I followed the edge of the drop off rather than the main path and eventually ended up on Illgill Head, a strange name as there appears to be no Ill Gill there abouts. Now here's where the memory is faulty. I remembered reading in my Wainwright guide that the Borrowdale Volcanic rocks on the summit of this fell contain garnets. So as I eat my sandwiches I break a few open and sure enough there are beautiful little garnets the size of small peas.
The weather starts to clear as I photograph Yewbarrow reflected in Wastwater. 29 years ago I climbed it from the road and straight up the prominent gully visible on the south ridge. I used to love those kind of lines in those days.
Spurning the tourist route I discover some interesting little valleys above Straighthead Gill.
I descend to the lake on the west side of Fence Wood and head back along the screes path.
The screes seem to go on for ever but I eventually reach the end and head back to the car with a red head.
The reference to garnets in Wainwright? can't find it .