Sunday, 21 July 2013

Great Gable

After a good night's sleep in the van, we woke to the promise of a beautiful, sunny day. Actually, we knew it was gonna be a scorcher, but that didn't put us off. We knew it was going to be very hard work in the heat to reach summit of Great Gable, but we were gonna get there, no matter how much water we had to carry. So, after a leisurely breakfast, we drove towards the car park at Wasdale Head, passing alongside Wast Water en route. The water looked so good, we just had to stop and take pictures.

This one was taken by Peter
A couple of times actually......

I love the shape of Yewbarrow
But we did eventually get to Wasdale Head. We booted up, filling our rucksacks with loads of water, a bit of food, the essentials such as a torch, plasters and a lightweight waterproof jacket. Why? Well just in case every weather forecaster in the UK and beyond has got it wrong and it rains....... As if! You could argue that I might need it if we ended up getting stuck on the hill into the night, and it rained then, or as an extra layer if it got cold. Hill walking folk are suppose to prepare for every eventuality and every just in case. This just means heavier rucksacks and I hate it. (But I still took the waterproof).

We locked up the van and set off on our way. Or at least we thought we'd locked up the van. What we'd actually done was left the side door wide open, with all our belongings and valuables exposed to anyone who fancied helping themselves. Obviously we didn't know about it (or what happened as a result), until we got back. Blissfully ignorant, we made our way along the path towards Great Gable.

As we knew it would be, the heat was exhausting. But we are quite used to taking our time and stopping at every opportunity, and today was no different. In fact, Gizmo (the GPS) reckoned we spent more time stopped than we did walking (I blame it on the glorious views). The sun was high and the temperature rose. Our packs got lighter because we were drinking so much water, and we delighted in every little breath of wind, standing still, arms open trying to catch as much as possible of the slightest breeze. We'd already planned to enjoy the ascent and take all day about it because of the heat. So we did.

Looking back at Yewbarrow
Styhead Tarn
When we got to the summit the memorial plaque was missing (for refurb), which was a little disappointing. And it wasn't worth taking many photographs, as the haze obscured the views. But it was lovely up there and we sat for a while, enjoying the sun, the breeze, and the world around us. 

Wast Water from the summit of Great Gable
And then it was time to go down. Peter's original route was to take the path heading South West and go straight down through the gap between White Napes and Great Napes. After a review (encouraged by yours truly), he decided that might be a bit steep, and chose the North West Path heading for Beck Head before turning South West further down. This seemed a much better route. 

And I am sure it was, if we'd have gone that way. But we didn't, we ended up following a track which took us just North of White Napes, and then onto an extensive scree slope. And we weren't the only ones. Behind us came families and groups, all looking for the way down, and all facing this long, and very wide slide of loose stone.
You can just see the start of the scree slope in the foreground of this picture. 
The slope separated the fun loving and sure footed from the uncoordinated wusses. I of course was a wuss. I didn't like the slope. I didn't like the way my feet kept shooting from under me, landing me on my backside.  I didn't like that I couldn't get get back up again. Behind me, other walkers didn't bother trying, choosing to slide down on their bums. I finally managed to get up and stay upright as I went downhill, but I didn't like the way the stones kept moving under my boots. It was like being on a wet slippery floor and my shoulders ached with the effort of using my sticks to keep balance.

Another walker passed by, sliding and skidding like it was the most normal thing in the world, using the scree to move faster downhill. I tried to copy his movement, but I was rubbish at it, and all I got for my efforts were stones in my boots! What made this all the worse was Peter. He'd learnt how to scree ski and had thoroughly enjoyed himself all the way down. And there he was, down at the bottom, sat waiting for me with a big grin on his face because he'd had such a brilliant time. I looked daggers at him as I slipped and skidded, slowly and unsurely to reach him. When I finally got there, his first words were, "That was fun, can we do it again...............?"

I didn't answer.

Once we'd got past the scree, we followed a steep grassy path down to the base of the mountain. My toes were hurting, and in the end I took my boots off. The grass felt lovely and cool beneath my feet.  Sadly I had to put the boots back on when the path levelled out and became gravelled and rocky. We got to the car park where we could see all the people who'd chosen the scree route. We were all covered top to toe in scree dust and looked as mucky as miners. 
Nearly at the bottom
We got to the van and then discovered to our horror that the door had been open all the time we'd been away. Hurriedly we checked the contents, and then realised t that absolutely nothing had been touched. Maybe folks thought we were close by, or maybe (as I prefer to think) it's simply that most are honest. Whatever the reason, we were very relieved that nothing had been stolen. But we will be double checking those doors every time we leave it in future.

Another brilliant day despite the scree. I have decided that I must learn how to scree ski, and then maybe I won't feel such a wuss or look like I've been chewing a wasp the next time I come down one of those slopes.

Here's a map showing our track.  You can see we abandoned the formal paths just so we could play on the slide. 
Our path downwards leads from Great Gable to just North of White Napes.  Happy Scree Skiing everyone. 

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Irton Pike and a wild night out.

Irton Pike 
Irton Pike in the title is easy to explain because we zipped up there on a little five mile circular whilst we were in the Lake District,  (when I say zipped, I really meant "hauled myself up at a pace only just faster than a sleepy tortoise").

The wild night out bit depends on what you mean by "wild camping".  Up until a few weeks ago, I, like many other walkers, thought wild camping meant lugging your tiny one man tent plus food, plus bed, plus cooker etc, to somewhere remote and preferably very high up, with a beck or small lake for water.  You then enjoy the sunset, and sleep with nothing but a bit of canvas (sometimes no canvas) between you and the "wild" which usually means wind, rain and snow.   You could do it in the summer of course, but some walkers seem to like making life difficult for themselves.  So there you go - wild camping.

Apparently there is another type of wild camping - for the motorhome owner, wild camping means stopping for the night in a location that is not a campsite. You find a sheltered layby or parking area, away from houses, not on private land, and without "no overnight camping" signs. You then have to make do without the benefit of an electric hook up, toilet blocks and running water.   So there you go, that's wild camping.
Hedge Woundwort growing near our "wild camp"

But of course, in your  motorhome you'll have your gas cooker, your gas fridge, loads of water, a battery full of electric, a cupboard full of food, solid metal and glass between you and the weather and you didn't have to carry anything anywhere.  Some motorhomes are so luxurious the owners may as well be at home in front of the tele.  For me, this is not wild camping, but I have to accept the term applies.

So, bearing all this in mind, me in himself went "wild camping".  We took the campervan to a secluded car park in the Lake District and stopped there for the night.  It was a bit of an experiment to be honest, testing whether or not we could pull it off, and I am pleased to say we successfully mastered the problems of using a portaloo.  I won't go into details but there have been "lessons learnt".

We arrived at our planned overnight stop at the base of this little hill around 2 o'clock.  The idea was to go for a short walk, stay at the car park overnight, and make our way to Wasdale, just a couple of miles away, in the morning.

So, having explained all that, I'll get back to the walk up Irton Pike.

Booted up, we set off to find the path Peter had chosen for the ascent.  As usual, he chose the most direct route which of course is straight up.  We couldn't find the path at first, the trees and bracken hid it from the main path we were walking on, but after a couple of double backs we started up, making our way through spiky little pine trees and bracken.

It was quite a steep climb, but it's only a little hill, and it didn't take too long before we got to the top.
View from the top of Irton Pike.  Seatallan, Middle Fell, Yewbarrow, Kirk Fell and Great Gable on the left side of  Wast Water, Irton Fell and Whin Rigg to the right.
From there it was a circular route through the pine forest and back down to our camper van.  It was another hot sticky day, and we went through quite a bit of water on this short walk.  We were enjoying ourselves though, not rushing and taking in the views. At one point we sat on a bench to be joined by a robin, a chaffinch and a sparrow. I reckon they were checking out our snacks, and looking to come back for the crumbs once we were gone.
Bog Asphodel

Silver Knott
The last stretch of the walk was a little more .............  stretching.  It began with a little bit of difficulty following the path through the bracken, which grew higher and higher the further we went.
Watch out for velociraptors!
Peter found the way through and we reached the gate at the end of this path into the woods.  Then we got a bit lost!   Well.....  not really, because good old Gizmo, (my GPS), had been tracking us along the route all the time and knew exactly where we were and where we should be.  Not that it helped us find the path, but Gizmo did at least get us walking in the direction of the car park.  We came out of the wood just across the road from it.

Campervans are dead handy things to have.  First thing we did was put the kettle on.

Tomorrow is going to be hotter than today and we are going for the summit of Great Gable.  Let's hope the heat doesn't wear us out before we get there.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Goyt Valley

I was gonna call this "A White Hot Peak Walk", since it took place in the White Peak part of the Peak District on a really hot n muggy day. Then himself goes n tells me that that the Goyt Valley is borderline, more Dark Peak than White Peak.  So really this was "A Hot Dark Peak, (with a bit of White Peak) Walk................

I decided to keep it simple and call it "Goyt Valley"

We started from a car park on the side of Errwood Reservoir.  The road alongside the reservoir (and our way home from the car park), is closed between 11.00am and 16.00pm every Sunday allowing pedestrians and cyclists to wander freely alongside the reservoir.  We managed to get into the area and our chosen parking spot just before they closed the road off.  Phew!

From the car park, we took a path through the woods to have a look at  Errwood Hall. The site appealed to me as I tried to imagine who'd lived here and what their daily lives were like.  The foundations we saw didn't really tell us much, but I looked it all up when I got back.  The pictures on this site: The Grimshaws of Errwood Hall show the place in all it's grandeur.  I think I should have looked this up before we went out, as it's nice to know the local history and what to look out for on a walk.  We might have tipped our hats at the cemetery or taken a detour to look at the shrine.

Instead we climbed the little vale of Shooter's Clough and then turned to follow the ridge above Stake Side heading for Stake Farm.  We were out in the heat of the sun now and I lathered up in factor 30 sunscreen.  I burn painfully easily (not me legs though, my legs never burn). The breeze picked up and kept us cool in the bright sun, making the walk that much more enjoyable.

Errwood Reservoir
A right turn and we were on our way up to Shining Tor.
Shutlingsloe from our path to Shining Tor
Benches at the summit were very welcome, and we sat and enjoyed an early lunch in the sun.
Shining Tor Summit
Then it was onwards, along the ridge to Cats Tor, Oldgate Nick and Pym Chair.

Cats Tor

From there we walked on to Windgather Rocks,  playground for the climbers.
Windgather Rocks
We watched for some time as children from 7 to 70 made their way up the cliff - some with ease, others with care and encouragement from the belayer's.  I've always wished I had learnt to do that.

Climbers on Windgather Rocks
It was time now to start making our way down.  We walked through a surreal,very lovely pine woodland. We couldn't work out how it had come to look like this, and we half expected Snow White, or the Three Little Pigs to appear from behind one of the trees.

Then we were back into the open, and the sun and the heat, and without the breeze.  Now the walking was hot and humid.  We stayed in the woods alongside Fernilee Reservoir, following what turned out to be a closed path.

We'd seen the sign saying path closed, but to be honest, we didn't know which one it was pointing too.  It turns out that the foot bridge over Deer Clough had been taken out (some time ago I'd say) by a fallen tree.  Luckily everywhere was very dry and it was easy to cross the beck and continue our way.  I reckon that might be difficult after loads of rain.

We got to the end of Fernilee Reservoir, then it was up the bank to walk alongside Errwood Reservoir.  The road closure thing obviously works, there were people everywhere.  It seems Errwood Resevoir is a hang out for the young, free and noisy and is probably not the place you'd go for a peaceful stroll on a Sunday evening.

Another lovely day out without sunburn although it would have been nicer to have a bit of a breeze in the valley.  (And if your wondering,..... No, my legs didn't burn).

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Buckden Pike from Kettlewell.

This time Peter was running a workshop in Kettlewell in Wharefdale.  So once again I took advantage and hitched a lift and an overnight stay in the campervan.

The forecast was sunny and hot, so lathered in factor 30 suncream, (not my legs though, my legs never  burn or go brown. Humph!),   and with a back pack heavy with water, I set off through Kettlewell for what was expected to be a long hot walk.....

Until I got the the little Kettlewell store that is.  Thing is, I wasn't sure which road to take to find my path out of the village, I sort of walked this way a bit, looked at the map, turned round and sort of walked that way a bit, then turned round again. 

"I know," thought I, "I'll use the GPS, it'll tell me which way to go", then I realised that I'd left the GPS batteries in the charger at home.  (Funny isn't it, how you absolutely know that you've forgotten something, but have absolutely forgotten what is is).  As it happens, I was right outside the Kettlewell shop, and, miraculously, I had thought to put a few pounds in my pocket.  So batteries bought, GPS was switched on, and I could immediately see which way to go. This proved to be a useful move later on.

The route was easy, the sun was bright and high, and as I got higher in the hills, the wind blew breezy and cool.  Wonderful. 

Some pictures:
Looking back at Kettlewell
Great Whernside on my right
A lovely long grassy path ahead
Cottongrass everywhere
Buckden Pike ahead

A memorial to a crashed RAF Wellington Bomber and five crew.  The inscription reads: "Thanksgiving to God, the Parker family and local people and in memory of five Polish RAF Airmen who died here on 31/1/42 - buried in Newark. - The Survivor".  You can read his story and the reason for the fox head built into the memorial here:
I was absolutely delighted to see this Golden Plover, as I've never seen one before. 

The summit cairn of Bucken Pike, I sat here a few minutes, enjoying the views, the sun and the breeze
The route back 
Buckden down hill and dead centre. I'm not going there though. 

It was shortly after the last photograph was taken that I lost my route map.  I was cross with myself because of the littering factor more than anything else, but luckily, I had a GPS to keep me on the right path.  Dead useful cos occasionally I forget where I was planning to go and head of in a completely different direction.  Today was no exception, and I nearly ended up on a path down to Buckden when I should've been on a path to Starbotton.

I should also remember to clear the memory card on my camera more often too, since shortly after this point I discovered it was full, which is why there aren't any more photographs.

The last stretch of the walk from Starbotton to Kettlewell seemed to go on forever.  It was so much hotter down in the valley, the brisk breeze I'd enjoyed on the tops was gone, the air was still, and there isn't much shade.  The heat saps the energy, and I began to feel completely exhausted, but finally Kettlewell appeared in view, and I was back at the campervan, removing boots from hot tired feet. 

A happy tired tho'.  This was a really pleasant walk of just over 10 miles, and around 2500ft of up n down.

Oh, and by the way, the factor 30 suncream worked brilliantly and I didn't get burnt......... except for my legs!