Knott Rigg & Ard Crags

Monday 21 January 2019. Today was an opportunity to tick-off 2 more hills from my Wainrights list and bring my total to 129 out of 214. I made the short drive of just 6 miles to park outside Little Town. The last 3 miles of this journey was on a narrow single track road and not one I’d like to make in adverse conditions.

I set off walking at 9:30am following cross-field paths to the start of the climb up Knott Rigg. This was to be a steep trudge with many false summits so I’m glad that I made my coffee stop at the foot of the hill near Keskadale Farm. I’d been walking for an hour but had only covered 1.7 miles. It took me another hour to cover the next three-quarters of a mile to the top of Knott Rigg but it did include a climb of almost 900ft. The reward was a nice ridge walk with a few ups and downs to the summit of Ard Crags.

I stopped for lunch at Aikin Knott, on the descent from Ard Crags. This spot provided some shelter from the westerly wind and gave fine views into the Newlands valley. It was a steep drop off Ard Crags and my walking poles saved my knees from taking too much of a hammering. Although it was another short walk of just 5.6 miles, it had a total ascent of 1,700ft and took me 4.5 hours to complete.

ard crags – walk route

Aerial View

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Glencoyne Valley

Saturday 19 January 2019. I parked the car at NT Aira Force and caught the bus to nearby Glencoyne Bridge to start the walk. Car parking at Aira Force was £9 for more than 4 hours so I was already on to a winner saving this fee with my Scottish NT membership.

I last walked in this area nearly 5 years ago with a descent from Sheffield Pike down the south side of the valley. There was a good low-level view down Ullswater from my starting point, from here it was uphill for the next 2 hours.

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My route took me past a row of former miner’s cottages called “Seldom Seen”; an odd name but they are somewhat off the beaten track and other than walkers, aren’t normally seen by members of the general public. By a strange coincidence, it was at this point that a red squirrel came bounding across my path; somthing else which is seldom seen. I managed to get a quick shot of it before it went scurrying away.

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Soon after, I stopped for coffee. At this point I’d climbed over 500ft and was just below the snow line. Anticipating slippery conditions, I donned my micro-spikes in order to avoid an unfortunate accident. From this elevated position I could see more of Ullswater and a limited view of the Glencoyne Valley.

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It wasn’t until I reached the top of the path around Sheffield Pike that I saw anyone else. A group of 6 walkers loomed out of the mist and headed off in the direction of Stybarrow Dodd. They were quickly followed by 2 fell runners, one wearing shorts.

I stopped for 1st lunch sat on a rock just under Scot Crag. My second lunch break was just after descending below the snow line near Spying How. The path from here to Aira Falls was a muddy slippery mess and seemed to take ages to complete. I had been looking forward to a scone and a pot of tea at the NT tea rooms but they closed at 3pm and I was 15 minutes late.

This had been a slow and arduous walk taking almost 5 hours to complete to 5.7 miles. Perhaps the underfoot conditions and a total ascent of 1,865ft had something to do with me only managing a little over 1mph. I think that I’ll take a rest day tomorrow and treat myself to a pub lunch followed by a couple of football matches on TV.

glencoyne – walk route

Aerial View

Loughrigg Fell

Friday 18 January 2019. Today is the first anniversary of my heart attack so what better to do than the walk over Loughrigg Fell that almost killed me. It didn’t hold any fears for me as I did this walk in March 2018, just 2 months after me heart attack, to prove to myself that I could still indulge in hill walking. Although the walk is only 5.25 miles it has a total of 1,100ft of ascent and is still something of a challenge.

I parked, for free, alongside the A591 and walked half a mile into Grasmere to pick up my route along Red Bank Road. This is a steady climb through woodland to the end of Loughrigg Terrace where it rises steeply climbing 550ft to the trig point at the top of Loughrigg Fell. I saw about 20 other walkers and a few fell runners on the way, all making the most of the calm but chilly conditions with frozen ground underfoot.

There are too many paths up and down Loughrigg to make navigation easy and I was glad of my GPS to find my way down to Ambleside. I’d just missed the 12:30pm bus back to Grasmere so I called in for a coffee to kill so time. Whilst enjoying the post walk drink, I could see that it had started to snow: my walk had been well-timed. The snow has now turned to rain but I hope that it turns back to snow overnight and that I wake-up in the morning to a blanket of white.

loughrigg fell – walk route

Aerial View

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Southwick

Sunday 13 January 2019. Five members of the Fenland Ramblers (Linda S, Linda W, Moira, Betty & me) were joined by Tommy from Corby and Mary from Whittlesey on this 7.1 mile walk from Southwick. There was a stiff breeze blowing in our faces for the first half of the walk but we then had the benefit of this being on our backs as we made our way home. Although rain wasn’t forecast, bands of heavy drizzle developed towards the end of the walk but we managed to miss most of these.

I was travelling light with my small rucksack and no camera, intending to take pictures on my phone, However, it wasn’t until we were more than halfway round that I gave any thought to pictures so this is a photo-less blog. Heading north from Southwick, we made our way through woodland to our coffee stop at Morehay Lawn. I had intended that we should sit on a fallen tree but there was a brick-built shooting lodge nearby. Tommy thought that, although it was signed as “Private”, it might be unlocked. Sure enough it was and we were able to take our break indoors using the table and chairs. It also had a flushing wc.

The second leg of the walk included  a further two minor climbs as we made our way to our lunch spot inside a derelict barn. We disturbed a Barn Owl which flew out as we approached. The drizzly showers increased in intensity and frequency as we ate our lunch so we extended this break for 10 minutes until the rains had blown through.

Our route back to Southwick included a small detour to pass through the centre of Short Wood. It had been a “brisk” pace which, combined with a few hills and the strong breeze, made this walk a little more arduous than normal. I apologise to those who took part if the pace was a little quick. I use Strava to record my walks and the analytics are shown below. I was surprised to see that we had achieved an average pace of 19.13 minutes per mile or a little over 3mph. This is something that I normally do when walking on my own but group walks are more often a little slower.

strava

southwick – walk route

Aerial View

 

Hunstanton

Sunday 6 Jan 2019. There were 10 of us, including Clare from Sheringham, on this 8.5 mile walk led by Linda S. It was a gloomy overcast day but not too cold. We set off in the general direction of Ringstead Downs and hadn’t been going long before we came upon a car which had crashed through a hedge on a narrow lane finishing up on its roof. The driver would have been lucky to escape without serious injury.

Back on route, we followed a series of tracks and narrow lanes before walking the length of Ringstead Downs. This is a dry chalk valley which was carved out by glacial meltwaters. Conveniently, there is a picnic area with benches/tables at the western end of the valley which is where we stopped for coffee having walked 3.3 miles.

Walking through Ringstead village we picked up the route of the Peddars Way and followed this to Holme-next-the-Sea where we stopped for lunch. We had walked 6.4 miles by now leaving a 2 mile beach walk back to the outskirts of Hunstanton and our cars.

hunstanton – walk route

Aerial View

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My walking year

Friends will know that 2018 didn’t get off to a good start for me as I had a heart attack whilst on a walking holiday at Grasmere in January 2018. This set me back but I was glad to survive after having two stents fitted. 2 months later I was able to complete the walk, that almost killed me, taking in Loughrigg Fell between Grasmere and Ambleside.

February was my lowest walking month with a total of just 19.5 miles as I gradually regained both health and confidence. My busiest month was May when I walked a total of 74.4 miles. Much of this was when Amanda, Josephine and Karen joined me on my holiday in Hawes. The weather contributed greatly to a most enjoyable time. These pictures were taken on a hilly circuit from Semer Water.sem5sem3

Although the summer of 2018 was something of a record breaker in terms of sunshine, the month of August was more than a little disappointing and frequent rains meant that I cut short my holiday in Conistone and only walked a paltry 33.5 miles.

A sore knee throughout much of 2017 meant that my annual walking total was restricted to 705 miles after having walked over 1,000 miles in each of the previous 4 years. Given good health and a little more weight loss I hope to push through the 1,000 mile barrier again in 2019 with holidays planned in Windermere, Northumberland, Keswick, the Cotswolds, the Peak District and Scarborough.

In addition to tracking my walks on the Anquet mapping application I also used Strava which has helped to produce the following summary of my activity in 2018 during which I walked a total of 546 miles.

Gooderstone

Sunday 23rd December
The weather forecast was dire, and after a few emails/texts to say that friends wouldn’t be coming, I made my way to Gooderstone Church at 10.00am, fully expecting not to walk. It was a drizzly fine rain, and Josephine and Michael were there but had decided not to walk. I promised a cup of coffee and a mince pie instead if no-one turned up.
But there was David, waiting in the church porch and fully wanting to walk to try out his new waterproof trousers!
‘No pain, no gain!’ he said to them, and against their better judgement they decided to walk…
The rain remained fine and drizzly, the company was congenial, and I for one thoroughly enjoyed the walk! We walked east through the village to the end and took a byway to the right.
We were passed by a van who saw us turn up the byway – he turned and came after us and said it was impassable and we must be mad, although once he saw our boots and gaiters, he realised we were indeed intrepid adventurers….it was my umbrella that made us look soft…!
We did have to negotiate some giant sized puddles and we returned on a lovely parallel path to the end of the village as far west as we could go, walking back through the village itself. We stopped near a ruin of a barn for a quick coffee stop, and decided to have lunch back at my place with warming cups of tea, mulled wine and mince pies.