Wednesday 28 October 2015. It rained for most of today so it didn’t really make sense to go walking and get soaked. The question was how to fill the day? Initial thoughts were to look in at the Pencil Museum in Keswick before going on for lunch in Ambleside followed by a visit to the cinema. This was quickly revised when we saw a small queue of families with “children” waiting to go into the museum. A trip to Costa’s for coffee, a walk around Cotswold Outdoors and visit to the Wainwright exhibition at Keswick’s town museum turned out to be a much better alternative.
Ambleside was rammed with people trying to find something to do and to escape the rain. The main car park was just about full although we managed to find the very last space. My plan of going to see the latest James Bond film, Spectre, came to nothing as all of the afternoon showings were sold out. Instead, we opted to go and see Suffragette. I think that Jacqui enjoyed it more than me although it was interesting to learn more of the struggle for female emancipation.
The weather forecast for tomorrow is a little better with rain clearing by mid-morning which should mean a return to the fells.
Tuesday 27 October 2015. There’s nothing like jumping in at the deep end and today’s walk up England’s highest mountain was quite a challenge. Jacqui had never been to the top of Scafell Pike (3,210ft) and with rain forecast for the next couple of days, today was the day to get it done. We arrived at the road-side parking spaces near Seathwaite Farm at about 9:15 to find that is was already fairly full and we had to park a little further down the road. By the time we got our boots on and kitted up it was just before 9:30.
Route finding for the first part of this walk to Styhead Tarn is easy. Just head through the farmyard and on to Stockley Bridge before turning right up to the tarn. This section was a steady uphill climb and took us about an hour and a quarter; just right for our first rest/coffee stop overlooking the tarn. It is half-term week and there were lots of family groups up until this point but most of them seemed to be doing a shorter route via Sprinkling Tarn rather than heading on up to Scafell Pike. Anyone who has walked in the Lake District will know that there are no signposts out on the fells so route finding is down to you.
Our path up onto the Pike turned left at the landmark of a Mountain Rescue shelter box which, in good visibility, was easy to spot, and then turned right to join the Corridor Route. This right turn wasn’t as easy to spot, we were taking a short cut, and Anquet came into its own at this point. The Corridor Route up to the top of Piers Gill was perhaps the most enjoyable part of the walk as it weaved it way through the hills high above Wasdale. The interest factor increased as we came to the infamous “bad step.” This is a part of the path where there is a drop of about 12-15ft down a sheer cliff wall with only very small footholds to help ease your way down. Both Jacqui and I had to use our bottoms as well as hands & feet to safely slither down to the bottom. One of my pictures shows walkers making their way down the “bad step” preceded by a couple with their dog which seemed to have less trouble than its human companions.
Turning around the top of Pier Gill, we then encountered a boulder field for the last mile or so up to this summit. It was at this point that we encountered what can only be described as “crowds” of holiday walkers making their way either up or down to the trig point at the top. I knew that Scafell Pike is popular but not quite as attractive as it seemed today. There had been a strong breeze blowing for most of the ascent but this took on near gale-force proportions as we posed for pictures at the trig point and was so strong that the gusts almost blew us off our feet. We found a relatively sheltered spot for a quick lunch stop before making the long descent back to the car. It had taken us nearly 4 hours to get to the top and would take us almost a long to get to the bottom.
The descent route took us down to the col below Broad Crag before climbing again on the path leading towards Esk Hause. I say path, but it wasn’t a path as understood by the Fenland Ramblers as it crossed even more large boulder fields and then along pitched tracks with stone steps or just rocky/stony ground. This was to become a feature of our return route. At the top of Ruddy Gill we still had a couple of miles to go and I estimated that it might take us about an hour and a half to complete. I had under-estimated by about 20 minutes as the never ending and somewhat tedious path made for slow going meaning that we got back to the car just before 5pm in rapidly fading light. The 9½ mile route with a total ascent of 3,900ft had taken nearly 7½ hours to complete. Whilst it is an iconic route, there are many more enjoyable Lakeland walks and, as I’ve now been to the top of Scafell Pike on at least 5 occasions, I won’t be rushing back to do it again any time soon.
Scafell Pike – walk route
Monday 26 October 2015. I’m at HF Derwentbank for a few days of hill walking with Jacqui. I drove up yesterday to Harrogate calling in at Boroughbridge to visit my nephew and his family. My niece and her brood called around yesterday afternoon so I’ve now done my pre-christmas visiting duties to the whole of my family.
My brother’s Boxer “Lilly” has been lame with a ligament injury which was operated on a few days ago at a cost of £3,000. A good job that she is insured. She has to wear a plastic cone around her neck for a while; this can be seen in the picture of her with my twin brother Mal.
I left his place at 7am today as he set off for work and stopped off in Kirkby Lonsdale for breakfast on the drive up to Portinscale. I met Jacqui for lunch at the Lakes Distillery before doing the tour to see how they make Whisky, Vodka and Gin. Both of us came away having bought a large bottle of their finest Gin.
The HF house at Derwentbank is overrun with a group of two dozen walkers from Stafford who, despite all being pensioners, make too much noise and just clutter the place up. I’m glad that I have Jacqui for company. Another consolation is that I have a room with a view which can be seen from a couple of the following pictures.
The weather for tomorrow looks set to be fair so the target is Scafell Pike. Read subsequent posts to see if we make it to the top?
Sunday 18 October 2015. I had a 60-mile drive to the start of today’s walk and was more than a little surprised and disappointed to find that I was on my own at the designated meeting point of the free car park just off the B1145 in Reeepham. However, as I wandered through the Market Square, on the way to the toilets, I met Karen and she was later joined by Michael, Helen, Peter and Linda (x2). So my journey wasn’t wasted as seven of us set off for this 8-mile walk taking in parts of the Marriot’s Way.
As you can see from the map, we took a detour off route to visit the church at Great Witchingham which provided dry seating for our coffee stop. The morning service had just finished and I think that the Vicar and his few parishioners were taken aback to find a group of ramblers cluttering up the entrance porch to their church. We didn’t stay too long and were soon back on track heading along the disused railway bed which now served as the route of the Marriot’s Way.
We looked in at briefly at Whitwell station which was serving refreshments but, as we had brought our own packed lunches, we made use of their newly built toilets and then headed off out into the countryside once again. We stopped at around the 6-mile mark for lunch before heading north in the general direction of Brick Kiln Farm. The Marriot’s Way continued for a couple of miles more before doubling back towards Reepham. It was at this point that we took a short cut just north of the farm in order to stick to the published distance for the walk.
Leaving the Marriot’s Way, it was only a short distance along Kerdiston Road and back into the centre of Reepham. It was along this road that we saw a rather amusing sign displaying a price list for horse manure. It seems that the fancier the name then the more expensive it was although it was just a load of s*#t.
Reeepham – walk route
Monday 12 October 2015. I had a rest from walking yesterday in preparation for my planned return home today. However, I was to be pleasantly surprised to find that Jacqui was spending a few days in Ingleton, just 20 miles away, so we took the opportunity to meet up for dinner on Sunday night, to go for a walk today up Whernside and then to have a late lunch together. It made for a most enjoyable end to a memorable short break.
I met Jacqui at 9.30am near to the Ribblehead viaduct and we set off under glowering skies with a real threat of rain. This didn’t improve much and when we arrived at the summit (2,415ft) there was a veil of mist. This cleared from the direction of the Howgills as we stopped for coffee and by the time that we were half way down the sun had come out, there were blue skies and we were shedding the hats, coats and gloves that were needed on the way up.
The walk was a little over 8 miles with a total ascent of 1,660ft. Having done Great Shunner Fell, the 3rd highest Yorkshire hill on Saturday, it was good to finish on Whernside, the highest point in Yorkshire. Jacqui was doing her own 3 Peaks, having walked up Ingleborough yesterday and finishing off with Pen-y-ghent tomorrow.
The rainbow picture was taken on my drive back to the caravan as a heavy shower fell in Wensleydale.
Saturday 10 October 2015. The rain prevented me doing this walk on Wednesday and rather than doing it, as intended, from Hawes to Keld I decided to do it the opposite way around. This meant that I had my £25 taxi ride to Keld at the start of the walk and could walk back at my leisure without the pressure of meeting a pre-determined pick-up time.
The taxi picked me up at 8.30am and dropped me off at Keld Lodge at a little before 9am. The dining room was full of residents enjoying their breakfast but I could only look on in envy before setting off on my walk back to Hawes. I was familiar with the first part of this route and knew that there was a climb of 700ft to the top of Kisdon Hill. It was steep to start with but gradually eased off the nearer that I got to the top. The reward was a fine view down Swaledale although the early morning mist restricted this a little. A steady descent took me into the hamlet of Thwaite. I’d walked just under 3 miles but it had taken me 90 minutes and by now I was feeling a little hungry. Thankfully there is a Coffee Shop in Thwaite and I called in for a pot of tea and a bacon butty in readiness for the climb of Great Shunner Fell that was to follow.
In a strange way I was looking forward to doing Great Shunner Fell which, at 2,350ft, is the 3rd highest hill in Yorkshire. I have to say that it was something of a disappointment as it is just a rounded piece of moorland and lacks the character of Yorkshire’s more well-known 3 Peaks. It was 3.4 miles from Thwaite to the top of Great Shunner Fell and on the way up I only met one fell runner and a group of 3 walkers who had set off from Tan Hill. It therefore came as something of a surprise when I got to the top to find that the cross-shaped summit shelter was full of other walkers, most of whom must have come up in the opposite direction from Hawes. It was so busy that I had to ask a group of walkers to shove up so that I could have a sit down for my lunch break.
The descent was a little boring, open moorland, until Hearne Top where views of Wensleydale opened up. Rather than following the Pennine Way back through Hardraw, the Herriot Way diverted through Appersett on the way back to Hawes. All the way down, for almost 7 miles, I’d been thinking that I would have some celebratory fish & chips in Hawes but I was to be bitterly disappointed to find that the chippie was closed until 5pm. I wasn’t going to wait for over an hour and celebrated with a Magnum choc ice when I got back to the caravan.
This final leg of my Herriot Way was 13 miles with a total ascent of 2,400ft. Whilst I’ve enjoyed doing the whole 52 miles, my favourite leg was that from Keld to Thwaite. It had the most climbing and was perhaps the most remote. Perhaps that is why I liked it the best.