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You’re joking, not another one!

Monday 28 January 2019. I’ve taken the title of this blog from “Brenda from Bristol’s” reaction to learning that there was to be another general election. Well, in my case, it was another heart attack and I most certainly wasn’t expecting another one.

My first heart attack came on 18 January 2018 and although I hadn’t realised it had been developing over the previous 3 weeks. I was becoming increasingly fatigued and short of breath when out walking. This all came to a head when I tried to climb Loughrigg Fell near Grasmere. It soon became obvious to me that I wasn’t going to make it and I returned to my hotel to call 111. They immediately recognised that I was having a heart attack and sent an ambulance for me from nearby Ambleside. I was taken to Lancaster hospital and then to Blackpool hospital 4 days later to have 2 stents fitted to clear blocked arteries in my heart. I was released the next day to start my recuperation. Thanks to my brother in Harrogate, my car was recovered from Grasmere and, along with me, we then made the journey home to Benwick.

I thought that it would take me quite a while before I would be back to walking any distance but looking back through my records I see that I managed a couple of 8 mile walks before the end of February 2018 and even went back to conquer Loughrigg Fell on 20 March 2018. I’d forgotten just how speedy the recovery had been and it gives me encouragement for the future.

Oddly, this latest trip to Keswick was planned to celebrate the first anniversary of my heart attack with Loughrigg Fell pencilled in for exactly one year on. Having already completed this in March it held no terrors for me although it was perhaps the steepest climb of the holiday. I did 4 other walks, all of which involved climbs of well over 1,000ft. The most memorable of these was the climb through the snow to Alcock Tarn on 23 January. It was the most perfect walk and will stay in my memory forever.


My last walk of this holiday was on Thursday 24 January 2019. The weather deteriorated over the next few days and I spent the time lazing in my caravan. I had planned to return home on Sunday 27 January 2019 but high winds were forecast so I decided to stay and extra day and to drive home on the Monday.

Hitching up the caravan and getting on the road was uneventful but after about an hours driving I began to feel unwell with chest pains. I knew what was happening this time around and pulled into a lay-by on the A66 to self-administer my GTN spray which relaxes and widens blood vessels in the heart. I’d carried this spray with me for over a year and never had to use it. I certainly wasn’t ready for the side effect of dizziness and fainting. I didn’t pass-out but came close to it and I sat there in my car for more than 30 minutes until I felt a little better. The chest pain had subsided, just a little, and I decided to press on.

20 minutes later the chest pain and breathlessness became even more severe and I had no option other than to pull over into a lay-by and dial 999 for an ambulance. I decided that lying down in the caravan would be best but it was freezing in there and, in retrospect, I would have been better staying in the car. It took 45 minutes for the ambulance to make the 30 mile journey from Hawes. Why one couldn’t have been dispatched from nearby Darlington remains a mystery to me. I was rigged up to ECG and defribulator equipment in the back of the ambulance and rushed under blues and two’s to James Cook hospital in Middlesbrough.

On arrival I was taken straight into the cath lab for angioplasty to removed a blood clot which was blocking one of the stents fitted last year. I was then taken to the coronary care unit, still feeling very sore but out of immediate danger. My thoughts then turned to my abandoned car and caravan in a lay-by on the A66 somewhere just west of Scotch Corner. I’ve always had breakdown/recovery insurance through the Caravan Club with Green Flag. I gave them a call and by 7pm that evening both the car and caravan had been recovered and taken for safe storage in a compound near Ripon.

The next 2 pictures show the small incision point in my wrist for the angioplasty and the subsequent bruising. It looks like my arm has been amputated.

The next 4 days were taken up with further tests x-rays and ultra-sound scans and finally  Friday 1 February came around when I was due to be discharged. Just to add a fly into the ointment the doctor came to see me prior to my release. He was doing a chest examination with his stethoscope when I started coughing. I told him that I’d had the cough for over a year. This caused him some alarm so I was sent off for another chest x-ray. The doctor came back to tell me that he wasn’t really happy with the results which showed some opacification in the upper lobe of my lung. He said that it was probably nothing but that he would be happier if I had a CT scan. This would have meant staying in hospital for even longer but he was happy to let me go and for my local GP to follow-up on the CT scan. I’ve been referred to Peterborough hospital and await a date for the scan.

I spent Friday night with my brother in Harrogate and he then brought me home on the Saturday morning. The car and caravan were delivered home on Wednesday 6 February 2019. I’m prohibited from driving for 30 days and must thank Josephine who took me to see my GP on Wednesday this week and then for a blood test on Friday followed by a shopping trip to Tesco. I have enough provisions for a week or so and can get other essentials from the village shop. I haven’t really felt like doing much since getting home but will have to start with short rehabilitation walks around the village next week.

I had already booked  a 2 week trip to Windermere on 1st April 2019 but this is just 8 weeks away. I cancelled this holiday in order to save my deposit but can re-book nearer to the time should I feel fit enough to make the trip. At least I have a goal to aim for.

Just one last thing. I don’t think that the second heart attack was triggered by over-exertion but is probably attributable to stopping one of the blood thinning drugs that I stopped taking 12 months after the first heart attack. I’m now taking Ticagrelor again for the next 12 months along with Aspirin and will then switch to Clopidrogrel in 12 months time. I just hope that there won’t be a 3rd heart attack as I doubt that my heart would stand the strain. I hope to be back with the Fenland Ramblers at some time during the Spring.


Hilgay and the River Wissey

Sunday 3rd February. It was a glorious day, and 11 members turned out on an icy cold morning for the 6.5 mile walk.
We parked in the village and made our way out west, crossing the A10 and up onto the banks of the River Wissey, where we surprised three herons. We came back to the A10 via Dents shop and cafe, and so we stopped for elevenses.
We walked back through the village, and headed east out to Hilgay Fen, a County Wildlife Site of open fen lying along the south bank of the River Wissey. It incorporates Hilgay Heronry, an SSSI, which supports an average of 40 occupied nests each year.
A pretty wooded track then led us back to the village and our cars.

Castle Acre walk

Sunday 20 January 2019. On a cold and frozen morning 9 people joined Linda from the Fenland Ramblers and several old friends from other groups.

The walk took us down paths and tracks around the area following a route in the walks in Norfolk, Castle Acre route.

As it was so cold coffee and lunch stops were taken quicker than usual so we didn’t get too cold.

Lunch stop was at the ford, not far from the end of the walk, but a seat was available for some to sit on in more comfort. We did see a 4 x 4 negotiate the ford safely but didn’t encounter many people walking on most of the paths.




Thursday 24 January 2019. After a stunning day yesterday, it was too much to hope for similar weather and today was grey, dry, but less cold. I’ve done Latrigg a couple of times before and it is the most accessible hill from Keswick. I left my caravan at a little after 9am and walked through the town to join the old railway line path that used to run as far as Threlkeld. Sadly, a couple of bridges were washed away in 2015 by Storm Desmond. A £7.9m funding package has been put together and restoration work, which will last for 2 years, is due to start soon. Luckily, for me, I wasn’t heading as far as Threlkeld and what remains of the railway path was enough for me to reach a permissive path through Brundholme Wood. This was a lovely little track and made for an interesting approach to the ascent of Latrigg.

As with most of my walks this week, I stopped for coffee just before the snow-line and donned the micro spikes. There was soft snow for the final mile or so up to Latrigg. This turned into icy tracks closer to the summit as I joined the tourist route up from Keswick. I’d only seen a couple of dog walkers on my way to the top but passed quite a few walkers on my way down. This was the longest walk of the week at 7.5 miles and had a total ascent of 1,300ft.

latrigg – walk route

Aerial View



Alcock Tarn

Wednesday 23 January 2019. Dawn broke with a beautiful pink light on the hills and the promise of fine weather for today’s walk.


I had planned to do today’s walk with Karen but she decided to stay at home and not risk getting stuck in the snow. Had she come then the weather yesterday was rubbish so, instead, I decided to go for breakfast at Lingholm Kitchen and to spend the rest of the day in the caravan. Today was completely different and the conditions couldn’t have been better for winter hill walking in the Lake District. Although the temperature barely rose above freezing, there were blue skies and no wind.

I drove to Grasmere and parked again for free alongside the A591 just outside the village. A short walk back up the road and I was soon heading uphill. The last time I took the path beside Greenhead Gill was with Jacqui. We were heading for Heron Pike but had to turn back as the footbridge across the gill had been washed away by Storm Desmond. It has now been replaced over 2 years later and a fine job they have made of it.


I’ve visited Alcock Tarn once before but this was by descending from the Fairfield Horseshoe route. Today’s route was new to me and soon after crossing the new bridge I entered the snow-line and stopped to put on my micro-spikes. I could have managed without them on the way up but they were definitely needed on the way down. It was a steep climb up Butter Crag through snow about 3 inches deep but I was rewarded by having Alcock Tarn all to myself. I’d only seen 2 other far-distant walkers who were climbing the hillside across from me on their way up to Stone Arthur.


The views from Alcock Tarn were spectacular. I could see The Old Man of Coniston, Crinkle Crags, Bow Fell, the Langdale Pikes and too many other hills to mention by name. A minor inversion was just clearing over Windermere adding an air of mystery to the view.


It was just wonderful up there and I didn’t really want to come down. I was in no hurry and settled down sat on a rock to have a leisurely lunch. I doubt that I’ll find a better spot, certainly not in Fenland. It was time to head down. I passed about a dozen other walkers on their way up. I’m sure that they will find the effort worthwhile.

My path took me down to a point just above Dove Cottage. I’d only walked 2.5 miles by now but this had included a climb of about 1,000ft to Alcock Tarn. It was too soon to end the walk and I wanted to make the most of this incredible day. I decided to follow the Coffin Route for tea & cake at Rydal Mount before catching the bus back to Grasmere. The walk turned out to by just 4.25 miles but still had a total ascent of 1,500ft.

alcock tarn – walk route

Aerial View

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



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.


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.


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.


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