The Coledale Horseshoe

27 09 2012

A fabulous day walking the Lakeland Classic that is, The Coledale Horseshoe.

A few weeks ago my friend, and client from my previous company informed me that she and her Husband would be in the Lakes and wanted to head out walking. After asking Felicia what kind of walk she wanted, she gave me the one word answer of ‘Challenging!’ A few walks came to mind, but the one that sat at the top of the list was The Coledale Horseshoe. This horseshoe stands high above Keswick and holds six summits, with the possibility of even getting eleven if you wanted to! It is a Classic, and it is also one of my all time favorite routes, so that just made today even better! ūüėÄ

We had originally planned to do this walk on Monday, but the forecast was atrocious, so we bumped it back to today, and what a good decision that turned out to be! We met in a small car park just above Braithwaite and got on our way up towards Grisedale¬†Pike. This part of the walk is the hardest of the entire horseshoe as it holds some steep sections and has the longest section of sustained climbing. As we climbed above the tree line there was still mist¬†sitting in the valleys, but we were very optimistic that it would clear later on as the weather forecast had stated. We climbed the Alpine style Kin Ridge to a misty summit of Grisedale¬†Pike. We didn’t linger and pressed on past Hobacarton¬†Crags to the summit of Hopegill Head. It was now shortly after midday so we stopped just off of the summit for a bite to eat.

We headed back southwards and just as we rounded Sand Hill we got some spectacular views down to Coledale Hause, and then down towards Crummock Water past Grasmoor. It seemed it was clearing after all. From Coledale Hause we followed the track around the back of Eel Crag before climbing its slopey western flank. We reached this summit and were again in the mist so we continued on with the second half of the horseshoe. After just a few metres of descent we were back under the cloud and feasting on some fab views once again. Along this stretch the cloud just continued to clear and we even got sightings of Scafell and Scafell Pike in the distance, as well as the Langdale Pikes. We summitied Sail followed by Scar Crags and then finally Causey Pike. We took a moment to have a break and enjoy the views on this last summit.

We descended back into the horseshoe and followed the good track back into Braithwaite were we had started 7 hours earlier.

Fancy doing this walk? Check out our Diary at, or hire us out privately for your own persoanl adventure!


Grisedale Pike, GPS and Go Activities

19 09 2012

A week or so ago I was asked by GoActivities to be a part of a new video they were shooting. The aim of the video was to demonstrate the benefits of having a designated GPS unit over a smart phone, and to let people know there are places to go, such as Lakeland Mountain Guides, where they can be trained to get the most out of their unit.

They guys behind Go Activities are Mike Griffin and Ollie Kilvert, who I actually met back in June 2010 on my ML training. The beauty of Facebook is that although you don’t see someone for 2 and a half years, you can stay in touch and see what they have been up to. When we met in Keswick this morning it was like it was just last week when we were last on the hills together.

The guys were hoping for a bit of poor weather, but typically today the cloud was above the summits, so we chose to go somewhere with good views all round, so we headed for Grisedale Pike. We chatted as we climbed and then stopped and got the odd shots for the video half way up. Just as we carried on we got hit by a a quick rain storm which soaked us through! Just below the summit the cloud dropped again, during which we got some more great shots.

After getting to the summit we walked over the top to Coledale Hause, where we did our final bits of filming. Lexi had done well all day, and while we were doing these final shots she decided to have a little snooze in the grass!

We made our way out of the valley in the setting sun, and straight into the pub at the bottom, magic!

The Final Video can be found at the following Link, It’s amazing!

Lexi’s first Mountain – A day up Catbells

13 09 2012

Lexi, our puppy Black Labrador is now six months old, and yet to have any real mountain action. Labrador’s can have issues with their joints, especially if you were to work them too hard too young, so I have been holding off getting her out on the fells, but today was her day to bag her first mountain.

When we went to pick Lexi up from the breeder back in June they asked me what our purpose was for wanting a dog. I very proudly told the breeder I was a Mountain Guide and the puppy we were going to take off of his hands would have a life of exercise on the fells. Before we even needed to say we would smother it with tonnes of love every day he knew the puppy was going to a good home.

Lexi is a pure working bred labrador and after just a few days of having her we knew she would be the right dog for us. Just like most Labs, and probably most dogs, she is a walking hoover, loves to chew anything that isn’t hers, and craves that all important hug on the sofa in the evening.

This morning we set off from the Swinside¬†end of Catbells¬†and joined the track that climbs the spine of Catbells. My good friends Emma and Andy were climbing with us, and along with them they had their super bouncy Cocker Spaniel Raffles. As we set foot on the fell¬†we both unleashed the dogs. The dogs ran up, then down, then up, then down, then up….you get the picture. Before having even got 10m off of the ground lexi was laying down with her tongue hanging out, if only she knew what she was in for!

We carried on up through short drizzly showers. Lexi and Raffles continued to go through bouts of chasing each other around and around, receiving¬†the usual ‘Awwwws’ from fellow walkers. We reached the final rocky bit which Lexi thought out for herself, which I was very impressed with. Shortly after we were on the summit, Lexi had made it to the top of¬†fell number one.

After descending off of Catbells we went into Keswick and headed straight for my fave pet shop Podgy Paws. After getting Lex some well earned lunch we had a drink in the Dog & Gun followed by a swim (for the dogs!) in Derwent Water.

As I type this Lex is spread out dead to the world on her bed, we have one tired¬†pup on our hands. I wonder if in the years to come, after having climbed Scafell¬†Pike, or any fell hundreds of times she will look back at this first experience and remember where it all started….I know I will.

Climbing Stoat’s Crack on Pavey Ark with Kelvyn

5 09 2012

Since leaving my full time job as a guide on Monday 27th, I have not had a day out walking, climbing, scrambling….nothing! My time has been filled with either working in an outdoor shop in Keswick, or setting up this beautiful new venture of mine. If you keep an outdoors man indoors for too long he is sure to get cabin fever, and I just needed my outdoor fix!

Kelvyn asked me a few days ago if I was free anytime soon to head out for a climb, and I jumped at the opportunity, especially as the weather was being so good! We opted to meet in Langdale as it is half way between where we both live, and from there we would make our choice as where to climb. It didn’t take much thinking, we were going to head up to Pavey Ark.

Pavey Ark is the biggest cliff face in Langdale, holding the possibility of a 160m climb! Until today I had never climbed on its crags, and it was something I had wanted to do for a long time. Pavey Ark is usually also dripping wet, so today was a great opportunity to get a route done.

We opted to climb Stoat’s Crack, a 5 pitch, 112m Hard Severe (first climbed in 1933 by Record and Jenkins). After walking up the good path by Stickle Ghyll in the morning heat to Stickle Tarn, we made our way to the start of Jacks Rake where our route started. Kelvyn has recently got back from a 6 week adventure in the Alps, so you could say his climbing head was well and truley screwed on! This was the opposite to mine, as for various reasons (including getting married….and no I wouldn’t have rather been climbing than marrying Naomi! :p¬†)¬†I had not had the opportunity to climb all summer, so Kelvyn took the first pitch.

The first pitch was a bit soggy but we could see it would soon improve. We opted to put the first 2 pitches together to make one 36m pitch. Kelvyn, as always led in fine style. I climbed this first pitch tentatively and Kelvyn could sense from my reaction (and the series of sounds I had made while climbing!) that he was going to be leading the entire route. This is where many people would probably think they were having a shit time of it, but t be honest I was expecting to be a little dubious after so long not getting any personal climbing done, and I was glad to be outdoors!

Kelvyn cracked on up the route and the sun kept on beaming down on us. The route is described to have a ‘mountaineering air’ to it, and that it did, it was a fantastic route. After the 5th pitch we scrambled over the top of Pavey Ark to meet the descent path.

Soon enough we were back at the shore of Stickle Tarn sorting our kit and enjoying the afternoon heat. A fantastic day out, as it always is with Kelvyn. Roll on the next outdoor hit!

Matt’s day Guiding the Paralympic Torch Up Scafell Pike

3 09 2012

I will be honest, before the Olympics I was not too excited, and I think a lot of people may agree that 7 years of hype was starting to be a bit much! My attitude changed when I saw the Olympic Torch was taken through Cockermouth. It was a fabulous sight seeing the rows of people, and Olympic fever had obviously started to grip the country, and me!

The Olympics started and within just a few days I was regretting not getting any tickets, I was missing out. Naomi, my wife had managed to secure a place with work to go see the Paralympics, so it seemed I would have to resort to just watching as much as possible on TV.

At the beginning of August I got an email from Richard Warren, Chair of Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team, asking me if I would be one of 2 guides to lead the Paralympic Torch up Scafell Pike. I jumped at the opportunity and couldn’t wait, it was a second chance to be involved in something I thought I had well and truley missed out on! The emails came and went between Richard, myself and LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) and soon enough the day was upon us.

Wednesday 22nd August 2012

The aim was for all four Torches (as there was one going up the highest peaks of each country in the UK) to leave the base of the mountains at sunrise. I turned up at the Car Park at 5.45am to find just a single police car, but soon after everyone else arrived. WMRT representatives Richard, Mike and Ian arrived, as well as the other guide Penny (also WMRT). Soon aftter the 4 Scouts to light the flame and their leader appeared, followed by ITV, BBC News, The Chronicle and of course LOCOG. We were all here, and it was time for us to head on up.

It was unfortunately not the best of days for us, but hey, what are you gonna do! We set off up the Brown Tongue Path with the media leapfrogging us to get the footage of us climbing the mountain. The ascent went smoothly and it seemed everyone was up to the task. At about 500m we reached the mist, and half way through Hollow Stones it started to rain so we all donned our waterproofs. Our ascent continued and just below the summit plateau we held the team up to let Mike and Richard lead the Media to the summit to film us arriving.

After a few minutes standing in the wind and the rain we set off again. Just below the summit of Scafell Pike I let Karl lead the scouts to the top (as requested by the media teams). We reached the blustery summit but it turned out only one camera was rolling, so we actually had to leave the summit and reascend for all the media teams to film it!

After reaching the top for the second time the WMRT¬†guys had set up a small tarp so the flame could be created and lit in some relative shelter. The scouts did well to finally get the flame going in the tough conditions, so LOCOG¬†took their opportunity to get the Paralympic Torch going. As this happened my whole body tingled, hoping this wasn’t the onset of Hypothermia, I put this down to being part of such a special and historic¬†occasion.

Talking of Hypothermia, there were a couple of issues emerging. Upon our arrival at the summit there was a Man and his daughter already freezing on the summit. Despite being told to head down straight away by WMRT he stuck about to see the torch. Within just a few more minutes a bivi shelter was up and Penny was in it trying to warm the young girl up. We threw more and more layers in the hope she could be warmed before it got more serious. Unfortunately it also seemed some of the LOCOG team had not been fully prepared and their flimsy Paralympic jackets were not holding off any water or wind, let alone their shorts. The media were quickly ushered to to their final bits of filming of Karl and the torch before they transferred the flame into 4 seperate lanterns.

The potential for multiple hypothermia casualties was becoming an ever-increasing¬†possibility so I rounded up everyone but the WMRT¬†team tending to the Dad and Daughter and led them quickly off of the summit. My job as made harder on the way down as the group seemed to split into 2, so I found myself running to check the guys at the front were still ok, then waiting for the guys at the back (this wasn’t a major issue as the track back to Wasdale is quite clear)

Not far from the bottom it seemed the lanterns were struggling so the teams stopped to bolster the flames. By about 12.30pm we were all back in the Car Park and my job was done, I had led the Torch to the top, and back down again. A job I was honoured to do, and one I will never forget.


Have a read of Mike Ollis’s take on the day here: