The Coledale Horseshoe

29 06 2013

As I have said in Blog Posts before, The Coledale Horseshoe is amazing! I love every opportunity I get to guide people on it and share with them my fave walk.

Me and Steve set off up the Kin Ridge towards Grisedale Pike. The weather was clearning by the minute, and unlike yesterday, we didn’t have to put the waterproofs on at the car. We took it easy up the initial steep grassy climb and then enjoyed the views back towards Keswick as we headed for the next steep bit. We continued to make good progress right to the windswept summit of Grisedale Pike. We didn’t linger on the top as it was a bit chilly, so we left straight away for Hopegill Head.

On the summit of Hopegill Head we met some marshalls who were involved with the Buttermere Fell Race. The route the fellrunners were completing sounded absolutely nuts! A short while after leaving the summit we saw our first load of runners.

We stopped just up from Coledale Hause for a leisurely bite to eat while watching the runners head up Grasmoor. After lunch we climbed easily to the summit of Eel Crag. We took a moment to sit on the edge of the summit enjoying the fine views down into the Coledale Valley.

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Our next summit was Sail, after which we descended all the way to the good track by Scale Force Mine. We finished the day with an easy plod along the track back to the car, perfick!

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Grange Fell Navigation Training Day

28 06 2013

An enjoyable day running a Navigation Training Day on Grange Fell in the Borrowdale Valley.

We started off the day by running through the Map and it’s symbols at the car before heading off on some easy ‘legs’ to start the day. We covered hand-railing and catchment features before climbing the steeper staircase onto the top of Grange Fell. We spent most of the afternoon running through bearings and navigational tactics, essentially incorporating all that was taught.

We descended from the summit to Rosthwaite, from which we enjoyed a gentle jaunt back along the river to Grange.

Lakeland Mountain Guide’s often host Navigation Courses from £50pp. We cater for beginners right through to Advanced Navigators.

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Skiddaw via Ullock Pike

23 06 2013

Today’s walk was meant to be Blencathra & Sharp Edge, but after seeing the forecast for the weekend on Friday, I knew that Sharp Edge would be treacherous. Our round of Helvellyn & it’s edges yesterday was a tad slippy, and reading the news report of a person who took a 100m lob off of Swirral Edge yesterday just goes to show how easily things can go wrong.

I took the decision to bin the Blencathra walk completely. It is a mountain that is best enjoyed via it’s edges, and if the edges wouldn’t be enjoyable, what’s the point? So Skiddaw it was!

We started from High Side, on the north western flank of the mountain. It was a misty morning and it was obvious from the start the wind was going to be brisk. We made great progress up the ridge towards Ullock Pike. We did enjoy some nice views down onto Bassenthwaite but they were short lived. As we climbed higher and higher the wind strength increased, but occasionally we would find the odd hollow to provide some shelter. We continued over Ullock Pike onto the summit of Long Side, essentially just a continuation of the same ridge.

From Long Side we descended and located the summit of Carl Side in the mist. Now we had the big one to summit, Skiddaw. We took the steep scree path that kinda’ contours it’s way onto the plateau. Everyone climbed well up this thigh burning track.

Up on the plateau a short walk brought us to the wind blasted summit, an all too common occurrence on Skiddaw.  We squatted in the shelter for a few minutes to have snack but soon after we were off. We left the summit to the north and located the fence. Navigationally this fence is amazing, as we just followed it all the way to the summit of Bakestall, and then downwards again to the good track.

We followed the farmers track back down the valley enjoying the views. A combination of us descending and the cloud lifting meant we finally got to see something. An enjoyable walk back down the track and a bit of road at the end brought us back to the cars.

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Pillar from Wasdale via the High Level Route

19 06 2013

It is not often I get a request to take a group up Pillar, but when I did, I was over the moon! Pillar and the surrounding fells are a fantastic, classic walking experience, but one that so many people overlook for what stands on the other side of the valley – Scafell Pike.

I met George, David, Ian, Johnathon and John (Dudley) on the village green in Wasdale just before 9am. The weather was looking fantastic, a day where it would be a shame not to be on the fells!

At The Start

We set off behind the Wasdale Head heading for the Black Sail Pass. I learnt that Pillar via the High Level Route was a route that George had wanted to do for some years, but felt being guided would be best for it. The High Level Route is a traverse that skirts around Pillar’s northern slopes to the impressive Pillar Rock, before turning towards it’s summit.

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The heat of the day was building fast so I took on as much water as possible before re-filling it at the river from Black Sail. I also encouraged Lexi to do the same. We enjoyed a nice pace and reached the pass about 10.30am. We walked across the easier ground and joined the High Level Route. The start of the route has been badly effected by erosion and water damage in recent years so we took extra caution over this section. I assured the chaps that the rest of the route was in much better condition.

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As we made progress along the traverse it was obvious everyone was enjoying the experience immensely. When we got to Robinson’s Cairn we had great views of Pillar Rock. We took this opportunity to have a rest and take some snaps. From the cairn we made our way up and behind pillar rock before negotiating the scramble to the summit.

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On the summit we stopped for a leisurely lunch in the sun. It had been an awesome day so far.

From Pillar we descended to Wind Gap before climbing once more towards Scoat Fell. Just before Scoat Fell myself, George and David stopped for a break while the others headed off to bag Scoat Fell and Steeple. 20130618_131437

Once the guys rejoined us we enjoyed the gentle ascent up Red Pike. By this point some light cloud had come in and it had taken the edge off of the sun. We continued on to Dore Head where we opted to descend back to the road instead of going over Yewbarrow. As we descended the cloud either blew through or burnt off and it was turning into a lovely evening.

Lexi had a nice dip in Wastwater when we got to the road which she had no doubt been looking forward to for a while. We walked the last couple of KM’s along the road back to the Wasdale Head Inn. And Yes,a beer was drunk to celebrate another fab day out!

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A full album of pics can be seen here.





The Yorkshire 3 Peaks Weekend – Two in Two Days

19 06 2013

I have been pondering on how I was going to go about writing two blogs about the Yorkshire 3 Peak’s we completed this weekend without one of them seeming like a broken record. My answer was this, write them both in the same post.

So for those of you that don’t know, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks is a 24.5 mile circuit of Yorkshire’s highest peaks. Pen Y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

Saturday 15th June – Lin, Evan, Colin, Fred, Sharon and Lisa

The alarm woke me at 4.45am and I hopped out of bed. By 5.15 I was in the car and on my way to Yorkshire. The weekend epic had officially begun.

I met the group outside the Pen Y Ghent Cafe at 7.30am. Unfortunately the group had suffered a few injuries and illnesses so our group of 10 actually turned out to be a group of 5. The town was bustling with people as Heart Research UK were also hosting a challenge day. They must have had a couple of thousand entrants, easily.

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We set off towards Pen Y Ghent, most of us donned in our waterproofs. I was expecting a poor day weather wise, and no long challenge event can be that fun in constant rain, it gets wearing eventually. On our way up the rain did come down quite heavily for a few minutes, but after this the entire day was mostly dry, and we even had times when we were just down to base or mid layers – Result.

Just an hour and a quarter passed and we surmounted Pen-Y-Ghent. We got the usual summit shot before heading off of the mountain. There is now a new path that diverts the worst of the bog off of Pen-Y-Ghent, the bog that the Y3P is so famous for. I had not yet had a chance to walk the new route so I was excited to know what it was to be like.

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It turned out to be first class. No walls or stiles, a couple of gates, but best of all, now knee deep bogs to dodge!

We made good progress across the flatter stretch to Ribblehead, the first road junction. We stopped for just a few minutes to refuel before heading on for peak 2. On our way up past the rail line it appeared ‘Fred’ was starting to be affected by an illness that had been lingering for that past few weeks. One by one we reached the top of Whernside where the wind was howling across the plateau. We descended down into Chapel Le Dale where Fred had decided she was best to leave it at 2 peaks. Sharon and Lisa also wanted to take things easier and decided to stop with Fred for a bit. On this occasion I was happy for this to happen- the weather was clear, and there was a konga line of people for them to follow to Ingleborough should they want to continue the challenge.

20130615_142521I pressed on with Lin, Evan and Colin. A sort while later Colin headed up to the summit of Ingleborough and then ran back to Horton, so I was left with two. We made it to the summit of Ingleborough after about 9 hours, we just had the long descent to deal with now.

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As we descended, young 9 year old Evan started to find it tough. He had done so amazingly well but was now feeling the full effects of walking for such a long distance (this lad spends pretty much every day of his life walking the fells). We coaxed him on, reminding him he had done so well. We pulled back into the Pen Y Ghent Cafe after 10 hours and 45 minutes. Y3P one done.

Sharon and Lisa did go on to complete the Y3p, and in a very respectable time of 11hours 40 minutes – well done!

Full album of pics can be seen here.

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Sunday 16th June – Felicia, Anne, Lindsey & Hayley

There I was again, standing outside the Cafe, de ja vu was setting in. I had no idea how I was going to feel, more mentally than physically. I had been well looked after the night before. My original plan was to camp in the village but Felicia and her partner Steve offered me a room at their place in Dent. I was well looked after with some amazing home cooked food and a lovely bed to sleep in – oh and not forgetting the wine and G+T! This hospitality no doubt made a huge difference to my day 2, I don’t know how I would have felt should I had been in a tent with some crappy boil in a bag meal (thanks again Felicia and Steve!)

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We set off from the cafe and once again made great progress up onto a misty Pen-Y-Ghent. The time matched he previous day’s of 1hr 15.

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We descended off of the mountain and the conversation in the team was rife. Sometimes you get groups who chat a little, sometimes you get some who get along, and then you get groups who seem to really hit it off, this was one of those teams. We followed the new route once more and got to Ribblehead in good time. We used this natural stopping point as a place for a sandwich before heading off again within 10 minutes.

20130616_115358The route was much much quieter today as there was no charity event. This made the progress up the narrower path onto Whernside much easier. After 5 hours 45 we had peak 2 under our belts. We were doing well and were once again looking at a good time. Anne and Hayley had both walked the route a couple of times before and wanted to get under 11 hours on the route. 20130616_133207

When we got to the shop at Chapel Le Dale we stopped again. We changed socks, got more drinks and took on some food. The stop was again a swift one and before we knew it we were on our way towards Ingleborough. The team kept up a fab pace and we made it to the top of Ingleborough after 8hrs 25minutes.

 

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On our descent a few injuries and ailments started to come through in a couple of members so the pace slowed. As we neared the village myself,  Anne and Lindsey continued ahead and clocked a time of 10 hours 28. Just a few minutes behind Felicia and Hayley joined us with a time of 10hours 35.

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Full album of pics can be seen here.

There I was, back at the cafe. I had completed the two circuits, both in quick times, but my lord, my feet knew that had walked 49 miles. For now I shall say, I’ll never do two in a row again!

Thank you to all that came and took on the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge with us at the weekend! Well done to all that completed, and I hope you feel better soon Fred!

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24 Peaks Challenge in aid of the Anthony Nolan Trust

12 06 2013

The Lakeland 24 Peaks challenge is one of the tougher challenges that the Lake District has to throw at a group of walkers. The challenge comprises of two days. Day one is 17.5 miles in length and day two is 14 miles, but with a massive 4800m+ of ascent thrown in for good measure.

Day 1:

Our challenge started in Buttermere at 7.35am after we had been picked up and transported from Ambleside. The forecast for the entire weekend was very positive, and this was evident from the second we stepped off of the minibus. After a quick brief we got on our way, our first objective being Red Pike (Buttermere). The quickest way up Red Pike must be one of the more loathed routes in the Lakes, but it was the path we needed to take. We started up on the staircase through the forest taking care to not go too fast in these opening stages. There could be nicer ways to start such an epic challenge as this but the team took it all in their stride. Soon enough we we’re on the open zig zags nearing the tarn under the summit. Although it was early we were all already sweating, this started to raise a few alarm bells in my head already. With such as hot day on the cards we had extra factors battling against us, these being Heat Exposure, Exhaustion and of course Dehydration. With the weather having been so nice recently I knew our opportunities to grab water from natural sources was going to be few and far between. As a guide, I had to be really careful how far I pushed this team before something, or someone buckled….

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We rounded onto the top of Red Pike by 9.17am, a pretty respectful time for 750m of ascent. We took a moment to catch our breath before heading off. The first three summits come relatively quickly as we just needed to follow the high ridge southwards. After bagging High Stile and High Crag we faced our first chunk of descent. We descended all the way to Scarth Gap before scrambling up onto the summit of Haystacks, a summit that is merely regarded as a bonus peak on this challenge (it does not stand over 2,400ft). With the first quarter of the route under our belts we could now see the second quarter over towards the Gables. Our time to this point had flagged a little, and maybe I had been over-cautious with the team under the conditions, but we had to ensure that we made good progress over ground to come.

Peak 2

We wound our way around the lumps and bumps on the back of Haystacks, which actually turned out to be easier than usual as all the bogs were virtually dry. We joined the grassy slope on the side of Brandreth and started to head back up hill. The grass was sapping on the legs and the heat was starting to slow our progress that little bit more. The team drove on and one by one we all pulled ourselves onto the summit of Green Gable. After a quick refuel we were on our way, this time just a short hop over Windy Gap would bring us to our climb up onto peak 5, Great Gable. By this point one of the girls was really suffering with a leg injury. It had been twinging her for a couple of hours now, but now it was really causing her some agony. Once again, the team reached the summit one by one where we stopped for the lunch I had promised them, it was also now decision time….

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Although our pace hadn’t slowed up too much, it hadn’t picked up either, and with these injuries now coming through, I had to evaluate our chances of completing the set route. After a long think I proposed a couple of ideas to the team and we went with trying to complete 9 peaks for the day, even if they didn’t happen to be the peaks on the official challenge website. It was at this point I learnt something very valuable as a guide – to check the objectives of your team. These guys weren’t doing this for a quick time, nor to bag a certain set of mountains, they were here to finish a grueling course over the mountains, and what mountains they did on the way they didn’t really mind. This put my mind at ease, but we still wanted to get up another 19 peaks.

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From the summit of Great Gable we descended over 400m to Styhead Pass. This knee crunching descent is both physically and mentally wearing, and 45 minutes later it was over. From the pass the route would usually head up the Corridor route to Lingmell and Scafell Pike before returning over to Esk Hause via Great End. Our new objective was to head to Esk Hause and see how we felt. On our way up to the pass we located the stream and filled up our water bottles. It seemed everyone was either running on very low or empty, this helped to compound my decision of a route change a little more.

We reached Esk Hause and dumped our bags. Chantel with her injured leg stayed with the bags while we quickly bagged one of our new peaks, Allen Crags. By this point it was evident we had another injury in the group. One of the lads was really suffering with a knee issue, but he soldiered on.

Climbing to Esk Pike

After picking up our bags I sent Chantel off to Angle Tarn to wait for us while the rest of us made our way over Esk Pike and Bowfell. From the summit of Bowfell we once again re-traced our steps back to Ore Gap where we descended to Angle Tarn and picked up Chantel. We were now on the homeward leg. The time was about 7pm, we had almost been out 12 hours already. We made a short and quick ascent up onto the summit of Rossett Pike to claim our ninth peak of the day. We all wished a helicopter could just come and pluck us off of the summit, but alas, we had to make the long descent back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll.

Summit of Rossett Pike

The descent did drag on, especially when we hit the flat track that heads down the Mickleden valley. The sky started to go pink, the sun was on it’s way down. We reached the pub in little groups, with the last of the team stepping into the car park at 9.30pm just as the bus pulled in.The important thing was that the team didn’t feel at all disheartened about the route change. The day had been long, hot and tough, and I was so very proud of what they had achieved. Just 10 hours later we would be back on the trail for day 2….

The Langdales at Sunset

Day 2:

8am and we were standing at the top of the Kirkstone Pass with Red Screes standing above us. The team was two members down, but Mike, the lad with the injured knee was determined to crack on, and with a bottle top strapped to his knee (don’t ask me!) he was keen to complete the challenge.

Climbing up to Red Screes

Everyone knew the second day was easier, but was by no means going to be easy. We set off on the steep path and it seemed the Fish and Chips they had grabbed when they got back to Ambleside the previous night has given them a new lease of life. We flew up the steep path to the summit in just 34 minutes, just 4 minutes slower than my fastest group ever. We had started day 2 in the right frame of mind, we now just had to maintain it for as long as possible.

Red Screes

From the summit we descended and ascended again to the summit of Dove Crag, again making good progress. The day wasn’t as warm as the previous day, and there was even a little bit of mist around, this was welcomed. We traversed over Hart Crag onto the summit of Fairfield by 11am. We had 4 summits in the bag and everyone seemed to be doing well. Being the slave driver that I am I said we could have our lunch break after our fifth peak. Unfortunately that peak was to be Seat Sandal. We descended down the steep scree covered path towards Grisedale Tarn before dumping our bags at the bottom of Seat Sandal’s northern slope. Along this section we had even felt a few drops of rain come from the rather moody looking clouds above our heads. Determined for our lunches we yomped up the steep never ending slope onto the summit. We stayed for just the time it took to take a picture before getting back to our bags for food.

Heading away from Seat Sandal

Unfortunately for us, the midges didn’t care what we had been through over the course of the last day and half. All we wanted to do was sit down in peace and have a well deserved rest. All they wanted to do was bit the living daylights out of us…

The first half of the route was complete, we now had to climb onto the Helvellyn Range, after which the summits quicker and easier. There was a real air of determination within the team to get the event done now. Some people were starting to run low on energy, and injuries were grinding others down.

The team on Dollywagon

At 2pm we had our picture taken on the summit of Dollywagon Pike, our fifteenth peak, just 9 to go! We cruised to Helvellyn via Nethermost Pike, the end was nearly in sight. I could see the relief on everyone’s faces as they reached another summit, and I could also see the need to let them have the few minutes rest at each, even if we didn’t really have time for it. Be bagged Helvellyn Lower Man, which was followed by White Side and Raise.

I pointed out Great Dodd in the distance and said that it was the farthest we had to walk – I’m not sure it did any good…

Making progress along the Ridge

We cracked on. Our next summit of Stybarrow Dodd from which we made our way straight over to Great Dodd. From this summit we descended onto the summit of Watson’s Dodd. This would usually be the finishing summit for the challenge, and although we had actually done 24 Lakeland peaks including Haystacks, we didn’t have our mandatory summit shot with the numbers for 24. Our finishing point was to be Castle Rock.

The penultimate peak, Watson's Dodd

The descent from Watson’s Dodd to Castle Rock is nice and grassy, however it is steep. It is another knee crunching route at the best of times, let alone when physically wiped, and for some, nursing knee injuries. However, it was the quickest way off the fells. The team dug in deep and probably hated every second of it. At 6.45pm we were on top of Castle Rock, challenge complete! We took the final picture and out came the little bottles of Prossecco the group had been carrying. We had a toast to our success before finishing the descent back to the roadside.

Finished!

The team clambered onto the minibus feeling, and in the nicest way possible, looking drained. They had worked incredibly hard and achieved something spectacular. For a group of people with good fitness but limited mountain experience, they had bagged 24 mountains and survived a grueling 25 hours walking over two days. In the process the team has also managed to raise over £2700 for the Anthony Nolan Trust, a charity very dear to some of the walkers hearts. If you should want to donate here is a link to their page.

For a full album of pictures please follow this link.

If you would like to put yourself against this challenge we are hosting an open event over the 14th & 15th September 2013. The cost is £180pp. Please email us at lakelandmountainguides@live.co.uk for more details.

We can also host this event for private or corporate groups over the summer months. Please contact us if you wish to discuss suitability and availability.

Celebrations on Castle Rock





Helvellyn & Striding Edge 05.06.13

5 06 2013

A stonking day on Helvellyn & the Edges today.

As we climbed out of Glenridding and past Lanty’s Tarn we enjoyed extensive views over towards Fairfield and back towards the High Street range. We made great progress up and over Birkhouse Moor where we we’re once again rewarded with fab views, this time of Helvellyn and the Edges.

We took a gentle plod over to Striding Edge where we got stuck into the scrambling straight away. It seemed we had hit the edge at the perfect time as we didn’t have anyone ahead of us and loads of group starting to scramble behind us. After tackling all of the hardest sections and climbing up the loose slope at the end we we’re soaking up some incredible summit views.

We had a lengthy lunch in the sun before descending Swirral Edge. After this final scramble we made the short ascent onto Catstycam, which is a great vantage point back to Helvellyn.

From this summit we enjoyed our descent back to Glenridding past Greenside Mine in the afternoon sun.

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