Wednesday, 8 February 2012

When a cat got stuck up a tree ***

Another glorious winter day, clear blue sky, very cold, no wind. A perfect day to get back out for another walk encouraged by Management who pointed out that the weather is meant to be cloudy and miserable for the rest of the week.

During Monday's excursion to the bottom of Ullock Pike I knew I could have walked further if time had allowed, and also spent a lot of time eyeing up an off-piste and slightly bonkers descent from Carl Side straight down into Southerndale.* I set off directly after a 9.00am physio appointment and was able to move quickly and with no pain (whoo hoo happy dance). Accompanied by only the lone raven (pretty certain it was the same bird as Monday) and factor 25 sunblock it was a lovely walk.

Views for the first part of the walk were the same as on Monday, but the Kahtoola spikes went on when I got to the snow line, which was more of a "sheet ice with occasional white stuff" line.



Very happy to reach the top of Ullock Pike in 2 hours. Whilst this is considerably slower than hardened fell-types who are out in all weathers, for my first winter walk in a couple of years and first walk of any length in nearly as long, I was pleased. What I wasn't quite so pleased with was the last 100 yards of ascent which involved an ungainly scramble across thick ice . . .

I had set off with the sole aim of getting to Ullock Pike's summit. There were two return options, Plan A was to retrace my steps and go back the same way. Plan B was the off-piste route down to Southerndale.

The pleasure of sitting at Ullock's summit was marred slightly by a feeling that must be akin to the confusion of a cat which has cheerfully scrambled up a tree and then realised it can't get down. Plan A was a no-starter, far too icy to feel comfortable and confident about going down the path I'd just come up. Plan B wasn't getting a look in either, for the same reasons, although I reserve the right to have a go at it later in the year when conditions are nicer.

Fortunately Plan C was to hand - keep going along the ridge to Carl Side, head down a south-facing slope that would be in much better condition and phone for Management if the subsequent walk back to the car was too far.**

from Ullock Pike looking across Longside Edge to Carl Side, Skiddaw on the left.

The rest of the outing was simple. Just carefully put one foot in front of the other, usually into the snow steps kindly stamped out by walkers who'd gone before and enjoy utterly glorious views, none of which are done justice in these pictures from the phone. However, until I get a little pocket sized compact they will have to do, there is no way I'm lugging a DSLR up 2,000 feet of ascent.

Visible but hard to photograph (looking into the sun) Clough Head and the Dodds leading to Helvellyn, and the western fells: Grasmoor, Dale Head, Hindscarth, Robinson, Catbells, and silence - utter silence (except for the Raven and the crunch of snow underfoot).





Not many folk on Skiddaw today, I only met one other couple (and a very nice Collie) during my whole walk.

In the end I walked through White Stones to Dodd and ended up at the Old Sawmill Tea Room. It was another 2 miles back to the car and the 5 miles I'd already done were quite enough for a hip and legs which are, frankly, out of condition and not used to this sort of punishment. Management, bless him, drove over and picked me up and I was back at my car in 5 minutes. Probably a waste of petrol and some might think it a dreadful thing to do, but compared to the fossil fuels used by America, China and India, I don't think we destroyed the planet.

I think I'll have a quiet day tomorrow .....


* I know it can be done, Andrew Leaney & David Hall included this route as one of Andrew's TEN Skiddaw ascents in May 2007. They are both however, considerably fitter and far more experienced than me.


* *and if Management hadn't been available I'd have taken a different route back to Keswick and got a taxi.


*** no felines were harmed in the making of . . . . ☺

20 comments:

  1. *** you worried me there for a minute! {*grin}

    Looks like you had a fantastic time - and it is great to see you enjoying the fells again.

    A rest tomorrow? (I'm laying no bets on that!)

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    1. Thanks Hazel, it was beyond fantastic, thank you. Yes, having a gentle day today and muscles are feeling much better than I have any right to expect.

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  2. Beautiful views. Did I tell you I love a good view??! lol Difference is all the views I see we usually travel there by some type of car. Sports car, classic car or cable car!!! I know, not as good for us.

    You take care of those aches and pains and don't set yourself back by doing too much!

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    1. Thanks Amanda, it doesn't matter how you get your views, as long as you enjoy and appreciate them. You have some lovely views in the Forest, even if you are a bit devoid of high bits.

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  3. That's more like it Hobbit. After weeks and weeks of rain and general yuck it's nice to see you taking advantage of a good weather window.

    You can slink back to the Longarm when the fells cloud over and the wind and rain start again (being a realist, not a pessimist) — but for now drink in those glorious views and tell Ollie how much he would enjoy it too.

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    1. Thanks James, Management was spot on - cloud and rain today, can't even see Ullock Pike, let alone think about going up it.

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  4. I do so envy you having the Fells on your doorstep, seeing them through your eyes is pretty darn good though :)

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    1. Thanks Mo, but your own part of the world is not too shabby :}

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  5. Glad you made it back safely and I think you easily deserves to call on back-up! Lovely views and a beautiful sky.

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    1. Cheers Sue, management did not mind at all. He would, however, have been upset with me if I'd slogged back to the car and overdone it when an alternative was available.

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  6. You are a toughie. Wonderful shots and perfect walk by the sound of it, but way beyond my capabilities.

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    1. Cheers Pat, hmm - tough or daft? BTW, I've seen ladies older than you up on the fells!

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  7. Great to see you're getting out again, that's a fair old hike up Ullock Pike unless you went an easier route than we did! I rewarded myself with a cream tea after my ascent, did you treat yourself at the tearooms? :o)

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    1. Ali, I don't think there ~is~ an easier route :} No cream tea here, the Old Sawmill is closed for winter and does not open until this Saturday.

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  8. I haven't done that route in winter for many a year, but I do remember that glorious silence when the snow blankets everything and the only sound was my breathing (panting?!). Very sensible to call for Management - see, you can do it sometimes :P

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    1. Giggling:} Yes Liz, there was panting too! The way that snow blankets sound is always magical, perhaps moreso at altitude.

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  9. Fantastic! Love it! Superb day for you and pleased that Management was there to ferry you back to your car. More snow here yesterday on top of the 5 inches we had on Saturday. I can see glimpses of blue sky too! Jill

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    1. Thank you Jill. Still no snow here and by the look of it, very little on the tops too. Apparently South Lakes have much, much more than us.

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  10. Absolutely awesome pictures! I hope you had a big comfort food meal when you arrived home!

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    1. Very thoughtful of you Matron, and yes. Whenever I go walking part of the preparation before I leave home is to make sure supper is ready to bung straight in the oven when I get back.

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