A Half Term of Guided Walks on The Langdale Pikes, Fairfield, Loughrigg, Scafell Pike, and Hevellyn & Striding Edge.
With the last remnants of civilised English weather slowly dwindling away winter has arrived with a bang. We have had rain, sleet, hail, 80mph gusts and now snow. All in the space of a crazy half term week. And it hasn’t put people off coming to the Lake District and booking on our Guided Walks! People have been coming in droves, keen to get up into the mountains and experience the wild weather first hand.
26.10.13 – Helvellyn & Striding Edge
The half term week started with a guided walk on Helvellyn & Striding Edge. Two lads, Darren and Andy had booked on the walk to raise money for Diabetes UK. They have raised over £600 to climb Helvellyn, so it was on with the water proofs and off we went.
The rain started as we walked up Mires Beck and it didn’t stop. The wind, gusting every now and then made the walk to the top of Birkhouse moor quite difficult, but after an hour and a half we were on top. The view was non-existent but the lads were really positive and enjoyed the bad weather.
After a little while we were at the foot of Striding Edge and the wind and rain really started to pick up. Darren had a fun wig for a picture but almost as soon as he got it on it nearly went over the edge! The wind resisted just long enough for him to get his afro and glasses on and raise his Diabetes UK banner to get a photo.
The Edge was quite slippery that full contact on the boulders was advised. We slowly scrambled up the steep scree to the top and tried to hold ourselves upright in the wind. On the summit we got the group shelter out and had a brew and some lunch. The temperature was dropped as the wind grew stronger so we didn’t hang about too long.
Coming down Swirral Edge was a bit tricky in the rain but the guys managed well. They were getting really cold now and were totally soaked but we couldn’t help but move slowly to avoid any slips. As we made our way down we found shelter from the wind. But the guys were too cold to hike up to Catstye Cam so we made our way down to Red Tarn beck.
We moved fast as soon as we were back on the path and made our way back down the homestretch of Glenridding Beck to the start point.
A great day out with crazy weather, and all for a good cause, raising over £600 for Diabetes UK.
27.10.13 – The Fairfield Horseshoe
I met the group at the walkers shop at 8am, as we’re starting walks a little earlier now due to the clocks going back. After getting some of the guys kitted up in hire waterproofs and boots we made our way out of Ambleside and onto the fell.
My group today included a couple (Steve and Amanda), father and son (Simon and Arv) from Birmingham and Scott from Scotland. The weather in Ambleside and up to Sweden Bridge was mild and overcast. The cloud was low over High Pike but no sign of the strong winds that were predicted. In fact I had changed the walk from Hevellyn to Fairfield as the 80mph gust would have been too severe for Striding Edge. The group didn’t mind and were clearly happy to be on any mountain.
We steadily made our way up to Low Pike when the gusts began. The cloud came in and by the time we were just below High Pike we could barely stand up. With little visibility Amanda started to panic with vertigo and we had to take shelter out of the wind. The winds were so bad that we had two options, neither, with Amanda clearly shaken, involved summiting Fairfield. Option one was to go back the way we came, or continue on to Dove crag and return via Scandale Beck.
The group were open to both options and once the wind dropped a bit and the cloud lifted Amanda started to perk up. I showed her where we were on the map and explained how far we had to go until the ground flattened and she became a lot happier and willing to continue.
We had a quick snack and decided option two was for the best. Walk to Dove Crag and descend down into Scandale. The wind came in as we walked higher, gusting at high speeds, but we used the brilliant stone wall to our advantage and sheltered behind it all the way to the summit of Dove Crag. On the top the gusts were back to 80mph and we could barely stand. We quickly got off the top and made our way down to Scandale Beck.
The group were brilliant and moved really fast. After an hour we were out of the cloud and rain and back in the safety of the valley. Everybody’s faces were red and windswept and clearly buzzing from the conditions. I was so proud of Amanda for continuing and we had a chuckle and swapped stories of the day all the way back to Ambleside.
29.10.13 – The Langdale Pikes
Today’s walk was on the Langdale Pikes with a couple of guys (father and son), Ian and Cameron. After coming up in the summer Ian was enthusiastic to get his son Cameron back up to the Lakes now he is a little older to try some of the walks. Only 8 years old, he showed a keen spirit to get going as soon as we parked in Stickle barn.
As soon as we got 100m up Stickle Ghyll the heavens opened and the rain was on and off all day. The water in the ghyll was very high and all the water falls were spectacular to look at. Raging white water, pools and slides accompanied us all the way up to Stickle Tarn.
Cameron had been here before and recognised Pavey Ark. ‘Are we climbing that?’ he asked me.
‘Not this time mate, maybe next year, when you come back for another visit!’ I told the young mountaineer.
Pavey Ark is such a scenic spot we decided to stop for an early lunch and admire the huge wall of rock, home to Jacks Rake. After coffee and cake we walked around the tarn and slowly climbed up the path to the right and after an hour we were on the summit of Pavey Ark.
We were gifted with the sights of multiple rainbows along the way. Single rainbows and double rainbows were all around, it was truly stunning. After a scramble across the top we rambled along to Harrison Stickle and by 2pm we were on the famous top, looking down into the valley and across to the Scafell massif.
Our descent was slow as Cameron was being careful with his foot placements and his little legs, but by 4pm we were back in the safety of Stickle barn, totally soaked but hugely happy.
31.11.13 – The Fairfield Horseshoe
Today’s walk was meant to be on Blencathra & Sharp Edge, but with the winds gusting at 70-80mph and persistent rain forecast, I considered it to be too dangerous conditions. Therefore my clients decided to have a blast up The Fairfield Horseshoe. Dave and Richard from the Wirral, two fits lads, football fanatics, skiers and successful businessmen were up for getting a quick time!
With trips like the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc scheduled in the coming year with Adventure Peaks they wanted a good day out and a quick walk. In that case, I said we could go up Fairfield in ultrafast fashion! They agreed!
I took the usual route out of Ambleside up to Sweden Bridge and along the ridge to Low and High Pike. The weather was good to us early on but by the time we got to Hart Crag the wind really came in and gave us a beating. We were really finding it hard to walk in a straight line and the wind was painfully fast. We had all our layers on, gloves, hats and hoods! The wind was incredibly strong. Luckily the guys were up for a good time and encouraged the conditions.
We got to the summit of Fairfield about 1pm and sheltered for some lunch. There were clearly people lost on the featureless summit and 10 or more people were asking me for the way down back to Ambleside. Most of them were going to head down towards Patterdale if not careful. I directed them either down the way they came or across from Dove crag the way we came.
After a quick stop we got walking again before we got to cold. Again walking across the summit was hard work, the wind was blowing so fast now. But by the time we’d managed to get below the cloud and across Great Rigg the wind lifted and we were ok. Warm enough to enjoy the sunbursts coming through the cloud, lighting up Windermere up ahead.
Coming down the steep Nab Scar was hard after all the walking and made the route through Rydal Mount a welcome relief.
01.11.13 – Loughrigg Fell
The sun came out and the wind dropped for the first time in a week and it allowed us to enjoy a pleasant guided walk on Loughrigg. With its sprawling moorland Loughrigg has enough delights on it to keep you occupied for an entire day. And with views over Windermere, Wansfell, Fairfield, Coniston, Langdale, and Grasmere, the mind boggles with so many spectacular sights.
Loughrigg Fell is a hill in the central part of the Lake District, part of the long ridge that comes down from High Raise and stands over Ambleside. It is covered in small tarns, crags and forests and was a great venue for our Friday half day guided walk.
I met the clients at the Walkers Shop and we began our walk through Rothay Park and up a small track on to the fell. Within 15 minutes from leaving the shop we were walking through the forest and among the bracken. Crossing one of the many small streams we made our way up to Ivy Crag and marvelled at Windermere flickering in the sunlight. We were accompanied by a plane or two. Hercules’, Tornados and Euro Fighters were all doing flight circuits over the fell.
After our quick stop we weaved in and out of the hills following the many paths up to the summit. I gave the guys a quick train spotter’s guide to the many hills that were splattered around in the distance. Below Loughrigg Tarn Elterwater could be seen and Wrynose Pass sat at the top of Great Langdale. The clients were blown away by the views from such a short climb. At the summit we found some shelter from the light wind and had some lunch.
We descended down towards Loughrigg Terrace, being careful not to trip down the steep winding staircase. The views over Grasmere were fantastic and we stopped to watch two dogs swim for a stick in the lake. With so much rain the Rothay was flowing quite fast below. From the terrace we followed the high path above Rydal Water and visited the huge caves and listened to our wolf howls echo off of the impressive walls. From here we made our way back to Ambleside from Pelter Bridge and had ice creams in the park
02.11.13 – Scafell Pike
The weather predicted today was 60% chance of cloud free summits. Somehow I didn’t believe that. I met then group out at Seathwaite Farm at 9am and we were walking up Ruddy Gill to Stokley Bridge within 30 minutes. Everybody seemed geared up for a mammoth day on the hill. Scafell Pike is a big day out in any weather but the cloud coming in was low and very dark. In fact 9am felt like 4pm it was so dark.
My clients on the guided walk were Mark, Amelia, Gemma and Becki and we started with a great burst of pace, marching up to Great End within an hour. We saw a man and his son saying they were turning around and then another man further up warning us of the strong wind up ahead. We saw another couple escaping as well but they were the only people we came across until Broad Crag.
Below Ill Crag the wind really got strong, coming up from Eskdale and almost blowing us off our feet as it went back down to Seathwaite. We moved very slowly as the rain hammered down. But once we got further across to Ill Crags the wind dropped just enough for us to pick up the speed again.
The boulders were slippery and tricky here and I warned everybody to watch there foot placement and be aware of damaging their ankles. Steadily we made our way across the top of Ill Crags and dipped down into the saddle before Broad Crag. I pointed to where Styhead Tarn ought to be, but cloud hampered any chance of a view!
On Broad Crag we came across two men who thought they were on the summit of Scafell. I informed them otherwise and their faces became hugely deflated. They asked to tag along in our group and we all made our way safely to the summit. Out came the bothey and all six of us sheltered for a quick lunch stop, hot chocolate and cake.
As Gemma was getting really cold we packed up and made our way back down via the corridor route. As we reached Styhead Tarn on the way back we gazed back at the summit of Scafell to see the break in the cloud. A few lucky ones had arrived at just the right time to get a view. Never mind! We were back down at Seathwaite within 6 hours, not bad considering the conditions, and the two lads we found on Broad Crag expressed their gratitude at being found! Great day.
03.11.13 – Helvellyn & Striding Edge
Mark and Amelia were back again after our huge day before on Scafell Pike. I couldn’t believe they were still up for the guided walk after I told them the weather was going to be as bad if not worst as the day before. But they wanted to get out before their trip back to London and who could argue – not me!
By the time we got to Glenridding it was 9am and we began our walk at around 9.30 – a bit of a late start. The sky looked promising with patches of blue and rays of sun hitting the surrounding fells. Could the weatherman be wrong?
He wasn’t. As soon as we were half way up Birkhouse Moor the rain came down hard, followed but hail and then sleet. The walk up to the moor is a slog in itself without the terrible conditions. But after all that, within 15 minutes the weather cleared again. We plodded on and as we got higher we could see over to Fairfield and there was snow on the summit. The first fall of the winter. It was an amazing sight!
Once we reached the top of Birkhouse Moor the weather got really wild. The hail fell faster and the wind was four times as strong. We had to shield our faces the hail was that painful! This continued all the way to the foot of Striding Edge and with the wind at this speed I made a decision not to go up Striding Edge.
Mark and Amelia agreed, as they were still being from Scafell the day before. Instead I proposed we walk up to Red Tarn and bag the summit of Catstye Cam instead. They agreed and we walked up to the foot of Swirral Edge and turned towards the top.
On the way up we were hit with the most ferocious wind. I was almost blown over and there was a group crawling off the summit. We stood our ground and kept low as the gust passed. They group coming down looked quite scared. But as soon as the wind dropped we made our way to the top and got a photo at least.
After that we carefully plodded through the thin snow and descended back down to Red Tarn beck to pick up the path. Half way down we sat on a few boulders and ate our lunch, reflecting on an eventful few days in the wild Lake District weather. Mark and Amelia were buzzing on the way back and are now planning at trip to Morocco to climb Mt. Toubkal with us! Perfect training! Bring on the snow!