Sunday, 26 May 2013

What a difference a year makes.....May 24th
A year ago, on May 23 2012 four of us walked the Lairig Ghru from the Linn of Dee to Coylumbridge on a hot dry day with a gentle breeze to keep us cool and an abundance of streams to keep us from dehydration, (See Three men and a lady). Today it is cold, wet and very windy.
There are seven gadgies out today; pm., vm., rm., hm.,mm., dm., and bm. .
The original plan was to walk up Helvellyn  (Old Celtic for "yellow Moor") from Glenridding, taking in Striding Edge and Swirral Edge but the collective wisdom of a septet of gadgies reasoned that, because of the weather, this could be a little dangerous and decided to attack the third highest point in England ( a massive 3113 feet or 950m if you must) by way of Grisdale.
To get to the start from Newcastle take the A69 west, M6 south to Penrith, follow the A66 for a short distance and turn south on the A592 along Ullswater until you reach Glenridding. As an alternative you can go via Alston and Hartside calling as we did at the Village Bakery in Melmerby where some of us indulged in A* bacon butties and some in healthy toast and honey, which they will return for.                                                                                                                                                      There is a large and well organised car park in Glenridding costing £7 (How much?) for a whole day but it does have toilets and an information office.

                                            The car park at Glenridding, it is classier than
                                         most and will appear in the chapter on Quality Car
                                         Parking in my forthcoming book.
The walk:
The walk is covered byOL 5, The English Lakes , North Eastern Area and the car park is at NY385169.

We left the car park past the information centre and turned right, crossing the Glenridding Beck and then turning right again past a row of small shops before leaving the village. The track becomes a footpath that leads uphill to Lanty's Tarn. This is not one of the many natural tarns in Lakeland but one created, presumably for Lanty, whoever he was. It was the home to three sad looking male Mallard ducks. Presumably the Mrs. Mallards were sitting on nests somewhere, or just sheltering from the rain and wind.

                                                                      Lanty's Tarn                                                                  After a stretch of woodland the path came out into Grisdale, one of those wide Lakeland valleys that supports small farms and tourists. At the fork in the path we took the left one to continue up Grisedale. The right one goes up to "The Hole in the Wall" which is at the eastern end of Striding Edge. This is a narrow ridge with steep drops on both sides. On a dry day it is quite safe, even for ageing  gadgies, you can stride the pinnacles or take the path a few yards below them. In icy, wet or windy conditions it can be dangerous, we stayed off it.

                                                     Small farm in Grisedale.

                                       Looking up Grisedale
                                           There were no stiles on this walk but this is a Kissing Gate
                                        They will have their own chapter in my book on stiles of northern England

                                       A Grisedale mini waterfall.

The wind was strong, even in the sheltered part of the valley and we made a Herbie Stop at Ruthwaite Lodge, a mountain hut maintained by the Outward Bound School. We sat on the leeward side and consumed the usual. The pork pie business is getting serious. it was suggested that Dave could quite easily knock a couple of days off  his life for our benefit, and anyway he has put  weight on since giving up the pie habit. So, sandwiches and chocolate, and Ben's delicious ginger biscuits.

                                                      Ruthwaite Lodge, a Herbie Spot

                                             Looking back down Grisedale.
Lunch over and back on our heads, we continued upwards against an increasingly strong wind until we reached Grisedale Tarn, a real one.

                                                       Grisedale Tarn, the wind whipped up a spray
                                          that was fascinating to watch.
At the tarn we turned north up the steep path to Dollywagon Pike. This path is well built with large stones and zig zags up the side of the hill. It is steep and the wind was no help, it was hard going, but near the summit the path levelled out, dipped and climbed again to Nethermost Pike before finally leading us to the shelter near the summit of Helvellyn. On the way we passed a small memorial to two men who had landed a plane on the mountain in December 1926, eaten pork pies probably and then taken off again for Essex.
There are normally sheep around the cross shaped shelter on the top of Helvellyn, begging for sandwiches and fruit, perhaps it was too windy even for them. As Dave remarked, watching seven men walking crablike against the wind must be quite a sight.

                                                      Striding Edge on a quiet day. It normally
                                                   has a steady stream of walkers of all ages.
                                                   Should you ever meet the routemeister, ask about
                                                   yellow shorts.

                                          Helvellyn shelter, all gadgies well wrapped up
Leaving the shelter and still battling like crabs against a strong wind we continued walking north until we came to Whiteside Bank where we took the path to the right which led downhill.
               Look carefully and you can just see a bit of Thirlmere in the centre about two thirds from the bottom, or one third from the top.
This path is a well made and maintained track, zigzagging down hill to the valley of the Glenridding Beck. It passes the what is now Greenside Youth Hostel and some other buildings which are centres for Arnold School in Blackpool. When I was a second row in the under sixteen's rugby team at school we played them. They won, the score was something like 56 to 3..

                                These buildings were part of the mines that extracted several
                              metals in the area during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
                              They are now outdoor centres and a Youth Hostel.
                                           More converted mine builldings.
Not far beyond the mines the path passes rows of what presumably were miners; cottages but are now rather smart looking holiday lets. More modern buildings and then back to the car park
One cottage had this brilliant Bill and Ben ornament in the garden. Not exactly Chelsea, better.
Rather than visit the local pub we decided to drive most of the way homebefore seeking refreshment and called at the Boathouse in Wylam, choosing from its range of fourteen beers. This pub is very popular for some reason and, not having a seat in the bar we went to the next room which was fine apart from the loud music. Having said that, Eddie Cochran was welcomed.

The Matrix MMDCVI
                                               steps                            miles

Higear                                   25611                             12.1
LIDL3D                                 15916                             7.16   it's going

Dave's LIDL3D                    17204                               7.9     a bit like mine
LIDLUSB                              27633                              11.77
OUTDOOR GPS                                                            11.4
Bragometer                                                                    11.4

Bird of the blog.
Not much out today, keeping out of the wind but we did see several ravens on the tops.
Photo Gallery:
I have added these two photographs taken by Harry the routemeister. He is an excellent photographer, not a snapper like me

                                          Approaching the summit of Helvellyn. Six gadgies
                                                   struggling against the wind

Striding Edge, looks harmless but can be tricky.
Photographs by kind permission of Harry Nagel