2 friends and the coast to coast walk

Blencathra (Saddleback) by gleavem
May 5, 2010, 11:35 am
Filed under: Lake district, weather | Tags: , , , ,

We had a list of peaks we wanted to tackle in the Lakes, but we soon realised that (as always) we weren’t going to manage many of them (there’s just not enough days in a week!).  One of those peaks was Blencathra (meaning the bare hill-top shaped like a chair); sitting away from most other peaks and with such a distinctive profile it held much appeal.  So when we awoke on Thursday to a beautiful bright, sunny day, it seemed that fate was on our side for once.  We drove to Threlkeld, parked up and donned our boots, happy not to have to wear our waterproof trousers again.  We began by heading NE out of Threlkeld, crossing Kilnhow Beck in the process.  Passing through Gategill farm, we soon picked up the path which runs along the wall at the base of Blencathra, which we  followed for a few miles, crossing a few becks and encountering a scramble or two.  We met a chap coming the other way who had turned back as the scramble down at Scaley Beck was too tricky; forewarned, we continued and managed (with some awkwardness) to scramble down and safely cross the beck.  Eventually be began to turn north, heading around Scales Fell to pick up the path towards Scales Tarn. 

Heading up to Blencathra

Let me pause to make a comment about navigation.  At this point in the walk my better half took a look at the map; I’d been navigating up to now, not that it had been very challenging so far.  I was confident about where we were and where we were heading, but Sid jus couldn’t get his head into the map.  He was getting quite frustrated as he just couldn’t connect our surroundings with the features on the map.  This is something I’ve noticed happen before; if you haven’t been navigating from the start you haven’t had time to absorb the map, to get used to the orientation and the features around you, and consequently you can find it difficult to place yourself on the map.  …Lesson: leave the navigation to one person (unless they ask for help), or both use the map throughout the walk. 

Shell by the tarn

Sid checks out the map 3

Back to the walk…  Once again as we climbed to wind increased (Sid in particular hates the wind) and the cloud descended, and so we were forced to decide if Sharp Edge was an appropriate approach on this day.  We got as far as the tarn (why is it that tarns like this have such a special feeling, it’s really quite mystical), sat down to consult th map, have a snack and review our options.  We decide to approach the summit via the alternative path (not on our OS map) from the tarn rather than from Sharp Edge (another time!).  As we climbed we entered the cloud and there was a fair bit of snow on the ground… clearly (ha) we would not be seeing any great views today after all.  There weren’t many people around Blencathra today, but we were joined on the summit by a lone walker who took a lovely pic of us on Blencathra’s rather bleak summit:

Blencathra summit

Our return route took us SW along the ridge and down to Knowe Crags.  Most of the descent was easy-going; we were even chuckling at one particular section where many, many zig zags have been created to make the ascent easier (very easy on the way down).  It was nice to come out of the cloud and see some reasonable views over Keswick.  After a while we cut back SE, encountering some steep, slippery sections, and some worn out moany students and their bored leader, finally we returned to Kilnhow Beck and Threlkeld.  We were so chuffed to have completed this walk (including the summit) and only a little disappointed not to have tackled Sharp Edge.  Overall, highly recommended!


Windy Lyminge by gleavem
August 11, 2008, 12:44 pm
Filed under: exercise, training, weather | Tags: , ,

Yesterday was our final training walk before we begin the C2C.  We plotted a circular route from Lyminge, via Stowting, Rhodes Minnis and Elham. It’s a lovely area we’ve walked in once before (Barham-Elham Circular), its got some hills (by Kentish standards anyway), nice scenery and plenty of little village pubs for lunch or refreshment! The only down side to this walk was the wind, and as Sid reminded me frequently, he HATES WIND!

We started by taking the Elham Valley Way (EVW) south out of Lyminge, until we met the North Dows Way (NDW) at Swingfield radio station.  We than followed the NDW past Postling, through some very undulating access land to Hempton farm.  From here we continued on the NDW to Stowting, where we had a delicious lunch (NB: Sid is never again to have Lasagne whilst walking) at the Tiger Inn.  Taking a small path north out of Stowting we passed some noisy nosey geese and encountered our first major navigational challenge. 

Let me pause here to fill you in a little on a recent purchase: Pete Hawkins’ book on map and compass skills. I’ve just finished reading it and Sid is nearly at the end, all I can say is why oh why didn’t we read this years ago!  Those of you who are regular readers will knpw that we often face some navigational challenges, and don’t quite know exactly where we are at all times…well not any more!  As well as being our last training walk, this was our chance to try out our newly learnt navigational skills; we made a route card, we took bearings, we adjusted for magnetic variation, we took back bearings, we “ticked off” and consequently we didn’t get lost!!

To continue the story we came into a field of broad beans; the path through them strted on roughly the right bearing, but fizzled out to nothing about half way across the field.  Surrouded by above head-heigh beans, we were forced to forge our own path to the boundary! On exiting the field we were obviosuly unsure whether it was us of the field that was in the wrong; by a couple of bearings soon told us that we were where we should have been but the path was missing! 

Anyway, we continued up Stowting Hill (a bit of a slog after lunch) to reach Highfields farm, where we headed east through the woods to Rhodes Minnis and onwards to Elham. After a refreshing diet coke, we rejoined the EVW for a plesant low-level stroll back to Lyminge.

Highlights of this walk: lots of friendly dogs, good views, nice lunch & our superb navigational skills!