Unfortunately planned leader Derek had to withdraw at short notice due to injury but luckily Tony was available to step in and undertake the awesome responsibility of escorting Dennis and visitor Eddie round the route. Perhaps the disappointing turnout was related to the proximity of the AGM walk the previous week. Those who missed this walk were unlucky as the sun shone relentlessly out of a cloudless sky all day. Early frost and valley mist enhanced the views as we started from Castlerigg stone circle which was awash with early morning photographers. They were soon left behind as we climbed onto Walla Crag and enjoyed the stunning panorama towards Keswick and over invisible Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite.
The way then lead South passing above Crag number 2 – Falcon – to reach first Bleaberry Fell then, in quick succession, High Seat, High Tove and Armboth Fell. A veil will be drawn over the familiar soggy underfoot conditions on this traverse as Dennis narrowly escaped a watery grave. Rather sadistically the route planner had then scheduled a steep descent to Thirlmere’s shore though worry about the impending climb back up to Raven Crag was offset by the sylvan beauty of the short perambulation alongside the lake.
A quick lunch under Raven Crag fortified us for the steep but mercifully short climb and after a brief stop on the summit to admire the extensive views from Blencathra in the north then eastwards right along the Dodds to Helvellyn and the length of Thirlmere we visited our fourth and final Crag. This was the finely situated Castle Crag, site of an Iron Age hill fort. Now homeward bound our visitor was treated to a comfortable descent on a dry and well graded forest path down to Shoulthwaite farm.
After dashing across the busy A591 we regained the afternoon sunshine on the slopes of High Rigg. Eddie was not so pleased when informed that this was the ‘sting in the tail’ though was perhaps slightly mollified when he learnt it would be the seventh ‘Wainwright’ of the day. After relaxing on the summit of this fine little hill we descended to the Diocesan Centre before hopping over Low Rigg and enjoying the reflections of Lonscale Fell in Tewet Tarn.
On reaching the minor road it was just a short walk through fields and quiet lanes to return to the stone circle and complete the 16 mile circuit as the sun dipped behind the hills. A satisfying day was then completed as we enjoyed refreshments at the Horse and Farrier in nearby Threlkeld.