Lake District Weekend - June 2009

19-22 June 2009

A set of Steve’s photos from this trip has been archived on Flickr.

Wainwright doesn’t mention midges in his Lake District guides, so I guess the general view that they’re a fairly recent addition to the Lakeland scene is right. But if it’s also true that they don’t fly if the wind speed is more than 5 mph then they were outdone 12 times over on Friday. Yes, it was the Lake District in June – 60 mile an hour winds, horizontal driving rain, and about 6 degrees C.

I think there were ten of us who met up in Keswick that morning. Most of us had heard the wind howling and rain lashing down on our various windows overnight, and were probably a bit relieved when Leader Steve announced a change of plan. We wouldn’t go too high today, he said, as he thought walking directly into the wind and rain on top of Causey Pike wouldn’t be as enjoyable as walking with the wind and rain blowing in from the side on top of Ard Crags.

I have to say it wasn’t a great morning. Some people were better equipped and perhaps more accustomed to the conditions than others. The smallest and lightest person in the group was blown over once (no, it wasn’t me), and some others got extremely wet and rather cold. But we made it over Ard Crags and Knott Rigg and down to the relative safety of Newlands Hause for a decision about the afternoon. The rain was showing signs of stopping and the wind seemed to have eased a bit, but no-one was keen to go high again so it was back to Newlands church for lunch and then to the cars. Here some decided to call it a day and a smaller group set off to conquer Catbells, which objective was duly accomplished in the dry and even with occasional sunshine.

Saturday was better. The forecast was mostly cloudy with showers and lighter winds and this turned out to be about right. Steve’s decision: Helvellyn and The Dodds. The group had grown overnight with Paul and Jim joining us to make twelve. (I might not have got these numbers exactly right, but you get the general idea.) It was an easy route up Helvellyn from the southern end of St Johns-in-the-Vale. Although we were in mist and occasional drizzle by the time we reached the summit, the lighter winds were a welcome change from the day before.

It drizzled and rained on and off during the day but we had plenty of dry periods too, and even some times when the mist lifted and we had views. The heaviest rain and wind was while we on the summit of Raise, where the Global Positioning Sub-Committee decided to hold a meeting to compare their equipment. I confess I didn’t stay around to hear the outcome.

Three Dodds later we ended the day with an interesting descent christened Steve’s Triple-D. The triple D stands for Direct Doddle Down. It should have had a Health & Safety warning sign “Slippery When Wet”, as I demonstrated more than adequately – one for each D, in fact. A few midges found us while we waited at the bottom for everyone to catch up.

And then it was Sunday. Where would we go, we wondered? Steve spoke. It was to be Friday’s abandoned route of the Coledale Round, starting with Causey Pike and ending with Grisedale Pike. Only Nicole joined Steve for the steep ascent of Rowling End: the rest of us opted for the gradual uphill path to the foot of the climb up Causey Pike. A couple of scrambly bits tested the determination of one or two of the group, but we all made it in the end. After that it was a series of ups and downs, sometimes in mist, sometimes not. The air was humid and the Midge Met Office had declared that the wind was less than 5mph so even though we kept moving we couldn’t completely escape their attentions.

After lunch the group split, with Steve and three others opting for the extra bonus Wainwright of Grasmoor. The other six of us took the easier option of heading straight for Hopegill Head and Grisedale Pike, which were duly reached and left behind, ending the day with the long descent to Braithwaite village.

Although I didn’t stay for the shorter walk on Monday it had been a good weekend. We’d done some good walks and visited a good number of Wainwrights. The cuts and bruises are healing nicely and the midge bites have almost stopped itching. If Steve can be persuaded to do it again next year I’ll be booking my place.

Tony T

Walkers:

Andy, Bobbie, Deborah, Ian, Jackie, Jeff, Nicole, Paul, Rebecca, Steve, Tony G, Tony T

A set of Steve’s photos from this trip has been archived on Flickr.