In desperate need of a holiday, but not fancying spending a week lying by myself on a beach, I set off to Keswick to spend a few days climbing mountains and drinking in pubs. Here, then, are my collected photos and a few words about the fells I climbed.
On the first day, with low hanging cloud from the valley capping most of the higher peaks, I decided to climb the smaller but significantly clearer Catbells ridge onto Highspy, leaving myself open to decide where to go from there. Hopping on the ferry at Keswick I crossed Derwentwater and began the accent upwards from Hawes End pier. The initial scramble, over Skegill Bank and then to Catbells (451m, 1,480ft) is steep but simple making it extremely popular with family groups and there were plenty out today despite the mixed weather.
Within an hour I was on the summit looking back along the ridge towards Keswick, down the valleys of Borrowdale and Newland, and from there on I climbing up to the first and smallest mountain of the day, High Spy (653m, 2,142ft), and then down to Dalehead Tarn; where I had to make my choice of where to go next. Most people at this point turn into Borrowdale and continue along the relatively level path back to the Ferry. I had, though, planned to climb up to Dale Head (753m, 2,470ft) carrying on my walk along the Newland horseshoe. Unfortunately the clouds were starting to break and a persistent rain was pouring down, and even worse the path ahead of me appeared to lead, almost vertically, into a cloudy barrier of white nothingness.
Slightly disheartened I clambered into a nook for shelter and settled down with a slice of madeira cake and a cup of tea. Never underestimate the power of a cup of tea. My strength slowly began to return, along with my resolve, and I put down my head and set off upwards and into the unseen. Arriving on Dalehead the path continued 4 miles along the ridge, dipping in and out of the clouds as it went, along to Robinson (737m, 2,418ft) down Blea Crags and finally into the valley bellow. I eventually arrived back at the Ferry 6 1/2 hours and 11 miles after setting off.
For the second day I decided to chose a shorter route (8 1/2 miles) starting from Braithwaite which I reached by bus. Despite the shorter length this was a much harder walk overall covering much higher fells than previously tackled, starting with the accent of Barrow (455m, 1,494ft), Sail (773m, 2,536ft) and then Crag Hill (839m, 2,753ft). As with the previous day I spent the morning walking towards a blanket of cloud, but in a change of fortune a stiff breeze suddenly appeared clearing the peaks and giving me fantastic views across Scarfell, towards the sea and in the distance Scotland and the Isle Of Man.
The increasing height from yesterday was immediately evident and looking down to the left the peaks of Catbells, High Spy and Dale Head started to look more and more like molehills with every meter climbed. The wind, which I was so greatful to for clearing the clouds, started to becoming stronger and forced me into winter clothing before almost (at one point) blowing me near off the ridge completely. From the top I climbed down to Coledale (relishing the shelter) and I then continued onto the next ridge climbing up Hopegill Head (770m, 2,526ft) to Grisedale Pike (791m, 2,593ft) before finally descending back into the valley at Braithwaite.
For my third and final day I decided to climb Skiddaw (931, 3,054ft) from Keswick, the 4th highest mountain in England. Despite a promising weather forecast after an hour of scrambling I ended up trapped in the clouds (for about 2 hours) as I made my way to the summit. Luckily Skiddaw is one of the easier mountains over 3000ft to climb and the path was so well trodden and obvious that I would have struggled to get lost, even with the limited vision of 4 meters afforded either side of me.
I descended through the clouds, down the perilously steep Skiddaw scree slope, just as they started to clear and suddenly I was bathed in brilliant sunshine. From Carlside Tarn I turned onto Ullock ridge and descended into the valley with fabulous views of this weeks mountains climbed, Skiddaw; to the left, High Spy, Dale Head, Robinson, Sail, Crag Hill, Hopegill Head and Grisedale Pike to the right.
From the valley I had a 5 mile walk back to Keswick, which; with my legs tired, bruised and swollen as well as anticipating the end, I managed in record time. I did stop once though, half way through the beautiful Dodd wood, to view Britain’s only nesting Osprey pair (the only nesting site in England for the last 150 years!) over by Bassenthwaite Lake. The 12 1/2 mile walk ended up taking 8 1/4 hours, and I arrived back ready for a shower and a pint.