Sunday, 19 April 2009

Walking in the Air

We have just had a week in the Lakes based at Corner Cottage,  High Street Keswick (near the Pencil factory and museum) walking with Wainwrght, accompanied by my old guides mostly purchased in 1977. And ordinance survey maps of the same era. 

Day 1 Easter Sunday
One group went to the Sunrise Service and then for a walk around Derwent Water Lake starting at Grange.  

I went to the communion Service at Crosthwaite Parsih Church then joined the group ascending Skiddaw starting at Ravenstone Hotel Baseenthwaite.  Walking along Ling How - Ullock Pike - Longside edge - Carl Side - Allerdale Ramble to the top of Skiddaw and a scramble down Birkbeth Gill across Bassenwhaite Common eventally back to the hotel.

Views of Melvyn Bragg’s favourite church St Bega's  overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake

Wainwight's impression of Skiddaw: 
Silence Solitude and seclusion characterise the unfrequented valley of Birkbeckdale, which runs deep under the steepest slope of Skiddaw and reveals an aspect of the mountain not often seen.
Ask any Barkbeth sheep what the northwaest ridge of Skiddaw is like and it will reply without hesitation ‘c’est magnifique’ (if it is French, which is unlikely) – which just shows how tastes differ for most walkers less easily satisfied will consider it disappointing. ..

I felt it quite a challenge on the first day - a slog bt then iw as very much out of condition and got bad cramp going on the final stretch up to Skiddaw itself. And the Scree-walking down got to different muscles.

Day 2 Bank Holiday Monday Keswick
My sister Liz and Stew came over on their motorbike from Richmond came over and we went for a short walk Friar’s Cragg with the Ruskin’s Monument and along Strandshag bay. 

This was an opportunity for Jess to recover from her strenuous walk of the previous day. There were quite a number of tourists, including Pakistani families (first time I have seen in Lakes) 
Stew made Joanna’s day by offering her a ride on the back of the motorbike.

Day 3 Tuesday 
as walk as group from Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge and the slate shop now a trendy tourist spot. Mike (who I used to share a flat with)  joined us for the day. 

This was a low level walk,  with views of Loughrigg and the Langdales and Lingmore fell all of which we have done in the past. This was a  'Low Bob' walk (Bob Allen: On Lowere Lakeland Fells)  It finished for me with a great couple of pints of Conniston Ale at the end of the walk in Elterwater village itself.  
Dropped into Grasmere and looked around the gallery bookshops and St Olswold’s church where Wordsworth’s grave is and a fascinating money spinney steps in the Daffodil garden for about £150 each - very lucrative,  The famous Ginger bread shop was the school house, where Wordsworth aslo taught. 

Day 4 Wednesday Helm Cragg from Grasmere ' 

The virtues of Helm crag have not been lauded enough. It gives an exhilarating little climb, a brief essay in real mountaineering, and , in a region where all is beautiful, it makes a notable contribution to the natural charms and attractions of  Grasmere.’

And I must say I really enjoy the 'The Lion and Lamb' and its almost universally known. It's a great little mountain. As for descent, Jess and I chose to take Wainwright's advice and come down by the same route as the ascent from Grasmere:
‘for then the Vale of Grasmere will be directly in view ahead and this fair scene is at its best when the shadows of evening are lengthening, with the Langdales silhouetted in rugged outline against the sunset, Tarry log over the exquisite picture of serenity and peace and memorise it for the long winter of exile!’

Day 5 Thursday High Rigg

This isolated wedge is High Rigg (locally known as Naddle Fell) It is rough and craggy although modest elevation only. Northwards the ridge falls to a pass where there is a Church so sited to serve both valleys equally (and an object of pilgrimage for many visitors to Keswick)...   The full traverse of the ridge, starting up the wooded slope from Smaithwaite Bridge snf continuing over High Rigg and Low Rigg …. Is a splendid little expedition admirably suited to old and rickety fellwalkers long past their best. The journey should be made form south to north so that the fine views of Blencathra is in front.

We three 'old and rickety walkers' came back along St John in the Vale.  Past the  Carlisle Diocesan Youth centre and Church , finishing with the tea shop near John's (a friend) Viking Burial Mound. and later made a pleasant detour to  Castlerigg Standing circle. It was  very blowy on top of the Crag and we felt somewhat exposed. But great for blowing out the cobwebs.


Day 5 Friday Patterdale From Patterdale and Hartsop to Haysewater and Angle Tarn

'A very enjoyable walk, with a series of varied and beautiful views; and the tracking of the indistinct path, which has many unexpected turns and twists, is interesting throughout’

However the ascent from Hayeswater AW describes –
‘ but they will not enjoy the climb which is steep, dull, and overburdened with scree

I couldn't agree more! A.W. describes High Street as having been: 
‘known and trodden, down through the ages, by a miscellany of travellers on an odd variety of missions: by marching soldiers, marauding brigands, carousing shepherds, officials of the Governments, and now by modern hikers. Its summit has been in turn a highway and a sports arena and a racecourse, as wella s it is today, a grazing ground for sheep.

He says its not worth going if you lack imagination. In the end we did not go up High Street,not becaus eof lack of imagination,   but because of time.  We did however enjoy the highlight of the whole week, sitting by Angle Tarn watching the pattern of the wind on the waters. A reminder that the spirit blows where he wills……

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