Monday, 21 March 2011

Back in the Hills again!

I've been emailing a few friends recently, hoping for a bit of company in them hills. One mail popped up from Martin R, an old master baggerteer. He's now got a nice mobile home and is spending more weekends away. So, we arranged a weekend walking in the Lake District bagging the few remaining "obscure" hills he hasn't already bagged.

This also co-incided with visiting my sister in her new house in Carlisle after she moved from Cockermouth without telling anyone! So the plan was to meet Martin on Saturday morning, climb some hills, he to sleep in his mobile home somewhere and I was to drive to Carlisle on Saturday night and drive back down to the Northern fells on Sunday for more bagging.

Saturday 19th March 2011:

I got up an extra hour early to bag a lonely Dewey on the way, Brownley Hill just south of Allendale. This was a very easy bag and only took 20 minutes in total!

Dewey hill definition: A Dewey is "a mountain or hill in England, Wales or the Isle of Man, that exceeds 500 metres in height, but is below 610 metres (2000ft) in altitude; it must be separated from adjacent tops by a height difference of at least 30 metres on all sides".

I was to meet Martin at 09:00am in Croglin, a small village between the Pennines and the Northern Lake District. Once parked we set off on what was going to be a hard and slightly complicated route. WRONG!  It turned out a piece of cake. There was new grouse shooters roads leading all the way to the half way point, thereby missing out on the very large section of peat bog at the end of the valley. Even the final sections that looked complicated on the map because of walls and farm land, turned out to be easy. Mind you we did have to trespass through a farm!

Sunday 20th March 2011:

After spending a night at my sister's house, who was horrified I was getting up at 07:30am for an early start. As way has it, I didn't get out until 08:45am and tried to take a short cut through farm lanes, to meet Martin at Skiddaw at 09:30am as arranged. I arrived bang on and he had the tea kettle boiling.

This plan was to bag 5 Birketts (don't ask what a Birkett is as they're crap anyhow) and 1 Nuttall. The weather was drizzle and wind. The route included: Hare Crag, frozen Fell, Burn Tod, White Hause and Orthwaite Bank. It became increasingly apparent that the Nuttall, Sale How, was out of our reach, so that was abandoned that early on (thank goodness).

No photos were taken as the cloud came in, and relying only on GPS waypoints for most of the route, we struggled on for almost 6 hours in cold, wind and wet conditions.

Another cup of tea in Martin's camper soon warmed us up. Looks like he wants to bag some Cheviots hills, so we've arranged to do them soon.

The story doesn't end there...........!

The most basic of beginners error!

After leaving Martin, the drive home passed near a simple Birkett called, Green How, just outside of Uldale village. This was going to be an easy bag I thought. When I arrived it was thick cloud, but the top was only 400 metres from the road. I decided to put on trainers and jog to the top with just my GPS as company. It probably took about 5 minutes or more to get find the top.

Now the problem started on the return. I decided on a shortcut back. For some reason, I got lost. And I hadn't carried a compass! The gps breadcrumb trail didn't tally with my sense of direction. In reality, I was totally disorientated in the thick, lost with no sense of direction.  

I cursed myself and set the gps to the road. Then I began to worry if 2 days of use would drain the batteries at that minute, so I started to jog fast through the heather until I finally intersected the road and then back at the car. Phew. Lesson learnt - take a compass and don't rely on GPS.

Looking at the gpx file, it looked like I was about to go in an anti-clockwise circle, really strange as I felt I was going fairly straight towards the road.

I need more practice.