We had missed our annual Lakes visit in 2013 due to funds being tied up in some home renovation work.
I’d thought I’d again missed my yearly fell visit again but later than usual, we decided to head down for an extended weekend. This time we were to base ourselves in Keswick in b&b accommodation and we soon realised we found a gem of a place.
The weather was sadly to play such a big part in this visit as the best laid plans thrown into the air or the ‘wet’ air….
I’d planned for any two or three out of four hills depending on how Bob’s legs would be feeling. I’d been working off a thigh problem since the Buachaille jaunt and was a bit unsure about my capabilities.
We’d left early Friday heading from home in what could be described as a cloudy but dry morning and as we sped southwards the nearer we reached Carlisle, the sky got darker and more ominous. The now obligatory A**A brekkie at Carlisle before we headed down to Penrith then across towards to Keswick but as we left Carlisle, drops of rain started falling and falling. I knew then that nothing would be done so we decided to check out car park drop off points for the main proposed hills. We later sat at the top of Kirkstone Pass listening to the constant drumbeat of monsoon like rain on the car roof.
It was time to go book in..
Settled in the b&b I’d noticed the weather forecast showed a weather window around teatime and after a quick discussion, I decided to head and activate, yes…Dale Head, a hill I have a date with in just over 9 years time…anyone who wants to buy a 70-year-old Bawb a pint that day is most welcome.
Everything was ready to head down Borrowdale where we had been earlier in the day visiting Stonethwaite, our base when we first spent time in the Lakes 35 year ago.
We arrived at the top of Honister Pass and I got ready to head up a misty hill..
Katie had brought a book and decided to wait on me coming back down. I headed up and soon became enveloped in the mist, the path is now a well trodden one by me and I soon had a quick break speaking with a party coming off the hill who had ascended up from Catbells. AW mentions this is one of the best ridge walks in the area.A quick drink and off upwards and not before long I saw the cairn..
Visibility was around 20 -30 meter at best but I quickly set up the 4m antenna and got ready to call out, Geoff GDP just north of Belfast answered my call before I got my only other 4m contact, John FGQ in North Wales, I had called more in hope as the time was now after 6pm and I thought I’d struggle to pick up four contacts although I would keep going until I got them but I got the 2m beam erected and changed band and when I’d finished, I’d 16 contacts in the log an excellent total at such an inconvenient time.
First on 2m FM was Colin NVJ in Liverpool, second was regular chaser Sue OHH in Lancaster, the hill was now activated and the pressure was off.
I carried on and Jim EER in Blackpool logged, next was Colin UXH just to the west of me in Milnthorpe, I chatted with Colin as I had last tried to contact him on Hindscarth, a WOTA summit only a mile away but I was unsuccessful that day. I think I’ve spoken with Colin or his XYL Heather on all my activations down in LD land. Rob HRT in Southport next answered my call and considering Dale Head has more than a few higher hills to the south and south-west, I was doing well that way. Next was another regular John TDM in Penrith, a quick chat with him and off to find Phil UHJ in Cleveleys. Contacts were no problem now and I next spoke with Peter ANX in Barrow, followed by Dave HAK who was sitting at Heysham Harbour.
I thought I’ll call until I run out of contacts as I didn’t want to upset the boss sitting waiting on me 1,400 ft below especially as we still had to go find our tea.
John JCN in Bangor, North Wales our Snowdonia base last September answered my next call, a quick chat next with Geoff WHA across the border to the north who is another I contact regularly when I’m down this way. Sara NHA in Manchester was next logged followed by Steve IGG in Walney Island and finally the last contact was Mark GOF in Skelmersdale. One last call with no comeback so a quick dismantle and packing away of the gear and I moved down the hillside as fast as I could. Oh and the midge or their LD ilk made an unwelcome appearance.
Sadly the fall away depths of Newland valley remained hidden and at one point I only saw a fleeting glimpse of what is one of the best views (IMHO) in the Lakes.
A quick superman like change of clothes and it was off to Cockermouth for a well deserved meal and a cold pint (or two). The roads were quiet and only the odd vehicle met on the narrow roads.
45 mins later, a big plate of Lamb Mint pie and a cold pint being enjoyed. Oh and yes, it was the Tithe Barn again.
It was a drive back to Keswick in the rain but I had checked the next day forecast and an amber alert for the area was in place, I’d have a fresh look early next morning more in hope than expectation.
An early rise, my mobile internet was non-existent most of the time but I saw a possible weather window just after 10am with rain coming back in after midday.
I planned I’d head to nearby Great Mell Fell, a 2pt SOTA/WOTA summit about 8 mile as the crow flies…
It was cloudy as we headed along the A66 before turning off at Troutbeck, the road was quiet as we took a left turn just after Matterdale and soon we were at the start point, today Katie was off shopping which I admit she does well. An arranged meetup time in case of any shenanigans with mobile signal.
I started up through a grassy path with high ferns on each side so care for clegs just in case but I soon found my full Cumbrian breakfast was a bad idea but hey! it was great at the time. I looked east and I saw Little Mell Fell disappearing in the rain, my enthusiasm soon disappeared.
I thought a handie only activation then quickly back down if the weather was coming in. I called and had three contacts in no time , John TDM in Penrith who stuck up a spot for me, next call brought Arthur AUG sitting comfortable in his caravan in nearby Troutbeck then regular chaser Geoff WHA mobile in Annan across the border. I called and called with nothing so as I needed another contact, I decided to throw up the beam but by now, the rain was horizontal as the wind had sprung up. Three further contacts were quickly logged Sue OHH in Lancaster, Colin UXH Milnthorpe and finally Derek MIX in Whitehaven. Three contacts kept short but I explained the situation but I still had to find the geocache, a quick look at the GPS and I walked on to it. Logged, I called Katie who was on her way but I had another look at the orange/white warning(?) square which contained what looked like a piece of electrical equipment but I wasn’t for having a closer look as by now, I was soaked through to the skin..
The path down was becoming greasy with the occasional muddy bit it felt slippy underfoot so care had to be taken as I descend and soon I was on the rough track and I saw the car waiting..
My sensible wife had made good use of bin bags and towels so I could just jump into the car and the rain was now getting heavier by the minute. I would have been popular if the seat got damp. It was back to the B&B for a hot shower and fresh clothes. I was glad I had done the hill but I missed out on the views which I know are good on a clear day.
Sunday was spent watching the cycling in Glasgow and visiting some friends locally in Keswick.
Monday arrived and my regular early rise even on holiday.
I looked at my options…
I decided the easy option as I was returning to work the next day and after my wee ‘problem’ after Glencoe, Little Mell Fell was an easy ascent.
Another full Cumbrian breakfast with all the trimmings, we will certainly return to this B&B.
It was time to leave Keswick, the car packed and I was going to be dropped off and the boss was off shopping….AGAIN.
The parking place was quickly reached and off I headed with a light breeze and some sunshine and in no time at all, I was standing at the trig point. I decided to bag the geocache first and as the previous one I walked straight on to it and signed the log. The weather today was much improved and with a cooling breeze I threw up the 4m antenna but nothing this trip on 4m. I sat and had some scran whilst I put the 5 element yagi together, it was now 2m time and first call, Geoff WHA called me from nearby Penrith and put a spot up on both SOTA and WOTA sites. Geoff seems to pop up on all my activations plus one day whilst on Minch Moor with fellow blogger Graeme HLQ we struggled for the fourth contacts and Geoff saved the day when he called us from Southwaite Services.
The jungle drums must have been beaten as John TDM who was mobile in the same area answered, a quick thanks to John for all the help he had given me on this trip. The next call brought Ron UQC in Keswick where Mrs Mhor was away having a last spending spree. Colin UXH popped in and we had a longer chat than we before had on the previous hill, a cheerio to Colin and I thought I’ll keep calling but moving the beam in various points of the compass when Simon TNT called in and I had a long qso on radio, cycling and Le Tour.
I thought one more call and Alan ZTG who was across the valley from me on Hallin Fell called me, I think we could have shouted the qso to each other, Alan was just starting his week and I was about to head back north. One last call and finally a Scottish station Ken MID in Lochmaben. I had spent over 100 minutes on the hill for 7 contacts but this time I had time to chat..
It was time to break down the station and meet Katie then head back home, another enjoyable break down in the Lakes with a keen bunch of friendly chasers when I got the chance to play radio. I look forward to my next visit and maybe the two hills I missed doing will get done.
Three hours later we were home.
My thanks go to Wikipedia and any other site I have linked.
All those who took the time to ‘chase’ me and those who have taken the time to read this longer than usual post.