We decided last October after the resounding success of the trip to ‘activate’ Mull’s Ben More that a trip was made over the border to the Lake District to aspire to stand over England‘s lowly plains.
Over the following months,dates worked out and plans laid to where to stay, what hills to do and whatever else.
Mid September we chose this time as the English holiday season would be gone and hopefully the hills would be quieter but as anyone who knows the Lakes this isn’t the case.
The day arrived and finally we set off from the Mhor abode to pick up Patsy UPG and all loaded with this that and probably more than we needed.
It was time to head down south, the day was sunny but with a bit of a breeze which was to continue over much of the trip. Heading down the M74 we made for Carlisle for last-minute supplies and the first of our daily breakfasts from the supermarket chain which always gives you the opportunity to have change in your back pocket. I’m not allowed to say Asda am I?
Scranned up we left and then bypassing Carlisle we headed down through Cumbria along the A595 towards our base for five days Cockermouth but we had arrived early for our check in so we parked up and had a stroll around our ‘base’.
I’ve been down here more than a few times in the last 18 months and haven’t taken the opportunity to explore what is I found to be an more than interesting area. Famous sons include Wordsworth and Fletcher Christian. If you know the Lake District this bloke Wordsworth tends to pop up everywhere. A walk through the Memorial Park then across a fast flowing R on to the main thoroughfare checking out possible eating haunts and having a nosey in general.
A stop to look at the ‘History Wall‘ which time-lines some of the history of the area plus a height chart of the floods which have hit the area in recent years.
After a good recce we headed to check in and decide the essential things we had to do e.g. eat, activate and other incidental things.
A trip that evening to walk round Keswick and arriving just as the overpriced parking costs got kicked into touch until 8am the next morning, £3 saved. I’ve visited Keswick on many occasions since the early ’80s and I was returning just six weeks after my latest visit. If you come to the area and forget any of your outdoor gear, you will find almost every third shop is an outdoor specialist shop. I remember I think there used to be about three in the ’80s.
My evening meal was a fish supper devoured hungrily in the Discovery before heading back to Cockermouth and to get planned for our activation of Scafell Pike the next day. Lets just say the pickled onions were the highlight.
The mountain weather forecast had promised wintry showers and high winds on the higher tops and this forecast proved correct but first the Discovery was packed and off towards Workington and as the day before a hearty A**a brekkie consumed but as we left the store car park we saw our route south was stacking up with traffic and as an ambulance raced past us so we set off to find an alternative route. Not before long we were heading south along Cumbria’s west coast heading towards our intended target Wasdale Head situated at the top of Wastwater but we found our route east diverted further south but eventually after a bit of a delay we were driving along Wastwater and soon we had parked in another expensive car park whilst we suited and booted and after checking everything, Roddy and I headed up a diverted path to reach the main path ascending up towards England’s highest spot. Diversions are the big thing of this day.
Off we headed passing the remedial work that the National Trust are doing to the path along the lower part of Lingmell Gill, we followed the north side of the Gill for roughly the first third of our slow but steady ascent over rough and well maintained and reconstructed parts of the path and as we crossed the free-flowing gill and heading up on the south side of Brown Tongue along a reconstructed path taking us up to the area known as Hollow Stones, this has a broken path through literally as the name suggests but soon you end up on a good path which zig zags towards the north side of the hill, looking to your right from Hollow Stones the dramatic crags show a route up to Mickledore on what looks a rough scree covered steep gap in the crags, the tourist route will do for me today.
We were treated to a sight of a RAF jet skimming over the adjacent tops but soon we saw worsening weather heading up the valley we had just come from.
It rained steadily for the next 20 to 25 minutes and just as we headed to negotiate the rock strewn fields which populate the final push to the summit area it turned wintry and I soon realised that wearing shorts may have been a daft idea but as we headed up we noticed that if we left the path area, the mossy areas were slippy with the hail still lying there.
Onwards we pushed and just as I was expecting a false summit, the trig point was showing in front of us, I was there !! on top lording over Englandshire below.
It was horizontal wind and rain but suddenly the weather improved and the sun came out and we got treated to extensive views in all directions and just as if arranged, the RAF jet circled and flew past and I noticed that people who had hidden out of the wind in the shelters stood up to watch this, they reminded me of meerkats.
It was time to take photos, a panorama video and take in the views and try to guess what was what. Excellent views were had whilst the occasional wispy cloud scuttled past.
It was time to activate and only 15 mins after I had alerted for, I called out using only my 4m FM hand-held with its helically wound duck antenna and first in the log was Roy RDZ in Burnley but not wanting to hang about for when the weather deteriorated, I proceeded to work Colin UXH to the NW in Milnthorpe, Colin proved to be very helpful during the next days in spotting Roddy and myself on both the SOTA and WOTA sites. Thanks Colin !!
Next in the log was John FCQ based in North East Wales but as I previously said contacts were unfortunately kept short due to thinking the weather may deteriorate. Patsy 2E0UPG called us from our operations base in Wasdale Head and next I worked John TDM from Penrith, another station I have worked most times I have been in the Lake District as also my next contact, Geoff WHA who was also in Penrith. My last contact was Sue OHH in Lancaster whom I worked on 2m FM.
I would like to have stayed longer and been able to get a beam or Jpole in use but with the cold, wet and very windy conditions it was impossible it was time for a quick last look and a quick tap on the trig point, it was off down in another hail storm this time into our faces…
The main intention of the trip was achieved and now to descend safely.
More to follow……
My thanks to all the sites I have linked to and to Roddy 2MØIOB for use of images and apologies for the poor panorama shot but lets just say I provide a big target for the wind.