Mon 11th May 2015
9th May 2015
What a day!
This was a walk that didnít seem as if it was going to happen as I was driving from Northumberland to Keswick. The rain was lashing down over the Pennines towards the west. I even stopped in Brampton to discuss with Jon whether or not it was going to be safe to take a party onto the high fells.
The weather forecast didnít help much as it said that things would get worse before they got better. So fearing the worst I arrived in Keswick to meet up with John and Julie, my excellent supporters, to make the decision that we were going to call it off. The rain had begun to ease as we walked up to the meeting point above Latrigg and by this stage the odds had improved to 50/50 that we might, at least, be able to start the ascent of Skiddaw which, like all the fells was shrouded in mist.
A discussion with the group of determined, well equipped and experienced walkers led to the decision that we would start up the first slope of Jenkins Hill and take it from there. The mist was down to about 300m and once we were in it the visibility was poor but the expected rain was holding off so we just plodded on and on and on up the steep and steepening slope until somewhere in the swirl the gradient eased.
With the walking easier and despite the falling temperature we just kept going, everyone was in good form and making good progress. Ironically we probably stopped less that if it were a glorious day and it was a bit of a surprise when, all of a sudden, the summit trig point appeared through the mirk. It had taken us 2 hours to complete the climb which was some going. I allowed the group 5 minutes for a quick bite as we sought some protecting from the wind on the summit in rudimentary shelters. The temperature on the summit was close to freezing and all were keen to get moving again.
The descent meant that the wind was behind us and each step downwards took us out of the mist which was beginning to break up. This is one of the glories of the Lake District fells that you can spend hours toiling away in misty mirk and see nothing but your feet and then suddenly you get a glimpse of the most breathtaking views. In this case we got Derwent Water with the pretty white buildings of Keswick glinting way below us.
Descending further we came out of the mist completely and had the most spectacular view of Catbells, the Newlands Valley, the long flattened ridge leading from Threlkeld across High Fells and Raise on towards Helvellyn, and down into the jaws of Borrowdale. This view has to be the cure for many ills – it certainly was a reward for the determined and adventuresome who come out in challenging conditions.
What a day!
Thank you to John and Julie for their excellent support and to each member of the group who made the day enjoyable. It was a pleasure to meet you all and I look forward to our next challenge – Helvellyn….