The Borrowdale, all peaks, pikes, pies and Via Ferrata extreme….

View of ropes above Fleetwith Pike's Via Ferrata London, a great city, but not in the hard heat of a blistering summer – where to go and what to do?  Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis or Snowdon?  All three or maybe just two and a few Wainwrights….off we go. Sun shining, Costa on board, a 06.30 start and a swift 275 miles later we were on Snowdon’s foothills by 12.00.  Parking is a fiasco if you arrive after 09.00 – oops – oh well.  Up to the top, down to the bottom, a swim in the lake and a night at the fine (well acceptable) YHA.

Snowdon from the top

Snowdon and a cracking view..

A shame to leave such a beautiful landscape so soon but the Lakes were calling. A few hundred miles and Kiln How in the Borrowdale hove into view, glorious and right next to the famed Scafell Hotel (see C2C blog).  Day one – Rigghead Quarries, High Spy, Maiden Moore, Cat Bells, down to Keswick and back along Derwent Water to the Grange Bridge Cottage tea rooms for best scone this side of Kent.  Cracking day, circular and very achievable.

Buttermere lake

Glorious evening under Haystacks and looking out to the start of C2C

The route to Honister, to reach Haystacks and a dip in Buttermere, is easily found from Rosthwaite, but was beyond our not to honed navigational skills and the maps, compasses and GPS were mostly misunderstood,  so an extended march via Fleetwith Pike it was.  Haystacks rarely a great challenge but always an iconic hill sitting low amongst a  fearsome ring of Lakeland monsters.

Waterfall by Haystacks

Alessandra Scola barefoot and bold…

On-on and a little bit of Via Ferrata extreme, wow, a breath-taking, scare making, screech inducing trip above Honister.  The biggest knee tremble I have ever encountered on UK soil and I would thoroughly recommend it.

View of the Burma Bridge at Fleetwith Pike

Great adventure. Safe but scary. Do it.

Time for a relax so it had to be the corridor route up Scafell – a nice, fairly challenging, usually people scarce route.  For once the role of walk leader came naturally, well having picked up some stray Geordie lads, poorly attired, highly sweaty and in need of some firm direction I simply had to.

Trips to Grasmere and Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage – fantastic, the walking shops of Ambleside – awesome and the ever faithful Dog and Gun – delicious, my love of the Lakes remains alive and well.  A staycation well worth doing again-and-again.

Grasmere with phone box and fells

Grasmere – lovely little village

Monster tough week for Nunan…..respite required…Shropshire, Wiltshire and Cumbria beckoned

2011 continued to bless us with mellow sun and bold blue skies, no excuses let’s go visit pals and places, my muttley friends continue to reject all offers (or snaffle picnics) so Annie and the Polo it is.  First stop Tenbury Wells; Dils, Tinkerbell, Chloe and an Aga, gorgeous.

Tinkerbell was not up for a walk the Aga was far too toasty

Chloe, the most inappropriate name for a mutt bred from Pit Bull, Deer Hound, Grey Hound and other such fierce forebears….very beautiful but doesn’t she know it.

Come on Tinkerbell.

Dils had other fish to fry (literally …. a shoot lunch to which Annie was not invited…the shame), so it was a quick march around the Tenbury Hills and back for coffee and the M6 to Crook / Kendal to visit Ford of Boar’s Rock.

After a few detours around Kendal, a Rioja pick up at the local stores, I made it to dinner with Mo, Clara and Clare.  Lovely.

Saturday arrived with dark clouds, gale force winds and a generally poor demeanour(both me – Rioja – and the weather) oh well.  Mighty Mo, Mountain leader beyond compare thoughtfully asked, “where do you want to walk today Annie….” “Dollywagon Pike would be fantastic”…. smile to myself, another Wainwright to tick off…or so I thought.  “OK let’s go…..we will do Seat Sandal and then Dollywagon but only if the conditions get better….”.  Not happy – not happy at all….I know I was late for supper but really.

Too many prescription drugs in my bod to make this the most joyous ascent but .... loved it when I got there

Boot, shank, shoulder and stride, the rain harsh, the wind fierce, the route was chosen and the summit was there to be taken, no prisoners allowed….ha ha.  Seat Sandal, a steep but small fell was challenging none-the-less.  Ouch the conditions DID NOT improve so no Dolly Wagon….ummmm.  Off to the Red Lion pub in Grasmere to meet some pals then….

Sunday cracked with the wind unleashed, Annie was ready…..for a lie-in.  Mo was having none of it, things-to-do, places-to-go, people-to-meet kind of a day for her.  OK a short sharp one up Scout Scar, one of Wainwright’s outlying fells, and then a race down the Motorway for a swift walk with Beamer.  All good.

I keep saying it but……a great 2011…..whether its the weather…the friends, the landscape or something else entirely it works for me.

Got to love a stout wall

Thunder, lightening, 55 Mph winds and a whole lot more….I know lets go wild camping on Scafell Pike…

What a bonus it is to have mates who are expert mountain leaders, winners of mountain marathons and generally extreme outdoor nerds….or is it?

What was I to do the August Bank Holiday was nearly here, a number of parties beckoned, a few less than challenging walks were on the agenda and it all looked to be rather…well dull!  The call arrived, would I like to camp up a mountain somewhere in the Lakes, not sure where but high enough not to bother the natives?  Well yes I would, had I camped before, well no I hadn’t, did I have a tent or even a sleeping bag…no…get the picture?

Someone had all the gear...not me sadly

Arriving at Borrowdale I was met by the experts who proceeded to suggest a myriad of items that they were sure I had not got, not considered and frankly thought unnecessary (a stove, a silk sleeping bag liner, food….the list seemed endless).

Would I like to know where we were going, a map pressed forward, no not really as long as it was a big tough climb, the sun was shining and there was plenty to see I didn’t really care.  So off we marched with a bag that was astoundingly heavy, especially given it had none of the pre-requisites loaded.

Water, fuel and all those good things, not mine sadly

Day one, straight up the corridor route via a mountain rescue tea and cake tent, were they kidding this was supposed to be wild!  Oh well it was for the Help the Heroes team, sun still shining the site for the tents was reached, Sprinkling Tarn, gorgeous.  Ummm anyone know how to put a tent up?  Ah Mo, nerd one proved to be an able assistant and my 20 year old tent was launched (more on that later)…bags back on sans tent and we were off up Great End (the last Wainwright).

Genius my tent all loaded and ready to go...

Ummm as the fog started to roar in and the wind began to pick up I began to think twice…we marched at pace back to camp to arrive in a storm, stoves at the ready, oooops I had not got one, a cup of tea was made for me but my supper was half a COLD pork pie and an apple.  Bed at 19.00 hrs ummmm the wild in wild camping was not living up to its name.  OMG the wind got stronger…and stronger…thunder…lightening…sheep eating my tent…Georgie where is my three season sleeping bag…why is it so cold..why is it so dark (oh the sleeping bag hood wrong way round)…is that a stranger trying to get in….OMG the tent is blowing away…aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah help…..where is everyone OMG and then it was 07.00 hrs and time to get up….hang on I have not been to sleep yet.

I should have run back down now...

My ensuite facilities at Sprinkling Tarn...if only

Out of the tent with a big smile, pretend…pretend…, lovely a bowl of muesli with water for breakfast, delicious, pretend…pretend…, “want some hot porridge Annie”…”oh no I am fine thank you Clara…”..pretend…pretend…”slept well did you?  Warm enough?…”oh yes thanks…snug as a bug…” pretend…pretend lets have a picture of a happy Herdy to show all is well..

A wry smile from the Herdy..

Bags packed, sun shining it was off up Esk Pike, Bowfell, past Angle Tarn and down into the stunning Langstrath valley for another night of hell….sorry wild camping, Mo Mo what about us nipping down to the pub it is only a three hour walk…please.

The sun shone and things were looking good, it was very windy at the summit but made for a lovely leg stretcher, lunch stop, oooops yes don’t worry I had packed….a muesli bar, ummm read the list next time Nunan.

Off down the valley, no one else followed, what was going on?  After a few hours a camp site was sought, ah not is flooded, oh nor is flooded, ah Annie stand by the waterfall and we will find somewhere to seemed another night of fun was ahead…as the rain steamed in backed by a following gale.  I had had enough, PUB….but wait…Mo had warmed her tent with a stove, had got some spare Pringles and cashews and a litre of wine.  HURRAH the wild was back in the Wild.

Annie's tent ... note the chaos inside... in the Langstrath Valley

The rain ceased, stoves out, food cooked, (second half of cold pork pie for Annie) and with a sip of wine things seemed a little better, bed at 20.30 and guess what I slept, the strange noises drowned out by a totally drained body…I had nothing left to give….except thanks to Mo and Clara the mountain experts, nerdy though they are, know what they are doing and thank goodness bring a few extras for the twerps like me…

Mo making Annie a cup of Lemon Balm tea...delicious and the only hot thing I had for three days

Joking aside, it was a great adventure, to be recommended but do take the gear that you are told to, do take food to eat, do think twice about carrying four pairs of walking trousers but not carrying a three season sleeping bag…should I continue?

No more excuses…it’s time for Striding Edge and a bit more besides..

With a rapid Friday getaway from Sevenoaks I was in the Lakes by 16.00 hrs, so plenty of time for a swifty and a goulash in the Dog and Gun (Keswick).

Too excited on Saturday morning so up at 05.30 for a glorious sun dappled drive to Glenridding and to meet Jason, the intrepid guide who was destined to help me find my way up the fabled hillock – Striding Edge.

The walk, only 7.5 miles started in earnest at the Ullswater Tourist Office at Glenridding, taking in a fairly tedious ascent of about an hour but which had beautiful views back down to the lake.

Marching onto the often perilous Striding Edge, but with the newly acquired nickname of Rockweiler, I found the clamber up no trouble at all, two others in our party of four did get the fear half way up but no one bottled out with a straight up the ridge approach taken by all.  There were a few unruly mutts on the hill each attempting to trip up a few climbers, not your style ey Rufus?

The descent via Swirral Edge came about all too soon and was possibly a little harder than Striding Edge had been.  In the wrong conditions it is clear that this walk would be a significantly tougher nut to crack but on a clear sunny day in July it was a truly wonderful walk don’t be put off and do get in touch with Jason at Lake District Guiding if you need a guide.

The Borrowdale next, another stunning part of the lakes, with access to Scafell Pike and a heap of other expansive, challenging, fabulous hills.

The lakes – rain, sun, snow, hail, gales – why wouldn’t you?

It pays to get up early around here, Windermere in the early morning

Sad news from the Southern Lakes, Rumpole, resident of Crook near Kendal and recent star of a RufusRambles tale, had felt very unwell over recent weeks and so Peter and Vivienne decided that it was time to visit Diplock and his other friends in doggy heaven.  Annie decided this meant a visit was in order to say hi to the team and to walk on the fells with Vivienne. and Diplock2.   

February is always great in the Lakes so a trip up to Keswick followed….Skiddaw, Little Man, Bakestal, Lattrig, Cat Bells, Maiden Moor, Glaramara and Allen Crag all got a visit, plus a few mini crags.  Rainy, snowy, sunny, windy….its the Lakes after all.

Annie finally bags Skiddaw and a few other Wainwrights to boot! Yee hah..

Who loves a Herdy, everyone does, they were expecting a snaffle and instead got a flash, sorry guys, no Rufus, no Grizzle no picnic.

Go on, give us a bit of yer bun, you know you want to....

Glaramara is a great walk, a relaxed stroll up a steepish stone path with views across to Scafell Pike and beyond.  Well worth a tramp from Stonethwaite in the Borrowdale Valley.

Cracking view from Glaramara across the valley...picnic stop I think.

A slippery walk up a steepish stone path took us to the top of Kings How, only 392 m but good for views across the Borrowdale Valley and down to Derwent Water. 

Kings How gave us snow tops and rainbows - another great day in the Lakes

Its all about the Keswick Ramblers – and an intimate view of the lakes

An early trip to Booths for my picnic then a catch up with the Keswick Ramblers at the Moot hall in Keswick town centre, our leader Pete, artist/bon viveur/all round good bloke and a secret modeller to boot, bought along Bella the gritty Border Terrier, prettier and a little less naughty than Grizzler but not good enough that she could be let off the lead, Herdies here I come!

Dog and Gun and the Moot Hall in the background. Meeting place for the Keswick Ramblers.

We were blessed with Northern generosity and Paul, a fellow walker, asked his wife, who wasn’t feeling too grand (should we have refused), to drive us to Grasmere, better than the overpriced bus, over £9.00 return, good grief that would be a bad start to our day, (lean times these days – count those pennies).

A steep and icy path straight up to Stone Arthur with Lynn leading the way.  The top opened out with views back to Grasmere and the lower half of the Fairfield Horseshoe with an added bonus being a great view of the Howitzer aka the Lion and the Lamb, the Bodge and Annie climbing adventure on the C2C seen from the sharp side.

First stop of the day atop Stone Arthur, no dramas yet.. Pete and Bella are taking a quick break, weather amazing note the shorts, before the next ascent…

Pete and Bella taking a chillax at the top of the hill

An easy motor, with plenty of time to appreciate the amazing views, up to Great Rigg (getting busy now as the Fairfield ramblers were out in their droves), then onto Fairfield itself.  A quick lunch and a scree run down followed by a steep shimmy up Seat Sandal completed the hills. 

Annie strikes a pose looking back at Skiddaw from Seat Sandal

Seat Sandal is a funny devil of a hill, with a very steep up and a lovely grassy bank down, well so you might think, but not a chance it is the steepest grassy bank in Britain (not a fact but hey) a new term, ankle-ation was invented for this.

Four Wainwrights, great company, big sunny skies, little Bella and a pacey walk with enough time to check out the views.  Nothing more required, (Rufus you are missed……tho’ my picnics are a lot smaller now!).

Amazed that such an excellent walk on such an awesome day had such a small following…what are you thinking fellow walkers?  The knowledge that Pete shared was beyond anything available in a book, on a website or available via “expert” friends the value add of the Keswick Rambler guides is their in-depth knowledge of these sometimes treacherous but always beautiful hills. 

Well done Pete – a fantastic and unforgettable day, unlike the “memorably miserable” day that we could have had.  Take a sticky beak at Pete and Lyn’s (Pete’s wife and a different Lynne to the one mentioned earlier), blog.

…weather forecast was rainy so I dipped out of a big walk on Tuesday and went to visit Rumpole and Diplock2  who live at Crook near Kendal.  

Rumpole and Diplock posing for pics at Boars Rock, handsome beasts just like their dad Peter.

Its all about the sunshine – and teeny childers…

Annie here, Rufus is relaxing in Kent, I can only apologise for his lack of editorial control which may lead to a significant deterioration in the quality  and humour of the writing.  Hey ho, at least no one on the hills will have their lunch stolen!

Unreal colours from Skiddaw down to Derwent Water, not a great pic…

Weather forecast awesome so a trip to Keswick was a must.  Trip from Sevenoaks took 4.30, outrageous speeding all the way. 

No Camilla, Bodge or anyone else to navigate the hills I decided to use David Hall’s recommended route up Catbells, and then extended my march up to High Spy, or thereabouts, I am no map reader and used instinct, luckily the weather allowed for that so my compass and OS did not make an appearance, thank the stars.  Sadly picnics were also lacking, though what I had I ate as Rufus was not there to snaffle my snacks. 

The backside of Catbells, sun pulled the colour out of the bracken, amazing.

Looks like a summers day, v v cold but an absolute cracker of a walk


Catbells was an easy stride up, well the four and five year olds taking advantage of half term were a little nippier than me but my pace was good enough to get me to the top.  Hysterical that we all make such a fuss about our kit, welly boots with frog faces, wooly mittens that granny knitted, the colours of the brightest jelly beans and a general lack of GoreTex summed up the  outfits of the little Catbell striders…or perhaps there is a total lack of awareness of how quickly that weather can change.

The sun shone all day and made for an easy four hours of heaven, my stroll down to Newlands being entirely in solitude was a great decision.  A quick trip up Skiddaw to see if any pics could be  followed but the sun wasn’t really playing, see what you think.

The day concluded with the traditional visit to the ever fantastic Dog and Gun, swapping stories with other intrepids, Rufus you missed out, heaps of chips on the floor and goulash being handed out liberally.  When I say intrepids I met one chap who was escaping from his wife and apparently “child who could not walk a step without an accompanying sentence”..he was supposed to be getting fish and chips.

Dog and Gun, the best pub in Keswick by a mile


My hotel, The Keswick Lodge, very central, good food and a packed bar is more than adequate but it would not win any Michelins.  A lovely boxer had stolen Rufus’ spot as the under the table hound so he managed a few of my spare chips.

The dreaded cream on camera from Midge Halls blurs my face atop Catbells or a bit higher


The tippy top after Catbells, not sure exactly where but a nice pic of Derwent Water none-the-less

Noting that there is no sign at all of Derwent Water, well done Annie!  Twit

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