If you don’t like foul language then don’t read on as you’ll only be offended.
This is more of a statement than a blog but it’s my right to say it because it will make me feel better and after all its my choice.
I recently heard from somebody that some people had been passing judgement on me…
It was basically about “How can my back be that bad if I’m out on the hill all the time” …its obviously not that bad kind of attitude…..
Well, here’s my message…FUCK YOU.
If anyone who reads this thinks I’m making it up, then:
“off you fuck”.
Unfriend me, unfollow, don’t read my blog etc. But don’t have the nerve to doubt what I go through on a daily basis. I have no room for haters and stirrers and disloyal people in my life, because guess what? It’s too short. Go and doubt some chav sponging off the state if you’re bored. And for the record, I have only ever had time off post surgery…..I work full time so that gives me the right to do what I like on my days off – without being judged.
I have been through back pain for all of my adult life. It has got progressively worse and is degenerating as I get older…faster than most peoples. I have had 3 operations, epidurals, spinal injections, nerve cauterization and I’ve spent thousands of pounds trying to get better with natural treatments… And you know what….the only therapy I have is mountains, and every time I’m in those mountains I have to have prescription painkillers to make it possible, and you know what? Whilst it takes away the pain I feel sick…So, even when I’m not in pain I have to cope with nausea…..
So, whilst on face value I look happy, yes, I’m happy but that’s because it’s the only thing that makes me truly happy..(and riding my bike…and going underground)
So, for all you haters, for the record, my pain is awful…some days it’s worse than others (not that you’ll give a fuck if you doubted me in the first place and personally you can go and boil your stupid fucking trappy head if you did); and some days I can function without tramadol, but, for the most part it’s pretty tough.
There, that’s that said. I apologise for the use of bad language but seriously, this kind of shit incenses me. If you know no better than be nice and don’t doubt/judge people. You don’t know how bad things are just because people seem happy, ok, healthy…..
In the famous words of someone who writes quotes for a living:
Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about..Always be nice.
So, it’s been a while. Sorry about that. Work is mental and haven’t felt like writing when I’ve had the time J
I got 3 nights in close succession recently which was a real tonic. The weather was hot and humid so my usual forecast analytics kicked in and I was studying charts and apps! I hadn’t been to Wetherlam for a while so I decided on my favourite rock.
I set off mid-afternoon from Coppermines valley; bloody hell it was roasting!!!!It really was. I headed up the Hole Rake track and onto the lower flanks. I had decided to collect water on the way up and found a suitable source big enough to fit my 2 litre bag under. It was green and mossy with bits in it and not running much but I guess it’s all part of testing the kit we use!
My pack seemed to burn into my shoulders with the heat and several times I asked myself why I was doing this in 26 C heat! I plodded on and happily I saw nobody. It was very hazy. I was happy to feel the breeze as I reached the final false summit-it was due to be around 15mph which was perfect.
I was soon at my rock and setting up. I had a new tripod to use-not that I’m any good at photography though I thought it may help!!!!
The sun was still high and the heat was incredible for the summits; I think it was the first time this year I have been in a crop top on the mountain summits!!!
I was soon firing up the Jetboil and preparing my Bla Band meal. I have recently found that the instant Mocha sachets are very good. I don’t much like Nestle as a company but I need good powdered drinks as some of them are rank. Especially in winter, it’s one thing you really look forward to.
I was soon tucking in and watching the colours on the rock change to warm orange. Sunset wasn’t far away! It was so beautiful. The breeze was warm on my face; you could feel the autumnal hue in the air.
I poured my wine and sat on the summit watching and listening. A Red Admiral butterfly danced around me and warmed its wings on a nearby rock…It wouldn’t sit still for a photo though!
I didn’t feel much like taking photos but did a few. Some nights I guess you just want to sit and take it all in.
The sun started to sink behind Great Carrs and I was treated to an incredible sunset… As usual the effort and pain had been worth it. Even when the sun had gone the warmth remained. It was blissful. The wind had dropped but no midges came out to play luckily.
I gathered my bits and headed to my rock to have my hot chocolate and last pain killers. I gazed over the hills, the haze was thick and I wondered who else was out tonight. There were others as I found out. I always wonder… Sometimes you see a distant headtorch light and wonder if its someone you know.
Despite the lingering warmth it was time to get under gore-tex! I was soon snuggled in. My Sea to Summit mat is fab. I didn’t think that the Ultra-light one would give enough comfort on solid rock but it does. I have just bought a pillow and it is brilliant! Soooo comfortable…Its the little things that make the difference I think. Small inexpensive luxuries that weigh little and make a huge difference to sleeping hours.
I was soon all sorted. I saw 1 shooting star and the moon shone through the haze. The Harvest Moon was almost at its fullest.
I woke a few time in the night to change sides and get my back comfy but other than that I slept soundly and without any disturbance! I awoke to an incredibly quiet morning. You could hear a pin drop. Thankfully there were no midges and I was able to enjoy my porridge without being annoyed!
The light was quite flat but when the sun did appear it was just a red orb set in colourless mist; Stunning! A break in the mist under the sun produced something very odd; it was a small patch of red over Windermere. A single break in the cloud allowing a ray of red sunlight through. Very surreal…..
It was soon time to pack,I was off so I was able to enjoy a nice gentle walk down with a hope to getting out again later. More forecast studying would be done when I got home. The walk down was lovely as I got to witness the farmer gathering over the flanks of Wetherlam. Great to see. The herdies weren’t looking overly impressed but needs must I guess!
It was time to head for home to recharge, refuel and dry kit!
I drove home thinking about how pissed off Merlot would be if I deserted her again!! Of course, she doesn’t give a damn as long as there is food provided and somewhere warm to sleep…there is always both!
I reached home and checked the forecast. I fancied the Langdales and Pike O Blisco area. I decided on the tent as the forecast indicated heavy rain overnight in the early hours. I repacked and set off – after feeding the idiot of course J
I was soon in Langdale, again it was roasting. I was early. I stopped at the shop and they had sold out of Gin and Tonic cans…I was gutted! I would have to make do with wine J
I went to the Old for a pre camp vino. I sat outside the pub after having a chat to Cam behind the bar. Such a friendly spot. Had another natter to the locals then drove up the pass and parked half way up at the path to Redacre Gill. I hadn’t been up this way for ages! I knew it was going to be hot and steep! It didn’t disappoint!!!!! God I was wrecked. I filled my Sawyer water bottle at the head of the gill and continued. My top was wringing wet with sweat and it dripped off my chin. Even my arms were dripping! It felt hotter than Wetherlam. The path is quite scrambly in places and it was tough with my big pack. It was very damp still also and slippery. Still, I cracked on and was soon at the summit. It was very boggy, much more so than I recalled from previous visits. I searched around for suitable pitches. Perfect rock shelves would lend themselves perfectly to the bivvy bag for future visits (Ste J). Flying ants plagued both summit cairns so I didn’t stick around. I headed off the west side and ended up doing a massive loop and back to near the top of Redacre Gill! I chose Long Crag.
It took a while to find a good spot that wasn’t too boggy but the view onto the Langdale Pikes was simply stunning. I pitched the tent and went about my admin and getting everything in its place..
I had brought Real Turmat food with me this time. I only have a little bit of it so I am rationing myself. It is delicious! I had 2 courses of Meat Soup and Game Casserole. Very nice. Washed down with a nice Merlot.Oh and Ritter chocolate🙂
I had 4G so checked the forecast and saw that the winds were really going to pick up through the night and very heavy rain! More good testing for the Southern Cross. There was a bit of condensation showing tonight but the air had gone from being very warm to pretty chilly so it was to be expected. I decanted some more water through my filter ready for my brew later on and had a wander. It’s a really lovely area. I looked over to the Coniston Fells and it looked very cloudy, this soon engulfed me also! It soon cleared to leave lovely skies though I was obscured from the sunset.
The air felt chilly despite the heat of the day and it was time to get wrapped up and out of the wind. The sky was pretty spectacular despite the haze.
I heated the water from my hot chocolate and watched to moon rise. It was a beauty. I was very content with my choice of location. I was tired tonight; second night out and I k new I would sleep well! Soon I was drifting off to the sound of the wind in the rocks…ZZZZZZ
I was rudely awoken by the rain at 4.30am. It was lashing it down; the winds were howling and I was a little concerned about thunder. I could swear there was a rumble but it could’ve been the wind. I snuggled down and surprisingly fell back to sleep till 7am! Great J
It was lot fresher!!!! The storm had thoroughly cleared the air. The wind was cool and fresh and the sky was cloudy but the air clarity was perfect.
I had only brought a cereal bar for breakfast… I had my coffee and then reluctantly got out of my bag. It was time to move! The air was so much cooler and I shivered as I stood up. It doesn’t take long to take down the Southern Cross luckily and I was packed in no time and heading off the fell. I descended the way I came.
Bow Fell had been on my radar for a while. The weather looked fine and terra Nova had sent me a Southern Cross 1 to test. Now, most of you know I’m not keen on tents! Especially if the weather is good… But, I was keen on this tent following the rep showing me it in the shop.
I arranged to meet Jude at The Stickle Barn car park as she was keen to walk in with me. The weather was hot! Luckily Jude had remembered the sun block as I’d forgotten mine… Standard! We set off from a very busy Langdale, we were both relieved to get away from the half term traffic and people. Mickledon was fairly quiet to our relief and we chatted as we passed the lambs sheltering under the wall from the warm sunshine.
The Langdale hills looked so beautiful in the sun. The birds were in good voice and I was excited about my night out. I had forgotten how heavy tents are! I moaned and whined about my pack weight!
As we crossed the bottom of Sticks Pass it was pie time! We hadn’t eaten and it was after 1 pm… I had also bought us cake from the Spar…Now, that doesn’t sounds very enticing but, the Spar on Sandylands in Kendal as the best home-made cake and pie counter in the town! We sat in the sun eating and I showed Jude how to use the Sawyer Mini. It’s perfect for hot days; the ease of being able to rehydrate at regular intervals from any watercourse is a real bonus.
Soon it was time time to shoulder the pack again and crack on. It was so hot. We moved slowly but steadily up the zig zags. I regularly moaned about feeling tired and overly warm to Jude! Soon we reached the crest and we looked to Ore Gap and a very welcome Angle Tran. Great Gable and Great End filled the view.. Just stunning. We dropped to the stepping stones and drank again before starting the flog up to the gap. It was hard going and time was knocking on. I was mindful that Jude had the long walk back whilst soon I could relax.. My thoughts soon turned to the oddness of spending a night in a tent! Me! In a tent! In this weather!!!! Still, I was curious about the product and its ease of pitch etc.
We were at Ore Gap! I was pleased… Only the gentle stroll up to the summit and finding a suitable pitch. I had a spot in mind but would have a scout about when we got higher.
Jude perched on a rock and muttered at her iPhone and memory space whilst I started the hunt. The great thing about the bivvy is that you never need to worry about space. I was on a mission! After much wandering I settled on a spot whilst Jude found a great perch that fitted the human arse perfectly!
The Terra Nova Southern Cross 1.
I pulled out the tent and miraculously it was up in 3 mins max. Easy as… I arranged my bits and looked over at Jude as she sucked in the views and fuelled up for the long walk back. It was time to say goodbye to bestie.. We had our usual hug and exchange of goodbyes and she ambled off into the evening sunshine. It was gone 6 and I was hungry. Goulash was on the menu Tonight-I hadn’t tried this one. It was nice but nothing has beaten the carbonara or wilderness stew yet!!
The evening was a beaut. Light breeze, warm sun and skylarks. Oh and herdies of course. The lambs were just lovely. I was totally content. I poured my wine and sat on Jude’s arse shaped rock. It was hard to decide which way to look as it was all breath-taking. I wandered around with camera getting pictures for terra Nova and my own album. It’s hard to take bad pictures on nights like this. It was stunning. I parked my wine and headed over on to the top of Bowfell Buttress-a route I have climbed 3 times over the years… I also scoped it out for a bivvy…Its definitely now on the to do list! I sat reminiscing topping out on previous occasions with old friends. I’ve been fortunate enough to climb a lot before my back got really bad. I have some amazing memories.
Soon I was scrambling back up the rock and back to the tent. The herdie activity had increased and I watched a lovely ewe almost rolling around to scratch her shoulders as her lamb looked on. I headed to the Bob Graham traverse path and another ewe stood her ground and let me get quite close! She was lovely!!
I spent some time with her before heading back to base. As I approached the tent I looked it over…I liked it! It was a good strong shape! I wanted to be in it in bad weather though as despite my like for it I missed my Borealis! It was now brew o clock before bed. The shadows had all but gone now and the stars were appearing. I missed the winter sky so much; the darkness is enveloping in winter and the stars are just the best sight ever. At this time of year it never seems truly dark..
Hot chocolate in hand I sat looking at the last light over the Scafells. It was a stunning evening. The views had been amazing and certainly worth all the effort. The air had a slight chill to it now, I pulled my jacket closer and put my hood up. The sheep had all settled down, I could pick out their fleecy coats between the rocks. I smiled and sighed at my surroundings. All was deathly quiet. Blissful.
It was that time now though…Teeth and squaddy wash J
Soon I was crawling into my little shelter, I pinned the door back to get a view and see the faint stars above me. It wasn’t long before I was asleep. I woke to the sun peeping over the eastern fells. I quickly got out and took a few shots before heading back to bed! Next time I woke the sun was high and the larks were singing. I reached for the trusty Jetboil and coffee sachets and fruit porridge!. The sky was lovely and the air warm and clear. It was promising to be hot. I pulled my mat out and stretched my back-it was pretty bad after the walk the day before so pain killers would be need for the descent L
I finished up breakfast and started to take the tent down. It was really easy. Only took a couple of minutes and it was packed and in my pack. Not as quick as the bivvy bag though!!
Soon I had poles in hand and was having one last look around before the walk down. I headed for the Band. I wouldn’t see anyone for a while so it’s nice to enjoy it when its quiet as its usually so busy!
The first people I saw were well down and they were climbers. Great day for a high mountain crag.
It was very warm and I was out of water now so was looking forward to getting back to the valley to rehydrate. It was a great walk off and I was soon entering Stool End farm with just a flat walk to the car at Stickle Ghyll, but not before a well-earned lemonade at The Old!
Plans were afoot in my mind! The usual obsession with the forecast was as present as ever. I was looking at the Pennines. I love this area as it is relatively quiet compared to the Lakes. It has great bird life and lots of frogs as a rule!!
Jude and I met at Penrith – she was walking in with me. We parked at the Cattle grid past Knock half way up the Dun Fell road and shuttled another car up to the Silverband mine turn off. You are not meant to park here but Jude would be back in a few hours.
It was warm and the skylarks were keeping us entertained. We chatted about lots of stuff as we always do. She really is my dearest friend. We are incredibly relaxed in each other’s company.
Soon we were at Silverband. A derelict lead mine. The area is steeped in mining history which is another reason for my love for the area.
We pottered around for a short while listening to the frog chorus in the old settling ponds. They were funny. Desperate for pictures we tiptoed around trying to get close but each time we were outsmarted and our vibration soon made the little buggers dive for cover!
Jude’s eyes were fixed downwards as always looking for baryte and galena samples. There is a lot of mineral just lying around up here and the trained eye can find some nice bits! (I have turned Jude into a magpie!)I found some nice bits by smashing rocks open…Jude’s eyes were lit up by the shiny galena…She filled her pockets as per usual! I was carrying too much weight as it was so I let her have it all 🙂
The breeze was nice but it was really warm as yomped over the pathless section to the Pennine Way paving slabs. We met a solo walker here, a lady, she was lovely! Really chatty and very like Jude and I.
We were now on the Pennine way path that goes over Little Dun Fell towards Cross Fell. The walking is a little easier here. We were soon surveying the path ahead to our high point. Snow still capped the escarpment around the front of the fell-good for water for later I thought! We made the descent to Crowdundle Head-Yes! What a name for a spot. Jude was looking at her phone as there is a Geocache up here. It was a good 300m off our path so we saved oi for next time.. We came across a ton of spawn here and loads of frogs. Fascinating little critters. We stayed a while and watched them swimming. Jude took some pictures whilst I stood looking up to the cairn that marks the escarpment. They are huge obelisks; pretty necessary up here as it’s a fearsome place in bad weather or winter. We passed the marker stone that crosses the path running East to West.
It’s very beautiful.Soon we were at the Plateau and heading for the summit. Curlews and Golden Plovers joined the chorus with the Skylarks in the late afternoon sun.. It was beautiful to hear; this would be mu company for the evening. It was hazy but very calm when we approached the shelter and there wasn’t a soul about. Perfect.
I sat my pack down and we went Geocache hunting-after a quick bite to eat and drink! (we had stopped for cake at Kirkby Thore village shop!) Very nice it was too-though Jude managed to inhale ginger sugar off hers and nearly choked…. very funny for me!
We soon found the cache and J signed her name in the book. I looked for snow to melt. It was within easy distance for later. Soon we were heading back to the summit as Jude needed to go. L We had a big hug and she turned toward big cairn and headed off. I felt sad watching her go but I was content, we’d had a good day. She turned and waved and then disappeared over the edge and on her way.
For me it was quiet time. I set up my kitchen and started thinking about dinner. I had a nip of Baileys to make a coffee….mmmmm! Soon the Jetboil was fired up and I was busying myself with dinner. I had opted to bivvy right by the trig point. The ground was flat and there were loads of flat gritstone slabs for cooking on. The coffee was nice; I love Baileys!! It was warm! I was sitting in a vest top. Fantastic, no wind and n midges as it’s too early. It was brilliant. It felt super exposed. The winds were due to remain very light so I had no reason to tuck in. It was really hazy which was a shame as the fells were barely visible, still, it was very beautiful and the sunset was looking promising. Soon I was sitting with my back against the trig point, having made a little seat, wine was in hand and the sun was dropping. There wasn’t a sound but for the haunting whistle if the Plovers. Such a lovely sound. I was feeling very relaxed….
I took a few shots on the iPhone and git the camera out. I had a bit of fun taking shots on top of the summit shelter and trig (for the record, I didn’t dislodge any rocks from the shelter and was very careful not to do ant damage!). I also found a large pile of snow that has never been exposed to the sun. Loads of brews for me!
I wandered around with my wine and camera waiting for the sun to finally drop. The colours were incredible.
As the sun disappeared the moon was already high in the sky. It was stunning. I found a heart shaped rock too🙂
Soon it was hot chocolate time… As the light faded I fired up the Jetboil for the last time and sat listening to the last sorrowful piping of the birds. I rested my back against the trig and started up at the night sky. The stars started to appear and the moon illuminated the ground around me. It has to be the quietest place I have ever bivvied. It was eerily silent. I shivered as the cold started to creep in; my bag already had a light sheen on it, it was promising to be a chilly night. Soon I was engulfed in down. Bringing the winter bag was a good call! I lay gazing at the stars, 2 shooting stars split the night sky and countless satellites wheeled overhead as my eyes closed…
I woke after sunrise!!! I’m rubbish. I sleep far too well on the hill. The absence of the wind makes for such quiet that it’s hard not to sleep well!
My bag was well frosted and the air was cold. I sat up and looked around, reluctant to go for a wee J needs must though. Soon breakfast was on and coffee was being served. The weather was perfect again. It was warm in the sun and I was looking forward to hike back to the car.
The birds were in good voice again and I sat listening to them hugging my Sea to Summit mug! I laid out my kit in the sun as there was a bit of condensation on my bag. The prototype Xero is a great bit of kit and when it goes to production will be a great winter bag. A few more pictures and it was time to pack up. I did my usual ‘ram everything in and sort it out at home pack!’ J
Soon I was treading the same path as Jude the precious night. It really is a stunning spot. The views were incredible. Miles of unspoilt moorland. I know that the ‘Golfball’ is a bit of a blot on the landscape but it actually doesn’t bother me!
I would choose a different route back as my car was further down the fell. I picked out the old mine track from Crowdundle head that circumnavigates Little Dun Fell and heads straight for Silverband Mine. It was tough going. It’s not really a track as I soon found out. It was pretty much 2 km on boggy tussock grass-good training though!!!! As I cursed my way along I took a few pics of the mosses etc. The sheltered side of the fell was still very frosty and really pretty. Luckily the ground was fairly frozen or wet feet may have been served up!!
I was soon at the shake holes under the mine and on better ground. I chose to descend via the old aerial ropeway as oppose the service road for the comms station (Golf Ball), I figured it would be better on the knees! It was steep and difficult ground but held lots of interest with me due to the history. There were also lots of polls to check for frogs and spawn!! I was soon at the beck crossing and then the last steep pull to the car… I was tired and the last bit was slow. I was at the car at last. It had been a quality trip and I never saw a soul!!!
Sundays on the hill are never my favourite…Too may people. Still, the sun was shining. I had been into work for a bit then made my way to Coniston. I know, Coniston again. I have a bit of an obsession with the area. I guess I have spent so much time underground there that I have a real affinity with the place. I suppose we all have a favourite. Its hills are steeped in history. Mine exploration has always been in my blood since my Dad started going ‘underground’ when I was a young girl. He is now a leading author in Mining History. I just love exploring. I’ve added a couple of photo’s so you can see my other passion.
The hills are full of vast dark chasms from the mining of copper and quarrying of slate. Really interesting stuff! If you like the dark…
Anyway, today was a mountain day….I sat in Gill’s café with my weather forecast info up and tucked into a tea cake!
I was a little concerned about the winds. They looked to be stronger than I had hoped but I really wanted to be in the snow.. Despite the temperatures showing very cold wind chill up to -14!
I was soon driving the car up the Coppermines valley. The water from Church Beck glinted as it dances over the rocks. It was a stunner of a day. I parked up and went through my mental check. I picked up my pack and looked forward to the coming months when it would be lighter!
I had decided to head to Levers Water then up to Sam Bottom and Prison Band. The conditions underfoot would be difficult as the snow was melting. I knew my back would take a kicking from slipping a lot but it would be ok higher up.
Levers Water shone under a warm sun. It was incredibly beautiful. There weren’t that many people around really. I was pleased.
As I headed into the snowline it became arduous. Heavy wet snow and boggy ground. There was no wind though! Yet. As I approached Swirl Hawse I felt a chill breeze hit me from the North. I decided it was time to layer up!
The going was much better from here. The snow was hard packed and consolidated. I thought about putting my spikes on-again I had opted to not carry crampons. It was the right decision.
I looked up at the ridge, the sun silhouetted the rocks against the sky. It was just amazing. I was so lucky to have today off.
The first of the Sunday walkers appeared. I always despair at how ill equipped people are in the hills…. I watched as walkers attempted the unforgiving ground. Scrabbling around for grip on ice covered rocks and hard packed snow. No axes, crampons, spikes or poles. It’s very saddening that people just seem ignorant to their own potential mortality. Or they would risk serious injury. It just doesn’t seem worth it.
I try to avoid making contact with people and so I picked a line to avoid most of them.
I was soon on Swirl How. It was still quite early so I could take a bit of time now and enjoy my surroundings. I headed across the ice scoured ground keeping a good distance from the people in jeans!!!!!
I dropped down to Levers Hawse before the pull up onto Brim Fell. I saw two ladies with a map. They looked a little unsure of where they were. As I chatted to them I felt a little sad. They were in their 60’s and had clearly had a struggle coming off Brim Fell. They wanted to get off the hill. I didn’t fancy sending them down to Levers Water as it looked treacherous at the top. Again, no ice axe etc… I had no choice to send them vis Prison Band as it was the least steep of the descents. They had old and worn (summer) boots on and looked a little tired. Still, they had a bit of energy left and they had plenty of light. I cracked on. I kept looking back to make sure they were heading the right way and they hadn’t gone off Great How…..
The wind was now very cold as I neared the summit of Brim Fell. I wandered around looking for a little shelter; there isn’t a lot up there to be honest!
I chose a spot on the ice under a rock that would give me some shelter! The wind seemed to be picking up which was a pain. As I unpacked my hands were really cold!!!!! I wedged them under my arms for a minute and felt the life return. At least for a while.
A guy and his youngster popped over to see what I was up to. We exchanged a few pleasantries and they ran off into the distance. I thought about the 2 ladies and hoped that they had got to Swirl Hawse where the going would be easier.
The sun sank low in the sky as the last walkers disappeared from The Old Man and I was alone. It was time to turn into Michelin Girl! Vajra trousers and Firebee on! I was now super warm! My bed was ready and the Jetboil was on. Dinner was Lamb Casserole from Real Turmat and Rice pudding with strawberries from Bla Band. Oh, and some Wolfblass of course
I was soon sipping coffee and having my food. It was welcome. I was really hungry. The Lamb Casserole was exceptional! MMMMMMM! The rice pudding, I hadn’t tried before. It was ok. It was more like a calorie hit than a pleasure but I ate it nonetheless as its Important to keep food going in when it’s as cold as this!!!!!
I tidied up my bits and got the camera out. I wandered around and found a good spot to sit. Memories of being up here with close friends came flooding back! And in warmer times.
I sat and watched the sun sink behind the Isle of Man and as it did the chill increased.
My eyes stung in the wind. I’d hoped to get away with it remaining light…it wasn’t to be. I headed back to my bed for a brew. It would soon be time to turn in. It was so cold! I checked the forecast. Minus 5-6 with considerable wind chill. Brrrrrr! Time to do teeth. My toothpaste had already frozen. Not a nice feeling as it touched my fangs!!!!
Soon I was tucked in. My pack wrapped in a large S to S dry bag made a bit of a wind break to protect my head. I lay back and stared up into the night sky. My eyes already picking out satellites.
My back wasn’t great tonight and I knew I wouldn’t be able to lie on my back for long.. Before I knew it I was asleep. Awoken by my phone pinging. I had 2 messages; one off Peter Dixon and one off Ste Mac..both informing me of Aurora activity. My eyes struggled to focus on my phone. I popped my head out of the bivvy as I struggled to find my camera and mini tripod. It was now very windy and colder than earlier!! I gathering you all know how cold it was! I was adamant I wasn’t getting out of my bag. I caterpillared along the ground. A sight to behold. My headtorch slipped down and smacked me on the bridge of the nose. Don’t you just love it when that happens; especially when your face is cold! I rested on my elbow and looked up. Sure enough, there it was! Fingers of pale green searched in the night sky. The ground was so iced up and the wind so strong I struggled to keep the tripod static. Grrrrrr. I got 4 shots. They were ok I thought.
There was a heavy cloud bank at low level so the strongest green was hidden from view. Still, I saw it. The pink was visible to the naked eye above the green but only just! My night was now perfect…apart from the wind that wanted to freeze my eyes!
I wriggled back to my rock and replaced my pack. Soon I was asleep again. I was awoken to the noise of the wind and a scraping noise. I froze and my heart beat heavily, I was aware that the wind had picked up again, I put my headtorch up and looked out, my pack was 3 metres away sliding across the ice being pushed by the wind!!! Bloody hell. I was wriggling along in my bag again to retrieve it. I reverse wriggled back to my perch and wedged it under my head. I curled up as best I could and tried to ignore all noises. I slept sporadically after that. Soon though it was 5.50am.
The sky was getting lighter and sunrise promised to be good. I was reluctant to get out as I was toasty in my down cocoon; still, work beckoned and I had quite a walk down. I reached in my bag for my gas and fired up the Jetboil. Coffee and Bla Band Fruit porridge was soon on the go. I left an inch or so if water in the bottom of the Jetboil, within 10 mins of boiling it had formed an ice crust!!! Wow. Nippy
It was that time. The sun started to creep as I packed and the light changed from blue to pink to gold. It was a stunner. I snapped away on the way down at the perfect snow capped fells… I wished I wasn’t working but needs must.
I put my spikes on for the descent down to Levers Hawse. The tarn was boasting stunning shadows as I descended and the light was perfect. The snow was crusty and ice was present everywhere. I was careful in my descent and only slipped a couple of times-I would pay later with back pain but I was happy!
I passed the old stopes at the side of the tarn happily thinking of all my vertical fun in them. I loved the mines.
Soon I could see the car and reality clicked back in. I would be at work in time and would looking forward to a non-powdered coffee..As always!
So, the weather looked better in Snowdonia and I was desperate!
I was loading the car and having an internal battle about the weather and the disappointment if I drove all that way and it was crap… Next thing I knew I was at Charnock Richard ordering a coffee… I always try to remain enthusiastic
Soon I was passing my favourite funny sign.. Bodelwyddan. Only in Wales! I love the names of the places.
In my mind I was chasing a perfect night. Snow, light winds and stars. I wasn’t sure I would get it but I had a serious amount of hope as I sang along to Mumford and Sons! Badly……..
Soon I was in Rock Bottom, Betws perusing kit and buying gas. The weather forecast was changing and showing an overcast evening…gutted. I kept refreshing the forecast for Moel Heboog them Glyder Fach and the same picture was apparent. I made my way to my favourite cafe-The Siabod Cafe at Capel. I sat down with a Latte knowing I had to make a decision soon.. I was now narrowed down to Siabod or the Glyders. I refreshed the forecast again and it still remained overcast. I gazed through the glass looking toward the mountains. Glimpses of blue were appearing. It was 2.30pm. I started to feel energised and doubted the weather…and what the hell, so long as it didn’t rain!
I jumped in the car and headed for the parking under the Glyders by the hotel. The meters were covered so no charge…hooray!
Soon I was shouldering my pack and heading up The Miners Track-Yes, there are two! There is one on the Glyders as well as Snowdon!!! It was incredibly wet underfoot! I was yomping through bog for ages! I stopped to chat to a couple and I was pleased on my decision to take spikes not crampons as they said the snow was pretty soft, We chatted for some time as all the while I was moving the sky was clearing. I was kicking myself for leaving it so late! I didn’t think I would make the summit for sunset and it looked so promising now. My legs were burning with the weight of my pack. I was soon in the snowline; it was pretty wet but as I got higher it formed that annoying crust that every step sinks though!!!! I forced my legs and lungs at a fierce pace as I looked at the sky turning to orange knowing that the prize was a few hundred meters away in a fair distance… I was soon at the point Bristly Ridge meets the top. I was almost running at this point. Soon I was on the summit of Glyder Fach. I was almost sick from the exertion and my back pained me, but I was smiling. It was incredible, perfect. I had missed the best of the light but I was there to see the sun cast her final light on the snow before the ‘blue’ starts…Lliwedd and Snowdon were stunning with the sun lighting them from behind. Castell Y Gwynt was as photogenic as ever.
I was trying to multi task by sorting the bivvy and take photos at the same time. I soon realised that my first spot was too slippery so I had a relocate! I walked back to the Cantilever. I was in constant awe of the scenery. A cloud inversion was bubbling up the Ogwen whilst the mountain light went from gold to blue…the temperature dropped dramatically!
Soon I was setting up my bed under the Cantilever. I found a flat spot and stamped the snow down. I laid my foil sheet down first then the bivvy. I have learnt that in winter packing it all together works better! I had my mat and bag along with a foil backed piece of foam all ready just to roll out. The foam is a foil backed 3mm thing off eBay for £3.99. It makes a massive difference if you’re on the snow.
I was soon pulling on primaloft trousers and taking off damp base layers and putting on dry ones and down! Much more comfortable…and relax..
Dinner was soon on. Frost was already forming on everything. My Jetboil cartridge was covered but performed brilliantly. Soon I was having my well earned curry and coffee. I put my wine Platypus in the warm water to get it to temperature!!!
The stars were appearing but the million! I was so pleased at my decision. I love the Welsh mountains. Especially this area..It was going to be good..I took myself for a walk around the summit. I could see the odd headtorch light coming off Snowdon.; the last walkers nearing their cars. I was alone. Bliss. You could hear a pin drop. I went back to my bed and collected my wine. I sat in the snow and looked at the view. The twinkling lights of civilisation below and the twinkling stars of sheer happiness above me.. I pulled my buff up and closed my hood around my face, it was nippy! My wine cooled quickly on the snow!
Time to wander back for a top up! I sat on the Cantilever –on my sit mat of course- it was totally ice bound, and watched the stars. It was just amazing. The air was cold, very cold..I could feel the frost forming on my hood, I yawned and decided it was time to lie down. My back wasn’t great even with the painkillers. Soon I was snuggled in. I pulled my hood right over my head and lay under the finest blanket of stars. A huge shooting star split the night sky and burnt through orbit…my eyes filled with tears…whether from the cold or the beauty I’m not sure… I struggled to keep my eyes open as I tracked satellites going in all directions. Shooting stars kept coming…..sleep.
I woke to a world of frost! Everything was coated. I needed a wee……Great.. My boots were frozen solid…Great. I hate that! Soon I was back in my down cocoon and fast asleep again.
Morning was pitch black… I was boiling water at 6 for coffee; melting snow is a better description. I had porridge and tinned kippers. What a treat! I was trying to keep my camera warm for photos as I knew sunrise would soon be here. I hadn’t had tinned kippers before but I can strongly recommend them. I soon forced myself out into the cold…I shivered as I got out and started my photography.
Sitting on the Cantilever waiting for sunrise was a treat. The sun brought welcome colour to the dark blues. It was absolutely stunning; one of the best sunrises I have seen. I walked around in awe of my perfect surroundings. I felt privileged to be in such a place at such a time. Blissful. I was heading back to my bed when a runner appeared. We had a brief chat and I headed back to my ‘bedroom’.
The sun blazed through the icicles on the bottom of the Cantilever…just amazing… All to soon the sun was high and the pinks faded to yellows and the skies were perfect blue. It was time to pack up and head down. All my kit was covered in frost…I gave it a good shake and stuffed it all in my Exos. Done!
I put on my Kahtoola spikes and headed down; the neve was pretty good so much easier underfoot on the return! It was brilliant-not a breath of wind. Other ideas were forming to spend a second night on Moel Siabod but I would check the weather at the café.
I chatted to some guys who were on their way up. Everyone was in high spirits…I love seeing people happy! Soon I was back in the bog and nearing the car. I emptied my pack and started the drying process in case I was to be out again shortly.
Back at The Siabod Café I checked the forecast; whilst the night looked good there would be increasing winds and blizzards by 6am. Not ideal…I decided that my best bet would be to head home. After another latte I’d had a great night, my back ached and didn’t want to push my luck!
So, I am blogging historically now as the weather is so awful I haven’t been out for weeks.
Some nights really stay with you and this was one of them. It was 30th April 2015. And yes, I was on my favourite mountain, Wetherlam. I had half expected to have to pack up and retreat but I picked a winner!
I had parked in my usual spot in the Coppermines Valley. The forecast was hit and miss but I was optimistic…..The air was cool and clear and I inhaled deeply as I set off, energised by the fresh air and space around me. The wind was fresh but not too gusty. I headed to Hole Rake stopping on the way to fill my water carrier which I would filter later.
It was later in the afternoon as I had got away from work early, I had plenty of time and daylight to get up high. The rocks in the path are al so familiar now! I love mentally picking them out.. What an oddity I am!! Soon I was nearing the path junction which heads up the broad back of the mountain. There really is a huge amount of camp and bivvy spots on Wetherlam. I spy them out on the way up but am always so keen to get as high as possible I will probably never venture to them!
I crossed Red Gill Head Moss and onto Lower Hows. The wind was a little stronger than earlier but the sky was blue, it was sunny and the air was incredibly clear! Perfect….. Apart from the black skies over Blencathra… I knew by the wind direction I was going to ‘get it’!! I decided on a pitch on the west side of Hen Tor to try to get a little bit if protection. I hurriedly set about getting the tent up. Knowing how ro get your tent up quickly is always a bonus! Soon I was under the protection of the Halcyon. It is a smashing little tent. The sky darkened outside and the wind whipped up instantaneously. Then the hail started.. It was raging outside amd I worried for the tent.. It staunchly stood its ground and yet again kept me protected. Half an hour and it was all over. I had busied myself with some Uncle Bens rice with pepperami and Dolmio sauce whilst I was tent bound!!! Very good it was too..
I popped my head out and apart from a covering of hail it was back to bright skies. I had a wander around and a quick forecast check and decided it would be safe to move to a more exposed position with better views. Soon I was re-pitched. I had managed to drag/carry the tent intact for the short distance to my chosen spot. Soon I was all set up again.. I had a perfect view. The wind had dropped and the evening was drawing in. The golden hour came and it was one of the finest. It was promising to be chilly for nearly May!..
The second pitch.
It’s not difficult to get great pictures when the weather is this good. I was mindful of the temperatures dropping as my fingers started to nip. Speaking of nip…. Singleton time
As the sun dipped i sat in awe of the sheer beauty and peace that enveloped me. It had turned out to be a perfect night… Clear sky and no wind. The frost crystals formed on the grass around me mirrored by the stars appearing above me. I wish now that I’d had the bivvy but I was cautious before I set off and knew I had made the right choice. Anyway, the tent doors pin right back so it’s almost the same!
The moon was out and the Milky Way was visible. Absolute bliss. I lay half out of my bag and snuggled in to my Fitzroy staring at the sky. Satellites came and went and I was blessed with several shooting stars… I woke to a frosty 4am scene. I had fallen asleep. My nose was cold!!! I adjusted my bag and pulled my buff up and fell back to sleep until the sunrise woke me.
The warmth was weak but welcome and it was time to enjoy the morning show. The changing light on the mountains is just the finest thing to watch.
Sawyer in action.
I had no hurry to leave so I lay dozing in my bag whilst the Jetboil did its work, I filtered the water I had taken from a pool a little was off and soon I was warming my hands round my Sea To Summit mug. It was simply bliss…(I keep my Sawyer in a plastic bag in my inside pocket or inside my bag to stop it freezing).
A few more pictures and I would pack up and head down to the Meadowdore for a proper coffee and maybe a second breakfast!!!