So, we are all in the doldrums. This extended period of miserable weather is getting to us all. I don’t know anybody who isn’t missing the mountains being a little drier!
One hit in quite a few weeks and I live here!!! I have been watching the weather daily for a window..One small gap was all that was needed!
A couple of weeks ago that gap arrived. Ste had been feeling the pinch like me so we decided to go for it. The snow was lying above 500m albeit only a thin scattering.. The fells at last looked more inviting; and dry.
We started the day off chatting in the Meadowdore cafe in Coniston whilst waiting for our full English to arrive! It was one of the best I’d had. Highly recommended.
I had expressed an interest in heading over to Grey Friar – a bit of a walk in but such a great summit.
Soon I was I was messing with my pack after getting the last few essentials from the village. The usual mental check list was happening!
I decided to take my bivvy bag as whilst there was snow due it was going to be light, it forecasting -11 C windchill! I had my primaloft Sherpa Vajra tousers and Patagucci Fitzroy jacket so I wasn’t worried about the cold!. Ste had opted for his new Hilleberg Soulo! So jealous I don’t own one….yet!
We headed off after lunch so we wouldn’t have to sit around for too long in the cold.
We approached Levers Water in good time and headed along the side of the reservoir; it was pretty chilly in the wind! The snow was a couple of inches deep in places and the sun was shining. It was just bliss after such awful weather.. We went via Sam Bottom as we could collect water from here at a higher point than if we stayed on the main path. It was running well after all the rain. Strangely I didn’t feel the extra 2KG as I slid it into my Exos pocket.. We got to Swirl Hawse and had a minute before heading up Prison Band. I kicked into rant mode much to Ste’s mirth. The amount of morons in jeans and crap footwear was unbelievable. I was so annoyed. People with dogs who were clearly footsore and not coping well with the conditions..Dreadful. I was glad to start the path from Swirl How so I didn’t have to witness anymore idiocy…
We paid a qick visit to the Halifax Bomber memorial on the way… Lest we Forget.
The path to Grey Friar is always quiet. The weather was cold and starting to look a little ominous out to the coast but it was stunning and atmospheric. We stopped to take a few photo’s before the last pull up to the summit.
It was cold and windy. We wandered around finding a spot to ‘fit’ us both in. I needed somewhere where I could rest my back or I get a lot of pain.. We soon found a good site.
I was set up pretty quickly and chose to use the tarp whilst i cooked as it was pretty blowy. The winds were due to ease through he night luckily. Ste had the Soulo up pretty quick and soon we were settled and ready for dinner. I had some LWWF Chicken casserole and a Real Turmat meal-Cod in creamy curry. I was wishing I still had a Beef Soup as its the best!!!!
I spent a while fighting off the hot aches in my fingers and was glad to feel the warmth of the food pouches against my freezing fingers.
Baileys coffee! Yep, I took Baileys. Just enough for a couple of drinks. I made one for Ste too We got a good routine going between the Jetboil and The MSR Whisperlite; I boiled water for food and drinks while Ste set about melting snow to keep our water pouches filled up. Soon we were fed and watered, Only one small drama when Ste managed to kick over his stove and a pan of water!! He won’t want reminding of this!!! No harm done luckily…
It was wine warming time. Only one cup each in this weather. Though we made up for it with a wee dram…obligatory!
The weather had remained ok so far and the tarp was down. The moon was fleeting and we saw the stars intermittently. I was aware that the silhouette of the Scafells had somewhat gone and the cloud was building. The flakes started as I fired the Jetboil up for a hot chocolate before sleep. I was lovely and warm and felt great as the flakes whistled past my ears. I could see the warmth coming from Ste’s tent and despite feeling exposed I was happy.
We chatted about stuff for a while as we normally do and soon I was feeling weary. My back pain was being held at bay by the painkillers and I was ready for sleep though I knew soon I would have to put my freezing boots on again and go for a wee! Yep, getting out of a warm bag is soooo horrible.. I was soon back in my down cocoon. Only one issue- I has put my Sherpa Annapurna Primaloft inside my bag, the condensation that had formed inside it on the way up and then frozen when we were setting up had now melted and left a bit of water and moisture in my bag…. Schoolboy error. I shoved it into the hood of my bivvy; I wouldn’t need it again.
Soon I shouted goodnight to Ste and was left to the stars, moon and the snow flakes. It persisted for a while and I zipped my bag up leaving a good air gap. I Soon drifted off. I woke a few times through the night. It was bitterly cold and the snow lay all around me. I was grateful to Ste for my foil mat that he got me for under the bivvy-I also use a piece of 3mm foam from a £3 yoga mat to insulate on this type of ground, I cut it to the shape of my bivvy bag and put it under my mat. Works a treat. No cold spots!
I woke for the last time to mist and strong winds. The temperature had gone up but was still cold. The cloud hung over the summit and I was ready for breakfast.
Chocolate Muesli from Real Turmat and coffee.
All my stuff was dry but cold and I wasn’t looking forward to getting out! Ste was busy with his breakfast of porridge which he binned due to it being rank! He opted for a freeze dried dinner instead which was much nicer!
Soon it was that time. I got out of my bag and went about packing.. Pretty easy when you only have a few things to sort. I was soon trying to unfreeze my poles to get them to the right length! Ste was almost set to go. The sky was threatening to clear and the cloud started to rise. With it brought much lower temperatures and a searching wind! Bloody hell it was cold! When we arrived back on the main ridge the sky was almost fully clear and the views were stunning.
We took a few snaps and headed back toward the Old Man to extend our day; our packs were a little lighter now. We had the tops to ourselves; even the summit of Coniston. I pointed out some of my favourite spots to Ste on the way from previous nights..
Soon we were in Boulder Valley and crossing the bridge by the Pudding Stone, we had passed a couple of people on the way down but not many. Soon the adventure was over and we were loading our packs into the car. Ste ate the apple pie I had bought him the previous day; it’d had a long walk and survived, I had coffee cake! I think we’d earned it!
Credit to Ste Mac for some of the pictures.