Walks and days in the Lake District (mostly) - 2007

Great Gable by Barrie


Ascent of the west face of Catbells - Monday 10 December - nearly 3 years since we'd been here when I'd been starting with arthritis.  It had been a super walk all the same and this time was the same - just fantastic.  We don't often get so far north unless we're camping or staying and when the days are short it's further to drive.  However, this time it was so beautiful with clear blue skies that we just wanted to carry on and see what it was like up north!  We parked at Skelghyll so that gave us a good start.  Our ascent route was to the west of the fell and was in the shade for quite a bit of the walk, it was quite chilly too.  But as we neared the col, we walked into the sunshine although there was a stiff breeze.  We tried to find some shelter below the summit and sat for a good while taking in the super views - and eating our butties.  There were quite a few people about but no way could it be called busy - best time to visit Catbells is on a weekday.

Our return route was down the steep north face, which for a relatively low fell, can be quite tricky if the weather is unfavourable; I for one would not like to descend it in icy conditions.  And it's hard to have to keep looking where you're putting your feet when there are such stupendous views to be seen all around.

After a reviving cuppa back at the car, it was a look round a Christmassy Keswick then Lakeland then ale and chips at Gargrave on the way home.  Just great.

Looking across Derwentwater from Catbells to snow-capped Blencathra

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Looking across to Wetherlam, Bowfell and the Crinkle Crags range from Moss Eccles Tarn on Claife Heights Wise Een Tarn and Moss Eccles Tarn from Far Sawrey - Monday 26 November - once again we weren't feeling up to a very strenuous walk and the weather once again wasn't brilliant.  It had been a long time since either of us were on Claife Heights and it is a very pleasant area and easy walking if you don't feel up to much!  We parked at the village hall car park (honesty box) in Far Sawrey opposite the hotel and took the track north of the hotel.  .Moss Eccles Tarn is soon reached and as tarns go, is quite attractive but not much in the way of views from it.  Wise Een Tarn is a bit further on, and with much more to recommend it - we diverted to the shore on the way back as the mist had cleared away to give super views across to Wetherlam, Bowfell and Crinkle Crags.

Again, it wasn't a very long walk but we made it last a couple of hours.  There are many paths and tracks in this area and the walk could be made as long or as short as wished.  I can thoroughly recommend it.  After that we had a look round Hawkshead then back to Lakeland.  Another very pleasant day in the Lakes.

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Two short walks - by Pasture Beck from Hartsop and along the slopes of Gowbarrow Fell from Aira Force NT car park - Tuesday 6 November - the weather wasn't brilliant and neither was my fitness; I just wasn't feeling up to a long walk at all.  In fact I'm getting a bit concerned that these days I don't feel like doing much walking at all.  However, I think it has something to do with the weather as I always feel a bit down come the long cold nights and short cold days.  I always like being at Hartsop so decided on a short walk up toward Threshthwaite Mouth, hopefully keeping out of the strong wind.  We walked for about an hour then carried on along Ullswater and parked at Aira Force.  Another walk of about an hour took us along the path which contours the western slopes of Gowbarrow Fell with stunning views down over the lake and to the mounatins to the east and south.

Not a lot of walking but it was good to get out of the car and hopefully my attitude will improve and I'll feel like getting back on the fells properly.  I certainly hope so.  And I only managed one pint on the way back - so there must be something wrong with me!!

Looking up Pasture Bottom toward Threshthwaite Mouth

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Looking north back along the ridge of High Rigg to the summit with the Vale of St John below and Skiddaw and Blencathra dominating the scene High Rigg and Low Rigg from St John's in the Vale church - Saturday 20 October - a fabulous walk in lovely clear and sunny autumnal weather with Barrie, Ann and Roger Hiley, Jo Hall and John Paterson - and 6 dogs!  It was the day of the Wainwright lecture at Rheged so we were looking for something not too long.  We did a figure of eight taking in Tewit Tarn to the north, with fantastic views to Blencathra and Skiddaw, then Low Rigg then south along the pleasant ridge of High Rigg.  Our route back was along the east flank which included a very welcome break at Low Bridge End Farm for refreshments, hot chocolate and fruit scone for me but I believe the carrot cake was also very yummy!  A great walk in great company - well behaved dogs included.

The lecture was given by Cameron McNeish and was interesting up to a point.  I know it is the Wainwright lecture but there is only so much that can be said about AW and most of it has been said before.  I would have much preferred a short part to be AW connected then more about Cameron McNeish's exploits.  That's just my point of view anyway.

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Elterwater village to Colwith Force - Monday 24 September - there's not a lot that can be said about this walk except that it was one of the wettest walks we've ever done.  These days we don't bother too much about getting a good walk in if the weather is bad as there's plenty of other opportunities and we get up to the Lakes quite often  But this time, as we parked at the NT car park in Elterwater the weather wasn't too bad, although we sat through a heavy shower when we got there and thought about getting our boots on - which we did eventually and set off  Mind you, we made sure we had our over-trousers on - and Barrie had his umbrella with him!  We'd more or less only just left the car park and were setting off along the road to Colwith when it started.  It wasn't too heavy at first but the further away from the car we walked, the heavier it came down.  We took to the path through the trees, which wasn't such a good idea as the rain was dripping off the trees in great big blobs.  But at least we were away from the traffic splashing through the big puddles on the road.   Barrie and Sam carried on to the higher force but I didn't bother, I just went as far as the lower falls (see photo).  I know I couldn't get any wetter but by then I'd just had enough and couldn't wait to get back to the car.  It was still great fun though!

After changing into nice dry clothes and having a reviving cuppa we carried on with a bit of retail therapy in Ambleside where I had a strange experience in Shinglers (art shop) basement when the fire door suddenly opened and a stand fell over.  There was no logical explanation why it happened as the door had been shut properly and a gentleman who had also been in the basement thought he saw someone but there was no-one about.  Rather strange.  I certainly needed my 2 pints on the way home!!

The lower rapids at Colwith near Elterwater

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Sam on Dow Crag looking across at our return descent path from Goat's Hause Dow Crag from the Walna Scar road - Monday 10 September - a fabulous day weatherwise with crystal clear skies and fluffy clouds.  But fintess wise not very good at all and I struggled in places to keep going.  Then again, we always take our walks at a leisurely pace so many stops were taken, and many photos were taken too.  We had our lunch on the slopes of Buck Pike looking across to a very crowded Old Man summit.  Dow Crag summit is a wonderful place with a rocky scramble necessary to reach the summit point - it can be avoided by detouring to the west.  Our return route was from Goat's Hause down to Goat's Water.  I was a bit worried about this as the last time I had been that way the path was a terrible slippery scree mess.  But it has been much improved with steps in places and we were down by the water in no time.  Now I'm not a fan of indiscriminate path building all over the place but I think in some places they are necessary to save the land from further erosion and if they are built properly do not detract from the scenery.  

We had a short tea stop by the water, looking across and up the crags where not long ago we had been walking.  And Sam enjoyed a swim.  I just wish I could get a bit fitter - mind you, it's my own fault.  I need to get out more and get more exercise and cut down on the calories!!  Ha ha!!  

And guess what - after that it was our usual trip to Lakeland then 2 pints for me and chips for Barrie at Gargrave.  And yet another fabulous day spent in the Lakes.

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Gaping Gill and Ingleborough - Monday 20 August - a walk with 17 members of the Online Fellwalking Club and 6 dogs.  And after our weekend with lots of people (nice ones) only a week ago we were forced to spend another day with 18 of them.  As I'd arranged the trip I had to go!  It was a great day and completely different from my walk here 3 weeks ago.  For a start, this time the Craven Pothole Club were in attendance with the winch in action giving people the trip of a lifetime down the 300' drop into Britain's now 2nd deepest cavern.  There was a long queue to go down the hole so we all booked in and carried on up Ingleborough with a time limit of a couple of hours to be back for the descents - plenty of time.  Lunch was taken on Ingleborough summit then we carried on toward Sulber Gate but turned off well before and descended by the beck as time was getting on and we didn't want to miss our time slots for going down Gaping Gill.  As I've already been down several times, I nobly (ha ha) offered to look after the dogs, all 6 of them!  It was the longest hour and a half I've ever spent.  If we make this a regular outing for the OFC I don't think I'l be so noble next time!

I think everyone enjoyed the trip down - there were some rather bedraggled looking people coming up but everyone had a smile on their face!  After that it was the longish walk back down to Clapham via Long Lane then welcome refreshments in the New Inn, enjoyed by all.  I think this outing may be done again next year as there were some who wanted to come but for one reason or another couldn't make it.  I'm definitely going down next time.  And much as we all love the Lake District, I think everyone enjoyed a day away exploring different terrain and experiencing a very different adventure.

Members of the Online Fellwalking Club by the grotto on the way to Gaping Gill and Ingleborough

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Looking at Honister Crag Honister weekend - Friday 10 and Saturday 11 August - Barrie and I usually walk on our own (plus Sam) but every now and then it's good to meet with fellow Lakes and walking lovers.  This was a very interesting and exciting weekend with members of the Online Fellwalking Club who enjoyed a trip right into the mountain to see the slate mines being worked and hear all about their history and present day from mine owner Mark Weir.  What should have been a 2 hour visit turned into well over 3 hours and the evening light over Honister and the mountains was well worth being there for.  And Sam had the pleasure of joining us - not sure what he thought of being underground but he didn't complain and was very well behaved!

We were staying with Ann and Roger Hiley in Loweswater and after a morning walk to tire the dogs, we set off once again for Honister.  This time we were taking the white-knuckle walk on the Via Ferrata (iron way) up the face of the mountain.  It's a steep walk across the cliff face following where the miners walked in the olden days - pretty straightforward apart from near the start, crossing a narrow bridge of three iron poles with just a wire at the side to hold on to - and a long drop below your feet!  But a great experience - apart from the rain, which made the rocks very greasy and slippery.  Perhaps it added to the atmosphere but the views weren't very good.  And I think many of us would like to do it again - on a dry and clear day.

The weekend finished off with a meal at the Yew Tree in Seatoller - attended by about 28 of us.  It was a very enjoyable and friendly occasion and good to meet up with so many like-minded people, all with a love of walking and especially in the Lake District.

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A solo walk from Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales to Ingleborough via Gaping Gill - Friday 3 August - a lovely walk done on my own - partly to make sure I could remember the route after Ingleborough summit in readiness for a walk planned with the Online Fellwalking Club in 2 weeks to include a trip down Gaping Gill.  I was very sure of the route as far as Ingleborough summit but wanted to walk on to Sulber Gate and back down Long Lane as it was many years since I'd been that way.  One of the highlights of this route is the rocky climb through the narrow chasm of Trow Gill.  I had a marvellous walk of about 11 miles and apart from on Ingleborough summit (where I nearly joined in with a party celebrating 'Beryl's' birthday) the place was practically deserted.  The more popular route to Ingleborough is from Ingleton and after I left the summit I passed 4 people in total.  While having my mid-afternoon break after I'd passed the crossroads and headed south from near Sulber Gate, 2 Hurricane planes flew very low right over me, quite a sight.  From here it was all pleasant grassy walking with views back across to where I'd been earlier  However, Long Lane has now been rechristened Very Long Lane and it really seemed to go on and on - probably seemed it as it came at the end of the walk and things always seem longer when you'reon your own.

It won't be so quiet when I'm back here in a fortnight as there'll be quite a few of us - but jolly company it will be!

Looking up to Ingleborough from where my walk joined the open fell near Gaping Gill

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Looking back to Hopegill Head from Whiteside summit Hopegill Head and Whiteside via Ladyside Pike - Wednesday 18 July - a fabulous walk with Ann and Roger Hiley, Jo Hall and all the dogs, Sam, Harry, Bethan, Jodie and Megan.  Barrie, Sam and I were camping for a few days at Lorton (where we'd camped last September for a few days and found very quiet but very basic!) and had arranged to meet up with our friends for a walk.  The weather was very unsettled (had been most of the summer) but on Wednesday, after coffee and lunch at Oak Cottage because of the rain, we set off at about 3pm in beautiful sunshine with all of us in shorts and Tshirts.  After a steepish pull up onto the ridge we had some pleasant walking to the summit of Ladyside Pike then onto the slabs and rocks and up to the summit of Hopegill Head.  Standing on the edge of the rocks by The Notch (AW) it's very easy to have one of those knee trembling moments as it is a sheer drop of quite a long way (putting it mildly) to the valley bottom.  We had a photo session on the summit trying to get all 5 dogs to stay put long enough - not an easy task - then the interesting ridge walk to Whiteside with fabulous views all round.    One of the best views was looking down Gasgale Crags to Gasgale Gill a long way below us.  
Our return route took us across easy grassy slopes down to the col between Dodd and Whiteside then down to Hopegill Beck (quite full after all the rain and not so easy to cross) then back to the cars.  We hadn't set off till after 3pm and arrived back at the cars just before 8pm and ready for our refreshing drinks at The Wheatsheaf in Lorton.  A fabulous walk and great company - dogs included!

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Woodland Fell, near Broughton Mills - Monday 18 June - a lovely walk on one of AW's outlying fells in Southern Lakeland.  This was a change of plan as we'd originally been meeting up with friends to walk on Wetherlam.  Three out of four of us weren't feeling too fit so Barrie, Sam and I had a lovely walk on lower ground.  The area of south Lakeland near Broughton Mills is a lovely and very quiet area with moorland walking and a very pleasant atmosphere - a great, and welcome, change from the more popular parts of the Lake District.  It doesn't mean the walking is completely straighforward as following AW's walk description we managed to go slightly astray but nothing serious and perhaps we went the better way!  The walk is about 5 miles and takes in the summits of Yew Bank (678') and Wool Knott (730').  The views are best from Wool Knott looking down over lovely Beacon Tarn, where we had lunch and Sam, of course,had a swim, although there are good views throughout the walk, especially to the Coniston Old Man/Dow Crag range. Beacon Tarn and Beacon Fell from Wool Knott with the Coniston fells in the background
I'd had my trip to Lakeland on the way up so after a look in the churchyard at Woodland village where there were some lovely small red flowers, we drove on through Askham in Furness to Barrow.  The purpose of this visit was to see the submarine which had been recently launched.  We did see it but not very clearly as it was too far away in the dock and it was raining.  Our trip finished with reviving hot chocolate in Morrisons - but we will one day return for a proper look round Barrow which looks to be a very interesting place away from the dockyards - not best seen in the pouring rain!

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Skiddaw and Blencathra from Clough Head summit cairn Great Dodd and Clough Head - Monday 14 May - another fabulous walk, of about 8 miles over easy grassy terrain with only a short bit of steeper walking.  The choice was either St Sunday Crag via Deepdale or Great Dodd and Clough Head from above Dockray.  We want a really really nice day for St Sunday so as the weather was OK but nothing special (to put it in proper weather forecasting language) we chose the latter.  We parked at High Row, which has always been one of my favourite parking places because it's out in the wilds away from the crowds and you feel like you're miles away from everybody!  This was the first walk I did after my old spaniel Bertie died.  On that occasion I'd cried a lot of the way round, and Sophie who was only 9 at the time kept my spirits up by singing.  Aren't daughters real treasures!  That time had been in February and freezing cold, but this time, it was dry but breezy with sunshine and cloud.  It's an easy, uneventful walk but the views as you gain height are simply amazing, with a 360 degree panorama including Cross Fell and the Pennines to the east, the Helvellyn ridge nearby to the south and all the western fells.
One strange feature as we walked between Great Dodd and Clough Head were the thousands or caterpillars crawling about in the grass - don't know what they were but there were literally thousands, if not millions.  We didn't hang around too much as the breeze was quite chilly if you stood around too long but lunch at the shelter on Great Dodd was followed by tea down below Clough Head summit out of the breeze and looking down to Mariel Bridge and the track back to the car.  It's so good to be getting some high level walks done again.  And we made it back to Lakeland for my usual trip to the craft section to see what special offers they had - and of course, there was something else I just needed to buy - their special offers are just irresistible to me and round off a great day in the Lakes.  Well, apart from my 2 pints of Tetleys at Gargrave!

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High Raise and Thunacar Knott from The New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel returning by Stake Pass and Mickleden - Monday 30 April - 9 wonderful miles, windy but warm.  The weather was looking decidedly promising but windy as we drove toward the Lakes and by 9.30 we were parked at New Dungeon Ghyll NT car park and raring to be off.  Our plan was via the lesser known route, but recommended by AW, over Pike How and onto the Langdale Pikes.  Our targets weren't the Pikes themselves though and we by-passed them but still got stunning views as we passed near them all.  We had our lunch below Harrison Stickle before continuing on the easy grassy way to Thunacar Knott then uphill again but not steeply to High Raise.  We had fabulous views all the way and all round from the Scafells, Great End, the Crinkles and round to the north to Skiddaw then east to the Helvellyn ridge.  The wind was really strong as we set off on our grassy descent to Stake Pass then down to Mickleden and the long flat walk back along the valley.  My only moan was that it was all into the wind and I was now beginning to tire.  We walked the final part back along the road between the Old and New Hotels and were glad we did, because a lovely sight was seeing a newly born lamb take its first tottering steps - just beautiful.  Another great day. Looking west over Rosthwaite Fell from High Raise summit

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Sam on Great Carrs summit with our next summit of Swirl How in the distance Great Carrs, Swirl How and Grey Friar from the Three Shires Stone - Monday 16 April - as we drove along the A65 towards Cumbria we were not feeling too enthusiastic as the cloud was very low and at times we couldn't see very far in front of the car.  However, by the time we'd had our 'nineses' at Ashes Lane things were improving, so we decided to stick with the original plan which was my long awaited ascent of Great Carrs, Swirl How and Grey Friar from the Three Shires Stone at the top of Wrynose Pass.  And by the time we'd parked and had early lunch the weather had improved dramatically and blue sky was heading our way.  We also knew that Barrie was back to nearly perfect fitness as he'd enjoyed a super day with his nephew the previous Friday on Blencathra, ascending by Sharp Edge and descending by the Hallsfell ridge.  Once the short, steep climb onto Wet Side Edge (which is usually quite dry) is over the walking is very pleasant and the views increasingly improve as height is gained.  We took our time, as usual - the weather was improving all the time and there was no need at all to rush.
From the summit of Great Carrs it's a short stroll to the rocky summit of Swirl How, passing the memorial to the Halifax bomber which crashed here in 1944.  I must admit that I felt a few goosebumps as I looked at the plaque with the names of those killed.  The impressive summit cairn of Swirl How is perched majestically on the rim of crags with, what I consider, to be one of the best viewpoints in the whole of the Lake District.  After that it was easy walking across to Grey Friar summit and also a little climb onto its 'Matterhorn' rock - about 8 feet high!  We made our way down the pathless and steep slopes to Cockley Beck then finished by more uphill road walking back to the car at the top of Wrynose Pass.  I'm afraid I cheated - my feet and legs were by now killing me.  Barrie, ever the gentleman and I don't know what I'd do without him, kindly let Sam and I sit by the beck while he went on and brought the car down to us.  He was a life saver and I owe him!  A fabulous day rounded off with our usual ale and chips at Gargrave!

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Dodd - Monday 12 March - we were both feeling fitter than we'd felt in a long time but the weather wasn't playing along with us.  Our first choice had been Wetherlam but we couldn't see the top of it as we passed by the Low Wood Hotel so we carried on thinking Loughrigg might be suitable but then decided to carry on up north and see Dodd.  Neither of us had climbed it since it had had a haircut and it was one we hadn't done together and also we hadn't been up north since last October.  And of course, the weather improved the further north we went.  It was also good to see Thirlemere without so many conifers - there is now a clear view of the lake and it doesn't look so forbidding.  The walk was a good circular walk although I think we took the steep option - mind you at least we could tell exactly how fit we were!  And I think we both passed the test with flying colours.  Not a very long walk but we were out for about 3 hours and it was just great to be back on a hill - even if it was quite a small one.  And one good thing we noticed was how everything was starting to look more springlike - my favourite time of the year and just beautiful.  After that we had a wander round Keswick then back for our usual ale and chips at Gargrave. Bassenthwaite Lake from the southern slopes of Dodd

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Lanty's Tarn above Ullswater Lanty's Tarn and Grisedale - Monday 19 February - Barrie was still suffering with sciatica but it was improving.  We didn't want to push our luck - well, Barrie's luck - and overdo things and the weather once again wasn't brilliant so we opted for Lanty's Tarn with the option of carrying on up Grisedale if we were enjoying ourselves and not struggling too much.  We parked at the George Starkey Hut in Patterdale then walked on to Glenridding before leaving civilization behind and starting the uphill bit.  We lunched by the unimpressive tarn and as it was all going well and the weather was on our side - at least it wasn't raining - we carried on up Grisedale.  We walked to the footbridge, after which the gradient increases as the path climbs past Ruthwaite Lodge on its way to Grisedale Tarn, crossed over and returned on the south side of the valley.  I was pretty impressed when Barrie later told me how far we'd walked over 6 miles - not far in some people's book but for us after so long away from the fells, it was a marathon and we were both pretty chuffed.  Our usual return route via Lakeland and chips/beer at Gargrave and another fab day in the Lakes over.

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A day in the Yorkshire Dales - Monday 5 February - Neither of us were feeling very fit and not even up to the drive to the Lakes  We keep saying we'll spend more time in my local area of the Yorkshire Dales so this was a good opportunity.  It was a beautiful clear day, chilly but sunny and our first stop, after a photo shoot at impressive Kilnsey Crag, was Buckden.  We walked for over an hour up Buckden Rake with super views up the valley.  Then over to Aysgarth where we walked round the falls then to Semerwater.  The day was turning rather chilly now so after that a short stroll round Hawes it was via Ribblehead, where we watched a couple of trains crossing the viaduct, to Horton in Ribblesdale and our usual trip for ale and chips at Gargrave.  A different sort of day but very enjoyable all the same.  And we were both impressed with our walking and certainly felt much better for the fresh air and exercise. Dramatic light over Semerwater, Wensleydale

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OFC members struggling (!) up steep Mearley Clough on the way to Pendle Hill summit Alfred Wainwright Centenary Weekend - Saturday 20/Sunday 21 January - 17 January was the centenary of the birth of fellwalker and writer Alfred Wainwright and several occasions were held by The Online Fellwalking Club and The Wainwright Society to mark this day.  The weekend's celebrations started with 16 members meeting up, in not very pleasant weather for an ascent of Pendle Hill.  We battled against a fierce wind, through squelchy mud and up steep, slippery slopes to reach the summit.  It was a great walk and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone  The evening saw most of us meeting for drinks in Clitheroe then a lovely meal in the company of outdoor writer, Mark Richards - a very entertaining time too.  My guests in Silsden for the night were Ann and Roger Hiley and their lovely and lively Golden Retrievers, Harry and Bethan.  We were all glad to get to bed that night but it had been a wonderful day.
Sunday morning started as another cold, wet day and after a short walk on Nab End (the westerly end of Ilkley Moor, above Silsden) to tire the dogs we set off for Blackburn and The Wainwright Society AGM.  This was followed by a service in Blackburn Cathedral to celebrate the life of the great writer and fellwalker Alfred Wainwright  It was a very moving service with AW's favourite hymns sung and readings by friends and fans.  It was good to meet up with old friends from the OFC and Wainwright society and to remember the great man and the pleasure he's brought to thousands of walkers and outdoor enthusiasts.  It was a great weekend and won't be forgotten in a hurry.  The only damper on the weekend was that Barrie was suffering from a bad bout of sciatica and didn't make any of it - he was greatly missed!

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Attempt at Stone Arthur - Monday 8 January - our first walk of the year!  We made it to Grasmere and at 9.30ish started off up Stone Arthur in relatively dry weather and clear skies.  It didn't last long and Barrie soon had to give up - he's suffering badly with sciatica - but Sam and I bravely carried on.  However, we came to what last time we'd been there had been rather a full stream and awkward to cross but today it was impossible, especially without my trusty companion to help.  Sam and I gave in too and headed back to the oasis of Grasmere.  The rain had also started again and was becoming heavier.  Oh well, at least we got on to a fell! After that it was a wet look round the Grasmere shops, a new duvet cover and shower curtain from Ponden Mill in Ambleside for me then Lakeland for craft goodies in the sale then home via the pub at Gargrave for chips for Barrie and 2 pints of Tetleys for me.  A wet start to our 2007 walks but great to be back there whatever the weather. Stone Arthur from Grasmere


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