The Vault Regulars

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Howgill bimble

Sheila and i booked a weekend away in Sedbergh in the hope of doing some of the Howgill tops. Its an area we have been to before but barely scratched the surface.
The trouble with pre-booking accommodation is that you use it or loose it whatever the weather.
So with a dreadful forecast we set off. See below what MWIS had to say.

Of all the days to pick but we had to make the most it. Lying in our pit with the blinds open we could see some of Winder 473 metres and little else. The hill fog was summersaulting down the hillside as it would and the rain was sweeping across like vertical blinds.

I wasn't too happy as i was hoping for decent views. I'm not a big fan of walking in continuous mizzle having spent all that energy to get up high.

We decided that a good way to start would be to follow the path along the west side of Settlebeck Gill and hopefully the water would be in spate which would provide us with a view.
Walking first through Sedbergh village the cafe's were doing a good trade but it was quiet otherwise.
The rain was heavy and puddles deep.

It didn't take long for me to realise that putting my old Buffalo jacket on and then a waterproof was a big mistake. I was miles too hot. Then i realised i had also left the goggles and the camera on the table and also the coffeemate for the pre-prepared flask of black coffee. I wasn't in a good mood and pretty annoyed with myself.
At the end of Joss Lane the open fellside is reached and the route is also the Dales High Way, a route I have always fancied doing but never have, so far.

The ground heavily waterlogged and very slippery, the paths now running like streams. Through an old steel gate we got our first view of the gill coming down off the fell. It was indeed fast and wild water.
Continuing on up the fell the view receding until it was nothing. A real shame as for us as hiking is seeing the view not just a tick on a map. We crossed many side streams that normally would be invisible but today was different.
Getting to the ridge line was just a wet plod with a couple of dodgy moments when we lost our footing. We stopped and considered our situation, the wind was howling although definitely not the 55-70 mph as suggested by MWIS. Probably around 30-40mph. I had an anemometer in my pack but couldn't be bothered to find it because of the heavy rain.

We decided to give the Calf a miss and go for Winder, a lower and nearer top. I scraped a mark in the turf to show where we had joined the ridge path. Hopefully it would still be there on our return. We headed off on a good path south to Winder. The route was easy to follow even through the boggy bits and even in the clagg. It wasn't too long before the dark shape of the column with the orientation plaque came into view and then the tall OS column.

There is no shelter at the summit, it's just an exposed top. In this weather we took a quick couple of photos using Sheila's iPhone and then turned tail. No sandwich, no coffee. We wanted to head down.

Back along the ridge we came to a decent path that was heading roughly in the direction we wanted. Checking the map we could take it but it wouldn't end up where we wanted so we carried on until coming across the marker I made in the turf earlier.

The rain was not going to let up today and difficult to keep your feet, the top surface being very loose. Just before we reached the steel gate Sheila completely lost her footing and slid down a few yards heading for the gill. Fortunately there was no harm done, she was just covered in mud. We found a safe place at the waters edge where she could wash it off.
A lady with 2 dogs met us and was looking for a safe place to cross the stream which is normally an easy ford, but not today. She did get across with the odd slip.

Back in Sedbergh, it was still very quiet on the streets. The first cafe we came to was packed, the second less so. We dripped all over the wooden floor but the staff we fine about it and we enjoyed cake and coffee. A couple chatted to us saying it was a bit awful to be wandering around the shops. We told them we had been up Winder, where their facial expressions said it all. What in this weather.

The weather was a disappointment but at least we had done one top and still had a sense of humour and achievement. We did enjoy it.
Starting up the fell side.

First glimpse of the stream.
Settlebeck Gill.

 Winder OS trig point. 473 metres.

 Coming down.

I do look cold in this image.
Almost down.
 Sheila just before she slipped down
 Sedbergh in the gloom
 What it should have looked like. (Image off Google images.)

Our route. Just 10km.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Hiking goggles

When its windy or cold walking in exposed places my eyes stream non stop. It's a real nuisance. It makes map reading all the more harder. I've used glasses of various types and even yellow goggles that would have looked good on Ali G.
Many glasses have a tendency to steam up or are too bulky to be practical for hiking so when I came across these paragliding/skydiving goggles I thought I would give them a try.
Goggles are also a big benefit when rain, sleet or snow is coming at you horizontaly, and even better when hail stoning.

I wore them the last time we were out on White Pike in the Lake District and they work very well. The conditions were 20mph wind gusts, low cloud, intermittent hail, rain and snow with an ambient temperature of 4 degrees but felt cooler with the wind chill. Perfect testing weather.

The goggles are made from one piece UV400 shatterproof Polycarbonate double sided anti fog coated lens. Mine are clear but alternatives are available in smoked and yellow.
There is neoprene padding around the edges to keep wind out.
Keeping them firmly in place is a fully adjustable headband rather than side stays.

They weigh 41 grams including the micro fibre cleaning pouch.

I might have to make a bit of an alteration to the foam pad that stops wind getting through. The reason is that when paragliding you don't actually work a sweat up like you do hiking and so the generated warm air needs a space to escape. Although the foam is breathable and they are anti fog, I think a small slot would be beneficial and won't detract from the performance. But i will try further testing before modifying.
I found these at Global eyewear. Cost £10.99.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Walna Scar, White Pike and White Maiden. (From Dunnerdale)

The Duddon valley was quiet. Any noise being masked by the low mist. Tarn Beck was in spate and sound of the rushing water was quite musical. There was no one around except Sheila and I, no cars, tractors or kids breaking the silence, just the tapping of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker high up in an adjacent tree.
Occasionally part of the surrounding ridge line would appear and then it was gone but there was enough time for us to see that the tops were white with snow. From the look of it the snow line started at around 500 metres.
In the valley the temperature was high for this time of year at around 8 degrees.C. No wonder the clagg was down.

Walking through the fields between Turner Hall Campsite and High Moss showed signs of previous heavy rains. Water logged ground in abundance. Beyond High Moss a tall ladder stile crosses the boundary wall and from there we could see that no one was camping.
At the start of the Walna Scar the high temperature had us both taking layers off. No sooner had we set off again when hail started to fall. Stop again to put waterproofs back on. For the next twenty minutes we had all four seasons.
Mid way up the Walna, the clagg thankfully lifted and we saw eight tiny figures almost at the top. Amazingly the snow line was receding fast, it was certainly a bit higher now than it had been when we first glimpsed the tops earlier on.
The Walna is a steady climb and today was proving how unfit we both are. Numerous pauses made between  the slow progress. My knee ached as it has been for some time now and I was hoping that the top wouldn't be too slippery and cause me problems.

                              The start of the Wana Scar road with Harter Fell in background.

As it happened we caught up with the eight folk we saw earlier. Three carried on up to Buck Pike whilst the others stood and drank warm drinks.
The col where the Walna starts to drop down to Coniston was bitterly cold and a biting wind was painful on the face. My anemometer showed 20mph wind speed but a temperature of 4C. It seemed far colder than that, we layered up again, putting everything on including a new pair of goggles which stopped our eyes watering perfusely. They worked fantastically well and will be staying in the rucksack. We had a couple of new bits of kit which I will say more about in a separate post.
Looking down the Duddon Valley from The Walna Scar Rd,

Top of the Walna looking to Coniston Water.

It was too cold to linger and the mist was coming in again taking away our views but it was fast moving mist with the strong wind. The views we had down to Coniston water and out to sea were dark and foreboding, occasionally the sun would burst through the black cloud in strong sunbeams.
My camera doesn't do justice to the light show.
 Top of the Walna Rd, with the path up to Dow Crag behind left.

 Clagg closing in again.

On Walna Scar 621 metres, en route to White Pike.

We headed for White Pike using the path which crosses Walna Scar along the ridge. Behind us Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man recieved fleeting glimpses. Across to our left Harter fell and beyond that the Scafells had their heads covered.
The hail returned and this time along with the powerful wind. The goggles were working a treat and didn't fog up, but most importantly gave us the advantage of having a clear unrestricted view.
As we approached the summit of White Pike 598 metres, we came across footprints in the snow coming from the opposite direction to ours. We hadn't seen anyone so this person must have been out early?
The top of White Pike has a couple of stone cairns and a windbreak of sorts. No use to us today, it was too cold to linger here. As we were taking the usual summit photos three walkers approached and also didn't linger.
 Sheila sporting useful goggles. Almost at White Pike Top.

View of Dow Crag from White Pike.

We set off for White Maiden 610 metres, just a short distance away. Here in between the wall and the crags we found a sheltered spot to have a rewarding coffee. The three walkers followed behind us but didn't stop, heading off down towards Torver.
Zoom shot of Dow Crag (left) and sun on Old Man of Coniston.

Instead of returning we same way as we came I decided to just walk off the ridge (safely I may add) and head straight down to the wall gate at SD250963. It was a slippery route and I had to be careful not to stress my knee. The Herdwick sheep stared at us and probably thinking that we were mad. I would have agreed with them.
We got to the gate safe and sound and headed for Walna Quarry. The cave in the quarry would make a good place to have our sandwiches i thought. There are actually 2 caves in the quarries, the first one we found to be inaccessible due to a rock fall in the entrance alleyway. This is the biggest cave, so it was a bit disappointing. The 2nd cave is smaller and was accessible but the slate slabs were so slippery we didn't bother trying to get down to it. We were sheltered in the quarry so just decided to find a decent place to sit and have lunch.
Looking round there is still evidence of the quarrymens work. Drill holes ready for sticks of dynamite visible.
Heading down off the tops. Harter Fell now clear.

The 2nd cave which we found too slippery to access.

No sooner had we finished lunch when it went very dark again and the hail started. We set off out through the many quarry buildings, now ruins. There was no shelter.
 Dark clouds approaching fast.

 Sunny one minute.

Dark and hail stoning the next.

The hail was short lived, lasting only 10 minutes. Our route down now joined the Walna Rd again. Coming up to us were two runners and we mentioned to them that it was bitterly cold up on the top. They said they knew already as they had ran over White Pike earlier. We guessed that it must have been their footprints we saw.
Down at the road the temperature was warm and the wind non existent. The layers came off again.
The Woodpecker was still hammering away and the valley had come to life with numerous canoeists.
Greater Spotted Woodpecker, high up in the trees.

Our route today is below. It was 11km. We didn't do this walk in the time showed below on the map. It took us 4 hrs with stops.

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