Basecamp, South Lake Tahoe provide the following motivation for exploring the local trails…
And just in case you needed more information on what’s available, this might be the 1st thing you see waking up in the morning…
Start: Park at SD765792
Distance: 9.1 miles
Ascent: 1,573 feet
Start: Park at SD967722
Distance: 13 miles
Ascent: 2,601 feet
Start: Park at NY247212
Distance: 10.8 miles
Ascent: 2,985 feet
Start: Park at NY280253
Distance: 10.38 miles
Ascent: 2523 feet
Start: Park at SD967722 – £4/day
Distance: 10.68 miles
Ascent: 1954 feet
Every February, we spend a weekend walking in the Lake District and every year the weather is very different from the last. This year, two weather fronts – a cold front that had turned seas in eastern Europe into huge skating rinks and a warm front that carried a significant amount of moisture across the Atlantic – were having something more than just a simple playground scuffle over the British Isles; lots of pushing and shoving with no one too sure which would get the upper hand. I’ve never seen the Mountain Weather Information Service weather forecast for the following day studied so carefully before.
On Saturday morning, the warm front seemed to have the upper hand but that soon changed as we made our way up Skiddaw. After studying the forecast myself, I opted for Skiddaw because it has a well-established, wide path to the summit. It wasn’t a day to be on a narrow ridge without full winter climbing kit and experience.
The cloud level dropped to about 400 metres and with the high winds – also forecast – and the snow already underfoot and more falling quite heavily, visibility deteriorated rapidly; to less than 10 metres at times. I’m reasonably familiar with that route up Skiddaw. Even in cloud or fog, the path is easy to follow. But when that too is white and indistinguishable, it’s a much bigger challenge.
To give you an idea of what was visible…
. , / _ – ! : ‘ / | \ . , / _ – ! : ‘ / | \ . , / _ – ! : ‘ / | \
…a few rocks scattered around.
Thus, our summit attempt was thwarted. Micro-navigation was virtually impossible. On turning back, we didn’t quite turn through 180 degrees and we soon found ourselves on a steepening incline. My experience of Skiddaw and it’s contours told me almost straight away that we were off the path but without any reference points, all we had to correct the mistake was a general direction. The danger being that, having zigged one way, we could easily zag back the other and across the path without even realising. So with a mix of contouring around and gradual descent over already rough ground, we arrived at the saddle between Skiddaw and Little Man summits – still with very little visibility.
To get from 1 summit to the other, there’s a fence that acts as a handrail across that saddle but we couldn’t locate it. Time to get the GPS out and pinpoint us exactly on the map! As it turned out, aiming off a little too much on the descent, we’d missed the corner of that fence by less than 50 metres but with visibility so low… A few paces to the east and I had my point of reference.
After that bit of excitement, the rest of the walk back to the car was relatively uneventful but it was quite obvious that bad weather was setting in for the rest of the day. There was absolutely no contrast between snow on the ground and the white-out in the air. I found that very… mesmerising I think is the best description of it. The snow line was at about 300 metres on our way up; it was now firmly in the basin of the valleys. As we drove down into Grasmere, cars were struggling on the climb up to Dunmail Raise where, only minutes earlier, a bus had made it through.
We found out later that others had similar or worse experiences on the fells that day. I like to think of myself as fairly philosophical and I squared away our experience as Mother Nature kicking off to remind us just who was in charge.
By contrast, the next day she offered up an olive branch; a very picturesque Lake District, dusted heavily in icing sugar.
We are helping to organise this event as we are active members of the team. For the last few years we have run our own Yorkshire Three Peaks walk but we wanted to run an event that is unique to our team. This is it and it starts in Clapham where the team is based. Come and join us and tell your friends about it. The shorter walk is also suitable for families so make a day of it. More information and how to sign up is on the website www.cro.org.uk/challenge
It started raining on the Sunday and, apart from brief intervals, didn’t really stop until the following Thursday. In the years I’ve lived overlooking the Aire valley, I’ve never seen it flood so quickly.
It wasn’t until the Saturday that I could take advantage of such a, sadly more frequent and, “different” photowalk.
Up close, what surprised me was that levees have been built that prevent the flood water from draining away as quick as it might. There’s only 2 reasons I can think for this:
House building is already a contentious issue in the Aire valley; There’s a proposal to build even more houses on land that floods regularly. Anyone who buys one of them should prepare for their boundary fences to look like this…
The alarm went off at a time of the morning that should be illegal. It shouted out that something significant was happening that day. And indeed it was. The Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge in aid of the Cave Rescue Organisation was on.
The Registration Point was full of bleary eyed walkers and even a few over-keen runners – they could’ve stayed in bed for an extra hour. The only one there who seemed to be wide awake was a dog. Somehow it knew that today was going to be a challenge and was simply stood watching what was going on. If a dog mentally prepares, he was the picture poster for it.
Outside the day started out murky and damp with visibility down to 15 metres on the summits but still warm enough to work up a sweat if you were making an effort. Once dawn arrived, apart from the tops, that soon burnt off.
Pen-y-ghent took me an hour to the summit which I was quite pleased with. A good solid start!
As you descend from Pen-y-Ghent, the mist tends to clear and you can see the miles ahead of you. This was a scene of lots of standing water & lots of mud. The organisers were recommending a route diversion because of the rain there had been in the last few days but particularly the previous night. If that diversion was the best route through the bog on the day, the normal route must’ve been 1 big pond. The ground was very soft and water-logged underfoot – very energy zapping.
I’m quite pleased that the only tumble I had was on the softest of grassy inclines. I almost bounced back onto my feet in what might have been the smoothest of moves. As it was, I’m glad I was on my todd as the self-berating for such a schoolboy error went on for a while.
Approaching Ribblehead Viaduct, the summit of Whernside cleared, challenging me to take it on. On the upside, the sun also came out. Ninety minutes after leaving the T-junction, I was having tea and a sandwich on the summit. Another pleasing milestone.
Ingleborough normally looks quite majestic from pretty much any angle but approaching it from Humphrey Bottom on a sunny day in November creates quite a daunting silhouette. And out of the sun at the bottom of “the steps”, where it’s cold and dank, it can be quite enthusiasm sapping. Anyway, onwards and (straight) upwards.
Having gauged my pace all the way round, a time of 8 hours seemed plausible up until that point. Those steps put paid to that now seemingly foolish idea. I had rested minimally all day, always keeping an eye on a good time. Ingleborough was no different; a quick touch of the trig point, checked in with the marshals and set off back down. My descent was slowed by the limestone being rather greasy and my knees were complaining quite viciously by that point. To add insult to injury a rather… let’s call him a “long-lived individual”; he was making light work of it, off down the steep section like a whippet. I made good time as the gradient eased out and when I finally caught him up, he wished me well on my endeavour. A much needed injection of goodwill but more importantly enthusiasm and energy. (I hate the phrase “redouble your efforts” but begrudgingly, it seems to fit.)
There is a finger board at Sulber (near Sulber Gate) that reads “Horton 2” [miles]. Don’t believe it, it lies!!! I had 30 minutes in which to make my new target time and I would have made it if indeed it was truly 2 miles. I was pushing hard, making a solid 4 miles an hour pace – if not more!
And once again, that time passed. So I set a pace I could sustain all the way back into Horton in Ribblesdale. Only that seemed to relax me and I was able to travel easier and at much the same pace. If only I’d allowed myself to do that earlier!!
I have NEVER been so glad to see tarmac at the end of a long walk. Normally, it means walking a mile or more back to the car – not really what you need at the end of a long walk. However in this instance, it meant about 150 metres back to the Registration Point and the finish. And all for the benefit of the Cave Rescue Organisation. Please make a donation. Thank you!
My final time was 8 hours and 37 minutes which I’m very pleased with. Mainly because it’s unlikely to ever be bettered.
The Yorkshire 3 Peaks is not a challenge walk you can decide to do on the spur of the moment. It’s over 23 miles containing a wide variety of terrain and 1,600 metres of ascent. Many people can cope with 1 or other of these factors in isolation but the real challenge is the combination of both together. Preparation and training are key.
Our last training session before the charity walk went well on the whole. We had a cloudy start; rain threatened but never came to anything; the sun even came out for a while which made it a very pleasant November day. However, it wasn’t perfect.
The first hiccup was that I forgot to pack forks for the pasta, tuna and sweetcorn salad which was a significant portion of our lunch. A rather plain membership card stepped in and, with a bit of imagination, emulated a spoon.
However, pasta just wasn’t meant to be on the menu that particular day. It’s also a perfect example of why men don’t multi-task. Or at least not very well. Near enough the full box slid off my lap and landed upside down on the ground. The 5 second rule wasn’t a consideration even though the pasta was in a relatively neat heap because of what else was lying at our feet. I’ll leave that up to your imagination.
We still had enough spare food with us to finish the route (15+ miles in just under 6 hours) but this is a perfect example (albeit relatively insignificant) of how things can and do go wrong even with the best preparation.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter, are friends with me on Facebook or linked to me on LinkedIn will know that I am a big Twitter fan. I tweet A LOT! And often. About many different things – work-related articles, my own photography or photography in general, fell walking, etc. I realise that different portions of that content will be of no interest to different groups of those people I’m connected to.
So, the quandary I had (and many people who have a varied web presence may also have) was how best to separate the professional content from the personal stuff.
Twitter has become the lynch pin in my Social Networking “strategy”. I can tweet direct (and in some cases automatically) from nearly all the web sites I use regularly using a variety of plug-ins to distribute the content as I see fit to…
I do have a Google+ profile but I’m struggling to wrap my head around how best to use it. I think that until it acquires a critical mass of users, it’s always going to be playing catch-up but now that signing up is open to all…
So! That’s how I do it. I’d like to hear your thoughts on any of the above, your approach to Social Networking or if you have any other related comments…
After an eventful summer, we’re finally getting back to reality and finding some time for ourselves – which we are just as quickly committing to doing other things.
The latest goal is walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks in November in aid of the Cave Rescue Organisation. This is definitely NOT “just a walk in the park” because of the limited number of daylight hours and probable adverse weather. So we’re in the middle of a programme of training walks. To date, there has been a lot of water involved (both underfoot & falling from the sky) and not much sunshine. We’ve seen it away in the distance, teasing us with a sense of “this is what you could have had”.
The CRO is one of a number of volunteer rescue teams throughout the country. Originally set up to help people in trouble in remote & generally inaccessible areas, they are increasingly being called out to incidents to bolster the abilities of the three main emergency services.
These rescue teams are funded entirely by charitable donations. Personally, I think those people who get themselves in trouble as a direct result of being ill-prepared should be billed for the full cost. Going further, there’s an argument for bringing charges of endangering life in some cases. However, accidents happen even to the best-prepared and rescue teams will always mobilise when called upon; a philosophy of “one day, it could be me” is one driver.
Anyway, rant over. Sorry ’bout that!
The bottom line is we are asking for sponsorship, either in person or at JustGiving. Thanks!