The Roaches

Memories from a trip to Keswick - 2014

February 2014 - We weren't expecting a great deal from this trip as the weather had been appalling for many weeks. All sorts of rainfall records had been broken and the long range forecast for the Lakes didn't bode well. It wasn't just the amount of rainfall that was causing problems - the wind too was reaching damaging levels.

I'd hopefully managed to get my right ankle into some sort of normal functionality after an operation in November so expected a week free of pain and swelling.

What would we do?

This year's attendees were Alison, Dave, Jon, Sarah, Gordon, Jane and myself with Mark joining us for a couple of nights during the week.

SUNDAY - Cumbria Way from Rosthwaite to Keswick (7.3 miles\1083 ft ascent)

The forecast was for rain but, after missing the Borrowdale bus, a group of us jumped into a couple of taxis and made the most of the fact that this was the last day for six weeks on which the Borrowdale road would be open for public access. We arrived at Rosthwaite with rain in the air and donned our waterproofs. Jon and Sarah were feeling rough with cold and lurgy so decided to remain in Keswick.

The threat of rain subsided shortly after setting off but the wind could be clearly heard in the distance. We expected to get a battering at some point during the day so remained in 'Goretex' mode - just in case!

Gordon, Jane, Alison and Dave and £3000 worth of waterproofs.

It was clear from the size of the River Derwent that the Lakes had seen huge amounts of rain with the streams, falling off the slopes, also giving it a real go. Despite this the rain stayed away and the walking was enjoyable.

Jane and Dave negotiate 'death rapids'. They both survived.

We lunched with a view over Derwent Water before setting off across the western slopes of Cat Bells, following the Allerdale Ramble route. We reached Keswick in a surprisingly dry state and enjoyed a couple of beers in the Bank Tavern. It was good to get a walk under our belts so early as the forecast had predicted large doses of grimness.

Where to tomorrow?

MONDAY - Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell (7.5 miles\2112 ft ascent)

I'd walked this route a couple of years back with Alison and Geraint and found it to be an enjoyable affair so, as the forecast looked reasonable for a day, decided with Jon that this would be the route of the day. Jon and Sarah's 'condition' had improved so they decided to join the merry throng.

We parked at Mungrisdale and suited up for what looked like being an icy climb.

On the track to Bannerdale Crags. The peak in the photo is the the eastern end of the Tongue.

The easy climb up to the col between Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell gives the option of hitting both tops so we decided to ascend the former first and enjoy the walk along the rim of the crags. This was good.

Bannerdale Crags. The route runs from right to left along the rim of the crags.

We reached the summit of Bannerdale Crags in our usual dribs and drabs style and took in the view to the east where the Pennines loomed large and the view to the west where Blencathra loomed larger.

The cairn on Bannerdale Crags. The actual summit is a hundred yards or so in the direction of Blencathra.

Now for Bowscale Fell!

We yomped back in the direction we'd come from but veered to the west slightly in order to hit less boggy ground.

Jon heads towards the summit of Bowscale Fell. Bannerdale Crags is to the left with Blencathra in cloud behind Jon.

We took a few photos from the summit of Bowscale Fell and then headed north to see what the descent to the tarn held in store for us. The summit was covered in snow and quite icy in parts so all bets were on the steep descent being a tricky little bugger.

Our hero on the summit of Bowscale Fell.

On reaching the point where a loose path descends to the tarn it was, as expected, icy, so we continued to descend on safer ground in order to find an easier option. The map detailed a couple of usable paths so on we went.

On the snowy wastes of Bowscale Fell.

Al and I located a path of sorts and proceeded to traverse the hillside but it soon turned out to be a hummocky grassy trudge with the occasional careful step. Dave didn't like this at all but fortunately Jon decided to assist whilst the others ploughed on to the tarn.

Dave and Jon eventually joined us at the tarn where lunch was ate before setting off for the final few miles to Mungrisdale and the pub. This route had yet again proved to be an enjoyable day out and it's definitely one for when the high tops are bathed in cloud. Next time it'll be a change of route so the more scrambly east ridge can be taken in.

TUESDAY - Pissed it down: All day!

Mark arrived but no walking today. All except Alison took the bus to Ambleside where it rained, and rained, and rained.

WEDNESDAY - Latrigg from Keswick (6.3 miles\1242 ft ascent)

The forecast suggested that gales and rain would hit at lunch time so Alison, Mark and myself headed off to the summit of Latrigg and a return down Latrigg's eastern slopes to the old railway track. Gordon and Jane also decided to walk the railway track to Threlkeld whilst Dave, Jon and Sarah decided to mince about in Keswick.

Alison and Mark on Latrigg with a windy snowy Skiddaw in the distance. Our boots were about to get rather muddy.

THURSDAY - Grizedale Forest (3 miles?)

Yet again we prepared to battle against wind and rain but rather than die on the summits it was decided that a twelve miler around Grizedale Forest would keep up safe from being blown into oblivion.

On arriving at Grizedale, a 25 mile drive from Keswick, Gordon and Alison commented on not feeling too good. The visitor centre was shut due to power failures caused by the poor weather which left poorly Gordon and poorly Alison with no toilets. Gordon had to be sick in the car park - uuurrrgghhh!

Their condition didn't improve so a car consisting of Alison, Gordon, Jane and myself aborted the walk and headed for Hawkshead. Jon, Sarah, Dave and Mark were left to see how many miles they could get in before the day's storm hit.

FRIDAY - Dodd (3 miles\1282 ft ascent)

I'd always wanted to walk up Dodd. It may have been the challenge of the forests or the potential view that attacted me but for some reason I'd always fancied it.

I fancied it today as, yet again, the morning's forecast was OK but a storm of biblical proportions was to head in at around lunch time - could we fit Dodd in and beat the rain? Mark had returned home and Dave decided to give this one a miss. Gordon was left to die in his bed - Jane had had enough of the never ending illnesses of the aging old croak.

We parked at the Mirehouse car park and began our gradual ascent up the long forest road towards the crags of Long Doors. The slopes of Ullock Pike and Carl Side reared up to our left but were soon lost in the cloud. It wasn't a day to be on the high fells.

The ascent was enjoyed by all and the weather remained clear enough for us to enjoy the view off the summit.....

No more trees. The felled summit of Dodd. Where's the Pinus Mugo?

It wasn't overly warm on the summit so we sped on. Sarah had found a set of car keys so we expected to come across a worried walker looking for his\her means of returning home.

The descent was excellent. The route skirted Dodd's south west slopes with great views over to Bassenthwaite and the Coledale fells. The path was a delight and interest was maintained as we descended into the forest.

The end of the week's walking in the forests of Dodd.

We failed to find the owner of the car keys so they were posted, along with a note, in the letter box of the cafe (which was shut). Hopefully they'll be returned to their owner - assuming they still work after what could be days of constant hammering by the elements.

Despite the awful rain, wind, illnesses for Jon, Sarah, Gordon, Dave and Alison, the disappointment of the American Hustle movie, the faulty piping in the house and the roof blowing off it had been an enjoyable week.

We'd managed to get more walking in than expected as the mornings remained generally pretty good with the Bannerdale Crags and Dodd walks being particularly enjoyable.

Hopefully Dave will book again for next year.


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