2011: Review of the year

December 31, 2011

Gummers How seen across mist

Gummers How, a small hill at the south end of Windermere, seen across the misty lowlands. Picture taken on walk 29, 6th January 2011.

The weather is pretty grim at the moment and in no way encouraging me (or, I should imagine, anyone else) out onto the fells. So there hasn’t been a final walk to finish off 2011 by reaching the 150 fells mark. I remain on 147 fells climbed out of the 214, thus have 67 to go. I now estimate I will complete this in about February 2013 (a date that has pushed back by 6 months since this time last year).

In 2011 I climbed 56 Wainwrights, walked 205.75 miles and climbed approximately 56,834 feet. There were 19 walks, if the two-day hike to Wasdale Head and back in September (walk 43) is counted as one rather than two.

Best moment? The middle part of walk 39, on July 21st, from Ruthwaite Lodge up to the summit of Dollywaggon Pike. Ruthwaite Cove was good; Hard Tarn excellent, and a great place just to chill out while eating lunch; but the east ridge of Nethermost Pike was better still, a great adventure.  And all without anyone else there at all. Keep your Striding Edge: this is the one for me.

Sergeant's Crag and Eagle Crag

Sergeant's Crag and Eagle Crag. Picture taken on walk 45, 7th October 2011.

The worst passage came just two days later, on the following walk, walk 40, as I struggled through rampant bracken and then a foul bog trying to approach Devoke Water from the west. This was the first – and hopefully the last – time that I felt like warning others away from following in my footsteps.

I would say my top five fells of 2011 have been, in order:

Martindale, from Steel Knotts

Martindale, viewed from Steel Knotts. The Nab and, behind it, Rest Dodd are the prominent fells in the centre of the valley. Picture taken on walk 42, 18th August 2011.

1: HELM CRAG. Reached as fell number 99, on walk 31, 29th January 2011. The walk as a whole was notable for spectacularly good weather and having Joe as a companion, but Helm Crag is the real highlight. There’s a variable ratio in the Wainwrights between effort and reward; in some cases (here’s looking at you, Lank Rigg), the effort to reach the summit way outstrips the rewards from doing so. Helm Crag is quite the opposite. It’s a relative doddle to get up to its fairytale summit – and brilliant once you’re there. Everyone should do it.

2. NETHERMOST PIKE. For reasons given above. Seeing it in snow on walk 47 did it no harm either. Reached as fell number 122.

Top of Lad Crag, Helvellyn

The top of Lad Crag, on the final pull up to the summit of Helvellyn. Taken on walk 47, December 2nd.

3. YEWBARROW. Here I use the notion of ‘Top Fells’ in a particular way. I will call it a highlight of the year – but not a favoured fell. In fact – and despite having ample warning of this from the pages of Wainwright – this was an absolute little bugger of a fell, which not only proved a tough ascent but then proceeded to throw hail at me for ten minutes for having the temerity to actually reach the summit. (This in early September.) The first time I have had to trust – almost literally – blindly to Wainwright in order to get me off a fell alive. An experience, at least. Reached as fell number 136 on walk 43b, 2/9/11.

Black Fell, from the shoulder of Loughrigg Fell

Black Fell, from the shoulder of Loughrigg Fell. Taken in early January 2011, on walk 29.

4. HELVELLYN. Perhaps an obvious choice but the experience of being up there in the first snows of the winter, while much of the rest of the district (including other 3,000-footers) seemed to be bathing in mild late autumn sunshine, was a largely unrepeatable one and, as far as I could tell, unique to me and about 8 other people. It always looks good on photos and – a bonus! – the Lakes’ principal bus route goes right past its front door, so to speak. Reached as fell number 143 on walk 47, 2nd December.

5. PIKE O’STICKLE. Having had the distinction of defeating me the first time I tried to reach it, in February 2010, I finally got to the summit on walk 38, 30th June, bagging it as fell number 120. It looks good from pretty much any angle, and manages to be both accessible and challenging. A great climb. Good views from the top, too.

Finally, you’ll see on here my five favourite photos taken in 2011. Enjoy….!

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Black Combe and the Ashton Memorial

Black Combe, viewed from some 25 miles distant, near Quernmore - the building is the Ashton Memorial, Lancaster

You can tell I have time on my hands and a desire to be out on the fells again. Also that I have been going through this year’s photos. The final provocation was taking this photo today and feeling as if it should be on the site somewhere.

Anyway I have moved some of the stuff that was on another page and created a separate page on this site to talk about Wainwright’s Book Eight, The Outlying Fells; to show some more photographs, including today’s; and to indicate when I have managed to bag any of these ‘semi-Wainwrights’ on walks so far.

Enjoy. I am ‘on call’ to do a walk at short notice at any time over the next three weeks, so follow the blog if you want (WordPress members have a button to top left) or check back regularly…

Photo galleries updated

December 26, 2011

Martindale, from Steel Knotts

Martindale, viewed from Steel Knotts. The Nab and, behind it, Rest Dodd are the prominent fells in the centre of the valley.

I’ve added some of the best 2011 photos to the gallery pages of this site, which start with the summit gallery – you can go on from there…. I hope you enjoy them.

I may still get another walk in before the year turns – 29th or 30th December are possibilities, but as is always the case in the winter, it really depends on the weather. Either way, I will post a review of the year before 2011 becomes 2012.

I hope you are all having a very happy Christmas. Season’s greetings to all.

The summit of White Side.

The summit of White Side. Catstycam (left), Swirral Edge and Helvellyn behind.

2nd December saw me bag five more of the remaining Wainwrights in dramatic conditions. These included the third-highest of all, Helvellyn, at 3,118 feet. As you can see from the pictures, the tops were dusted in snow, which led to some dramatic views (particularly as it seemed to be the only part of the district so blessed). The downside – it’s December, and snowy, which meant it was cold, and much of the walk was done in the teeth of a northerly gale. But it wasn’t a long walk, and was definitely worthwhile. Find out more about it on the walk 47 page and the individual fell pages.

As of today, then, I have done 147 of the 214 Wainwrights, thus have 67 to go. I have walked a total of 471.48 miles and ascended approximately 137,132 feet.

I hope to get another walk in before Christmas, on either 19th or 20th December.