It’s not always sunny in England

Yes, that’s not really a surprise. In fact, let’s be honest, it is more wet than it is sunny in England. Sometimes we have a nice 2 weeks in our shorts and we get carried away thinking the rest of the year will be like this. It’s England, of course it won’t be, in fact we should just be thankful if it doesn’t rain!

So, the walk. It was supposed to be a decent 6 peaks, with an additional 1 peak which sits out on its own. We parked the car between the start of the 6 peaks and the start of the single peak. The single peak on its own was to be Binsey. A small hill is probably the best way to describe Binsey, it is not of any special note other than it was deemed so by Wainwright and has graced his list, therefore in my challenge to bag the Wainwrights of the Lake District I will need to summit it. I may well discover on a glorious summers day that it offers more than meets the eye and it deserves its place among the ranks of Wainwrights other treasured mountains. The walk was to encompass Longlands, Brae Fell, Little Sca Fell, Great Sca Fell, Knott, Seat Allen and Great Cockup. Finishing with the walk round the aforementioned Binsey.

We arrived at our destination at the very north of the Lakes, it had taken 2 hours to get here, the weather looked good. The forecast, which should be taken with a pinch of salt in the hills, looked good; a nice day, scattered clouds, patchy rain etc. I got out the car, always nice after a long drive, already I started to feel the spots of rain. We had prepared for this, it was expected, so we started our walk in full waterproofs.

We got to the start of the walk, the mountains slowly rolling off into the distance, by this time the rain had subsided, the clouds broke and the sun warmed us again. It can be irritating walking in this sort of weather with jackets going on and off all day, but its better than the alternative. Better than what we ended up with anyway!

Our summit of Longlands was uneventful, we read the map, we stopped for some photos.

zoomed-panoramic

I had decided to bring my telephoto today, not just my wide angle lens. So I was able to take the above as well as the below image. (Notice the above image is of the small lake in the below image)

wide-view-of-the-walk

As I am sure you will agree it is not the most spectacular landscape, it is pretty flat. More rolling slopes than angular ascents.

We had lunch on the hill to the right of the image above, which worked out well, because we didn’t eat for another 5 hours. We set off from lunch realising the wind was exactly as forecast, bloody mental, and the rain was seemingly as forecast also (none existent). It was going to be a good day. We head upwards towards Brae Fell. This is where it all changed.

In the 100m difference the weather just closed in. We went from the visibility in the photos above to visibility of around 40-100ft. It was bleak. The wind was gusting into the 50-60mph range, the rain was constant and when it wasn’t raining there was a fine mist spray enveloping us and making everything more difficult. At this point your map reading skills are pretty much useless. You need landmarks for a map to work. Sure we knew where we were on the map, luckily we weren’t straying from the path, but that isn’t that comforting in those conditions. Looking back I wonder if that is the point I should have just called it a day, sometimes you don’t want to waste the time you have on the hills, but sometimes its worth just saying today is not the day. Either way we carried on.

During the breaks in the rain and the 30 second glimpses we had we navigated about half way to Brae Fell, we resorted to checking my phones GPS for our position and based on this locking in every time we tried it I was confident we could navigate fine. I figure, if the worst comes to the worst we could just drop down to a lower level. There were no steep drops on these hills, they were much easier than others we have done together.

We completed Brae Fell, Little Sca Fell and were summiting Great Sca Fell when we met other hikers. The level of concern in their voices was admirable, both myself and my girlfriend are not the burliest or stout of people, but we get the job done. In any case, we were having a blast, now that I was confident we wouldn’t be getting lost I made small talk to with the guy, asking about the path to the next summit. We continued on our way, impressed our waterproofs were still maintaining their main function. We summited Knott, our tallest of the day at 710m. What a cracker, no view 50mph winds and rain buffeting our faces, we did not spend long here. With such a flat summit, there was very little shelter. We did not want to be here long. We walked back to Great Sca Fell, this was going to be the point we turned to Seat Allen, the map had no marked path for the route, visibility was at this point 40 feet maximum. It was time to call it a day this time. We calculated our new route on our map, and head off along the path we had already walked. We found oru descent and lost our altitude rapidly. First 50m were very much the same, however dropping below the 500m mark made such a big difference, it was still raining, it was still windy, but at least we could see land marks! We got back to the car, wishing I had brought the flask and not just our water bottles. We forgot our towel, I must have spent too much time in the sun. We dried ourselves off best we could. It was a thoroughly enjoyable walk, if not a little intense at times. A walk that was approximately 5 hours for all 6 however ended up taking 7.5 hours for just the 4 Wainwrights (5 hills)! As always a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, being out in the rain does work for some, and this guy seemed to have no problems with it.

highland-cow-in-situ

highland-cow-close-up