Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Helvellyn.Coppermines Cottage.Lake District.

Not long returned from a  great weekend down in the lake district with our mountaineering club.The first hut meet of the winter season.Most of them were leaving  as usual on the Friday night after work from Glasgow but Alex and myself decided to head down on Friday morning early as the Country file farmers forecast for the week ahead showed that to be the best day.Not that you can always trust  such a long range prediction.It turned out to be the right move though..
He had also done his homework on the Internet  so we could avoid the £7 parking charges now in force down here in the more popular car parks and worked out the cheapest pubs to visit.He,s very good that way.Thinking ahead.Some charge £10 for a pint and a small single burger!That,s the skint hill walkers modern equivalent of a bear trap covered over and filled with stakes.(excuse the pun)
It is a great area though when its done out of season and tourist numbers are down to  bearable.proportions.(excuse the pun again)
Parked in a free lay by just outside Glenridding village and headed along a scenic path beside Ullswater which weaved through trees beside the shoreline then cut up along the side of the road.We have not been down in the Lakes for years and you forget how beautiful it is here.Sure it can get mobbed at times but the network of charming paths,ridges,compact mountain chains and scenery make it worthwhile.Just over the Scottish border into England The Lake district is different to Scottish mountains as a lot of them start from bleak empty valleys.The very thing a lot of people from England like about our Scottish hills.For us though this was a welcome change.
Helvellyn was our hill of choice.A good pick as it stayed in sunshine all day while many  of the surrounding ranges attracted dark clouds.

The path up was broad and dry,a big change from miles of deep  heather,bog and bracken during recent summer trips in Scotland away from the more frequented Munro,s..As we got higher the wind started to increase.By the time we reached the famous Striding Edge it was a full on gale with gusts of 50 to 60 miles an hour.
A few  folk we,d met turned back here when the ridge started to narrow and the first rock towers began.If you didn,t brace yourself when walking you would get blown flat by the gusts.Luckily there were more sheltered bypass routes round the towers which this elephant seal of a climber was quite happy to use on hands,bum, elbows, knees and anything else that came in handy while Alex stayed mainly on the crest.His natural surefootedness can be a wonder at times and an irritation for those less able but  its also good for photos.I bummed along in his wake while he complained, rightly,that he wasn,t getting many good ones of me.

"A man  always on his arse spoils a photo! He grumbled.
It stayed dry though so that was the main thing.
This is us nearing the top of Helvellyn looking down on Striding Edge.Although dramatic its fairly easy under normal conditions with nothing that can,t be avoided which was just as well today.
At the summit we had a short debate.The plan was to head round and descend Sharp Edge as the logical  scrambling horseshoe but that would mean staying in the constant and freezing wind all day.The view along the ridge the other way and a drop in the wind in this direction soon had us changing course.
While not exactly tropical conditions we could at least take off the gloves and drop the hoods on our jackets.
We could even speak to each other again.
"Rock monkey!"
It was really good fun to be up on a long undulating ridge again as we admired the views of half remembered mountain ranges in the distance.High Street,Gimmer Crag,Great Gable,Bowfell,Scafell Pike.High Pike.We used to come down here a lot years ago both walking and rock climbing with the club.
Happy memories.Don,t really know why we,ve not come down here more often as its easy to reach from Glasgow even for a day.Although we have climbed a good few hills here it felt like a brand new area again after so long away.
We continued over Nethermost Pike then Dollywagon Pike then dropped down towards  the lovely circle of  Grisedale Tarn where we stopped for lunch out the wind.Jackets came off.The suns rays now felt warm and it was fleece time again for the drop into the valley.
We,ve both done our  share of valley descents over the years but the long canter down Grisedale was an eye opener in every way.Scenically impressive with a long line of steep cliffs on one side and the rugged slopes of Fairfeild and St Sunday Crag on the other.If I,ve been down a more impressive and varied valley it was a long time ago.This is a Lodge used by the Outward Bound.Plenty of remote walks and climbs from here.This looks a good gully for a visit winter or summer.

A cracking day out.And it was only the start of our weekend.......

.................................................................to be continued.


blueskyscotland said...

I see I,ve got that B******d of a slide show back again!Why bother with any words?
The pissed off writer.

Alex said...

Bloody nuisance...have disabled it now though :)
Cracking weekend it was .!

The Glebe Blog said...

Great pictures Bob and Alex and finding a free lay bye Wow !
I've climbed Helvellyn and Scafell, but not recently.
I remember one of our guys being taken off Helvellyn by helicopter.It was snowing and there was a good four inches down.The snow stopped and the sun came out and an abiding memory with me is the view along striding edge.I was fit then, best recruit P.T serving with H.M Forces.
Seems like only yesterday but it was 46 years ago.Cheers,Jim

blueskyscotland said...

Thanks Jim.Helvellyn is a belter of a hill and would look good in snow
conditions.Some days just stay in the mind fresh and clear.

Alistair said...

Was hoping to Bob but couldn't make it. Looks superb, especially Striding Edge.

blueskyscotland said...

It was a good trip.Looked like you had fine weather for your Suilven adventure Alistair.Hopefully catch up with you at one of the other huts.Best wishes to you and D.

Anonymous said...

Some great pics, though would have liked a few bumcrawler 'action' shots. This Englishman has mixed feelings about 'proper' paths. I found the whole pathless concept a bit mind and ankle bending when I first moved to Scotland, but now I find metalled walker's motorways with loads of signposts a bit suburban. Of course there's a happy middle ground somewhere... In the Lakes you need those maintained paths because of the erosion.
That's one fruity little pony! Great post, Bob.