Thursday, 20 October 2011

Loughrigg Fell.Coppermines.Lake District.

It felt good to revisit Ambleside again.It seemed to have only three types of shops.Eating shops,Walking and climbing shops,and tea rooms.Not a pound store in sight! Tres Cher if you were a local though I suspect!
A good night was spent around the open fire in the hut owned by a fellow but local climbing and walking club.£7 a night was good value for the property tucked up a steep hill track under the Old Man Of Coniston.
As we,d never been here before even finding it in the dark was an adventure for those without a SAT NAV or GPS to take the fun out of finding its location.(Myself and Alex, pauper old school and proud of it)
After a visit to the nearby Youth Hostel and then the Yorkshire Club,s Cottages further up the slope,the only lights for miles around,we fumbled our way tyre wise to the correct unlit building, me walking ahead in the rain at one point while Alex inched across a burn.At least we had the pleasure of meeting our friendly and helpful neighbours and already felt a small if temporary part of this valley community.
It was a beautiful, wild if slightly industrial setting several hundred feet above Coniston village itself.Numerous spoil heaps and old mines lay scattered around or dug deep into the surrounding slopes,rusting buckets and metal rails silent testimony to its busy past.I liked it,reminded me of Wales or the Leadhills area of  Southern Scotland.
We just had to do a cave while we were here.I love caves.These are some photos from Sunday morning however.A semi dry shelter from the deluge happening outside.It was so wet outside it had its own little river system ending in a sump even though a man made hole.

Next day, after the usual night of snoring in the hut(myself not included here as you have to be asleep to snore,must remember ear plugs next time!) we looked out the door and decided what to do.
Heavy rain, mist and wind  anywhere above 1500 feet.It was a no brainer for myself and Alex.Find a hill below 1500 feet and hope for the best.
The younger crowd were made of sterner stuff however,undaunted by mere weather.
I used to think if you showed people how to find the sun every weekend they would take that option but they seemed in good spirits with a day of driving rain and mist ahead of them.It was not just the guys,several waterproofed girls made the ascent as well happily pulling on rainwear without a grumble.(test those jackets girls)Ah youth.I used to be exactly the same once.Not a girl......just keen in all weathers.That lasted for the first fifteen years then I,d had enough of that nonsense.Ok,OK... maybe I am a girl......I don't care.There,s nothing in my contract that says I have to charge up big mountains  in all weathers Just cos I,m in a mountaineering Club (Oh yes there is..Alex)
I don't mind a good day out with the amblers and ramblers as long as its sunny.
Even the sheep took the dry option and I like to think I,m smarter than the average sheep,though a brainy one might give me a run for its money. We had one convert however.Our friend John,also a man with twenty years of Munro soaked summits under his belt just couldn,t face another vertical drowning at height.One of the main benefits of completing the Munro,s I can see is that you can then start to relax and actually enjoy just being in the outdoors for its own sake.He cant though... he,s started doing Corbett,s :(
I,m a lone island surrounded by a  sea of  active baggers.Normally no one wants to go on a girlie type walk with me,not even the girls :(     But it was so bad outside he was tempted.
"What are you guys doing? "He asked.
We looked at the map of the Lake District..Three hard men together! Nay...more than that...Mountain Men.. but in good weather.
Loughrigg Fell stood out.Situated near Ambleside, home of  country ramblers,(oh, the shame) not far from Grasmere and William and Dorothy Wordsworth,s Dove cottage,(Wish they would show the amazing and controversial Ken Russell,s TV film again of that!"Clouds of Glory".We get the bloody X factor every night instead.)It must be kicking around the vaults somewhere.Anyway... it looked lush ,green and beautiful,even on a map.It was surrounded by a necklace of six big ponds and lakes,crisscrossed by a perfect latticework of paths and tracks and looked good enough to eat.A landscape apple strudel.

It was also under 1500 feet.It was like a fairy tale come to life.We went there.
They must have something in the water here though.The landscape also had a magical effect on its animals.This little horse was only half the size of the black one so it cunningly manoeuvred it onto a stepladder slope to have its wicked way."Reminds me of chalky"(his wee white dog) John commented dryly.
It was also a persistent little bugger.It gave the other two horses no peace at all.
We watched  our backs crossing this right of way field just in case. A delightful path  past cottage gardens filled with free range chickens,dry stone walled lanes,humping bunnies and open, tree dotted meadows summed up what I love most about the Lake district.That and a youthful Felicity Kendal in Ken Russell,s controversial suggestion about......(that's enough of that....Alex..edit)
Anyway we soon reached the summit and it was magnificent.
"Glad I came here with you guys" said John,pleased.
The mist hung in layers in every direction.Even better we were above it yet still in the clear,larger hills around buried in murk.Even for our luck it was stunning.

We stayed up here for a good while, taking it all in.Minute by minute it would change,new views opening up ,while others disappeared.A cloud shifting kaleidoscope of a summit.It was a popular spot and everyone up here chatted happily,bowled over by their good fortune of just being in on the wonder of it all. No sign of Robert Johnston though (Famous blues guitarist) must have been his day off....Look him up if you don,t know why I mention him :)
We then took the balcony trail halfway down,looping around the hill as it passed above Grasmere and Rydal water,mirror reflections in both still waters,banks dotted with little Lowry people playing with  unused open umbrella,s far below.(it never rained all day here)
For a short time it felt like being God,s  suspended high above our world.
Then an underworld beckoned  nearby and we just had to explore that as well.
As flooded caverns go this was the best I,ve been in without a paddle.It went back a good distance and just  near where Alex is the water was deep,full of little fish,hundreds of them.Superb stuff.What a day!
.....................................................To be continued.

1 comment:

The Glebe Blog said...

Going back to January '67 Bob, we bivvied up in the grounds of Wray Castle. We were going to watch Donald Campbell on Coniston but he'd died the day before.So instead of going over to Coniston, our platoon commander thought a quick run up Ivy Crag was in order.
Never got up Loughrigg Fell, but climbed Helm Crag last year.
I'm with you Bob,you get the best views from the less high peaks