Sunday, 28 June 2015

Grisedale Pike.Hopegill Head.Ladyside Pike.Lake District. Lockerbie.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
Although I didn't know it on the day, this turned out to be a sheep themed post. The herd of sheep in the main street running through Lockerbie, a town with a long history as a livestock market, particularly the lamb and sheep trade, hence these individuals taking pride of place near the town centre. Lockerbie is a small Scottish borders town around 30 kilometers from the border with England.
Lockerbie also has a beautiful Black Angel, in the shape of the town's war memorial. The reason why we were in Lockerbie I'll reveal at the end of the post.
It was a Lake District trip to climb the scenic horseshoe of Grisedale Pike, Hobcarton Crag, Hopegill Head and Ladyside Pike, a compact half circle of peaks between Cockermouth and Keswick. We had watched the usual forecast the night before but on this rare occasion Carol at the Met office let us down. Normally reliable for the last six years the BBC forecast promised no rain and sunshine all day but when we arrived at the car park in Whinlatter Forest near the top of Whinlatter Pass it was dull and cloudy, despite a noticeable breeze. Oh well, cant win every round with the weather. On the plus side the car park meter had been vandalized and was out of action, as this is normally a paying car park, but maybe someone had taken exception to the fact it's not in a town or village but in the middle of a upland pine forest with nothing else around it. I notice online the pay for parking in this particular area has a lively debate centered around it. I was here with Graeme, Alex, David and Bob R squeezed into a carload of five for this round of hills. As mean Scot's we were glad we didn't have to pay, which is normally an untrue lazy stereotype if you look at UK wide charity donations over the years, but in this case was a welcome surprise. I think it's £7 quid for an all day ticket. For a single person that is quite a financial hit- not so bad split between a carload. Part of the reason for that must be the mountain bike trails and various other modern attempts to turn the wilderness into a paying theme park which seems to be an increasing trend.
Off we headed uphill and soon reached the end of the forest and the start of the cloud level base.
Although not raining the air up here was damp. With heavy hearts used to constant sunshine on trips away we carried on, hoping it would clear. A small pine tree was passed, covered in Christmas decorations, a few of which had been blown off by the wind and were scattered untidily over the hillside. Another modern tradition it seems and an incongruous sight on a windswept misty hillside.
Alex sporting a colourful pair of trainers. The man has style!?  Not having looked up the route online, which would tend to spoil any sense of the unknown for me, I left it to Alex and Graeme to learn the route and any obstacles involved. For me the surprise element was the best thing about the day.
Grisedale Pike,791 metres, was duly climbed in thick mist then we carried on along the ridge, buffeted by an ever increasing wind to Hopegilll Head, 770 metres.
Although you couldn't see much we could sense a  large void on the right passing Hobcarton Crag. Doing the round of Munros so many days were passed like this, leading to a determination, in me at least, to only go up interesting summits in good conditions once I'd finished them and not get sucked into list ticking again just for the sake of it. Graeme is on his third round of Munros which I find hard to get my head around. A woman has just completed seven rounds, all accomplished since the first in 2005, at roughly one round per year which is some achievement. I confess I was bored with mist and rain just past halfway on my first and only round and got sidetracked into other sports for years but my ongoing interest in aiding, abetting, or rescuing stray butterflies and other creatures has never dimmed. Single minded in that at least. Windows into the soul they say, if you stare at them for long enough.
Graeme and David were not bothered in these conditions about doing the full round and turned back before the scramble leaving Alex, Bob R and myself to tackle the greasy slabs alone in playful winds. It is an easy scramble normally in good conditions at a sedate angle but provided good sport here as the slabs were damp with mist and polished and the breeze howling over the edge was bracing.
Bob R taking the lead. Oldest guy in the group going first, showing us the way.
As we couldn't see much and didn't know what was below us, drop wise, this was the most entertaining part of the ridge and the section we enjoyed the most. What horrors would we find buried in the gloom ready to...

Think this sheep got a bigger fright at the bottom judging by its expression. (On second thoughts I might rephrase that.)
Mountain slug.
A view across the valley/dale.
A view of the scramble down the ridge. We finished with a steep heather and grass descent into Hobcarton Gill off Ladyside Pike that was a knee buster and leg killer but got us down fast to pick up the path back to the car. Around 5 hours for the horseshoe.
These must be the cutest lambs ever. I believe these are Herdwick sheep and lambs. A famous and tough mountain breed used in the Lake District on mountain farms. The writer Beatrix Potter kept this breed on her farms locally and was a big champion of these sheep and you can see why.
Two bandits together. Like pandas in reverse colours. The lambs are born black and gradually turn white/grey as they get older, starting with the face. When the adults are completely buried under snowdrifts in winter they can still survive for several days giving them an endurance advantage in the upland regions here. The wool on the adults is tough and hard wearing so is usually turned into carpets rather than clothing.
We stopped off in Lockerbie on the way back for chip suppers.
Good chip shop seen here next to town hall, built in the late 1800s I believe. A great day out, despite the conditions. Still prefer sunny days and panoramic views though. At least it stayed dry.
When I returned to the house it was to find snails happily munching my green young plants, seeded in springtime for summer colour in the garden. After taking this photo it was thrown over the fence to feast elsewhere. Even a wildlife garden has its limits.

A Guide to Glasgow Outdoors by Bob Law just released on kindle bookstore for £1:99. Over 60 walks and cycle rides around the Greater Glasgow area. (most of the walks can also be done on a bike, as I did last year to make sure the details were accurate and had not changed.) City parks, country parks, riverside and gorge walks, upland routes and every other day out I've enjoyed on the OS Landranger Glasgow map Sheet 64 which covers a wide area around the city. Packed with 165 original colour photographs through the various seasons, many never seen on the blog, this is also a love letter to Glasgow and the surrounding towns and rural areas. Link here. The first section of this guide is free to view.

Video this time is a mommy bear climbing a near vertical canyon wall leaving baby bear to fend for itself. You can see one reason why bears need claws right here. No wonder they are endangered. Filmed by a kayaker going down a river system and finding this happening round a corner. Best watched full screen for the drama. I pinched this from Graeme :o)


Kay G. said...

Of course, bears can climb, now you see why they tell you that you can't climb a tree to get away from them!
I love this post! We had the same misty clouds when we were on Brasstown Bald last weekend!
Now, those LAMBS! They look so human, do they not?
Interesting story, years ago a plastic bag was found under one of the interstate highways with what was believed to be a human heart inside. After closer inspection by the experts, it was determined to be a sheep's heart. They think it came from a lab somewhere. Apparently, the sheep's heart is the closest to the human heart! When you think how much of the Bible compares us to sheep...well, there you go.
Also, for me, Lockerbie reminds me of the bomb aboard the plane which made the plane crash into that town, killing all aboard and many on the ground. My husband and I had flown just two weeks prior and I had never had such a strong feeling of fear. I do have a sixth sense, I just get the details wrong.
Also, when we lived in England, our landlady was Scottish. When we were unable to move when we wanted, she let us stay the last month rent free. So much for that stereotype! She was lovely.
Sorry, so always have so much in your post I want to comment about!!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
I know they always tell you that but I think I would still climb a tree as a last option then see if I could kick it off if I could get a good grip on a branch. If that failed I could always jump off head first rather than be eaten alive on the ground a bit at a time :o)
I wouldn't eat a human myself unless I was really stuck but I do eat lamb so maybe not :)
In biblical times the main animals around desert human habitations were sheep,goats or camels so there wasn't much to choose from and the goat became related to the devil. I always thought the poor goats got a raw deal there :0)
Lockerbie has some fine old buildings in eye catching red sandstone.

Linda W. said...

The scary sheep in the mist made me laugh! (But probably not you at first) It takes a special type of grit to climb a mountain in the foggy mist, knowing you will not be rewarded with amazing views.

Neil said...

Oh dear, rain and mist on a Blue Sky walk! Still, I suppose as it wasn't in Scotland it's permissible!!! Seriously, it's a pity you didn't get the views Bob. That's one of the best rounds in the Lakes.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda,
not much grit just stoic plodding I'm afraid as there is nothing that can kill you in the UK other than gravity, traffic,legal highs and humans. Very different feeling the few times I've walked and camped overnight in areas with poisonous snakes,insects, bears, wolves and wild boar. Now that is scary!

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Neil,
Although damp with mist it never actually rained outdoors so the record still stands :o) If it had rained I would have turned back as I don't do rain in my free time. I've had 40 years of rain at work though. We did get belated views from Ladyside Pike as it eventually cleared briefly to let us see the full horseshoe. That's when I took the scramble photo as ten minutes earlier it had been in cloud. We had an excellent round the week before on High Street but my photos never came out.Plan B for that trip is underway.

Carol said...

Now I AM jealous - you've just been on my favourite Lakeland hill and done just about my favourite Lakeland route and I don't seem to have been there for ages!

The carpark fee in the forest is disgusting I think - £7 for a lone person (which I will usually be) is outrageous. And they wonder why people park at the sides of the roads and cause obstructions!

The scramble is really greasy in the wet - I tend to avoid descending it on wet days nowadays.

I love the 'Christmas' tree on Hobcarton End (the fellside you ascended) - I think it's really amusing. It's a shame if decorations are blowing off it though as I suppose curious lambs could eat them which wouldn't be good. I usually find none of the baubles come off and think they should just stick with them.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Given the wind strength on the day we did the horseshoe I'm not surprised they were blowing off. What little we could see of it looked good. Although we usually get sunny days down there it seems to be accompanied by gale force winds every time we do a mountain with a scramble on it. Sharp Edge was a hands and knees crawl as well in a howling gale.

Carol said...

You wouldn't get me near Sharp Edge in a gale! Mind you, each time I've gone and looked at it in calmer conditions, I've turned back. Slippery slate slabs at a tilt over a drop aren't really my idea of a good idea!