Cumbria Way Day 3

Today was an ordeal.

Woken by the patter of rain on the window, and having seen the forecast last night I knew it was going to be damp. In the event it rained pretty much all day and I couldn’t see anything above 200m for most of the day.

Having been first down for breakfast, I was away before 9 and followed the official CW path out of Coniston to Low Yewdale and up through Tarn How’s Wood.

Up through the woods

Up through the woods

But then my route diverted as I planned to climb Holme Fell. So down to the main road and then up through Harry Guards Wood and into the cloud. Having had no mobile phone signal signal since yesterday afternoon, almost bang on the 250m contour as I crested the Uskdale Gap, I got a voicemail notification and then lost the signal again. So no tweets today.

Holme Fell in mist and rain

Holme Fell in mist and rain

This was also the point where I needed to veer left towards Ivy Crag and then the main summit. Given the poor visibility I carefully tried to imprint key rocks and outcrops so that I’d be able to find my way back (you know where this is going, don’t you). I found the cairn on Ivy Crag fairly easily and then meandered around looking for the main summit outcrop. Suddenly through the cloud it loomed in front of me and I cut across to it, then walked around it to find a way up. Eventually I scrambled up and reached the cairn.

I descended over what I thought was the face directly in the direction I needed to go. Then thought I wad in danger of going too far left, which would have put me into Low Tilberthwaite. So to be on the safe side I turned right to cut back to Ivy Crag. Finding something that looked familiar, I descended and then found myself at the top of an unfamiliar gully. Thinking this was a track that I missed on the way up, despite having looked for it all the way up, I slipped and slid my way down. It led all the way to the bottom and never rejoined the main path, but not before several slides and falls. I got to the bottom by a wall and it took seconds to work out that I’d come down the gully between Raven Crag and Calf Crag. I thoroughly don’t recommend this route.

Then followed a long stretch of following the wall to get back to the main path. But I was safe and knew where I was. It was after 1pm by the time I got back to the road and it had taken longer to descend than to climb up.

The plan to cut east and do Black Fell as well was now dead. I didn’t have time or the inclination and just wanted to get the walk over and done with. So I slogged up the road towards Skelwith Bridge, taking a nice detour around Yew Tree Tarn (I can count on a tarn to cheer me up) and then various roadside paths.

Yew Tree Tarn

Yew Tree Tarn

Approaching the point where I would have emerged from the detour to Black Fell, if I’d done it (!), I had a decision – follow the CW itself as it meandered through Skelwith Bridge and then into Langdale, or cut the corner and head straight for Elterwater. I headed for Elterwater, and was glad I’d done so, despite a long slog along the road. In Elterwater I overtook a group of much older ramblers despite not really being any faster than them (a matter of pride) and then promptly had a sit down by the bridge over Great Langdale Beck. But the rain, having lulled sufficiently for me to start drying out whilst I was doing my road slog, now started again and lasted without a break for the rest of the walk. I headed up the path alongside Great Langdale Beck, passing though Chapel Stile and undulating over the lower slopes of Lingmoor Fell then across the valley to New Dungeon Ghyll, with my B&B just behind. The rain pounded down in a last (successful) attempt to ensure I was thoroughly soaked through, and then the walk was done, and not a moment too soon.

I undressed in the porch, hanging each item to dry, and then went up half naked to my room and a styeaming hot shower. By the time I had done this, my tea and homemde cake were waiting. I sat in front of the fire for an hour and lost count of the number of cups of tea.

I’m writing this in the NDG whilsty waiting for my chilli and supping a pint of Lakeland Tup, which isn’t too bad.

At least the view from my bedroom window is good – I’m looking directly at Lingmoor Fell….

Lingmoor Fell

Lingmoor Fell from my bedroom window

Today’s stats

Distance: 20.59km
Ascent: 704m (somehow, despite climbing one fell 317m high).
Duration: 7:07
Summits: 1 very hard fought Wainwright.
Injuries: 0
Falls: numerous, all in that horrid gully.
Highlight: a hot shower (really).

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