Sat 1st Aug - Sun 2nd Aug, 1998
Ullswater Long Walk
Having been so near and yet so far only 4 weeks earlier I was determined that this time was going to be successful. I only hoped that I had recovered enough not to suffer too much and the reserves were sufficient to see me through. The hardest part this time was certainly the mental preparation, especially preparing for a midnight start.
On the run up to the first attempt I avoided watching the weather forecast all week and was prepared to take what came - and come it did. However, this time I did watch the forecast but could not believe that a 48-hour weather window was predicted. Even as we drove up I couldn't believe it as we drove through several very heavy showers. As Keswick approached sure enough the roads were dry and the sky was clear. In fact we could even see some stars. Standing at the Moot Hall, I longed for a beer as we watched the drunken youths stagger down the street.
Jack and I set off at 00.30 down the street and into the darkness. It was a strange feeling as I'd only reccied this leg in daylight. The ground was much wetter this time and it was impossible to avoid the puddles in the dark. We managed to get the route right this time and arrived at the end of the road in about 40 minutes, where fell shoes awaited. It was a beautiful night going up Robinson but a light cloud came in at the top, making navigation a little more taxing. We reached Hindscarth a little later than schedule and were not able to contour round the ridge from there to Dale Head because of the mist. Honister was reached a little off schedule at 03.00. A quick cup of tea and cake and I was off up Grey Knotts with Ian, Dave Hainsworth and Madeleine, leaving a relieved Jack to take our car back to the Gritstone Club Hut.
The mist remained until dawn broke at about 04.15 as we were heading up Green Gable. It was a great experience being in the hills at dawn with the cloud touching the surrounding hills and filling the valleys. We had a little difficulty finding the summit of Brandreth but after that there were no other navigational problems on the whole round. I couldn't believe my luck. Only the girls did the whole of that leg the men stayed on Pillar to watch us climb Steeple. A great route down Yewbarrow gained us around 5 minutes and we arrived at Wasdale at 07.46. After a breakfast of soup, rice pudding and tinned fruit, I was ready for the hardest leg.
I set off up Scafell with Chas, Jean and Andy. We climbed up a different route from the first attempt but didn't actually gain any time. Yet again the top of Scafell was enshrined in cloud and it was cold and windy. We took the Lord's Rake route to Scafell Pike. It wasn't until we reached Broad Crag that we started to see other people on the hills. The cloud had dispersed again now although it still lingered in the distance. After Ill Crag we saw a clockwise Bob Graham attempt. We think he may have been going to miss out Ill Crag until he saw us! Our route off Bowfell could have been better but we didn't lose any time. We had a very welcome tea break at Rossett Pike courtesy of Jack and Colin. A short stop and we were off again, back on schedule. Good route off Calf Crag and Dunmail got me ahead of schedule and I arrived at Dunmail at 13.53. I kept feeling it was evening, as that was the time on the previous attempt. My body clock had completely gone by now. Another bowl of soup, rice pudding and tinned fruit and clean shoes and socks and all male support saw me on my way again.
We were soon at the top of Seat Sandal, which was all too much for Michael and Jed who headed back. I was very relieved to be doing this leg in daylight, I'd had enough of epics on it. The sky was quite grey but the cloud level was high and it was perfect for running in. What a difference to be able to pick the route out over the Dodds. We could see for miles. The company this time was Chris Hodgson, Paul Glover, John Sykes and Steven Sykes and the banter was good. A wide range of topics was discussed and some were sad enough to be discussing football. After Hellvelyn, the hills were very quiet. Jack and Colin provided another welcome flask of tea at Sticks Pass. I was glad the weather was more kind for Colin this time. Chris kept the pace up and we reached Threlkeld at 18.42. The cloud had cleared again and it was now a beautiful sunny evening. Another food stop of, you guessed it, and I was off again. Why change technique if it is tried and tested and stays down?
I set off up Halls Fell Ridge with Brian Speight, Dave Hodgson and Paul Reynard. It was a wonderful evening and I was glad Brian had a camera to capture it despite our limited time to admire it all. My schedule was quite tight for this leg and although we arrived on Blencathra on time, I lost time after that. Great Calva does not get any better the more you do and I was glad to leave to be climbing Skiddaw with time in hand. I arrived on Skiddaw at 22.12 to meet Ian and Dave Hainsworth. It was virtually dark by now and very cold. A short photo session was called for and we were off again, the last climb over. I found the descent unrelenting and much longer than I had remembered. Relieved the last climb was over and knowing I had plenty time to reach Keswick made me slow down and I could not persuade my body to go any faster. My legs felt they were going fast but my time was slow and it was 23.31 when I touched the Moot Hall again. I'd achieved my ambition in 23 hours and 1 minute.
My thanks go to all those who supported me on both occasions. I was touched by the enthusiasm when I announced a second attempt and surprised so many were willing to help again after the atrocious conditions experienced on the first attempt. I hope everyone involved enjoyed the event as much as I did. It will certainly go down as a day to remember.
And the next challenge, after getting married will be???. renovating the bathroom.
BOB GRAHAM TIMES
|Total elapsed time||2.47||2.18|
|Total elapsed time||7.16||6.25|
|Pike of Stickle||12.18||19.03|
|Total elapsed time||13.23||12.48|
|Helvellyn Low Man||16.37|
|Total elapsed time||18.12|
|Total elapsed time||23.01|
|Total running time||21.54|
Members: John Castick, Virginia Castick, Lester Payne, John Dwyer, Frank Williams, Margaret Williams, Alan (L) Jones, Sheena Hendrie, Graham Harkness, Sue Harkness
Guests: Joanne Castick, Fay Castick, Phil Peam, Lynn Peam
The objective of the weekend was to walk round Ullswater, originally intended as a one day marathon over lots of mountains. The reality was a leisurely two day walk over some interesting ground at a lower height and a lesser distance.
Out of line with a continuous run of foul weather, we were blessed with two continuous fine days making the walks a pleasure not a route march.
Graham cycled from Lanchester to Glenridding on Friday. A fantastic effort considering the appalling rainstorms he encountered.
We started in Glenridding on Saturday , walked to Patterdale, Boardale Hause and Angletarn Pikes. Here John and Fay left us for a shorter walk to Howtown and a steamer trip back. John was given some vague instructions on cooking a meal for ten people in the evening. We continued to the Knott where we turned sharp left to follow the Roman Road to Pooley Bridge. Due to a brief spell of mist and too much gossiping we didn't turn sharp left enough but the mists parted in time and we were soon back on track. The walk down the broad ridge was really pleasant on soft springy turf and not much bog. Alan, nursing his knackered knees, took a shorter route to finish at Howtown. The rest of us arrived in Pooley Bridge in time for tea and ice creams before the last steamer took us back to Glenridding in style. The on board bar and terrific views rounded off a lovely day.
Meanwhile back in Glenridding the reluctant chef had done a wonderfiil job in preparing us all a meal. Joanne, whilst helping to serve it, poured boiling water over her arm thus ensuring she didn't have to walk on the second day. There must be less painful ways of avoiding a KMC walk.
On Sunday, in bright sunshine, the walkers left to resume the walk at Pooley Bridge by taking a bus ride along the lake. John took a laid back approach to the intricate navigation required in negotiating the paths to Dockray but they all got there anyway. A leisurely pint in the gardens of the pub led to the final section of beautiful paths high above the lakeside and around the head of Glencoyne. The last bit over Sheffield Pike led to a steep descent straight into the garden for tea and teacakes.
Thanks to all who came and completed the circuit. I hope you all enjoyed walking in some lesser known bits of the Lake District. I certainly enjoyed planning it and having your company for the weekend.
You will be pleased to know that by Monday morning the weather had reverted to normal and it rained continuously all day.
This Spectacular walk through some of the finest scenery in the Lake District is one not to he missed. Based at Glenridding, the walk will start and finish in Pooley Bridge. The route will take in High Street, Red Screes, Fairfield, Helvellyn and the Dodds.
There are many escape points if you don't want to do the full 35 miles. An alternative walk around Ullswater is also possible at a lower level and only 20 miles, all on paths, no road walking.
The walk will be fully supported by my faithful team of sherpas. Accommodation will be in a bunkhouse in Glenridding if sufficient numbers request it, otherwise there are several campsites.
Write the date in your diary now so that you can start training immediately.
Due to Covid restrictions many meets have been cancelled and remaining meets are members only. Please check back after the restrictions are lifted.