Fri 30th Mar - Sun 1st Apr, 2012
Great Langdale (Rawhead Hut)
Attendees: Robert Clark, Peter Johnson, Paul Shaw, Lorna Marsland, Christine Beeston, Colin Maddison, Dave Wylie, Roger Dyke, Andy Stratford, Steve Graham.
Heading north along the M6 late afternoon on Friday, all signs for the weekend ahead were positive. Leaving the overcast, dull and drizzly weather of the North West behind, the further north I travelled the clearer the sky became, the brighter the sun shone and the higher the temperature rose (in-car outside temp reading). Way hey… Things were looking good!!
Myself arriving later afternoon, I decided to head straight to the NDG Hotel for a swift pint of the local brew before checking in at the FRCC hut. Already one step ahead was Robert & Dave, both sat catching the final day’s rays with a beer & cuppa cha in hand.
Most members arrived Friday, some early enough to capitalise on the fine weather and enjoy a mid day/early evening stroll: Robert & Dave - a route from the hut over the local fells & crags; Peter - stopping off en-route at Ambleside, taking in a short hike over Loughrigg fell; Paul (KMC newcomer) - a similar route to Robert & Dave but a few hours behind; and Roger, who wandered up to Scout Crag for lunch, fell asleep on the grass, waking up looking like he’d had a couple of hours in the local tanning parlour (pink faced and burning bright). He then pottered on up to Whitegill crag before returning down to the Dungeon Gill.
Considering it a shame not to take full advantage of the huts prime location, Robert, Paul, Peter and myself enjoyed a few post dinner pints in the Stickle Barn Tavern before returning to join the other meet members (by which time Christine & Lorna had arrived together with a few FRCC members) around the comfort of the huts open coal fire. Tea & biscuits for supper, whilst Dave entertained himself with the 'untangle string & block' (for want of a better description) puzzle game (which he unfortunately never managed to fathom), but the same cannot be said for Robert, who proved to be the best 'swinger’ in town, managing to hook the end of string weighted washer on the hook after only 6 attempts!!
Saturday; we all woke to surprisingly much better weather than the forecast had predicted. Clear blue skies and although a little nippy it was short lived once the morning sun had gained some height. It did however cloud over as the day progressed but managed to stay pleasantly warm and most importantly dry for the whole day. A mix of plans amongst the group we all said our farewells and headed off in a multitude of directions. Irrespective of choice the end of day feedback from all was ‘great days all round!!’ Each & everyone chuffed with the conditions and choices made.
Peter opting for the classic tour of the Langdale Pikes; Christine & Lorna on a similar route but via Jacks Rake; whilst Rob & Dave, Paul & myself paired up and headed off to Raven Crag, Roger joining us, working as a freelance reporter for Climber magazine - snapping some action photo's and interviewing by casual conversation methods.
Robert & Dave began the day with a multi-pitch ascent of Holy Tree Traverse (VD) on the main buttress before moving onto East Raven crag to bag several single pitch routes (sorry - not sure of their route selection). The pull of the ODG being too much to resist on the walk out - them both enjoying a cold one before heading back to the hut.
Paul not having climbed for 9 months gave preference to being my second for the day. Choosing a couple of single pitch warm up routes; Ornithology (S) and Baskerville (VS), the latter having a cheeky/awkward bulge mid-way, before moving onto the main buttress for some multi-pitch routes; Revelation (HS) and Bilberry Buttress (VS 4c). Bilberry Buttress I can highly recommend – challenging top end 4c moves on the first & second pitches but very enjoyable. The 3rd pitch being much easier (juggy) and with great exposure. Wonderful fun!
Only finishing late afternoon, we stopped off at the ODG to taste a couple of the local ales before accepting Roger's "your carriage awaits" offer of a lift back to the Stickle Barn Tavern, joining up with the rest of the group for an evening meal, which was helped down with a few more liquid refreshments. Leaving the Stickle Barn we were then met by the arrival of Andy & Colin, them both favouring a cold beer, so not wishing to be unsociable several of the group agreed upon a u-turn back to the bar, at which point it was now becoming questionable as to whether this was a CAMRA meet rather than a KMC meet.
As per Friday, tea & biscuits for supper back at the hut in front of the warming coal fire, Dave persisting with the still unsolved 'string & block' game whilst Andy challenged Robert's previous nights 'King of the Swingers' title. It quickly becoming evident that Robert had no worries to fear, however top marks to Andy for persevering and eventually gaining success (I'd guess after about 30 attempts!!)
Sunday was a fantastic weather day! Albeit starting a little nippy with a thin covering of frost, it soon warmed to deliver a top-tastic clear and sunny day with only a slight breeze once up high, but that said, climbing in the early day shade did prove to be a little uncomfortable (Andy at one time on a speed ascent of North West Arete (VS 4b) to reach the warming comfort of the sun soaked top-out terrace).
Replicating Saturday the group split into those keen for climbing and those keen for hill walking. Peter and Robert both choosing to go alone; Peter up Mickleden to Bowfell and Robert up over Pike of Blisco and Crinkle Crags, them both meeting up later (yes, you guessed it!) back in the ODG… "One for the road…" (so to speak).
Dave, Roger, Christine & Lorna joined forces to form a 4 person assault on Loughrigg Fell. Setting off from Ambleside, over the top and descending onto Loughrigg Terrace and back via Rydal Park. Only a short walk but one which all members gave top marks. To quote Lorna… "The panoramic views of Windermere, Scafell, Langdale, Dunmail Raise, Helvellyn and the Fairfield Horseshoe were in fact the best experienced in over 30 years of Lake District walking".
Story has it that after seeing kids swimming in Grasmere, the teenage temptation in Roger had to be restrained, him settling for the more comfortable prize of tea & cake in one of Ambleside's teashops. However upon returning to the hut and bouncing with energy which needed to be let loose, off he went up to Gimmer’s, hoping to catch some of the groups still climbing but was unfortunately a little too late.
Paul & I headed off up to Gimmer’s for what had to be a shortened day (myself needing an early dart for commitments back home). Wishing to avoid the shaded colder temps our original plan of climbing on the west face was abandoned in favour of Bachelor Crack (HS 4b) on the sunny south east side. Wow!! A first pitch route the guide book totally talks down - a very difficult crux move to surmount the bulge. Only too glad to later read on UKC that I'm not the only one who thinks so (many grading at 4c/5a). Phew… I was beginning to feel very inept for a minute there. A straight forward second pitch to finish though.
Also on Gimmer’s, Colin & Andy had a brilliant day!! As mentioned earlier, Andy led North West Arete (VS 4b) keen to gain a speedy exit from the 'loss of finger movement' chilly shade, topping out on the sun soaked Ash Tree Ledge. From there Colin led 'F' Route (VS 4c), with a more direct start up the initial crack of Whit's End to give an extra dash of spice. Descending for lunch, after which Andy led Ash Tree Corner (VS 4c) before finishing off with Colin leading 'D' Route (S), by which time the weather had clouded over and become a little windy and cold. An 'eleven star' rated day from Colin and a now titled "Gimmer is my favourite crag” from Andy.
So all-in-all… A cracking venue (yeah ok, so the pubs do help), fantastic weather, great routes (crag & hill) and most importantly wonderful company.
Many thanks to all for supporting the meet and making it the success that it was. Cheers!
So here’s hoping this weekend will be the kick-start of a long sun filled summer season ahead (?). It will be time to pack away those winter thermals and dust down the summer kit. Furthermore, Sunday will be the first day of daylight summer saving. Okay, so we’ll lose an hour in bed Saturday but the reward will be an extra hour to enjoy on the hill/crag. Everyone’s a winner…!
The choices are endless. Whether you wish to go hill bagging, scrambling or choose to slip on the rock shoes and enjoy one of the many classic crag venues, we have it all on our doorstep... The Langdale Pikes on the valleys northern side, Pike o’Blisco & Crinkle Crags to the south and further to the west Bowfell, Esk Pike, Great End and Scafell beyond (for those feeling really fit and wanting a massive day).
But surely the highlight of the Langdale’s has to be the climbing crags. Gimmers Crag, Raven Crag & White Gill being the big boys amongst many, between them offering hundreds of routes - enough to keep the multi-pitch rhyolite rock lovers busy for a day or two.
Our luxury abode for the weekend will be the FRCC Rawhead hut. Ideally located (grid ref: NY304067) we literally are just a short hop-and-a-skip away from the above mentioned wonderful outdoor venues.
And to put the icing on the cake… We’re also only a short walk away from both the Old & New Dungeon Gill pubs, which I’m sure will help provide the much needed liquid refreshments to quench those end of day thirsts.
We have 10 places reserved; 6 male, 4 female, however there may be the option to add more if required. Please contact Steve to reserve your spot.