Sunday, 13 May 2012

Braithwaite to Buttermere

I’m currently in the middle of a hectic few weeks at work, and so updates aren’t as instantaneous as I would hope. Last thing I want to do when I get home of an evening is sit in front of another PC. I prefer, instead, the comfort of the sofa and the TV for the time being.

This weekend I really should have taken advantage of the beautiful weather, but chose, instead, to take the opportunity to inspect my “mini camping park” of tents; a spring service and MOT, if you like. By the way, the Vango Helium 200 at the back is looking for a good home, if anyone is interested!

I also started looking into a semblance of a plan for my “Olympic Escape”; two weeks free of the 2012 madness! Anyway, more on that another time, here’s a look at my recent trip up to the Lakes back on 28th-29th April 2012.

My previous visits to the Lake District have not been particularly inspiring. Having been lost in heavy mist on Red Screes, stifled by the heat halfway up Scafell Pike, and impaired by a virus on Great Gable, the cost and inconvenience of the round trip from London meant I have felt short changed by the Cumbrian Fells. I know I bang on about this run of bad luck, but until it changes, I’m afraid I won’t let it go.

This particular trip was a Will4Adventure outing. I hadn’t seen Will, and Monty the Adventure Dog, for nigh on two years, so it was a good enough reason to traipse up the M6 again. Joining me for the journey was my nephew Jack.

After a Friday in Keswick, buying boots for Jack, and sampling a couple of local beers, we met up with Will and the rest of the group at Braithwaite, on the Saturday.

I reckon that I haven't walked with a group since July, last year, and I was right off the pace. Shortly after starting to ascend Cat Bells, my fitness began to tell. I knew straight away that if I wanted to continue I had to put the rest of the group out of my head and take my own sweet time. This took some doing, especially with a strong cross wind knocking you about and hampering each step, but thanks to the brilliant views of Derwentwater, and the lack of any rain, I had plenty of positives to occupy my mind.

From Cat Bells (451m), we dipped before ascending onto Maiden Moor (576m), where we took lunch out of the wind, overlooking the valley. My fatigue and a lack of a head for heights made it an uncomfortable place to stop, and a little nausea meant I ate little, which would tell later on.

Once over High Spy (653m), we could see the next ascent to Dale Head (753m), the highest point of the day. This, however, was made more strenuous by the 100 metre descent, to Dalehead Tarn, before the climb.

At Dalehead Tarn, I stopped for a rest and a bite, to replenish sagging energy levels, while the others headed up. This was my lowest point; my progress up was painfully slow, pausing every ten metres or so to gather my thoughts. On the plus side, I was able to take the opportunity to drink in the stunning views, sometimes being unfit has its advantages!

Eventually, I re-joined the group, on Dale Head, where, as well as affording us a great view of the ridge we had just walked, we could also finally see our objective, Lake Buttermere, to the south-west.

With Will declaring it was all downhill from here, we set off with a renewed spring in our step.

Technically, that wasn’t quite true, though. With a 150 metre descent down along Littledale Edge, we were climbing to Robinson (737m)! Fortunately, this was not as taxing as the previous summit, and once achieved, it really was all downhill, across the soggy Buttermere Moss, before a rocky path down to the crossroads in Buttermere Village.

By the time we had descended down into the village, I had already made the decision to sit out the return leg, tomorrow. There was no way I would be able to jump in the car and head straight off home, without being a danger on the road!

So, Jack and I checked into the YHA, quickly showered and then headed down to the pub for the usual cracking evening that can be had on one of Wills’ weekends.

My Sunday was lazily spent in Keswick, after I had got a lift back to my car; a relaxing morning with a cappuccino and a bacon roll, and looking around the gear shops, before heading back to Braithwaite to meet Jack and the rest returning around 1pm.

All in all, looking back, this Lake District experience had been far more enjoyable than the previous visits, and I am now looking forward to the next, over the June bank holiday. I later found out that the stats for the Saturday were 10 miles with 1208m of ascent, so given the shape I am in, that is none too shabby!

For anyone interested, this is a 2 day trip offered by Will4Adventure: more details at

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