Not quite the Anniversary Waltz.

27th Dec
10.5 miles 3,400 feet

Will and I decided to have a jaunt up to the lakes and go on familiar-ish ground, given the likelihood of tough conditions. We chose to do the Anniversary Waltz Fell race route. The drive up wasn’t too easy and we spent 20 minutes attempting to back track from an ever worsening side road that leads to the Cat Bells car park. I made several attempts to get up an icy incline whilst Will, shod in Fell shoes, pushed from behind. Eventually we made it, and rightly or wrongly we parked at the Stair village hall car park, as it was the only spot we could reach.

The run to the start of Robinson was in fairly shallow snow, so wasn’t too tough. This was to change. As we started up the track onto Robinson the snow got ever deeper and it was now as Will put it “donkey work”. We would normally run this section until the start of the steep bank onto High Snab Bank. But we had to trudge through 10 inch deep snow. This, we now realised, was going to be a tough day. The clouds that shrouded the summits looked ever more threatening and far from thinking of extending the race route, I was now thinking weather we would make It that far.

The steep incline was tough and near the top of High Snab Bank we had to kick steps in 2 feet deep snow; hard graft. Going over the rock steps proved equally tough and in making sure of good hand holds - on the icy rocks under the snow - made for slow but safe progress. By now we were into the clouds and a total white out, at best we could make out a rock now and again for a visual reference. Whilst trying to find the summit, it was hard to tell if we were going up or down. 1 hour and 30 minutes it had taken to reach the top of Robinson. In the race earlier this year I think it had taken me just over 55 minutes. When we descended into a gully that leads to scope beck – the wrong way, and ended up in thigh deep snow, we realised that it was a day that needed to be cut short.

We tracked along the dog leg to Hindscarth and did a few circles of the summit in a confused sort of way. We intended to go straight over the top and down into Newalands valley. After a few hundred yards Will realised that the 2 sets of footprints in the snow were ours from our ascent. So the compass came out and we eventually started going the right way. We then followed the tracks that a couple and there dog had made, off the fell and into the valley. It was a tough day and we only covered about 10 miles in 3 ½ hours, but it was a good final outing for 2009.

Marks mid winter BG

18/19th December
16 miles 6,800 feet

An appeal by mark for some help on leg 3 of his mid winter BG attempt was too tempting to miss out on. I only know Mark from his Blog about his summer and winter rounds. He accepted my offer and Will joined me for a foray up to Dunmail raise on a cold Saturday morning.

On our arrival at Dunmail there was no wind, but the air temperature was minus 5 and getting out of Wills van meant getting instantly cold. We met Mark at 04:30 he was doing well and was 10 minutes up on his 22 hours 50 mins schedule. I was glad to get going as I was very cold, ascending Steel fell was hard work, as always, so we all soon warmed up. All was Bob Wightman, Will Houghton, Dave Hindley, Ian Charters and I. We reached the first few tops without too much incident and it was nice to run in the light dusting of snow. By Harrison Stickle the rest of the group decided not to go to the summit so I Accompanied Mark and this happened on Pike o Stickle as well. We negotiated a reasonable route back off this rocky little summit. Soon we caught back up with the group and we crossed Mart Crag moor for Rosset pike. On a steep bit of grass I slipped on to my back, luckily my rucksack broke my fall. And unbeknown to me, at the time, one of Marks rice puddings.

The sunrise was beautiful on Bow fell and along the Sca fell Plateau. It was a pleasure just to be there. If it wasn’t for all the snow and the fact that the water bottles kept freezing, I wouldn’t have thought it was -10 at least. I continued to go to the summits with mark as various members of the group took their turns to accompany us. On Sca Fell Pike, feeling tired, Bob decided to descend straight to Wasdale and leave us. I really felt good and it all felt easy, I think it was just a good day for me; there was a small part of me that whished I had set off with Mark to have a dig at it. Maybe in a couple of year’s time I will, it certainly inspired me to think seriously about it again. Mark announced that the guy that was to rope Broad stand was ill, so we would go via fox’s tarn. This was to prove a long diversion and one of the toughest ascents. However it was the descent of Sca Fell that took its toll on Marks legs and he dropped back with Ian as Will, Dave and I carried on to Brackenclose car park.

About 10 minutes later Ian and Mark arrived ready for his break. Mark started his round at 19:50 from Keswick he left Wasdale half an hour down on his 23 hour schedule. Worsening weather prevented a sub 24 hour round. But he made it around in 24:22. A great effort, and a great way for me to round the years adventures off. Or is there time for 1 more?

Some more photos