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.