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Friday, 18 December 2009

Santa Goes to Clough Head

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The thing about today’s walk was that everybody on it went to Ermysteds Grammar School in Skipton in the 1960’s. Except Bruno who hasn’t actually ever been to Skipton.

And so, after doing battle with slippery roads and frozen windscreen equipment (wipers…washers….windscreen….) – which caused me to stop a few times, I turned up half an hour later than I’d wanted to do, but , more or less on time at a very small car park somewhat near Threlkeld and met The Bro and his pal Ian.

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Great Knipe - Stainmore from the A66

We had the ice axes out for the first time this winter, although, whilst R Kidd had brought some spikes, neither me nor Ian had anything sharp to put on our boots. Bruno already has some fairly efficient crampons already fitted by his Maker.

So we trotted off and heaved our way up Threlkeld Knotts. There was hardly enough snow for ice axes to be honest – just a dusting, and certainly not as much as in the Pennines, which I’d photographed on one of my screen cleaning stops

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Blencathra from Threlkeld Knotts

But when we climbed up the main path up Clough head, I had to beat bits of the frozen scree into boot-sized footholds with the adze – so I was glad to bring it in the end.

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View West from the climb up Clough Head

We lunched on the sheltered side of the hill amongst grass feathered with hoar frost, till the clouds started to build up and then we lurched for the top, where, to be frank, it was on the chillier side of perishing (Probably somewhere around minus 6.) Bruno had his sheepskin jacket on for the first time today and was, I think, a bit puzzled by the lack of feeling when he rolled in the snow.

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Clouding up – Scafell range

Rather than go and bag Great Dodd, it being two o’clock and already loosing light, we slithered off back to Threlkeld

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John (R Kidd) and Ian at the Clough Head trig

A chap in a farm noticed my Santa hat and shouted that even though I was early, he’d just like to point out that there’d be something for Santa on the mantelshelf on Christmas Eve. I asked him to make sure that the fire wasn’t lit and reported that I knew, in fact, that on the naugty/nice continuum, he was at the wrong end.

So he shot me.

The last bit is a fib, actually.

The trip home was a lot less exciting although several cars on the A66 had come to grief – a couple broken down and one on top of a large cutting, actually sitting on the fence somehow. That must have been quite a thrill, I should imagine.

Short walk – 5 miles and 2000 feet – and just one more new Birkett bagged.

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