Martin continues to collect his collection of Bill Birketts Great British Ridge Walks and so, me and superdawg met Martin and Graham at a slippery Little Langdale quite close to the phone box.
This walk was arranged immediately after the Littledale Horseshoe walk, so maybe the warm sunshine and snowy hills is an omen of cracking walks to come.
We set off well till we hit the steep, hard snow of Birk Fell, at which point, kicking steps and lurching steeply upwards, I managed to plunge both ungloved hands into powder snow a couple of times and by the time I emerged from the shadow of the hill, I was in some degree of agony. I couldn’t warm up my hands at all due to duff circulation and soon began to feel quite nauseous with the pain. I was considering abandoning the thing altogether till I put my fingers in my coffee and managed to put gloves on. After that I recovered fairly quickly and we continued upwards, though Martin took charge of the dog. I put crampons on, with assistance, due to inoperative fingers.
Little Langdale Edge, which climbs Wetherlam, was excellent steep, hard snow and we lunched in the sunshine on the top. Great fun. Graham put his crampons on here and Martin had his snow chains. Bruno’s enthusiasm for the little bits of snow kicked up whilst walking lead to me accidentally puncturing a front paw with a crampon spike. There was a little blood and much shaking of the paw – and a bit of limping. But this soon wore off and more thoughts of having to abandon the walk for the sake of the dog’s foot, passed without much comment on my part. Graham also managed to spike himself in the leg round about this time, so less a less determined party, not enjoying themselves so much in the snow and sunshine, perhaps, would have read the signs at this point and packed it in. No question of this today, though, so we climbed Swirl How and descended back towards the start over Great Carrs and Little Carrs.
The blue skies began to give way to a more hazy grey at this point and the warmth of the sun was missed as a nithering breeze sprang up.
Between Swirl How and Great Carrs, we stopped for a short while at the cross and cairn, containing the undercarriage and other bits of a Halifax bomber S for Sugar LL505 which had impacted here on 22 October 1944, killing its mainly Canadian crew of, principally, young lads. The rest of the aircraft rests on the scree at the foot of the hill.
We ran out of snow well down the ridge and rejoined the outward path.
Martin located a geocache near Slaters Bridge and did whatever geocachers do, before we all repaired to the boozer at Ings for our tea.
Bruno’s paw seems to be fine. I can’t find any holes and the bones feel all rights – and he doesn’t object to examination. I noticed that our other dog, Tammie, went straight to the injured foot and sniffed at it. I’ll keep an eye on it, though, but I suspect that there’s only very superficial damage.
We did 14km and 970 metres of ascent – which was, frankly, harder work for me than it should have been. My walking record for 2010, I notice, doesn’t show much in the way of contours climbed up – in relation to the distance covered. So, I think that since the option of giving up the beta blockers isn’t maybe such a good idea, and I really am trying to shed a bit of blubber, the only extra thing I can do is to do a lot more if this kind of walking. Steep stuff. Lots of brown wriggly things on the map. I’ll give it a try anyway….
Thanks to Martin and Graham for the walk, sympathy, help and patience. And to superdawg – be more careful in future…
Stop press - late announcement - Martin's partially fictional account of the same walk is here and with a link to an excellent slideshow featuring me...http://phreerunner.blogspot.com/2010/03/tuesday-2-march-2010-great-british.html