Monday, 17 December 2012
Skiddaw and Cockup with an A-Z atlas and a Brown Dog
Yesterday (Sunday) was the day for killing several birds with one stone, the bird, figuratively speaking, being a bit of a walk.
Stone #1 was the field testing of the A-Z adventure atlas of the Northern Fells so I can write about it.
Stone #2 Was the bagging of the fabulously craggy and awesomely remote Birkett called “Cockup” which rises magnificently in a series of sweeping, rocky terraces from the Northern flanks of Skiddaw, dangerously defended by Cumbria’s only glacier “T’ Mere de Herdwick” and which has resisted the Knipe ticking pencil for over forty years. Actually, very little of the above is true, but otherwise, why call it “cockup”. In practise it’s a grassy and slightly sloppy abscess-shaped heave on a grassy fellside. It does have a grid reference for it’s summit, which is one reason why it was quite good for testing the atlas. And it’s a bit obscure, whihc is another reason.
Stone #3 Was my desperate need to control my burgeoning wobbly winter belly with some exercise. There’s obviously some kind of technical problem with the scales, but just in case, a few calories expended up Skiddaw would be just the thing.
Stone #4 was the attack of cabin fever demonstrated by Bruno’s obsession with chewing my leg and growling whilst pointing to a map of Skiddaw. Something Had To Be Done.. so
About ten o’clock on Sunday morning I parked the knipemobile in a pull-off on the minor road to Orvillethwaite (or somewhere….)
I folded the atlas so that it showed Skiddaw AND Cockup and typed in the co-ordinates of Cockup into my GPS from the index in the atlas with all the grid references. This was to see how accurate the grid references were.
And we set off up the bridleway which marks one of the starts to the Ullock Pike/Carlside route up Skiddaw. We didn’t go that way, though, but crossed the little beck by the rather nice camping spot in the old sheepfolds (note for later…) and headed for a string of Knotts – Little, Great and Buzzard and, eventually to the flat top of Randel Crag where we crossed into the hillfog zone. Here, it started raining.
We lurched ever upwards, hitting some very slippery scree and soft snow which, as we got higher, became hard, icy snow. As it was much easier to kick up the snow rather than slither about on the scree, I put me new Khatoola spikey things on and kicked off up the steep snow, arriving on the foggy and sleety top of Skiddaw absolutely hours and hours later.
The top of Skiddaw was not place to be sitting around so I consulted the map, tore a hole in the relevant page (put it in a map case next time!) and determined that the crucial attack point for Cockup and the use of the GPS would be a significant turn in a fence on the path down to Bakestall. As it was snowy and a bit icy, I wore the spikes again for this bit.
At the fence corner, I switched on the GPS, selected “Cockup” from the list of waypoints (doesn’t seem like a good idea at first glance, does it?) and headed off downhill, emerging from the fog a few minutes later to see the festering lump of squishy grass below me. The GPS grid reference was as accurate as you could wish for and was very close to the little cairn that marks the summit.
I got the impression that Bruno, who had been enjoying eating snow and running about daft up Skiddaw was less than impressed by Cockup.
We left and followed a path along the intake wall back to the sheepfold with the lovely camping spot. We were back at the car by half two.
verdict on the A-Z adventure atlas – it was easy enough to use, much lighter than the OS maps and it fits into the front pocket of a buffalo jacket . The grid reference taken from the index, of a pretty obscure sort of place, was accurate and my view is that this index is one of the real strengths of these maps. I was a bit miffed to have torn the page. Nevertheless, I’ll be buying some more of these atlases.
They’re still on offer for £5.45 – a 31% discount on the normal price by inputting the discount code TRMK250 into the A-Z cart. The offer ends on 31 December 2012. There’s a direct link to AZ’s website here:AZ Mapping Co
We did six miles and 2800 heaving feet of slippery upness.. Cockup was my 490th Birkett.