It was my turn to lead a walk for the Wednesday walkers and, despite the howling gale up on the A66 and the sheeting rain (spell check this…!), 11 walkers turned up. I had Lucky with me, so that was 12 and a small dog.
Me and Lucky had done the reccy a week before in warm and sticky un-Pennine-like weather, so warm, in fact, that I changed into shorts about half way up the fell. Two of our colonial friends doing the Coast to Coast shouted a “Is it Ok to come forward?” “ Only we don’t want to surprise you”. An odd thing to say, I thought. As I walked along, it occurred to me that they thought I was naked. I wasn’t though – not this time anyway… One colonial was from USA and the other from Germany – neither, I suppose, proper colonials like yer antipodeans or yer Carribbeans.
The reccy went well enough and I met another Coast to Coaster heading West and looking for Keld. This one was Swedish and she also insisted that she knew where she was.
We progressed towards High Pike, meeting a farmer-looking chap in wellies seeking the summit of Nine Standards since he’d lived in the area all his life and had never seen the cairns up close, despite having been a beater up there on occasion. I gave him directions and heaved my carcase up the over-friendly contours of High Pike. This is a cracking place to sit and contemplate the meaning of Boris Johnson and how having Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party would set off a new ice-age making us all regret all those wind turbines. This would, inevitably put up our electricity bills and demonstrate how the council just doesn’t have enough gritters any more.
The long ridge running from High Pike has interesting camping spots amongst the old stone quarries high up and is a fine downhill romp including fine views of the Eden, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang Edge, not to mention the Pennines.
On the day of the guided walk, we set off in driving drizzle, accompanied by the screechy chattering of the local parakeets (beautiful plumage but irritating if you’re trying to have a lie-in, I should expect)
We were soon joined by a Glaswegian lass on her holidays locally, making us now 13 and a small dog.
The walk eschews the Wainwright route up Nine Standards in favour of the much more interesting Ewbank Scar path (named after a carpet cleaner, I’m told) This has an interesting cascade, running high due to the rainfall – where the water rushes down a steep slab, undermining a crag.
We joined the Faraday Gill route at the road end and followed this to the cairns.
There’s a map at the end of this showing the route. It’s 14 miles with 2400 feet of climbing, or 2600 feet of climbing if an ascent of Birkett Hill is included. This is recommended for it’s cracking views and the nice ridge which runs down to meet the public footpath to the North.
We finished up in the beer garden of the black bull hotel for after-walk jinkies.
Click this logo to bung dosh into Dawn’s mad North-East skinny dip sponsor thingy and receive a pro-good karma boost. More of this later. She must be crayzeee - wouldn’t catch me doing anything like that [koff]