Thursday, 28 July 2016

Coledale–Was That The Summer Then?

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The night before last, on a toilet ramble up the Deerness Valley Way (wot’s quite near Knipetowers as it happens) LTD announced that he never gets to choose which walks to do and wouldn’t it be nice to go and park in the school yard at Braithwaite and do a couple of proper hills plus whatever small lump I might like to add to a route. Since there was to be one fine day between two wet ones, I thought this was a good idea. Well done LTD.
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Since I compleated (sic) the Wainwrights (even sicker) in 1991 or something, and most of the Birketts except Pillar Rock and that other still-to-bag one with the Viet-Cong in occupation, and so reduced to bagging Synges with 5 metres of reascent on all sides I discovered that there was one unbagged at the top of Coledale – one Force Crag and I determined to include this in the walk.
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It’s OK to park in the school yard at Braithwaite by the way providing it’s a weekend or a holiday and you post three quid through the school letterbox. Three quid is a proper amount for parking, so I did this without rant or complaint and me and LTD wandered up the track to Force Crag Mine, a closed leadmine with lots of interesting buildings, holes and heaps.
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Lots of other people were also wandering up Coledale with dogs and children and babies and there was some bunching, I noticed where the path crosses the beck. This was due to the fact that it had rained all of the previous night and the beck was in a lively mood, although not really in spate. One chap in the kind of trekking shoes that some TGO challengers get all evangelistic about complained that it was “supposed to be a ford” and the beck was too deep and the stones too slippery.
After crossing the beck, me and LTD crossed it again higher up and went off to bag Force Crag. This turned out to be a superb viewpoint for Coledale and a top-hole spot for the scoffing of an egg and tomato butty.
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We continued higher to the little bealach or pass between Sand Hill, Crag Hill and Grasmoor. I remembered a marginally scrambly route up the North ridge of Crag Hill which ought to deliver me and some aching thighs and a small dog to the summit in reasonably short order. And this is what happened, except to say that the marginal scramble had eroded quite a lot since I last climbed it – probably thirty years ago, and was now marginally too exciting. My leg lump didn;t enjoy one of the high steps either, but the view across to Grisedale Pike was impressive. The scramble is now a deep groove at a reasonable- enough angle and anywhere else would look like a slab. It’s a good idea to use the hands on this, I think.  High up it appears as a rock wall and provides a moment of quiet and slightly shaky contemplation as to whether or not to proceed,or to abandon the groove for the even more tricky-looking grassy ledges to the side, or to slither back down again and pretend that I didn’t really want to go that way anyway, having done it once before. But on inspection, the groove continues and snakes away up to a flat bit where the Ledge Route comes in from the left. After that it’s just a grassy ridge.
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Once on the top, LTD cocked his leg on the trig and it fell over ( LTD: this is not true, it was already prone and I always get the blame for minor damage. Like chewing up the paper that had had the butter in it.)
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It was nitheringy Autumn on the top of Crag Hill, it has to be said, and no place to sit and scoff a banana, so we sailed over Sail and got into a sheltered spot at the foot of those huge and ugly zig-zags wot Fix The Fells built some years ago. They were supposed to mellow into the hillside but they didn’t and now the surface is loose in parts and stones will rumble away under the feet of any hikers not concentrating properly. It seems that many people aren’t zig-zagging at all but are prefering to romp straight down through the heather. And much safer that would be, I would expect.
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LTD decided not to bag Barrow and Outerside but to go straight back to the schoolyard so that I could get in the car and drive back through Alston, stopping only to buy a couple of bottles at Alston Co-OP on the way back. (LTD: Actually, this was your idea, I would have liked to have bagged Outerside and Barrow and……cat!!!  There’s a cat on telly….)
9 miles and 3400 feet of up.
I once had a dog called “Jenny” Jenny was a bit of a runner and one day, when taken off the lead on the summit of Crag Hill, she chased a meadow-pipit and leapt over the edge into the steep corrie on the side of the hill – and into hill fog. I could hear her barking, but she’d disappeared from view. The corrie wall was too steep for me so I investigated one of the wings. I could see nothing so returned to the top. The barking had stopped. I got the first 9 into the phone  for mountain rescue and the dog arrived back at the top, battered and scraped with no skin on her chin or her pads. I carried her all the way back down to the car. Don’t ask how much it cost at the vet!


Dawn said...

What a cracking walk, excellent stuff, it sounds really great fun!

Unknown said...

Lucky definitely has good taste in walks!

FellBound said...

I've ranted about that Fix the Fells path many times and they still insist it will 'blend in'. Will it b*ggery.