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Monday, 23 January 2017

Chapel Fell and Fendrith Hill–A Rematch

ltd insists on walking on the snow
Some peeps might remember that severalteen weeks ago I had a crack at climbing Chapel Fell from St Johns Chapel but abandoned the attempt due to deep snow and too many trousers.
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Yesterday, with just a pair of Ronhills with a baselayer underneath and a buffalo-type smock thingy and my extreme gloves wot I got in a sale at Cotswolds just before Christmas, to improve my mobility, me and LTD (we get there eventually) had another go.
There was a hint of snow in the air and the car thermometer was reading –1C at the car park when we set off, so we sort of expected it to be chilly higher up.
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And it was. My beard froze, in fact. LTD celebrated the first patch of snow – some really hard neve, by eating it. We pressed on dogfully up through the rough ground, past the multiple false summits to the peaty hags of the summit dome. Happily, these were all well frozen and we finally achieved our summit.
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It was far too cold to be sitting around scoffing a cheese and sandwich spread and tomato wrap, though, so we battered on through the seeping nither to Fendrith Hill, where it was just as cold.
Here’s a tip for navigating the Weardale/Teesdale/Tynedale moortops: Apart from easily, but damply following the fence, in several places, particularly along the tops near Fendrith Hill and Killhope Law, there’s a wide ditch marking the parish/county boundaries. Following this ditch where there’s no fence to follow will make the erstwhile navigator appear to be really good at his art and all his friends will be really impressed.
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This ridge can be quite a trial in summer when men are men and bogs are bogs but when the place is rock-hard, its  really quite easy going. There are no significant contours to bother the lungs and only the danger of slipping on to the gluteae on some hidden ice should trouble the hardy hillwalker.
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The moor grass and heather was all rhime-covered and any old snowdrifts were impenetrable to the boot. LTD insisted on walking on any snow that was available. In conditions where there’s a deep cover of this hard stuff, conditions get even easier and, quite superb, in fact, though such things seem fairly rare.
We tripped along to the road where a wall provided shelter from the sharp breeze drifting over from somewhere Really Cold. Here the wrap (see above) and a banana and a choccy bar were consumed, although the flask of hot coffee was still in the cook’s buttery back at pie towers. Curse the loss of all those braincells, dammit.
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A few cars passed. How they managed to stay on the road was a mystery, since the road surface was as a bottle. I couldn’t stand up on it and neither could LTD. We descended next to the road until, just by Weardale Ski-Club’s car parking area, it was dry enough to walk on.
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Lower down, we spotted 14 or 15 (yes, I counted them!) male black grouse standing about, apparently disconsolately, or, maybe having a meeting at which some awkward beggar had demanded that somebody should make a decision.  Will this be a leck, come the spring? Might be worth a look. If you’ve never had the luck to look at a leck, likely you literally live in a leck-limited locality. (i.e one with no black grouse)  You could just drive over there very early in the morning in April to have a look – just a bit North of Swinside House.
Then the sun came out.
We did 8.5 miles.
chapel fell


Dawn Linney said...

Wow, what a cracking walk, well done the both of you.

Chrissie Crowther said...

Bet Lucky was glad of that coat!