Lets just state from the start that, as a 20-mile walk, this one was short, by the tune of one mile. I felt that this was something of a shame. Clearly, something went wrong in the planning stage. (Maybe if there'd been an actual planning stage, the magic 20 miles would have been achieved.) There were lots of contours, though and Diane's GPS said we'd climbed 4900 feet and this number was used as an excuse for trying to make me feel better about the abject failure of the 20th mile. Actually, there wasn't a 20th mile.
The conditions were quite good and much better than anything I'd experienced in Preselli (Did I mention we'd been to Preselli?. It's in Pembrokeshire y'know. Quite a long way from Durham as it happens. My longest walk there was 10 miles. But I'm not blogging about Preselli)
So, the idea for the walk was to circumnavigate Mardale. That's the Dale that is mainly beneath Haweswater. So we began at Burnbanks at just after 8 o'clock, having remembered to put the clocks back. Our team was me, LTD, Bailey the other dog, Li Yang, Diane and David. Unfortunately I'd utterly failed to contact Ruth who'd said she wanted to come on some of these walks but I only remembered as the sun went down... dhuhh.... A mile short AND I've probably upset Ruth. I'll tell her about the future dates and she can decide whether or not to tie my bootlaces together at first lunch (long walks have two lunch stops)
It was spectacularly cold for October and there was snow on the Helvellyn range as we plodded up the hill from Burnbanks to join the ridge at Keasgill Head. Navigation from there is pretty straightforward and the ridge is followed over High Raise, Rampsgill Head and High Street. It occurs to me that if we'd included Kidsty Pike and Thiornthwaite Crag that shortage of miles by one wouldn't have happened and not much extra effort would have been involved. (dhuhhhhhhh)
From High Street, we dropped down to Nan Bield Pass, heaved our tired legs over |Harter Fell (a big climb), down to Gatescarth Pass to consider the apparently huge but grassy climb up Branstree. This proved both huge and grassy, quite a lot like many of the Preselli hills, except that some of those have tors on top which need to be scrambled for the bagging tick. This proved tricky for Lucky on one or two occasions.
Having rested on Branstree in the shelter of the cairn, we plodded over Selside, completely missing Branstree's North East Top which, had we wandered over there, would surely have taken us a bit closer to the 20 mile target. I'm not bothered about this by the way. I'm not sure why I even mention it, really. It's not as if it was important or anything
The picture above is me and LTD on Pen y Fan, which is the highest bit of Dinas Head. It's a Tump. The picture was taken by a member of a friendly family out on a walk from Swansea. It's on the Pembroke Coast, see? This is where we went on our holibobs. It's not on the Mardale Skyline. The Mardale Skyline doesn't have sea quite as close as this, although you can see Morecambe Bay at times.
So, we descended to the old corpse road, upon which there appeared to be no old corpses, at least not yet and wandered into a lovely wild bit which required a bit of navigating for a kilometre or two, specially as the sun was winding up the clock on the mantelpiece, was warming it's cocoa milk and had already put the cat out.
We made for a "ford" on a track crossing High Goat Gill and followed this to the concrete water board road which leads to Burnbanks. Headlights were only needed to protect the group from wild-eyed drivers returning from their pathetic little walks at the top end of Mardale or, indeed, an afternoon of carousing at the hotel up the road. I bet none of these had done twenty miles anyway ....er......