Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Old Man of Coniston

It’s always a bind having to update the blog after you left the location you want to write about. So I’m “thumb-typing” this one from the comfort of my armchair, a few days after leaving the Lake District. After our previous adventure we packed up the Chucklebus and headed to the south of the lakes at Coniston Water.

Coniston CC Site. Located just south of the village of Coniston, is a sprawling well laid out Caravan Club main site. It has 250 pitches set in a heavily wooded area 200 metres from the west side of Coniston Water and boasts full facilities. We stayed during the Easter Bank Holiday and it was full to the brim.

The Pitch

The Pitch

However because it’s so big( 5-6 mins walk to get to reception), it didn’t feel full. The site has a well stocked shop and several Motorhome disposal areas. In terms of WIFI…zilch on 3 Network, they do have CC Wifi, but it’s pretty dire and not worth the cost. That might change if the CC Club get their IT programme sorted out properly, still a long way to go though.

Having spent the first night bitching about the lack of Wifi, we decided that next morning we would climb “The Old Man of Coniston”. So after an early breakfast, we were en-route by 9am, with the intention to be”Job Done” by 3pm. This turned out to be a good call as the sun was bursting by 11am, by which point we’d completed most of the uphill bit.

The well disguised Caravan Club Site viewed from the summit of Old Man.

The well disguised Caravan Club Site viewed from the summit of Old Man.

The 800m feature dominates the immediate area of Coniston and is a magnet for walkers. It’s well covered in Wainwrights Guide Book, which is a must for anyone wanting to walk the area. He suggests the tourist route approaching from the Coniston side via Low Water. However the best, most scenic and easiest route is to approach the summit from the south along the Walna Scar Rd, alongside Goat’s Water, then up onto Goat’s Hawse and to the summit. You can then descend down the tourist route past Low Water. It’s an easier climb, much less busy and can be done in manageable stages….As we descended I felt sorry for the hordes making their way up the very steep tourist route, kids in tow, up steps and scrambles. For us it was a bit like using some quiet country lane to get to the top of the hill, then having to join the M25 to get down!

“Time spent on map recce is time seldom wasted”. 

Old Man

We really enjoyed the walk up, the steepest part was the trog from Goats Water up onto Goats Hawse, at the end of that cheeky stage I was breathing thru every orifice, but the views were worth it. Take a flask, the Hawse is a natural brew-stop and those over 40 will need one!

The view back to Goats Water from Goats Hawse

The view back to Goats Water from Goats Hawse

We then followed the ridge to the summit, which of course then became a race between good and evil, England V Ireland, man v women and ultimately Me V “The Other Half”. The problem was she didn’t tell me I was in a life or death struggle, I simply got caught up in a “Stop n Chat” with some old boy who insisted on telling me about his bloody dog. So seizing the moment she sprinted off, never to be caught….I was a broken man…my 24yrs of infantrymanship, scattered to the 4 winds by the wily irish vixen!

The "Other Half" spurts ahead in a crafty effort to reach the trig point first!  #fewmin

The “Other Half” spurts ahead in a crafty effort to reach the trig point first!
#fewmin

Eventually I managed to shake of my obstacle to victory and walked to the top. The views in all directions were fantastic, well worth the effort.

The last of the snow

The last of the snow

Looking down towards Low Water and the way home!

Looking down towards Low Water and the way home!

The climb down was actually quite tiring, the route off the peak is very steep in places, and of course I was having to keep hold of the Mutts, who was still on “Lock-Down Level 1” after the sheep incident at Cats Bells and still keep an eye on the large groups of people making their way up. In some places it’s safer to come slightly off-path to descend. After you reach Low Water, the route eases considerably and the crowds thin out.

Our total route for the day was about 7 miles, as we walked directly from the site. Overall a great day out, the weather certainly enhancing the experience.

The following day we walked a mile or so along the well laid path into the village of Coniston, where we enjoyed a good pint and nice meal at the Black Bull pub. On the way back I spied a CL site in the back of someones large garden. Our next visit to Coniston will involve that site, as its closer to the village and still within a stones throw of Coniston Water.

That is all!

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Cats Bells? Hells Bells!

Cat Bells “It is one of the great favourites, a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together, a place beloved. Its popularity is well deserved, its shapely topknott attracts the eye offering a steep but obviously simple scramble.”

So described by Alfred Wainwright, when writing about Cats Bells, a 450 metre knot of rock that towers above Derwent Water. I suspect his ears might have been burning today, five minutes after starting our walk from Borrowdale CC I knew it was going to be painful. I’d spent the previous 4 months hibernating, living off my body fat. All of a sudden, without so much as a “By your leave” I was pushing my very middle-aged body up the steepest of paths. No pain no gain…all the cliches rolled through my mind along with the defeatist devil perched on my shoulder…“Go on Al, jack it, get back on the truck son!”… But we persevered and within 50 minutes reached Hawes Gate, and the final ridge which approaches Cats Bells.

The views from here were stunning in all directions. I have to say, Wainwrights “grandmothers and Infants” were lacking on this route, at least on the way up. Probably for good reason, I can well imagine hordes of “lemmin” kids throwing themselves over the sides of the steep banks…“Daaaad I can’t go on” Harry Enfield style. Most walkers elect to approach from the north picking up the path from Hawes End Outdoor Centre, which is gentler, but does involve quite a bit of scrambling as you close with the summit. Our route was steeper, but with less scrambling at the top. You takes yer choice!

Looking back down to Manesty and the Borrowdale Caravan Club Site.

Looking back down to Manesty and the Borrowdale Caravan Club Site.

The ridge above Hause Gate

The ridge above Hawes Gate

The summit was heaving with family’s so we decided to get to lower ground, descending the north side. This initially involved picking our way down the rocks and crags, whilst an influx of trekkers made their way up. All this whilst trying to manage a dog bigger than me.  In the end I cried “Release The Hounds” and thus I did…I apologise now for those bowled over by the mutts!, I really do, but my needs must. Meanwhile I studiously applied the “3 Points of Contact” rule, one of which included my backside, as I shuffled down the crag! Eventually it eased of and we were able to start enjoying the descent. This is what it looks like, as we glanced back over our shoulders……..

Cats Bells, from Skelgill Bank on the north side

Cats Bells, from Skelgill Bank on the north side

What about the Mutts I hear you cry! Well, he’d been mainly on the lead throughout so far. On the downhill stage we had a good look around and decided to let him off-lead. No problem, all went tickety-boo for the first half hour, then he disappeared over a bank and for the next 10 minutes we suffered our very own “Fenton” moment (search on youtube), as the little monkey hurled himself down a very steep slope in hot pursuit of a sheep to play with. I really thought we were going to hear the sound of a farmers gun! and of course we were concerned for the sheep. Eventually I caught up with him. After a quick check of the sheep and time spent getting my heart-rate back to barely human levels, we continued, but this time the mutts was firmly under lock and key…

The Mutts, pre-breakout

The Mutts, pre-breakout

The walk took about 3.3 hours, with 20 mins for lunch. If you’ve not walked the lakes before, this is a great place to start. Stunning views and it’s easily navigable. One final view, which is of Bassenthwaite Lake and the peak of Skiddaw from Cats Bells. How good is that?

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Looking towards Bassenthwaite Lake and the peak of Skiddaw to the right from Cats Bells.

Feet now up…tea and medals…..and a tot of rum! Tomorrow we up sticks and head to Conniston Water That is all.

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I’m Sorry. We Missed You. We’re Back – Derwent Water

Hello…Anyone out there?

I know, it’s been a while, but the winter is now over, and the smell of summer is just a couple of months around the corner.

Updates:

New Job – Still semi-retired, but the new one is slightly more interesting than the previous time-filler, which involved lining up yoghurts on the Tesco Dairy Aisle.

New “Other Half”…NO! I’m joking, she’s still serving a life sentence with me, with no parole for good behaviour.

New Addition – Daughter No2 presented us with our first Grandson in January. A very special boy.

Dog – No change, slightly bigger, just as crafty, he now gazes at me with a look of entitlement, which of course I bend to! Have a treat Mutts? Don’t mind if I do! …pat, pat, pat.

Anyway here we go. Today we rolled into Borrowdale CC alongside Derwent Water in the Lake District south of Keswick. This is our first trip into the heart of the Lakes. The campsite is very secluded and sheltered, it’s very nicely laid out. No toilet facilities here so “The Other Half” is sat on the back step, oiling her shovel! The Wardens are very friendly and everything is relaxed but well-ordered, which suits me.

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Borrowdale CC marked by the discreet blue arrow!

Later this afternoon, I took the Mutts for his constitutional, walking along a wooden boardwalk which crosses Great Bay east towards Hoggs Earth.

Towards Keswick

Looking North in the direction of Keswick

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Tomorrow we are planning a little stroll up to “Cats Bells” which overlooks our site and Derwent Water. Fingers crossed for decent weather, today’s effort brought a new meaning to “April Showers.”

That is all.

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