Expeditions, Navigation, Guided Walks and Trekking
Last weekend in the Lake District was glorious. In some ways too hot, especially for the group of 17-year-olds I was supervising on their Gold Duke of Edinburghs assessed expedition. On Saturday they had walked over Greenup Edge from Grasmere to Borrowdale where they enjoyed a long bright evening camping with friends.
Teenagers sometimes take a while to get going, so the cooler early morning was well passed before they set off up Honister Pass. My job was to meet them on top of Robinson to checkpoint them through to Buttermere. I expected them to arrive there around 12:30 so I set off from Newlands Hause in good time to make sure I could watch them cross the Edge from Dale Head. The hause car park was unusually quiet for a lovely Sunday. I wondered why is was so quiet out on the fells, hardly anybody about, apart from around Buttermere. Only later did I remember that England were playing that afternoon in the World Cup. So I was alone as I crossed the bog of Buttermere Moss and panted up the steep final slope of Robinson.
It had been a while since I was last up there and my memory was of the last top to be crossed on the circuit of the Newlands round. On this splendid day, a wide 360 deg view of the fells surrounded me as I settled down on the summit to wait the arrival of the girls. A clear, sharp view of the surrounding fells was laid out all around me. Further away, the ranges of the more distant Eastern Fells and Scafell range hung in the clear blue sky. Behind, the lakes of Crummock Water and Loweswater pointed to the shimmering Irish Sea.
Despite this clear view, I couldn’t see anybody approaching across Littledale Edge, even when I moved to the Eastern edge of the summit for a closer look. A short chat on the walkie-talkie confirmed that the groups were well behind schedule, not even at Dale Head by that point. So Luna and I settled down for a long wait, enjoying the view with a flask of tea, Sardine sandwich lunch and handfuls of trail mix.
After an hour or so of no action, I went to stretch the legs and started to explore the summit plateau. Walking north, I could look down Newlands valley to Keswick. My phone started buzzing and the halftime score from Russia came in, 5-1! Even against weak opposition, this was a surprise. Perhaps we will even win the cup at this rate.
Circulating the summit again, we came across a couple of ponds, some welcome clear cool water for the sheep and thirsty dogs. This place has everything.
A further hour was spent checking I could name all the summits in view. Northern fells fronted by Skiddaw and Blencathra were easy to spot. Moving around to the Eastern Fells; the Dodds led up to the Helvellyn range, with Catstycam poking above the line, and around to Fairfield. All good so far. In front of me looking west was the Newland Fells, of course, Ullscarf hiding Maiden Moor, although Catbells was clear from the northern edge.
To the south, the bulky fells of the Western Fells packed the horizon above Honister Pass (packed with visitors cars) and Fleetwith Pike (where the Silver groups were struggling over); Great Gable; Great End around to Bowfell; and the steep crags of Scafell could be seen. Scafell Pike itself was only just seen peaking above Great Gable. Moving around again separated the two Scafell tops.
The bulk mountains of the North Western fells were best seen from the start of the path downwards and best photographed in the evening light.
Eventually, the groups arrived, the first two complaining that they had been up Fleetwith Pike by mistake! They had done well to retrace their route and overtake the rest of the teams. Over a three-hour spell the teams struggled past, the heat and high mountain walking and expedition packs all slowing them down. We even had an equipment malfunction to deal with, the other supervisors had to take a shorter walk off.
It was a late evening when the last group headed down Snockrigg to Buttermere campsite as I headed back to the car and a long drive home.