Devil’s Dyke

Devil’s Dyke

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What’s that all about?

We were on our annual trip to Brighton for a half-marathon event, but it’s not worth going all the way down there for a single day, so we made a weekend of it.

We drove down on Friday evening, stopping for food on the way. We’d booked ourselves again into the Premier Inn in Lewes, as we do. We came here the previous year too, and concluded that the hotel had the right balance of comfort, accessibility and proximity to central Brighton.

Saturday is parkrun day

We’d come down on Friday night so we could run a new parkrun. There are several in the area that we hadn’t done, but we opted for Hove Promenade on the basis that it begins with a letter “H” and therefore contributed to everyone’s A-Z or parkruns. We found it easy to park on the side of the main road and the weather was nice. It was sunny and quite warm despite being by the sea. The run itself is essentially a double out-and-back along the seafront. There’s a promenade that’s only about 1.3km long. So to get in a parkrun you have to go up and down twice. It was dead flat though. If we’d been adequately trained we could almost certainly have run a very fast time here.

We didn’t linger for breakfast once we’d finished though, as we’d got an appointment with a full lardy back at home base. A lazy breakfast was followed by a similarly lazy journey through the bathroom and a change of clothes into something suitable for going outdoors.

The Devil’s Dyke

The warmth and stillness of the morning continued into the afternoon and we decided we’d make use of that by going for a walk somewhere scenic. The chosen place was the rather impressive Devil’s Dyke, which is a very deep v-shaped valley on the South Downs just outside Brighton. The reason it’s such a big valley is, apparently, solifluction, or put another way, melting snow saturates the little bit of unfrozen soil on top of the frozen chalk, causing it to run off like a gloopy mess down the nearest hill. I’m sure a proper geologist would describe it differently, but I like to think I understand the principles, especially seeing as I just read them on wikipedia.

Despite the rumours, there is little actual evidence that the valley was formed by anything from the evil realms. It is a common human trait to assign responsibility to the Devil for anything that’s a bit quirky. Personally, I look at it and think to myself that if I was religiously minded, surely you would assign such beauty to your God rather than pass it off as evil. The Downs are really lovely, and this is one of the best bits I’ve been to.

A Bit of Walking

There’s a National Trust car park on the top of the hill, and it was pretty much full by the time we arrived at around midday. Shows what can happen when the sun comes out. It was really quite warm. The Gardner parking karma worked as usual, and we found ourselves in a nice parking spot from which, had we been older and more infirm, we could quite happily have sat there all afternoon enjoying the view. It’s a big hill. With steep sides.

We felt sort of obliged to go for a walk down into the Devil’s Dyke itself, so after a bit of farting about we headed off in a generally downhill direction, following a broad bridleway and stopping occasionally to grab a geocache. Most of the ones down here were multis and needed information to be collected in the field. The ones that weren’t multis were field puzzles. Some of them were field puzzles in a box which, when solved, told you where the real box was. So the caching was a bit slow. They were entertaining and challenging, and quite well put together, but we weren’t exactly getting around the loop very quickly.

A Bit of Geocaching

Back at the plot, when we got to the very bottom of the hill, the girls decided they’d had enough of the caching. Izzy needed feeding and I don’t think Kas wanted to expend too much energy before the following day’s race. So they decided to walk back up the valley to the pub and/or ice cream van at the car park, while I continued on around the bottom to do the rest of the caches.

To be honest, once I left them the remaining ones of the series turned into relatively easy traditional caches with no field puzzle, and I started finding them more quickly, apart form the ones I couldn’t find at all. So I met the girls back at the top of the hill after 90 minutes or so, having walked back up the mother of all steep hills to get to the top. Whoever decided to call these hills “Downs” obviously started at the top, not the bottom. The Downs are chalk uplands. Which makes lots of sense, really. Not!

Anyway, we reunited and had a swift drink in the accompanying pub before retiring back to Lewes for an evening meal at a local Italian.

The caches I found on the day were:

Sunday Morning

Kas had to be up and about for the half marathon quite early, leaving us with no time really to have breakfast in the hotel. We had to drive around the north side of Brighton to find our car park for the event. On our previous visits here we’ve always been able to park on the racecourse but this year we were due to park along a very long stretch of road that had been closed off to allow parkers. There was a massive queue to get in. When we did eventually get parked we then had a significant walk back along the road to find a bus.

The bus took us pretty much back the way we’d come. We went back to just one junction before we’d joined from Lewes and were then taken over the Downs and past the racecourse down to the seafront at the eastern end. This is the right end of the promenade for runners but definitely the wrong end for non-runners.

Me and the girls have been to such things before and, at a busy event like this, we’ve more or less given up on being able to spot our significant runner at the start. We mooched around for a while and waited at the start but didn’t see Kas go past. As we’d missed the hotel breakfast we therefore rocked off to get breakfast in a local cafe. We found a very nice one. Not a chain, but a one-off local job. The coffee was good and we found enough things to eat to keep us happy.

After the Event

We spent over an hour in the cafe, so decided it was time to go and join the proverbial throng on the side of the main road and wait for Kas to come back. We were there for about 15 minutes before she arrived, I think. Anyway, Kas had passed us, so we then fought through the crowds to get to our assigned meeting point under the pier. It’s a big-enough event that there’s no point in trying to find people in the finish area, so we waited for Kas to come to us. She took a while. I think there may have been some coffee and massage involved.

Once she did reach us we had no particular desire to hang around in Brighton any longer, so we grabbed some chips and sat on the end of the pier before retiring to a bus and making our way back to the car park. It was already mid-afternoon by the time we got back to the car so we weren’t going to be home very early anyway.

The house was more or less where we left it, as usual.


Hampton Court 2019

Hampton Court

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What’s that all about?

Kas had arranged with some of our friends from North West Leicestershire/South Derbyshire to go on a jaunt to the west of London to have a go at the original parkrun. The original is the one in Bushy Park, close to Teddington. It is famous for normally having between 1,500 and 2,000 runners. And it’s famous for being the first, obviously. It’s also right next to Hampton Court Palace, which the girls had never been to.

The friends in question are all members of South Derbyshire Road Runners, and we knew many of them as a result of meeting them at our parkrunning second home – Conkers parkrun.

I’m not quite sure how we got an invite, probably Kas spends a lot more time conversing with other runners than me, so it was probably something to do with that, however the invitation was most welcome and offered the opportunity to go and have a weekend down The Smoke.

Driving Down

We’d booked ourselves into the Travelodge in Teddington for two nights and drove ourselves down there after work on Friday night through a fairly normal level of Friday night traffic. We set off from home not long after the girls got back from school. Having stopped on the way down for dinner, we eventually arrived before 7 pm.

We weren’t down there early enough to get a spot in their ground-floor car park though, which meant we were stuck with the very unappetising option of driving up the ramp to the upstairs car park. I say “unappetising” because it was a pretty sharp angle upwards and the ramp itself was quite narrow. It was surrounded on both sides by 1m high concrete walls. Having only had my new car for about 6 weeks I was not at all happy with the idea, but there wasn’t really another option. It was possible to park on the road outside but I’d have to be constantly going back to check the acceptable hours, and anyway I really don’t like parking overnight on the side of a busy road.

Driving Up

I managed to get up the ramp without incident, despite the sharp slope and the very tight turn at the top, and was greeted by a virtually empty parking area. I’d sort-of decided the car was staying there all weekend until we were ready to leave, and one look at the base of the ramp out confirmed that would be sensible. At this point I managed to find my source of panic for the weekend. The ramp dropped a couple of inches down onto the path at the bottom, and I was concerned I’d ground the front end of the car coming down.

This thought stayed with me right through until we actually moved the car, and contributed to me enjoying the couple of days much less than I should have done. I hate having a sense of impending doom like that. It might have been better, on reflection, to try moving the car earlier in the weekend as soon as a downstairs bay was empty, but there was no guarantee that there’d ever be one free. At least if I’d tried that I would either have been able to stop worrying, or I’d have converted the worry into one about how much the repair was going to cost. Anyway, more of that on Sunday morning. For now, I decided to leave the car where it was, and then worried about it all weekend.

We’d arranged to meet a few of the “crew” in the hotel bar. We’d stopped on the way down for an evening meal ( at the sign of the big golden “M” ), so once we’d got settled in to the room we were able to retire to the hotel bar to see who had arrived and who hadn’t. We were first to the bar.

Saturday is parkrun day

After all, it’s why we were here.

We’d established the evening before that the hotel kept its breakfast room open late enough to do parkrun first and then come back for breakfast. This is much my preferred option. I can never get my head around having a big breakfast and then going for a run straight after.

So we met up in the hotel reception at about 8:15 and began the fairly long walk over to Bushy Park. It was quite a decent walk out to the start of the parkrun, so we didn’t want to be too late. Thankfully the weather wasn’t too bad. Because parkruns tend not to have anywhere to leave things, some of us (me included) had opted to stray out in our running kit with nothing over the top. That could have made for some very cold walking and a generally bad experience. We’d established that there was no point in trying to take the car – it was a circuitous route to get there and the car parks are invariably stacked to the gunwales.

Actual Running

We got there well before the start, though, and the more keen among us proceeded to do their pre-parkrun warmup runs. The rest of us mooched about getting impressed by the number of people turning up. There were loads. Also, two of them were wearing “500” t-shirts. I hadn’t even got my “250” shirt at the time, and had never previously seen a “500” – that’s optimistically every Saturday for 10 years, or more realistically every available Saturday for 11-12 years, I’d think. It takes some dedication anyway.

At one point, somebody spotted Mr. Parkrun himself and encouraged him to have his photo taken with us. He seemed quite reluctant, but then I guess because Bushy is a magnet for parkrun tourists and he’s the man who started it all, he probably gets his photo taken quite a lot when he’s there.

The run itself used a slightly modified start (due to the wet underfoot conditions) and was very busy. It’s pretty much of a flat amble around a beautiful public park. All four of us ran it. We were kind of impressed by the way they handled so many people at the finish too. I guess they are used to it. They were very regimented in having multiple lanes for finishers and a cunning system involving white noticeboards given to occasional finishers to identify when the token handers should swap from one lane to another. Brilliant.

We went round at a sensible plodding speed of just over 30 minutes and then ambled around for a while trying to spot others from our group. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Breakfast O’Clock

At some point we decided to break ranks, because after running and having no overclothes we were starting to get cold and stiff. So off we pootled back to the hotel. We decided to do no more than grab jumpers and then go straight in for breakfast. We were hungry and the breakfast room was still very busy, partly with our group and partly with a bunch of rugby fans who were there for an afternoon match at Twickenham. Knowing how my brother supports rugby, they’d actually gone for a weekend of heavy drinking that happened to be punctuated by a game of rugby on Saturday afternoon.

Anyway, the kitchen staff were doing a great job of not being able to cook things quickly enough. Everyone else was doing a great job of immediately devouring anything that made its way out of the kitchen. Breakfast took a while.

Saturday Afternoon

We hadn’t really planned what to do on Saturday afternoon, but the girls are always up for a trip into central London for a bit of shopping, especially if they’re shopping for M&Ms at the dedicated store near Leicester Square. There’s a lego store nearby too. So we grabbed a train from Teddington Station and settled in for most of an hour’s worth of trundling through south-west London’s suburbs before arriving at Waterloo Station. We walked from there up into the city rather than mucking about with the Underground. It’s really not very far and the weather was acceptably nice.

I don’t remember much about the afternoon other than visiting the Lego and M&Ms stores, and possibly Hamleys. I seem to remember I didn’t feel great for much of the afternoon either.

The train home was equally uninspiring and we had the chance to grab a few ZZZZZs before going out for the evening. We’d arranged with a group of the others to meet at a nearby grilled-chicken restaurant. You know which one I mean. They were running a bit late, which made it a bit of a challenge with them not taking bookings. We eventually got sat down and had ourselves a selection of grilled chicken products.

It had been quite a long and tiring day. We were all glad to get to bed instead of going to a pub afterwards.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Sunday morning greeted us with bright sunshine and another substantial breakfast.

We were in no hurry to get home, so we planned to go and spend a few hours at Hampton Court Palace. At last you can see why I chose the name of this post. The palace is literally the other side of Bushy Park from the hotel but involves a bit of a roundabout route when driving.

We decided to move the car around rather than walk and then have to walk back again. This, of course, meant I had to face the demon of getting the car out of the car park. Picture this. You have to execute a 90o turn to get yourself lined up with a very narrow ramp that has 1m high concrete walls on both sides. In my car I can’t see over the bonnet, because it’s rather long. I wouldn’t have been able to see the ramp anyway because, of course, it drops away from you rather sharply.

Squeaky Bum Time

I was somewhat concerned about my ability to get around the corner at the top. Everyone else got out of the car to stand on the metal fire escape. They were letting me know how far away from the concrete walls my front wing was. I had to do a bit of shuffling backwards and forwards to get lined up correctly. The front needed to miss one wall while the back missed another. Whilst on the ramp there was maybe just 15-20cm of space on either side. Certainly not enough to get out of the car, and certainly not enough to be confident with backing up again if I had a problem. Once you’re going down, you’re going down.

At the bottom of the ramp, as mentioned earlier, there was a significant drop off their kerb onto the pathway. I was very concerned I’d scrape the front. My car has suspension which can be set at differing ride heights. Over the weekend I’d googled it and discovered I was already on the highest ride height. So would the car get off that kerb without grounding the front? I employed the girls once again to watch out. Not that it would have helped because I was kind of committed by this point. So under their guidance, I rolled off the kerb at the slowest possible speed. I was very relieved not to hear any scraping noises. I apparently had a good 2-3 cm to spare at the front. So all the worry over the weekend was wasted. I was fine, albeit the drive out was still quite stressful.

Hampton Court

I was mightly relieved now, so was more than happy to continue on our way. We drove about 10 minutes to get to the main car park for Hampton Court and wandered off in search of the way in. It’s one of the Historic Royal Palaces, and as such can’t be entered free of charge by members of either the National Trust or English Heritage. I guess we’ll have to pay then.

Hampton Court Palace is a place I’d been to many moons ago, but had more or less forgotten what it was like, or even where it was. It’s essentially a bit of a journey through the excesses of the English and British monarchy down the ages. Some bits are older than others. The earliest bits are Tudor and the latest bits are very Baroque. Much of the Tudor was removed to make way for the Baroque, apparently.

Anyway, there was a guided walk starting a few minutes after we arrived, so we went for that. So a geezer in period costume talked to us about the history whilst showing us around the key features. We followed this all the way around, including a change from Tudor period dress to Stuart period dress at the appropriate time. It was a different person too. Anyway, I digress. Personally I found the Tudor part more interesting than the Stuart. That’s maybe because the Stuart was mainly indoors and we were dressed for the outdoors. I got far too hot. Anyway, I liked the Tudor kitchens best.

Amazement

After the guided walk we went for some lunch in the cafe before heading for the maze and the ornamental gardens. The kids didn’t find the maze especially taxing. In fact it was nearly as hard to find the maze as it was to find your way around it. The gardens looked pretty spectacular in the bright sunshine. It was a beautifully fresh February day.

Nuff-ski

We made it through to the mid-afternoon and then decided we’d had enough. The kids had school the following day, so we didn’t want to be too late getting home. The drive back was dull and uninteresting, as these things should be. The house was more or less where we’d left it, which is always good.


Geocache Finds 2018-12-30

Weston Underwood

Weston Underwood

The Sketch

A massive new series had been released at Weston Underwood to the north of Olney. It was just begging for a visit, despite it being mid-winter. I solicited opinion on Facebook and agreed form an away team in Weston Underwood early in the morning. A different group of cachers were doing a different part of the same series and agreed to walk backwards for a bit to meet up with us.

I parked up in the village with a degree of caution. It was my first caching trip in the new cachemobile, and I was still being very careful where I parked it. Weston Underwood has a nice broad area of roadside parking at the right end for our walk. It has big bollards at the “back” end, which protect parked cars from approaching vehicles. That was as good as I was going to get.

One of my two intended caching partners for the day was late. I tried calling and apparently woke him up from his pit of depravity. This resulted in a decision to continue without him. So off we continued.

The Walking Bit

The first stretch of the walk was very familiar to me. In fact, it was all very familiar right up to the point where we met the other cachers. It ran along the previous route of my MK Boundary Walk Blue series. That was my least favourite bit of the Boundary Walk, partly because it’s a long way from home and partly because it goes through Killick Wood. Killick Wood was more boggy than a boggy thing every time I walked through. On this occasion, it wasn’t too bad, but then I remember we’d had a couple of dry winters. Maybe the soil had actually dried out pretty well. It wasn’t “up to the neck” territory anyway.

We walked all the way through to a path that comes south from Yardley Hastings (about 23-24 caches in) before meeting up with the others, who’d started a bit later from that village and walked around to meet us. Once we met up we continued round the circuit in an anti-clockwise direction.

With it being late in the year there isn’t a lot of daylight, and when we got halfway round I was starting to sense that we might not have enough time to finish. We were well past halfway through the daylight and were starting to get a bit tired. So we tried to accelerate a bit. Most of the caches were straightforward, but there were a lot of them to be heading for. We were still quite a way from Weston Underwood.

Enough is Enough

Eventually we decided we would give up on the caches belonging to the extra “little” series at the end of the walk. We were more or less out of daylight and had heard that they were a bit rubbish anyway, so I wasn’t too bothered. You can see a distinct gap on the map below – there were caches there, but we walked straight past.

By the end of the day I’d found 66 caches, which is good for a winter’s day. I evidently didn’t anticipate much excitement though, as I didn’t take a camera.


Stowe

Stowe

What better way to work off the excesses of Christmas than by stretching our legs and breathing in some fresh air at our local (and probably favourite) National Trust property, at Stowe. Stowe is only 10 miles or so from home and is somewhere we always like to visit.

Being an afternoon in December, time was a bit limited, We managed to walk from the New Inn all the way across to the Grecian Valley and back, via the Elysian Fields and the lakes. I’d been in winter before a couple of times when planning or maintaining geocaches. Even at this time of year Stowe is still an excellent visit. It’s such a big site that it rarely feels busy other than in the car park and the cafe. Unless you go on a warm Sunday afternoon in the summer, that is.

Speaking of cafes, obviously our trip wouldn’t be complete without coffee and cakes. It’s what the National Trust is all about. Stowe’s cafe is in the New Inn, right by the car park (aren’t they all). It’s a new building they put on the side of the old building when they were refurbishing it.  It has lots of glass and steel, but somehow it fits in well with what was there before.


Lake District 2018 Day 3

Lake District 2018 Day 3

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Wandering round the lake

A walk around Derwent Water with the geezers, after driving up and down a few hills. And some cake.


Lake District 2018 Day 3

Derwent Water

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The Sketch

Sunday on the lads weekend away was the day for the boys having a bit of fun in their flash motors while me and Stevie B were riding shotgun. We’d not really planned any kind of route. Unlike most bits of Britain, the Lake District doesn’t have a lot of roads that are exciting to drive but which also go through the best bits of scenery. After a bit of driving we ended up at Derwent Water for some lunch and a short stroll.

Back at the driving, in the Lake District there are two types of road. One is long, flat, traffic-filled nightmares of roads. The other type requires the packing of spare underwear due to their narrow, twisty, stone-walls-up-the-side character. The scenic roads would be more exciting if you could guarantee nobody was going to come the other way. Sadly, however, most do have cars coming the other way. You invariably meet somewhere that’s not quite wide enough for two cars to pass without slowing down. And which has either a vertical cliff, a bog or a stone wall on the side. Anyway, there’s not a lot of scope for going off the tarmac in a Porsche, especially in November.

Back at the Plot

One of the best compromises ( in that the road is mainly wide enough for two cars all the way ) is the drive over Honister Pass. To get there from Great Langdale you have to drive out to Ambleside and then up the main road to Keswick, before then turning south again into Borrowdale, which is reputedly England’s wettest place. The start of Honister Pass from Borrowdale is probably only 3-4 miles as the crow flies from where we’d started. However, there’s some hilly bits in the way, so you have to drive about 25 miles around to get there.

At the head of Honister Pass is an old slate mine, where we pulled off the road to admire the view, but rather disappointingly the car park was completely full ( and very uneven ), so we did one lap and then exited again and drove down the hill towards Buttermere. It’s kind of pretty in Buttermere but we found an absence of decent-looking parking again, so decided to continue on and maybe go back to Keswick. To get there we headed out of the bottom end of the valley into Cockermouth, partly because the boys were getting a bit short on motion lotion and weren’t sure quite how far they were going to get without stopping.

Getting Stuck

Cockermouth proved to be a nightmare. We immediately got stuck in a random traffic jam. We couldn’t figure out how to get out again without going back where we’d come from. After a few random thoughts, we did eventually go back where we’d come from. We then did a loop of 5 miles or so to get to a different road that had a junction with the main A66 road back to Keswick. That was half an hour of our lives that we’ll never get back.

Enough of That

Three years ago, when we’d been on a family trip up to the lakes ( see Happy Birthday ), we’d gone to Keswick and had a pleasant afternoon walking up and down the side of Derwent Water, so I suggested maybe we could go there for a while on the basis that I knew it ticked many of the required criteria for a Sunday afternoon stroll, in particular there’s :

  • a cafe
  • lots of walking options of differing lengths
  • several geocaches that I’d not done before
  • a massive, tarmac-covered, easy-to-access car park that has lots of spaces in it

Parking up two Porsches in the car park proved to be a great way of drawing attention, apparently, despite the boys having done their level best to make sure they were miles away from anyone else. Or maybe they drew attention just because they were miles away from anyone else. Whatever. The cars seemed popular with the locals.

Feed Me

It was definitely time for lunch when we arrived. We headed straight into the cafe at the theatre for food and beverages. Nice! I’d been there before too, so had some experience of their lunchtime offerings. Pretty good, all-in-all.

After that we headed off for a walk around the edge of the lake. When walking from here you pretty much have to head south along the lake shore. You go a very wiggly mile or so along the lake shore until you reach a point where the lakeside path and main road came close together. From there we turned back along the side of the main road to head back to the theatre again. We retired for a round of coffee and cake, as you do. When we came out there was just enough daylight left for a few photos. I took a few snaps of the setting sun over the lake (and the geezers).

Getting Stuck, Again

On the way back from Derwent Water we got stuck in a huge traffic jam trying to get back through Ambleside, so someone suggested we turn around and take the small road that goes out of the back of Grasmere into Great Langdale, bypassing the centre of Ambleside. It seemed like a good idea but by this time it was completely dark. However the road was one of the proverbial 6’6″-width-restriction-not-suitable-for-HGVs variety. It was most definitely not suitable for HGVs. In fact, it was barely suitable for Porsches either. Definitely a few brown-trouser moments, but the boys did a grand job. Eventually we found ourselves back on the slightly better road back up the valley to our hotel. No damage incurred.

We stayed at the hotel for the evening again. There wasn’t really anywhere else to go, so we feasted on some stuff in the bar again. The bar menu was more than adequate. It also felt like more of a “lads weekend away” venue than the proper restaurant would. There was some farting about with board games again, which I did my best to grump out of, but eventually gave in.

And that was it apart from another monstrously huge, lardy breakfast on Monday morning and a boring but ultimately painless drive back down the M6. Another year of lads-weekend-away-in-November completed. Once again we’d managed to pick a great location and had enjoyed some unseasonably warm and sunny weather.


Lake District 2018 Day 2

Langdale

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The Sketch

Saturday on the lads weekend away and it was the day for the long walk. This year it promised to be more of a “tall” walk rather than a long one, but whatever. We always do one day where we just do a long walk. It gives the two owners of the flash cars the opportunity to not drive for a whole day. We were staying in Great Langdale, so were ideally placed for some excellent walking.

We’d toyed with the idea of having a go at Scafell Pike but the lay of the land meant that it was about 11 miles in each direction from where we were staying. That felt a bit too far for a day in November, especially given that we’d be needing some breakfast beforehand. There’s no way we were getting up early enough to have breakfast before daylight anyway.

We therefore contented ourselves with going up the Langdale Pikes. I’d been up there a couple of years previously (see Langdale Pikes), so I kind of knew what to expect, except last time it had been June and the sun was out.

I managed to dash out before breakfast to check on the weather and take a couple of photos. What a beautiful spot we’d chosen.

The breakfast at the hotel was pretty good. It consisted of a generous selection of cereals, bread products and fried things. And hot beverages.

Up We Go

Anyway, when you’re a group of fifty-something males it’s fairly normal for most things to be downhill. Or at least on the level. So it was a bit of a shocker to come out of the hotel and look upwards at the main task for the day. I’d done it before, so I knew what was coming, but the other three hadn’t. My currently rather portly disposition meant the other three were finding it easier up the first stretch than I was. Still, it was a nice day, so bum to them. The climb up to Stickle Tarn starts off steep but well paved, and then closer to the top degenerates into a scramble over rocks with no obvious path aside from the stream of other people. Even in November there were quite a few other people on the way up.

At the tarn you’re greeted by a nice flat area with grassy bits to sit on, and you’re also greeted by the fantastic sight of the sheer face of Pavey Ark, with Jack’s Rake running across the middle. We took the opportunity to rest for a while at the tarn before beginning the walk up to the top. All of us had gone with quite lightweight coats because the weather forecast was pretty good. That was certainly an advantage when doing all that climbing. Once we were up though, and exposed to the full wind, we were all on the brink of being cold.

It’s High Up Here!

From Pavey Ark we hacked our way across in the direction of Harrison Stickle to get a different view of the valley, and then headed back away from the cliffs towards Thunacar Knott and to the back of Pavey Ark, where we decided it was about time for lunch. The hotel does packed lunches for walkers, so we’d availed ourselves of those before setting off. We found a small hollow to nestle into and get out of the wind while we sat and ate. It was a beautiful day up there and the hollow meant it was warm enough to de-coat whilst eating.

After lunch, the next obvious target was to climb up to High Raise – a particularly un-mountainous mountain that’s basically a gentle upslope from where we were sitting. It is the highest point above Great Langdale in this area though, and the views were impressive in all directions. The centre of the Lake District is one big, extended plateau, of which High Raise is a part. Several periods of glaciation resulted in all the deep valleys and residual lakes. But if you can get above the level of glaciation, like you can at High Raise, you can tell what the landscape maybe used to be like prior to the glaciers.

Back Down Again

From High Raise we decided it was getting a bit late so we started to head down again. This meant hacking over some pretty flat moorland to Sergeant Man and then descending a fairly steep and not very obvious path back down to the side of the Stickle Tarn,  and then back down into Langdale the way we’d come up. By the time we got back we’d walked 12.81km in a little under five and a half hours. That might not sound like a big distance, but quite a lot of it was either steeply uphill or downhill. So it was much harder than one might think.

We finished the day off in the way we usually do on these trips – by eating too much, drinking some beer, and playing board games ( Or in my case, bored games. I’m not a great fan ). There was a bit of a crowd in the hotel bar when we got down off the mountain, but by the time it had been dark for an hour pretty much everyone else had left. This left only the hotel residents, very few of whom were spending their evening in the bar.