Sunday, 13 September 2009

Seathwaite (Circular including Green Gables) – (Lake District – Day 1) – (Cumbria) – 06/09/09 – 4.75 Miles – Helen (luther & Molly)

For the first day of myself and Helen’s week in the Lake District, we decided not to pick something too demanding. That way not only could we break ourselves in gently, but also do the same for elderly Labrador Luther (no worries on that score for younger Labrador Molly, but who was herself to present other worries instead). Anyway referencing one of the ‘cut outs’ from Country Walking magazine (which we used extensively during the week) we settled on a circular route around Seathwaite. This would also take us up the first of five Wainwrights that we were able to complete during the week. In this instance Green Gables at 2,627ft. For a list of all 214 click

Having got out of the car at Seathwaite Farm it started to rain, although not too heavily. This stop and start drizzle was to be a feature of the first part of the walk, as I constantly messed around pulling waterproofs on and off. So whilst Helen located a phonebox at the farm, Luther and Molly got an earful of doggie verbals from a gang of dog yobs in some nearby kennels. One free dog however made the mistake of investigating a little too closely and was promptly seen off by Luther. Anyway off and upwards we set, being soon left behind by a group of elderly walkers who had vacated the farmyard with us. Thus with Sourmilk Gill on our right we came alongside a couple of wooden ladders which presented Luther with a few problems getting over. However he really came unstuck a little further on when a scramble over some rocks was required. Poor Luther got into a bit of a panic on this one, and it was only a joint effort from: myself, Helen, Molly and a couple of lads who had now joined us, that we were finally able to get him over that hurdle. Certainly not a great way to start the holiday for Luther, however that was his only real low point of the week, and from there on in he was at least able to outperform me if no one else.

Lunch was taken soon after near to a waterfall. As we ate I noticed a female walker on her own who was just hanging around at a fence down below us. Thus as we set off again up and around Base Brown I noticed her following us but always keeping a distance. It did occur to me that she may have been a little nervous about the two dogs. However when she finally did go round us she promptly sat on a rock, and so was obviously just the hanging around type. As for Base Brown we never actually went over the top of it ourselves as the route we were using required us to circumnavigate it instead (thus we narrowly missed bagging an additional Wainwright). Anyway as we continued upwards onto Green Gables, it was clear that the weather was closing in. Thus by the time we reached the summit, passing another group who seemed to be having a meeting up there, the ‘cut out’s promised great view was a sea of mist, and we could barely find the path down. However Green Gables was our first Wainwright of the week at 2,627ft.

So far so good, and despite the fact that it was now raining, and my waterproofs were set on proving that they weren’t, I was still enjoying myself. The downhill however was something of a nightmare for me. Thus I could not manage to keep my balance on the wet and slippy rocks, which meant I had to limit myself to baby size steps in order to stay upright, yet doing nothing to negate the pain it was causing in my back and shins. Not realising before that I had a problem in this area, any sort of downhill was to prove a constant problem for me throughout the week. What was worse was that Helen, who I have long since been used to leaving behind on ascents (and continued to do so this week as well) was now leaving me far behind on the descents (and also continued to do this during the week as well). In fact there were moments when I actually was losing her in the mist. As such this does pose a question for me, whether I really want to continue with this branch of walking. Thus although I enjoy the physical challenge of going up, I find the downhills a croc of shit basically, as they are physically dangerous but have no compensating physical challenge attached. On the other hand this type of slippy slate and loose rocks may be a feature of the Lake District only (answers on a postcard please).

When I did manage to catch Helen we engaged in a fairly pointless discussion as to which side of Styhead Gill we were supposed to be walking on, when the single path was fairly obvious. In fact almost as pointless as the group of young Northern Irish walkers who stopped us to ask directions to nowhere in particular really. Anyway after more slips, rain, streams and puddles, we finally made it back to the car where the complete non-functioning nature of my £155 worth of Berghaus (note that name people) waterproof jacket and trousers became all too apparent. Also a walk that the ‘cut out’ said should take 3 hours took us the best part of 5 (lunch wasn’t that long surely) and was anything but moderate (in fact because of the descent, for me it was downright miserable). Incidentally apologies for the lack of quality photos, but once the rain started to chuck it down I decided to keep the camera hidden.

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