A Quick (?) Leg Stretch
Today I arrived in the Lake District for 11 days of walking, on a mission to mop-up some odds and ends of fells and also to knock off most of the western fells. Travelling up today, meant a short walk in the afternoon, with the only sensible choice being Dodd, an odd leftover fell and within easy range of Keswick. But it turned out to be much harder than planned…..I stepped off the train at Penrith after 3 hours of the guy opposite talking with barely a pause, into what seemed the relative tranquillity of one of Cumbria’s busiest towns. With the best part of an hour to wait for the bus to Keswick, I sat and ate my lunch and watched the comings and goings of people.
Once on the bus, the fells opened up on each side – first Great Mell Fell on the left which should be my final fell of this trip; then the Blencathra group on the right with Sharp Edge quite clear; Clough Head seemed to take a while to get past; then as we approached Keswick the North-Western Fells and in particular Causey Pike with it’s cranial bumps.
I was at the B&B for about 2:20 but no-one was in when I got there, which I’d expected, but there was no envelope with my key, which I had expected. I had a good look around, called them and then sat for a while deciding what to do. Had they or I got the wrong day ?
Eventually, I thought I’d simply leave my stuff in the porch and go for a walk, checking-in later instead. I changed, sorted my gear, left a note and headed off.
Walking through Keswick at school chucking out time, it felt quite late to be heading out for the day. I walked through Crosthwaite heading for the Allerdale Ramble paths to take me through the farmland of Ormathwaite, Applethwaite and Millbeck. Stop-start as usual in the early stages of a walk as I got comfortable, took photos and navigated through the fields.
Once at Millbeck, I didn’t follow the marked Skiddaw path and stayed on the road towards Lyzzick Hall, leaving it a short way afterwards to head up across the very foot of Carl Side towards Lyzzick Wood. Reaching a wall, I could either cross into the forest or follow the wall along faint tracks through the bracken.
I chose the security of the proper path, despite some reservations about navigating through the forest. But it seemed to go ok, although there was big potential to get lost – I used the old rule of heading upwards whenever faced with a choice.
After some fainter than expected paths I emerged onto a stony track and could see the summit ridge. I followed the track away from the summit heading towards Long Doors, the col between Dodd and Carl Side. Then round to the left and up a track that zigzagged its way to the summit.
At the top I tried out my new pacerpole camera mount and then considered my route down. It was just after 5:30 and I wanted to get to the road as fast as possible to get a bus back to Keswick. So I took tracks that seemed to go that way, but I soon found myself heading northwest along the flank of the hill, descending but very gradually.
With a myriad of forest tracks, all I could do was take tracks that headed downwards. At a crossroads I tried the left option which initially dipped downwards towards Keswick but soon after started rising. Try again. The straight-on option turned out to end in trees and a desperate thwack through the trees to regain the path. I emerged to the sound of running water which turned out to be Skill Beck. But the path was wide, a good surface and led down to the road at Mirehouse, where there was a bus stop. However, the last bus had gone when I was still on the summit.
I began walking south along the A591 towards Keswick, and an hour and a half later arrived, with a further 5 miles of road walking added to the 6.5 I’d already notched up.
A shower and phone home later and it was nearly 9 before I headed out for food, which as is my tradition on the first night in Keswick was fish and chips. Then I retired to my room for much needed rest. Although 11.5 miles isn’t that long, in just over 4 hours including nearly 500m of ascent, and after an early start, I’d had enough for the day and just needed bed.
Today in figures
Distance: 11.29 miles / 18.16km (v planned 4.78miles)
Duration: 4 hrs 15 mins*
Average speed: 2.66mph / 4.27kph
Flat-equivalent speed: 3.41mph / 5.48kph**
Wainwrights: 1 (Dodd, 502m)
*duration is as per timed on gps watch. I stop the timer for significant pauses so this figure reflects as closely as possible actual walking time.
**using a conversion rate of 500ft (150m) ascent being equivalent to an extra mile of flat walking, ascent is added to actual distance to get a flat-equivalent distance, then divided by time to get the speed. The idea of this is to provide comparability between walks and against my normal everyday urban walking speed of 3-4 mph. Adjustment factor comes from an article in Trail where this was used to compensate for lack of hills (ie hiw much extra distance to simulate a certain amount of ascent).
***my hill list has points from 1 to 10 for each hill reflecting its height (1 + 1 for each 1000ft), its prominence from its neighbours (ie whether it’s a Marilyn, Hewitt etc) and quality (bonuses for being a Trail 100, Wainwright etc). This system helps prioritise my hillbagging, as well as giving some measure of the quality and intensity of a walk. The Lake District hills total 1939 points.