Striding Edge

A Lakeland Round (2011): Day 10 – Wednesday 13 July

Making up for yesterday

Despite me saying last night that I’d do today’s original planned walk and tack yesterday’s omitted walk on the end of it, I never thought I’d actually do it. But I have the aching feet to prove it….The day dawned fine and bright with high broken cloud and it stayed that way pretty much all day. Having been woken at 11pm when my room mate came to bed (ok, I can accept that, it was me that chose to go to bed early, but he faffed about for a long time when he did come to bed), then again at 5am (get your bladder seen to mate), at 6:30 when he got up, and finally at 7:15 when he returned from his ablutions (how the hell that took 45 mins in this place is baffling), I was up, dressed and in breakfast in 10 mins flat, as I thought I’d show him what efficiency looks like. Oh yes, and in that time I also filled my flask and packed for a day on the hill. I hope he was taking notes.

Breakfast was a bit tasteless, and slightly reminiscent of a Travelodge offering, but I forced it down as I was going to need the fuel. I left just as the school party turned up.

Heading up Glenridding Beck - Catstye Cam ahead
Heading up Glenridding Beck - Catstye Cam ahead

I was out walking for 8:25, heading up the track, then crossing Glenridding Beck to pick up the path to Red Tarn. Originally I was going to contour around Birkhouse Moor and join the route up from Patterdale, but realised last night that this way made more sense.

Red Tarn
Red Tarn

Relieved of my heavy pack, I made good progress, and after effectively a day off, I felt strong. Within an hour I was at Red Tarn, sharing the spot with a solitary wild camper. I paused a while to enjoy the tarn, as this was one of the serious premier league of lake district tarns. But, not wanting to waste time and hit rush hour on the Edge, I headed up the slanting path to the Hole-in-the-Wall and then along to the summit. While I was standing there a guy came up from the cairn at the end of the ridge and started an argument about hill lists – yes…..
Guy: the other one’s the Wainwright, you know.
Me: maybe, but this one’s a Nuttall and the actual summit.
Guy: hmph, another bastardized list like the Munros.
Me: so where you headed ?
Guy: up to Catstye Cam and Swirral Edge.
Me: don’t fancy Striding Edge then ?
Guy: not a Wainwright.
Me: well it is a Nuttall, so that’s ok then.

I left it there. He seemed to be missing the point that the list isn’t the be all and end all. The real point of them is to get you walking to worthwhile places (ok, I know that there are items on the lists that aren’t that worthwhile even though they technically qualify, but they are a small minority – the 2 I did on Monday being good examples). So by slavishly following only the Wainwrights, he was missing out on Striding Edge, whereas because I use an amalgam of both lists, I don’t. Anyway, looking at the fragment of DoBH I brought with me, my summit is shown as the Wainwright summit. I need to check this when I get home, but so there mate.

Helvellyn from Birkhouse Moor
Helvellyn from Birkhouse Moor

Anyway, back on with the walk. I retraced my steps to Hole-in-the-Wall and headed up to Low Spying How and, at the start of Striding Edge, High Spying How. I let a guy pass me, who looked like he’d be faster than me, which he was. I set off along the crest of the ridge, poles stowed in rucksack and flanking my head like a pair of horns.

Striding Edge
Striding Edge

Having not done the Edge before, I was surprised at how easy it was compared to Crib Goch, and I caught myself whistling as I strolled along the top of the knife edge at one point. I think I’d even have put my hands in my pockets if they weren’t already full of maps etc.

I reached the final rock tower, climbed up and over and now all that was left was the final bit up the loose rock slope. Just the sort of surface that I’ really good at slipping on, so off came my horns to give me some stability.

I reached the top, popped up to the summit and then took a rest in the shelter. Now for the other arrete – Swirral Edge. I walked over to the cairn marking the way and started down another loose rock slope, until the rocks of the arrete itself began. This time I did a combination of using the lower path and the top of the arrete, and before I knew it, it was done and I pacerpoled up to the summit of Catstye Cam, where I took another view break.

Swirral Edge
Swirral Edge

In particular I looked round to the north and the proposed extension of the walk over Sheffield Pike. I’d only been walking 3 hours, excluding breaks, felt relatively fresh, and had a whole afternoon left. So no question about calling it a day here and now and descending to the tarn and the hostel.

I made my way back along Swirral Edge and onto Helvellyn for the second time. A short descent later and I was on Lower Man. Barely stopping I headed down on a bigger descent, passing a guy doing path repairs, until I reaced the col with White Side. A bit of a slog up to the top them followed, but I still did it in one go.

Raise was a different matter and I did take a pause on the way up that one, but still got to the top fairly quickly, where I took a comms break. I looked across at Stybarrow Dodd and the arm of the fell that extends eastwards to form Greenside (a Nuttall) and then onto Hart Side. This ridge then declines gradually in stages to the road near Dockray.

But I wasn’t interested in that whole ridge, just as far as Hart Side. I resumed walking and headed down to Sticks Pass, then taking the sheep track that contours aound Stybarrow Dodd at about the 750m level. Gradually Green Side got nearer and I strode up onwards the last 50m of ascent, visiting all of the cairns. I looked down to Hart Side – it seemed a long way off. It was now 3pm and to get back at a sensible time I would need to get out to Hart Side and back round onto Sheffield Pike by, say, 4pm. It looked feasible, but by now I’d walked 9 miles, the legs were feeling less strong and my feet were starting to remind me of their presence.

I forged down the grassy hill, reaching Hart Side in just under 15 minutes. Barely pausing, I retraced my steps to the col and then contoured round on a faint path to the eastern spur of Green Side to do the descent to Sheffield Pike. Quite a steep one it was too, and I entertained thoughts of not bothering with Sheffield Pike, but reached the col and began the ascent.

Sheffield Pike and Glenridding Dodd
Sheffield Pike and Glenridding Dodd

Reaching it with 5 minutes to spare, I took a good look around. Glenridding Dodd, my final fell of the day, if I did it, was over 200m below. It was a seriously steep descent and the fact that there were apparent paths leading to the abyss was a concern. I knew there was a safe way down somewhere off to the right, and I found a path heading back that way, just passing close to one of several pools. The path descended fairly steeply down a small ridge and soon I was on Heron Pike. Then I resumed the descent, only losing my footing once, on a patch of mud.

Looking down on Glenridding Dodd
Looking down on Glenridding Dodd

I reached the col at 4:40 and looked up at Glenridding Dodd. Now do I do 40m of ascent now, or potentially 300m in the future. The sensible thing to do was do the fell now, and a 12 minute up and back bagged it. But I knew that I was going to pay for this tomorrow and might not be able to do all 3 fells – but better I leave one of those where the ascent was from the road than Glenridding Dodd.

I finished the descent to Glenridding and made my way back up the track to the hostel.

As I’m sitting here writing this, I can feel my legs starting to stiffen up, and I know I’m in trouble for tomorrow. But all I have to do is walk to the bus stop – it’s just that the bus stop I had in mind is on the A66, a 14 mile walk away. But I could easily just get the bus from Glenridding, or various other places along the route. This is looking like a distinct possibility.

After effectively a day off, my legs felt mighty this morning and my feet didn’t notice the hard stony ground beneath them. But they started to flag this afternoon and it’s debatable whether I should have done the extra walk. By doing so, I’ve actually done less distance and ascent overall than if I’d done them separately, but tell that to my legs.

Today’s stats

Distance: 14.03 miles / 22.58km
Ascent: 1211m
Descent: 1211m
Time: 7 hrs 5 mins
Speed: 1.98mph / 3.19kph
FES: 3.12mph / 5.02kph
Wainwrights (subtotal): 5 (29)
Nuttalls: 6 (19)
Hewitts: 3 (11)
Marilyns: 0 (4)
Trail 100s: 0 (1)
Birketts: 8 (49)
Points: 33 (181)

Note that these figures don’t include summits I’d already claimed in the past (e.g. Helvellyn, White Side and Raise).

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