The Lads In The Lakes 2009
A slightly diminished group met up at MVADGAAS' secret hideaway at the Fayrer Garden Hotel. Only seven of us were present this year, the others having various prior engagements which prevented them from attending.
However the compact but bijou group made up for it by eating and drinking at least as much as the other chaps would have consumed and some.
The aim of this year was to attempt a climb up Helvellyn (England's 3rd highest mountain) from the Thirlmere side. This should have been a around a 4.5 mile walk taking about 4 hours. However on taking advice from Swifty (and we know what sort of advice he gives us!) we changed our minds and decided on walking from Glendridding on the Ullswater side.
In Swifty's defence this would allow us to get a better view of the mountain going up and meant we would ascend via Striding Edge and descend via Swirral Edge.
You can see us here (above) attempting to bulk up for the calories we would be burning off by stuffing our faces with a "Full Cumbrian".
The weather on the day was clear and sunny with a slight haze on the fells. On leaving the carkpark at Glenridding we initially realised we were lost and had to retrace our steps back to the car and follow a sign that said "Helvellyn this way". Observation is not one of our strong points.
Looking up at Birkhouse Moor
The first park of the walk was sunny and carefree althought as we began to climb out of the valley it got much harder and we were mostly all huffing an puffing on the way up. The path became quite steep as we climbed with traces of snow hinting at the temperatures that had affected the region a few weeks earlier.
Our route took us up to the left of Birkhouse Moor and up onto the plateau of Grisedale Brow that looks towards Helvellyn and Catsycam.
Helvellyn (centre) and Catstycam (right)
On gaining the higher ground we could suddenly see the extent of the walk (and climb) ahead of ourselves. In the image above you can see Helvellyn in the centre at the back with Striding Edge running along the top left of the picture.
Striding Edge's reputation certainly goes before it and it was with a sense of trepidation that we continued onwards, stopping briefly for lunch and to put extra clothing as the temperature dropped and the clouds rolled in.
The start of Striding Edge was pretty spectacular with a very narrow and exposed start over the very top of the rocks and a fairly scary drop of several hundred feet to the left. By this point quite a wind had got up and we had to be careful not to expose ourselves to it too much in case it lifted us off our feet.
From this we descended sharply down to a point where would could start the ascent of the main part of Helvellyn.
The last ascent was a short but steep climb up into the thick cloud of the summit. Nobody took any photos of this as all our hands were required to keep us attached to the mountainside!
Once up the top the cloud was very dense and it was easy to lose people. So a quick group shot was taken before be started a rather scary descent of Swirral Edge.
The start of this path was not very clear and dude to the cloud we weren't sure what we were dropping down into. Initially all we could see was a large pacth of snow which we had to tranverse by sliding down on our backsides using our walking poles as makeshift brakes. We could just about make out a couple of figures further down in the rocks so we tried to keep them in site and follow in their footsteps.
Eventually after dropping down over quite a steep set of rocks we found ourselves on a proper path and were able to follow this further down, the cloud at once point suddenly lifted by the wind to reveal Red Tarn and the way home.
We decided to take a longer but less arduous route back to the car park but this extended the lenght of the walk so we covered around 12 km in total. There was a certain amount of relief when we got back to the cars!
After finding out Keswick is shut a stick of rock is no solace
On Day 2 we decided to go to Keswick to play Pitch and Putt and visit the Car's The Star museum execpt they were all shut so we ended up at the world famous Pencil Museum where we mostly took the piss out of it.
Add to the mix some R&R at the Parklands Country club: swimming, hot tub, sauna and steam room to soothe our aching legs and feet. In all a great weekend away.
More photos from the event can be found here.