New Year in Keswick

I have been making it a habit to climb a mountain on New Year’s Day and I managed to maintain the tradition this year. On December 28th I drove up to the Lake District to join my walking group at Hawes End on the Western shore of Derwent Water. On the 29th a load of us set off walking together as far as Little Town where we split into two groups. One group headed up to Robinson while my lot ascended the ridge to Hindscarth. By the time we reached the summit the wind was gusting at 70 mph, making the frequent hail showers rather unpleasant. I took a short video on my old Cannon IXUS and although the quality is not great it is quite dramatic. The weather didn’t seem to be getting any worse so we continued on to Dale Head then down to Dalehead Tarn where we took advantage of some shelter to eat our sandwiches. After lunch we descended via Rigghead Quarries and joined the Allerdale Ramble for a fairly long but easy walk back to the centre.

Lunch at Dalehead Tarn

On the 30th I decided to have a rest day so I went back to bed for a while after breakfast. When I eventually got up I cleared the remaining breakfast stuff and had a bit of a tidy up before putting on my waterproofs to walk to Keswick in the drizzle. I had a look round The Puzzling Place, bought a Ben Elton book in the Oxfam Shop and sat for a while with a coffee in The Square Orange cafe bar before walking back. Whilst I was dossing a group went out and reached the summit of Skiddaw in relatively calm conditions. This was probably the only day where it was below freezing on the tops and there were reports of significant accumulations of snow.

Having had a rest day I was looking forward to getting out on the 31st so I joined a group planning to climb Sail. In fact, due to inclement weather most of them turned back after Scar Crags leaving me and five fellow masochists to carry on. Despite high winds and constant driving rain we reached Sail and carried on over Crag Hill to Grasmoor where there was a geocache to locate – any snow from the previous day had melted so with six of us it didn’t take long to find. We dropped down to Coledale Hause where, despite wet feet and no let-up in the weather, we all agreed to do Grisedale Pike. There were three reasons for this; to avoid a boring slog down the valley, to complete the Coledale Round (though we cheated by missing out Hopegill Head), and because there was another geocache to locate. Anyway, I always do the Coledale Round when I stay at Hawes End (see for example my report from two years ago), just like I always climb the Old Man of Coniston when I stay in Coniston. We found the geocache on Grisedale Pike and descended to Braithwaite, arriving just as it turned properly dark. I did the final two miles of road walking on autopilot, dreaming about being dry.

Crag Hill in the Rain

New Year’s Eve dinner featured Cumberland sausage as usual. After the main course the kids treated us to a performance of their own abridged versions of the first four Harry Potter films. I think I was the only person in the audience who had not read any of the books or watched any of the films, but that didn’t seem to matter too much. There was then desert, cheese and a quiz before seeing in the New Year with fireworks.

On New Year’s Day someone asked if I wanted to go for a run. I used to run a lot and had been meaning to start again so I agreed. We started off up Cat Bells but neither of us was really fit enough to run uphill so we just walked quickly and reached the top in about half an hour. We carried on to Maiden Moor and High Spy, running when we could, then it was then back down towards Dalehead Tarn to pick up the same return route as on my walk a few days earlier. Running back along by Derwent Water I got into my stride but was glad to get back to the centre for a shower and a cup of tea. The following day I was aching as I drove home but what a great way to start the year.


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