The forecast was not terribly inspiring but I was looking for a full day out, so plumped for the Lakes 3000s on the basis that there isn't a lot of high level ridge traversing and I could therefore manage the wind. I'd seen two forecasts - one predicting winds gusting to 60mph and the other to 100mph. For the most part, the former was correct, but on Scafell it was closer to the latter.
|The top of Deep Gill on a rather better day|
From there on things got better. Although it was gusty and the gully was more of a stream, I was in the shelter down by Foxes Tarn. I missed the best line traversing to Mickledore and end up on some fairly precarious ground. Glad to be off this, I slogged up to the Pike which was surprisingly calm by comparison. Here I met my first person and we had a chat as we rested in the lee of the cairn. There was a bit of fresh snow on the Pike but nothing much in reality. I ran off in the murk to Esk Hause where a band of walkers were struggling into the wind and rain. Fortunately (or actually as I'd planned), the wind was with me and I made good progress to Stake Pass and round the back of High Raise on the Old County Tops route. The Bog was predictably oozing water as I sloshed with cold feet down to Wythburn.
I had my sandwiches in the shelter of the woods, feeling pretty soggy but warm enough to make the ascent of Helvellyn. I elected to take the track as I was starting to feel a bit weary. At the top I had to face into the wind for the first time and such was its strength that I couldn't run even downhill. My cagoule was pressed hard against my throat and my balaclava obscured my eyes somewhat, so I was glad to drop off Brown Cove Crags. I filled up with water at a stream, having only had less than a litre and then jogged in to the wind all the way along the road into Keswick. There was quite a lot of traffic and the 7 miles were quite unpleasant, but with ensuing dark and my fatigue I really didn't want to add in High Rigg.
At the car I had some juice and a bite to eat, then set off up Skiddaw. By Jenkin Hill I'd entered the mist and discovered that my torch batteries needed charging. Too late now. I fumbled along in the dark and rising wind. It was a hard gruelling ascent at this time of day, having to face in to the wind and exert more energy. Somehow I managed to miss the gate before the traverse beneath Low Man, but quickly realised what was happening and dropped off back to the track. Fearful of the wind, on the ridge, I skirted beneath the South top of Skiddaw, but soon discovered that the wind wasn't that bad after all. With my rather puny light it was difficult to see however, and it was a very slow walk over to the main top.
On the descent, I once more lost the huge path and was headed toward Low Man. Someone must have wanted me to go there! Again I dropped down to the main track and ambled down with wooden legs. It was good to drop out of the mist and see lights on Latrigg. In the woods I passed two parties heading off for BG attempts. Their impressive torch beams put my own to shame but I didn't envy them their night out. At 8:30 I arrived back at the car and all that remained was a visit to the chippie in Keswick.