The plan was for a car drop approach and do the Wasdale - Honister (leg4) BG route on the Saturday and one of two routes picked off the Yorkshire walker website on Sunday. These being either the Thirlmere round or Grasmere Skyline.
With the Bob Graham map suggesting a leg time of 5h35m for leg 4 its was an early start for us to meet and drop a car at Honister pass around 7-7:30 and driving up in the morning brought all 4 seasons. It was fine when I set off then rain started around Manchester and as soon as I got off j36 past Kendal visibility had dropped to around 10 metres and a sprinkling of snow had fell on the roads. By the time I reached Keswick and headed for Borrowdale it was fine again and about 3.5 degrees according to the car.
|Honister pass. Worse than it looked.|
With no phone signal I headed back towards Keswick to phone Mark and Danny and suggested we knock the BG recce on the head. Honister was bad enough and then we would have to get to Wasdale. I had to just leave a message.
With no sign of them half an hour later and the sun now making an appearance I decided to head back to Honister and see if they were there. The morning sun would likely melt off the surface ice.
Half way up the pass, slightly farther than I had got last time, there they were, Mark and Danny skating gingerly around their car. They had done the exact same thing and ended up with the car at a right angle blocking off the whole road. The other 2 guys were still gathering grit salt to get their car out.
We all eventually got down and parked up at Seatoller car park near the bottom of Honister pass for a re-think of a route.
|Ascending from Honister|
|Black Sail Pass|
|Not a monochrome photo. It was all B/W anyway|
|Mark on Fleetwith Pike|
|Buttermere Valley from Fleetwith|
Sunday brought some new enthusiasm after all of us feeling tired from the previous days early start. A good evening feed and breakfast at the surprisingly good Grasmere YHA really sorted us out. At £34 for a bed, breakfast and evening 3 course meal you can't go wrong. The chap at reception delighted in telling us that everything in Grasmere was aimed at Southerners. When he realised I wasn't from up North like Mark and Danny he quickly added 'I mean like round Kent way'. I don't see Stafford as South. It's in the middle like Midlands!
The 20 and 22 mile routes we'd planned for the day seemed a bit too ambitious given the snowy conditions underfoot so we were to go for the Grasmere Skyline with the Rydal water flat section removed.
This turned out to be a good call as we were back out onto the fells in no time working the breakfast off. We decided to making a beeline for Heron Pike and climb straight up and take the hit.
From Heron Pike we took in Great Rigg then Fairfield and dropped down to the base of Seat Sandal and the edge of the invisible Grizedale Tarn. We skirted Seat Sandal as we couldn't see the top and the snow looked very deep on the ascent. A quick sandwich at Dunmail Raise and we were into BG territory again.
|Snow around Seat Sandal (Note orienteering style map & compass||)|
We followed the BG route through Calf Crag then Sergeant man before making the decision to head back via Easdale Tarn and good running all the way back to Grasmere. Again we could have done some more but we didn't want to be out after nightfall.
|Looking back into Grasmere|
|Heron Pike - Great Rigg|
I can see now why people get so obsessed over the Bob Graham round. We only took in a handful of peaks but I was always on the lookout for the some others and checking where the route would go on the map. I don't think I'll be attempting a full round any time soon but will try and do it all in sections in the next year and see how I feel then. 42 at 42 maybe. I've still got 5 years to go. Fitness wise I could maybe hobble round it but you need that specific climbing and descending in the legs.
Navigation wise I found it helpful having the map in hand all the way round on both days. I'm now used to having the map and thumb compass on constantly for orienteering and found myself navigating fine like that all the time. The gps only came out on the odd occasion to check the grid reference.
So. A perfect weekend out with great scenery, good company and just as much enjoyment as in any race I've done and all for free.
Bring on next year. I'll start working on the passout now.