Sunday, 23 October 2011

Blown away by the Great Gable

Well, here I am, back in the land of the living after a couple of nights away on Delores with zero phone signal.  It's amazing how out of touch you can feel after only 48 hours of living as we did 10 years ago.  Looking at the BBC website it doesn't seem we missed much...

Sour Milk Gyhll during a downpour
Although we were only camped in Troutbeck, just north of Ullswater, it meant we only had a 20 minute drive at the start and end of the big hike rather than an hour and 20 mins and when you're tired and cold it's comforting to know the gin and biscuits are only just down the road.  After we arrived on Friday we took a quick jaunt around to Sour Milk Ghyll during a torrential downpour and found it surprisingly easy to park at Seathwaite Farm, proof were it needed that the Cumbrian rain really does sort the men from the boys.  Or the sane from the mildly unhinged.  After an hour or so poking around and taking pics we headed back to the van to dry off and ready ourselves an assault on the Great Dodd on Saturday.

Saturday morning was glorious, but sadly I wasn't.  Hit by an annoying migraine I was doing battle with my stomach and head in a bid to remain vertical, but it takes more than that to keep me of the fells.  Not much more though, I really was feeling pretty rough.  I'd noticed during my frequent visits to the loo block (don't ask) that the fresh air was helping me feel somewhat more perky so I decided to crack on and make the sarnies.  It took me 3 attempts to get the sarnies made and packed with lots of lying down inbetween times.  Eventually I plonked myself in the car just after midday and demanded to be taken to a fell.  Given the lateness of our start and the state of my head we opted to return to Sour Milk Ghyll as we knew the path was an easy one and we could shoot back to the car at any time should the need arise.

As the weather was rather more lovely than it had been 24 hours earlier the nearest parking space we could find was right back at Seathwaite Bridge.  I have to confess I still wasn't entirely sure this was a good idea, but I'd shovelled in the painkillers and figured that migraines only get better and anyway, having something to take my mind off feeling rotten was bound to help no end.  I took it really slowly as we crossed the beck and headed up towards the falls and gradually the pills started to work their magic and soon with each step I was feeling brighter and brighter.  Hallelujah!  Buoyed by my rapidly returning faculties we decided to press onwards to Great Gable.  If you're bonkers enough to have read my blog from last year you'll know I have a great fondness of Great Gable and have been itching to climb it.

Our route took us up and over the top of Sour Milk Ghyll, up and over the top of Green Gable, down through Windy Gap and up to the summit of Great Gable before dropping back into Windy Gap, then down to Styhead Tarn then back past Taylorgill Force before crossing Stockley Bridge and heading back to the car.  It was an absolutely wonderful route with much to see and take pics of along the way.  One of the benefits of climbing a central fell is that you can see all of the other fells laid out around you, it's hard to imagine a more stunning view than the one from the top of Great Gable, as you look around you can see Wast Water, Haystacks, Buttermere, the Borrowdale Fells, Glaramara and of course Scafell Pike with Esk Pike & Bow Fell peeking out behind.

View down from Windy Gap
But we were blown away by more than the view, or at least we nearly were.  Windy Gap is called that for a very good reason and we'd been joking on the way up that if it was quite breezy down in the valley then what on earth would it be like there?  Windy.  The clue was in the name.  As we dropped down from Green Gable towards Windy Gap we were both blown off our feet twice and had to crouch low until the gust subsided, as soon as we crossed the gap and headed up Great Gable things calmed down a little, there's clearly something about the geology there that funnels the wind and anyone smaller and lighter than us would be well advised to remain tethered at all times to someone of a rather more sturdy build.  Pausing only to take some pics of Taylorgill Force we made it back to the car without incident and, thankfully, without a migraine.

Today (Sunday) we wanted to check out one last waterfall up at Caldbeck so we left Delores & a happily snoozing Monty in a suitable parking spot and headed even further north.  It all started off rather well when I found a £20 note on the grass verge.  If you cast your mind back to the blog a couple of weeks back you'll remember that I only had £1.02 to last me until the end of the month, so this is riches beyond my wildest dreams. Well, almost. 

It's a very different landscape up there as you skirt around the back of Blencathra and Skiddaw and I finally saw my very first red squirrels, cheekily sitting on a wall at the side of the road and watching the world go by.  I've waded through bogs, fought through forests and slogged up fells and I finally see my first red squirrels sat on a wall next to a B road. Typical.

The Howk at Caldbeck is only a 1/2 mile easy walk from the centre of the village and if you're unsure of the route then the very nice man in the Old Smithy Tea Room & Shop will give you a sheet with directions on for free.  To thank him for his kindness I blew some of my new found wealth on a bag of liquorice, you never know what emergency supplies you'll need on a 1/2 mile walk and maybe I could use them to lure more red squirrels out of hiding...

After that we wound our way back home and immediately plugged ourselves back into the hive/ internet.  I'm beginning to think The Matrix wasn't that wide of the mark afterall.  A few days away and it seems nothing much has changed in the world at large, same old doom and gloom glaring out of all the news websites.  Maybe if people took the time to get out into the fells it might blow away some of their angst and ill will?  Well it worked for my migraine anyway.