We kicked off at Dunmail Raise, parking on the grass verge on the dual carriageway section and then made our way up Raise Beck, which got slippier and slidier the whole way. It's actually easier walking in snow than it is walking through the snow line where everything is frozen and there's not a grippy spot to be found. An hour later and we were up at Grisedale Tarn for our first grub stop. I'd promised that we'd stop every hour to keep topped up, in reality we stopped after one hour, then after 2 hours and then not again until we were most of the way back to the car. The thing that I've learned about walking in snow is that it doesn't lend itself to breaks; firstly there's nowhere to sit and secondly it's so bloomin' cold you don't want to stop anywhere for long.
At the top of Dollywagon Pike the mist rolled in like something out of the Mummy (if the Mummy had been filmed on a cold Lake District fell and not a hot dusty desert). Totally disorientated in the mist and snow we very nearly took an extreme shortcut down High Crag but stopped just in time. The mist cleared and we resumed our route to the top of Helvellyn, and we were in good company, there were several dozen other people who also thought playing in the snow at 950m seemed like a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
|Unhelpful Snow and Mist Combo|
We made our way down via Birk Side and then the slipping and slithering began in earnest. If we stuck to the path then we slipped over (well I slipped over, Steve remained irritatingly vertical at all times), and if I went off the path to find some grip I inevitably also found a deep drift, at one point vanishing up to my thigh. I may only have little legs, but that was still pretty deep. We followed the path as best we could, tracking the footprints of everyone before us, but suddenly they all stopped as if simultaneously beamed aboard an alien spaceship.
|Helvellyn Trig Point|
Undeterred Steve found something that "looks like a path" so we followed that. Eventually I asked "are there any footprints ahead of us that don't belong to sheep?" "Erm..." Thanks to Steve's intrepid nature and dead on sense of direction we made it back to the path at the foot of Birk Side and were back at the car by 6pm.
So here I sit, in a blissful and barely legal high induced by painkillers and a red wine so "full bodied" it practically requires a knife and fork to drink it. Dinner is smelling wonderful and in a few minutes I shall devour a mountain of chips and a good sized steak - not a bad way to end the day really.