Saturday, 28 January 2012

High speed hikers.

The path to the summit of Great Rigg
Great Rigg and Dove Crag
Not us but the several dozen other people we saw today who came steaming past us, we began to wonder if there was a Usain Bolt convention taking place at the top of Fairfield that we weren't aware of.  We're not all that slow but we do stop a lot to admire the view and take photos.

Maybe people live their entire lives at high speed and don't know how to slow down: race round at work every day, race up to the Lake District for the weekend, race around the fells, race back to the hotel, race to the bar, race to bed to be up early enough to race around and do it all again tomorrow.  I'm exhausted just typing about it.

Everyone's a critic!
The views today were definitely worth pausing to look at, it was our first proper experience of walking in snow and it was wonderful, hence this blog is rather heavier on the pictures and lighter on the words than usual.  As we were snowy first timers we picked a straightforward and not-too-long walk; Great Rigg and Heron Pike.

We parked in the layby just north of Grasmere and headed off, the route is well signposted and easy to spot so no bickering required.  The snow didn't start until we got above Stone Arthur and then the learning began, here's the highlights:

Great Rigg in Alcock Tarn.
  1. Paths in the snow are easy to find and follow but become slippy quite quickly as the snow gets trampled into ice.
  2. If you go "off piste" to avoid the ice then things become unpredictable; one step will be onto solid ground and the next will see you vanish up to your knee in snow.
  3. Walking uphill in soft snow is exactly the same as walking up a steep sand dune, only colder and a lot prettier.
  4. Although it's fun jumping around in 2 foot snow drifts the snow does find it's way into your boots if you're not wearing gaiters.
  5. If the sun is out then trust me, you'll need your sun glasses.  I've never been skiing and thought the poncy shades were just for posing in.
  6. The well trodden paths may not necessarily be going in the direction you need as we discovered when we headed off Heron Pike in the wrong direction.
  7. It's easier to walk "cross country" in the snow as we found out when we left Heron Pike, realised we were headed in the wrong direction and decided to plunge down to Alcock Tarn instead. 
Alcock Tarn is utterly breathtaking and well worth a hike in its own right and we're very glad we took an unscheduled detour.  As we followed the path back down towards Grassmere we watched a stunning sunset behind Lingmoor Fell and thought about all those people who'd come steaming past us and were now propping up an anonymous hotel bar and missing the show.  Worth the rush?

On Frozen Pond.

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