Friday, September 1

Lakes District - Trip report in a nutshell -Day 3

I awoke early to yet more rain so with one eye on worsening weather I was on the move before 7 a.m. My plan had originally been to wander up to Glaramara and then camp at Three Tarns, but feeling that the last two days walking had finished too early in the day I decided to have one long push all the way to Coniston for a night at one of the Old Man's tarns. A longish route of around 14 miles, with yet another drop down and up from a valley.

But all that was to soon change.

A pleasant walk up from Sprinkling Tarn and onto Esk Hause was in reasonable weather. I even saw the sun a couple of times. A couple of other early starters off in the distance, other than that I had this usually busy route to myself.

After some wonderful shots down the Langdale valley, I moved up onto Esk Pike, heading for Ore Gap. A last look from Ore Gap back along my route to Sprinkling Tarn, showed cloud rolling in. Not a good sign, and then the cloud closed in. That was the last view I was to see for many hours.

The broken ground onto Bowfell was increasingly difficult to move over with such poor conditions. The rain had set in with a vengeance, driven by a very strong westerly wind, which as I walked along the ridge was giving me a difficult time. I realised how difficult when I came across one of the Lakeland heroes - the solitary Fellrunner. "Which Crinkle is this?" I asked. He smiled and replied "It's Bowfell". Oops. Not going to get to Coniston at the rate I was moving along.

I'd been over Bowfell a couple of times in the past, but in these conditions I seemed to spend the majority of my time checking compass, map and GPS. Route finding was a nightmare.

At one point I managed to turn myself totally around almost returning the way I had just come until I rechecked the compass and realised the wind that had been on my right cheek, was now on my left. Idiot! But so easily done with no reference points around.

I realised that the walk to Coniston was not going to happen if these conditions continued. And aware of the dangerous ground on Bowfell it made sense to continue with caution. Finally I started to descend from Bowfell summit and the westerly wind blew just enough cloud away to reveal Three Tarns.

It was still only late morning, and looking at the exposure in this area I realised this was not going to be a camping option unless the weather was really quite good. In the brief respite before the cloud closed back in I could see the start of Crinkle Crags ahead of me, covered in thick clouds.

Decision time. I was well equipped for bad weather, but had already been moving for some hours and was moving too slowly if I wanted to hit Coniston later in the day. And then I was travelling alone. Not a problem in reasonable weather, or over less broken ground, but at this rate I was just going to have to deal with more of the same.
And as to enjoyment? Part of the appeal of this route was the panoramic view as I travelled along the ridge.

So the decision was clear - descend down The Band. A disappointment, but discretion the better part of valour and all that ..... it's all part of solo walking, assessing the risk and making the sensible decision in the circumstances.

A good choice as it turned out. I didn't see anyone until I neared that bottom of The Band. And from the garb of the day trippers totally unprepared for the conditions that I had just left (tennis shorts and polo shirt!)

My regretful backward glances along the ridge southwards reinforced my choice. Crinkle Crags and Cold Pike stayed hidden behind thick cloud, and the rain continued to fall.

So my trip ended at the Dungeon Ghyll pub, perversely exactly a year to the day that I'd been driven down from the Langdale Pikes by rain and gale force winds.

Ho hum - that's the breaks of hillwalking in the Lake District

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