During the weekend of 8-10th of October four of us made it to the Lake District and with the weather forecast lacking certainty equipped ourselves for walking, scrambling and climbing.
We based ourselves in the Gillside Farm Campsite bunkhouse, uphill from Glenridding, Ullswater. The location was perfect for access to the hills and crags around Helvellyn and an easy drive from York. Nathan and myself arrived early in the evening and conveniently met later with Jenny and Charley (on his debut outing to the Lake District) at the Travelers Rest pub, just a few minutes walk from the bunkhouse.
Day one saw a warm but damp start with cloud and drizzle expected to shroud the higher ground. Our plan was to make a circuit to take in Pinnacle Ridge on St Sunday Crag, Fairfield and descend via Dove Dale and the Priest's Hole. This gave us options to avoid difficulties on the scramble and to descend early by other routes should the weather deteriorate.
Progress up Pinnacle Ridge was steady although the main technical obstacles were bypassed owing to the wet rock. The cloud was thickening towards the summit , however, the conditions were good enough to continue with the planned route. After lunch and Fairfield summit the drizzle was worsening so the route was cut short before reaching the Priests Hole and at Hart Crag we descended via Harsop above How.
The descent path was carefully negotiated over the steeper parts but became easier when lower down and out of the cloud. The walk along the valley floor to Glenridding allowed our outer layers and footwear to begin to dry out. It was a demanding day one, covering over 12.5 miles and 1100m of ascent.
Day 2 had a much improved weather situation. The fells were clear of cloud and although cooler, the sun was shining and the wind lower down was light. The route for day 2 was Helvellyn summit via a scramble up Eagle Crag and Nethermost Pike. Descent was from Sticks Pass and Glenridding Beck.
The scramble was good fun, much nicer to be climbing on dryer rock and difficulties could be easily bypassed if needed. The path up Nethermost crag was steep but easily negotiated and nearer the top gave the option of scrambling the crest of the ridge.
We negotiated the crowds without incident as we passed Helvellyn summit shelter. The wind was quite strong and cold over the summit ridge and to the north west there were distant signs of deteriorating weather. Clear views in all directions along our route to Sticks Pass provided the perfect opportunity for Charley to witness the subtle differences between the Lake District and the Netherlands.
The descent down the Sticks Pass track was quick and dry underfoot. By 4:30pm we were back at Gillside Farm, where we had left our cars. During day 2 we had covered over 10 miles and more than 1000m of ascent.
The weekend was a fun weekend, hard work and many miles for the out of practice but a great experience and perfect day to finish on Sunday. The bunkhouse was a success and would be easy to use again for other similar ventures. Thanks to Nathan, Jenny and Charley for making it such a good humoured, successful weekend.