Monday, 19 May 2008

Great Gable - One Step Beyond

Windscale, Sellafield, Seascale, it’s all the same place, but for anyone who remembers TCR this was the place where fishes had three heads and frogs could jump over mini clubmans. Everyone knew that it was only a matter of time before it blew up….lets just hope it’s a long way away and those mountains are BIG.

This may be 25 years too late, but for anyone who is still worrying, its bloomin miles away and the mountains are massiver than Man City. (Although maybe not that blokes ego who is in charge, even Man City fans must realise its going to go badly wrong off the deep end). Its definitely quicker to get to London from Warrington than it is to get to The West Lakes. The directions are easy, up the M6,hang a left at Kendal and follow the road….round and round and round and round.

As you approach Windscale and The West Lakes, EVERYTHING gets bigger, bushes, flowers, trees, palm trees, frogs and mountains. Ok I made up frogs and I probably can’t blame nuclear activity on the size of the mountains. Virtually the whole of the top ten size English mountains are here and its spectacular.

Skip this bit if you wish to avoid a rant

The only thing that spoiled the journey was the one road sign that reminded me of the latest batch of Cheshire roadsigns. Its not just the utter waste of money or even the absolute ugliness that annoys me, but the meaningless of the words.

2450 casualties in 5years! ( add a couple of councillors in please)

What is a casualty? tripped off the kerb maybe! and where does the road being measured stop and start. All the roads join up so why not just have running totals for the whole county like cricket scoreboards at every junction? oh and while I’m on one, what are the start and end date of the 5 years.

Its worse in Cheshire, we have 8 of these signs on a 1 mile stretch of the A49 near my house (I bet they count great crested newts as casualties in Cheshire). Anyway we have one that reads ‘Police Enforcement Area’ – like anywhere else isn't, and it goes on to say ‘drink drivers will be severely punished’. I’ve never noticed the Warrington Vigilante police, but I’ll be much more careful walking home from the pub tipsy in future. They may move on to pavements.

I met up with Craig at Gosforth or ‘the real Gosforth’ as he calls it, anything to annoy the Geordies eh! We then headed off to the National Trust Campsite which we hadn’t booked another ‘it’ll be fine moment’. As it turned out it was. We passed Wastwater on the way and it is ominously beautiful, the steep skree sides and the dark water of England's deepest lake give it an evil feel. That was before the dead body stories.

Great campsite, a spot by the river (cool beer and snoring cover) and 5 minutes later my only child 2 man tent is sorted. True to form Craig has another new tent and an hour later after a not insignificant amount of hurumphing we are all sorted. Its about 5pm and time for a BBQ snacket and some beers. After last weeks hello there woops I’ve brought nothing from Craig, it was my turn to return the favour. Nice lamb chops though, the ideal BBQ meal cooked in 5 minutes and a nice bone/handle to hold whilst eating.

Buying blokes over 30 yr old presents must be a nightmare, and Craig had brought the proof with him. Ten years worth of ‘interesting’ alcohol from around the world. Banana beer Sir? no thanks. Cactus Cider? erm go on then. A couple of hours later we headed off to the Wasdale Head pub for some tea and to plan our attack on Great Gable. At this stage we still didn’t have a clue which of the 8 mountains around us it was.

Top picture by me

Great Gable is the 10th highest peak in England and at 899m it’s a long way up. We had originally ‘planned’ to start at Honiston Pass 1000ft up the mountain – unfortunately there is no through route to Honiston Pass from Wasdale (at least an hour in the car). Our new plan was to follow the crowds in the morning, this may have been the banana beer talking. So the pub was good, more top cider, top lamb and very odd staff who I originally thought came from the four corners of the earth but on reflection may have just been closely related folk of Cumbria. It was dark as we left, time to test our navigation skills……..we chickened out and went the long way round via the road. The river worked, no audible snoring and a great night sleep ready for the mountain.

We decided to call in at the local shop on the way to pick up a map, but a combination of poor choice and going for the cheap guide book option £1.99, left us with a map Rosie could have drawn. Follow the big dots up the picture of the hill and if you didn’t like that, follow the dashy lines down. At least there was a picture of a church and we could only see one so that had to be the way……it was also a bad way. The wall of the church around the small graveyard was low enough to read the tombstones most of which had the words ‘died on the mountain’ in a prominent position. oh good!

After a steady incline of about a mile we reached the foot of Great Gable and overtook the old age pensioners who were going to be our pacesetters for the day. The terrain immediately turned loose and rocky which meant lots of concentration and looking at my boots for most of the walk. The good news was that Craig is a very keen on views and insisted on stopping every couple of hundred yards just so we didn’t miss one. After an hour of fairly steep climbing the local pensioner quietly asked if my friend was going to be ok and did he know he was only one third of the way up? More climbing, more panting for breath and sometime later we arrived at Sty Head Tarn. It was absolutely gorgeous, in fact the weather was a bit too gorgeous as the temperature had been climbing faster than we were.

The OAP lady that raced us
Whilst laying recovering a few things occurred to me. 1) Pen-Y–Ghent had been a doddle, 2) We may not make it to the top, 3) it may not have been the greatest plan ever to tackle a top ten hill at this stage. Great Gable gets really steep here and here is the Wikipedia description of this part of the walk

'Wasdale can also make use of Sty Head pass, before slogging up the south east ridge, or the scree filled Aaron Slack'

So slog up we did, there wasn’t much idle chat as conserving energy and full concentration were needed. We climbed fairly quickly and just as I got my second wind, Craig needed a break. In good old only child fashion I left him to it and headed off for the summit an estimated half hour away. You really don’t want to be climbing up here in the wet, sections were hand and feet climbing on pretty unsure ground. I had a real bambi leg moment as I went over yet another false peak. Having had yet another rest I looked about to see I was higher than virtually every other hill and I could see below that Craig hadn’t died and was moving up again – phew. The final clamber over the rocks only took another 10 minutes and suddenly I was at the top. I don’t know whether it was the relief or the fantastic views but I did suddenly feel fantastic. Almost a Primal Scream moment, which lasted a good while.

Then as the old lady with the walking sticks came into view my thoughts turned to my struggling pal. Well actually to the sausage sandwich he was carrying for me, but it’s the thought that counts. I wandered over to the Northern edge just as Craig crested the final ridge. I’m guessing but I think that the huge grin was the knowledge that there was no more UP today.


The dash dash dash route down just had to be shorter than the dotty route up. It was, but as a consequence it was a heck of a lot steeper and blinking dangerous. If we had tried to climb up this way we would have been skewered on some jutty out rock by now. It took just as much effort as uphill with the bonus of hurting your knees more. The only redeeming feature was that we followed the waterfall down and could refill our water bottles. OK so Sellafield Heads and filtered sheep's piss was a bit of a risk but it tasted fantastic. It took a good two hours to scramble back down and all my joints were struggling by the time we hit firm ground at the bottom.

The truth is that this walk hurt a lot and wasn’t enjoyable in the classical sense, but the adrenalin rushes made up for the short comings as did the views. We even skipped a last pint so I could get home for a rest and avoid the vigilante police.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

[url=]online casino[/url], also known as arranged casinos or Internet casinos, are online versions of normal ("confrere and mortar") casinos. Online casinos approve gamblers to skedaddle subdivide in and wager on casino games from start to effluent the Internet.
Online casinos habitually volunteer odds and payback percentages that are comparable to land-based casinos. Some online casinos call on on higher payback percentages with a conclusion famous for scheme games, and some set in motion known payout consequence profit audits on their websites. Assuming that the online casino is using an aptly programmed unsystematic many generator, forward movement games like blackjack coveted an established possess the ability in place of edge. The payout participation hound of these games are established erstwhile times the rules of the game.
Differing online casinos employ thoroughly or assemble their software from companies like Microgaming, Realtime Gaming, Playtech, Wide-ranging War-game Technology and CryptoLogic Inc.