Archive for February, 2015

Lake District Ski Club Operating Today

20/02/2015

I was on a Fix the Fells volunteering day today around the Ullswater Valley. We decided to undertake a drain run (clearing path drains and sweeping pitched paths) up Sticks Pass on to Helvellyn Lower Man and back via Keppel Cove with half of the group, and the other half branching off to Glencoyne and back via Seldom Seen to Glenridding.

The view of Catstycam as we made our way up to Greenside Mine at Glenridding indicated some light snowfall overnight but nothing major. This week since I got back from the Cairngorms on Monday evening has seen some very spring like weather which has melted lots of the snow.

Catstycam with a sprinkling of light overnight snow seen from Greenside Mine, Glenridding.

Catstycam with a sprinkling of light overnight snow seen from Greenside Mine, Glenridding.

The walk up from Sticks Pass takes you past the lake District Ski Club based on Raise. It’s sense good recent skiing but I didn’t expect to see it open today. Quell Surprise! Not only was it open and running, there was still some half decent skiing to be had. With the weather forecast indicating colder weather and more snow this weekend, maybe winter sports will persist a little longer in the Lake District.

The Lake District Ski Club on Raise (883m), part of the Helvellyn Range

The Lake District Ski Club on Raise (883m), part of the Helvellyn Range

As we reached the top of Sticks Pass, it started to snow quite well and we needed to head south up to Whiteside Bank which was a solid block of ice when we tried to climb it. A brief stop at the cairn to admire the rapidly disappearing view and it was onwards to find a suitable sheltered area for lunch near Keppel Cove.

Cairn on the way from Raise to Keppel Cove (883m) and quite chilly!

Cairn on the way from Raise to Keppel Cove (883m) and quite chilly!

It was quite difficult to gain any help from the surroundings on the plateau and with driving snow, it was a case of heading due south towards Keppel Cove to locate our path. Having found it, we descended to a sheltered depression for much need lunch for some of us (not Phil!) and a chance to admire the view of Catstycam’s North Face, Brown Cove and Swirral Edge.

Heading for lunch as we walk towards Brown Cove - Catstycam in the distance

Heading for lunch as we walk towards Brown Cove – Catstycam in the distance with Swirral Edge to the right

The walk down to Glenridding is always a gentle amble taking in the view opening up in front of you (Ullswater, Glenridding Dodd, Place Fell, High Street etc) and not a walk to rush!

The view from our lunch spot - perfect!

The view from our lunch spot – perfect!

Once back in Glenridding, our customary finale is tea or something a little stronger (Cumberland Ale) for men Ratchers Bar in the Glenridding Hotel.

Another productive day for the Fix the Fells Volunteers (3 routes completed and a great day of company with a turnout of 13 volunteers).

If you want to learn more about the Fix the Fells work or would like to become a volunteer to look after these wonderful fells check out the website at www.fixthefells.com

You will be assured of a warm welcome from like minded people and guaranteed to have a lot of fun as well as doing something very important in maintaining the Lake District Fells.

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Has spring arrived in Mardale before half term?

08/02/2015

It was -4c at the car park at Mardale Head with clear skies and the moon just disappearing from view at 0830 this morning. Having left home in fog in the Eden Valley, I wasn’t expecting too much of a day in Mardale. How wrong I was! As soon as I climbed out of the valley at home, the sky cleared and it started to look more like the weather forecast with the high pressure still dominating the north west.

Looking into Whelter Crags across Haweswater

Looking into Whelter Crags across a partly frozen Haweswater

Apart from Christine and my cars, there were only a couple of others there as we arrived – Mardale can be such a daft place to walk if the weather is unkind and the lack of cars seemed not to bode well. The fine weather of the last couple of days has thawed the snow at the lower levels but anything above 250m is still well covered. The Hardwick sheep are looking ready to lamb in the north east lake district – a sign of spring perhaps?

Kidsty Pike in the February sun

Kidsty Pike in the February sun

It’s easy to believe that maybe Spring is on its way when you sit in the snow and warm yourself in the morning sun watching the aeroplane contrails in the blue sky.

Basking in the Caribbean on a sandy beach ?? No - just the Lake District in the snow

Basking in the Caribbean on a sandy beach ?? No – just the Lake District in the snow

Wonder where they are headed?

Wonder where they are headed?

Memo to self: charge camera battery so it lasts longer than coffee break – doh!

Still another spectacular day in my back yard – good company, great scenery, and stunning Spring weather – maybe!!! Watch this space – half term is looming !!

Whatever happens – I love my job and the place I live 🙂

A sultry winter’s day in Buttermere

07/02/2015

Myself and 11 friends headed out to Buttermere amid concerns about Newlines and Honister passes being potentially blocked by the snow. Fortunately, the Honister Pass was pretty clear with just a few ice spots on the way down under the shadow of Fleetwith Pike, but nothing that a Volvo couldn’t handle!

The weather was forecast to be 6c and wind less with cloud cover and it was pretty much spot on. The calm start from Hassness up Scarth Gap was pretty ‘balmy’ for a February morning. Butter mere is always peaceful but even more so on a quiet Friday morning in February.

The view from Hassness towards Haystacks

The view from Hassness towards Haystacks

The shadows on the still lake made for some lovely shots even if the tops were still shrouded in mist and fog.

As the day warmed up, the mist retreated and it made for good walking weather even if Jane, Milo, David and I were left behind as we snapped away at the scenes.

Looking towards Crummock Water as the mist started to lift and reveal the mountain landscape

Looking towards Crummock Water as the mist started to lift and reveal the mountain landscape

The pictures have a slightly monochrome effect due to the flat light, but I think it adds to the drama of the area and makes a change from all those lovely blue sky photographs we always see 🙂

A 'classic' Buttermere view as we look towards Fleetwith Pike on the left and Haystacks on the right

A ‘classic’ Buttermere view as we look towards Fleetwith Pike on the left and Haystacks on the right

I’m always a sucker for reflections and the magic texture of water so no surprise to see that there are some more

I love this view from Crag Wood at any time of the year. The water of Comb Beck can clearly be seen tumbling down to Buttermere, watched by High Crag and Chapel Crags to the right heading up to Red Pike

I love this view from Crag Wood at any time of the year. The water of Comb Beck can clearly be seen tumbling down to Buttermere, watched by High Crag and Chapel Crags to the right heading up to Red Pike

After coffee we headed over and up through Burtness Wood to Old Burtness and the track up to Red Pike. It would have been good to have climbed to Blueberry Tarn but the snow line and black ice became more prevalent at 240m so we made our lunch stop there just after the deer fence.

Lunch stop looking over Crummock Water with Mellbreak on the left and Whiteless Pike on the right

Lunch stop looking over Crummock Water with Mellbreak on the left and Whiteless Pike on the right

Lunch stops are always an entertaining time, catching up on stories and funny anecdotes

Lunch stop

Lunch stop

After heading back down to Buttermere and an afternoon tea stop, it was a very pleasant walk along the lakeshore to Hassness. Another two routes done and 12 friends enjoying the day with Fix the Fells.

The end of the day as the sun tries to break through the cloud.

The end of the day as the sun tries to break through the cloud.

Fix the Fells are a team of skilled rangers and volunteers who repair and maintain the mountain paths in the Lake District with funding from donations and partners. A combination of millions of pairs of walking boots, the weather and gradient means that erosion is a constant problem. Our path work reduces erosion scars and also helps protect the ecology and archeological heritage of our beautiful landscape. If you would like to help by making a donation of time or money, please see the website at www.fixthefells.co.uk

Experts warn that hazardous cheap crampons could bend when used

05/02/2015

Mountain experts have warned of the dangers of buying substandard crampons.

Cheap crampons can bend

Cheap crampons can bend

The British Mountaineering Council said cheap crampons on sale ‘on the most well known online trading site’ have bent and folded in on themselves, putting users at risk.

Dan Middleton posted the warning on the BMC’s website. He said: “They look superficially similar to a product from a well known and very reputable European manufacturer, but these are not by any stretch comparable to a real pair of crampons.

“Crampons sold within the EU must conform to EN 893, which sets a minimum standard for the strength of the points, the frame and any attachment points or bales. Such a crampon will be CE marked and have both the name of the manufacturer and the year of manufacture marked on it.

“In addition there will be attached to the new crampons a set of instructions telling you what you need to know about fitting, inspecting and maintaining them.

“The imitation crampons being sold online don’t conform to these standards and are a hazard to anybody who ends up relying on them for their security whilst out on the hill. If you have bought a pair, contact your local trading standards office.”

Mr Middleton said, though it’s possible to buy proper crampons online, he recommends taking boots with you to a reputable retailer to make sure they fit your winter footwear.

There is also advice in a video on the BMC website on buying crampons.

article courtesy of Grough and John McHale, reporter

A great way to declutter your brain!

04/02/2015

The Lake District Fells are so beautiful at this time of year, especially with some pristine snow. I walked over Askham Fell up on to Arthur’s Pike and Whinney Crag to clear my sinuses and declutter my brain!

As you can see the landscapes are truly lovely and it reaffirms that there is no better place on earth than to spend your time. Of all the places I’ve travelled, the Lake District still ranks high on my favourite places. On top of that, I only saw two people during the whole day – what a treat – no traffic jams, no ski lift queues, no crowded beaches – just perfect solitude and beauty.

Yours truly on Whinney Crag with Helvellyn in the background towering over Ullswater

Yours truly on Whinney Crag with Helvellyn in the background towering over Ullswater

Looking towards Glenridding from Arthur's Pike

Looking towards Glenridding from Arthur’s Pike

Looking out towards Rampsbeck Hotel

Looking out towards Rampsbeck Hotel

Helvellyn with Striding Edge  to the left, Swirral Edge to the right and Catstycam in front

Helvellyn with Striding Edge to the left, Swirral Edge to the right and Catstycam in front

Try out a declutter session for yourself and see what the Lake District can do for you. If you need a guide or fancy some navigation training or winter skills practice, give me a call.

Winter Apps worth looking at if you walk, climb or ski……………

02/02/2015

ALERT5

Send your location to five emergency contacts.

Alert5 sends your exact location (latitude / longitude) to five contacts in your contacts list stating that you need assistance. It works worldwide, at the lowest level of signal required for a data connection. It can be combined with their new SATcase for truly remote alerting using Iridium Geostationary Satellites. Alerts can be raised without having to unlock your phone. Use referral code BMC123 to support the BMC Access and Conservation Trust.

£4.99 per year

4Productions Limited for iOS and Android phones

 

Uepaa!

Send a rescue alert direct to police and mountain rescue.

This multi-award winning Swiss app launched in the UK in 2014. It allows you to alert for rescue from anywhere, even remote areas with no mobile coverage. How? It builds a network of users and links their phones in a mesh. The scheme has 450 rescue organisations linked worldwide (including UK police and mountain rescue), who can locate your phone from land or air. Upgrade to premium and your phone can automatically detect if you’ve had an accident and request help.

Ueppa

Free / premium £46 a year for iOS and Android phones

Always good to gain feedback

02/02/2015

Hi Malcolm

I would just like to say a big thank you again for taking me out yesterday, I really enjoyed it.

I am aching in places that I obviously don’t exercise enough, from the Ice Axe arrests I think – I must admit – that looks easier when watching others, than it is when you try it yourself!! There is something very unnatural about letting yourself voluntarily slide down a hill covered in snow and ice – head first!!

I think I have a good feel for the crampon work and just need to hone the skills through practise – especially the arresting. In due course I will look to follow up further skills in Scotland – I am sure of that.

In summary, I thought the day was just right in terms of time out, and content covered. Perfect first day. You are the right man for the job, with lots of varied experience, both in Mountain terms, and life generally – ideal guide qualities.

I do hope we can catch up for a day on the hills at some point, that would be great.

The North Lakes resplendent in the winter sun

01/02/2015

The view from the North Lakes looking out over the Northern Fells today is stunning. Excellent snow cover has enabled the Ski runs on Raise to be open all weekend and with cold conditions set to continue for all of next week, we can look forward to some good days of walking, kayaking, photography, or just enjoying the area. Snowdrops are appearing and with clear skies, the stars are giving us some great displays too.

 

The Northern Fells with Blencathra taking centre stage

The Northern Fells with Blencathra taking centre stage

I never tire of this view in all seasons, both clothed in winter snow, I doubt there are many better views in the world!

The mighty Blencathra

The mighty Blencathra

A Northern Fells panorama taken from Penrith Golf Club high above the town of Penrith and looking out towards High Street, Helvellyn, the Dodds and Blencathra

A Northern Fells panorama taken from Penrith Golf Club high above the town of Penrith and looking out towards High Street, Helvellyn, the Dodds and Blencathra

Lake District climbers warned of avalanche threat

01/02/2015

Mountain rescue teams urged fell walkers and climbers to be properly prepared

Looking up to Helvellyn from Brown Cove - plenty of good snow cover although Avalanche warnings on East facing aspects

Looking up to Helvellyn from Brown Cove – plenty of good snow cover although Avalanche warnings on East facing aspects

Walkers and climbers in the Lake District are being warned about the risk of avalanches.

It is expected to remain snowy at higher levels with ice making conditions dangerous.

Already this year, two people have died on the fells and mountain rescue teams have been called out 30 times.

Patterdale Mountain Rescue team leader Mike Blakey said many people were not aware avalanches happen regularly in the Lakes.

“Cornices are common on the edges of the summits and ridges and sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly where the ground ends and overhanging snow begins,” he said.

Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association chairman Richard Warren said most of those they rescue were “ill-prepared”.

“They go out too late, they get caught out by the dark, they don’t have torches, they don’t have maps, compasses.

“They don’t look at the weather and, if the weather’s bad, they still seem to go up.”


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