Wild and wintery conditions

Yesterday was a truly wild day to be out in the Lake District fells.  It was extremely windy and very wet.  There was also very poor visibility and snow higher up, although this was soft due to it slowly thawing.  This is not totally unexpected at this time of year, after all it is our winter season but we try not to let this stop us from having a good and memorable day out.

Our returning clients, father and son, Christopher and Edmund were well equiped taking lots of spare clothing, gloves, hats and warm drinks.  We set off from Seathwaite and took the route up to Styhead Tarn and not knowing exactly what snow conditions we would find I decided that from there we would head up to Esk Hause.  From this point we would have the option of summiting Great End if Scafell Pike was not looking possible.  


Sheltering from the wind at Esk Hause shelter.

It was very quiet on the fells, not surprising really with the weather conditions that had been forecast and it was not until after passing Sprinkling Tarn that we met other walkers.  As we reached Esk Hause the strong force of the wind hit us and made going very hard.  We kept going up, carefully kicking our feet into the soft snow.  There were some very fierce gusts of wind, making the going very hard.  We continued a little further up until we were on the summit plateau of Ill Crag and at this point made the decision that we should  abandon our hopes of reaching either Great End or Scafell Pike, leaving it until a day later in the year when the wintery conditions had passed.

We carefully retraced out steps and headed slightly off route to find shelter from the wind at Esk Hause shelter where we met a large group of fell-runners out on the Langdale Horseshoe race route. 

We returned to the car via the Ruddy Gill and Grains Gill route which was especially atmospheric today with fast flowing cascades of water tumbling over the rocks and a few lonely Herdwick sheep munching on the grass, seemingly not at all bothered by the rain.

As we neared the car, the rain stopped and the wind eased a little, although there was still enough breeze to usefully dry our waterproofs. 

We didn't reach our objective on this occasion but still had a good day out in the mountains.  Sometimes the weather and conditions underfoot dictate that you need to change your plans in order to stay safe, that's all part of being out in these wonderful mountains and an important part of our job as walking guides is to know when to make these decisions.

This walk was the first of three big days out in the fells for Christopher and Edmund.  Today they walked up Skiddaw, guided by our associate walking guide, Neil - again galeforce winds were part of the day but there was less snow to contend with.  They almost made it to the top but at the final steepening to the summit, fierce gusts threatened to knock them over so descended a little and took a route off the back of the fell and down to Skiddaw House which was more sheltered from the wind. 

Tomorrow they will tackle Helvellyn - good luck all!



Looking up Grains Gill from Stockley Bridge.

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