Index of Photos
West Wall Traverse Scafell ***** **** Jack's Rake Pavey Ark **** ***** Striding Edge Helvellyn **** **** Shamrock Traverse Pillar **** *** Swirral Edge Helvellyn **** *** Summit Ridge Whiteside/Hopegill Head **** * Sharp Edge Blencathra *** ***** Bad Step and Ridge Crinkle Crags *** *** North Ridge Mardale Ill Bell *** ** Northwest Ridge Catstye Cam *** * Rough Crag High Street *** * East Ridge Dollywagon Pike *** * Summit Kidsty Pike *** Summit Steeple ***
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My first experience of the Lakeland was in 1963 when I came Youth Hostelling for a week. It rained for the first six and a half days. In that final afternoon, as I walked along Borrowdale to Keswick to catch the coach home to Newcastle, the sun came out. I was captivated. The view over Derwentwater, to Cat Bells and Causey Pike, looked so wonderful I knew I had to come back.
I had not ventured onto the felltops that year, but did so the following summer. My first ascent of Great Gable was straight up the screes after a lunchtime session with friends at the Wasdale Head Hotel. The following Easter, in a party from Nottingham University, I had my first experience of foolhardiness on the peaks in snow. Our navigator managed to get us lost on the High Level route on Pillar and we ended up climbing Great Doup without any snow equipment. What possessed us to trust him again I'll never know, but we lost our way a couple of days later, on the exit from Lord's Rake, climbing Scafell. I've done my own navigation ever since.
My visit's grew more and more frequent during the seventies and although I've done some walking in Wales and Scotland it was always Lakeland that drew me back. I settled in Kendal in the late eighties.
Poucher's "Lakeland Peaks" sufficed as a guidebook during my student years, but once I started earning I bought Wainwright's Guides. They cost 18/- each at the time; equivalent in today's terms to about nine pounds, so nothing's really changed there. They allowed me to design my own routes, something I've done ever since. I have walked all the routes described here and I hope you enjoy the selection.
Mean maximum daily temperatures in the valleys vary from about 7°C in January and February to 15° in May, 19° in August and 13° in October. On the high fells it is typically 5° lower. The dryest months are from March to June: August has about 50% more rain than those and December twice as much. The actual amounts vary considerably with location. Pooley Bridge, at one end of Ullswater, gets typically 50" per year, whilst Patterdale at the other manages 100". Sprinkling Tarn, by the Scafell massif, has achieved 150". These data are based on information originally from the Met. Office.
Having said this the weather here is notoriously unpredictable. The most reliable daily forecasts are from the National Parks Lake District Weather Line 0844 846 2444 and from Radio Cumbia usually at 6.30 (weekdays only), 7.30 and 8.30 am. Both also give the felltop conditions. "Most reliable" is, however, a relative term and even these can be misleading except when the weather is stable countrywide. My advice to potential visitors is that unless the forecast is really bad come in any case. Some years ago I holidayed here in May and there were heavy snowfalls the first night. Three days later I climbed Scafell Pike in glorious sunshine and with about 4" of snow on the ground. It was wonderful! If you are here already, and the forcast is similarly doubtful, go out walking anyway, because you'll kick yourself if you don't and it turns out better than expected. There is a felltop forecast from the Lakeland Weather Line.