On Tuesday 6th November there were just the two core members, Steve & myself and the two cockers Dylan & Holly(The Beast). Now Dylan is just a dog and can't read but apparently when told I had been spelling his name wrong(Dillon) he was mortified and asks that it be corrected, which I just have; sorry boy.
We were unable to get out on our normal walking Monday, which was good because the weather was beautiful and where's the fun in that? Tuesday was looking far worse so we plumbed for that and picked a route from Wythburn Church car park to head onto Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn, Raise, down Sticks Pass and along the footpaths and permitted paths back to the Church, avoiding the A591 road in it's entirety. Neither of us had done this route up or the route down so some of it was virgin territory for us and that was the interesting section to us. The dogs couldn't have cared, they just wanted unleashed. Once at the car park we saw the £7 charge, looked at each other and thought in unison 'That's two pints'! so we returned to the more northern Swirls car parks and found these still priced the same. The dogs were going bananas by this time, wondering what was going on.
|A couple of tourists|
|Helvellyn, from Swirls.|
We got kitted up (without my waterproof leggings, bad decision) and set off for the permitted path to Wythburn Church. This is a 3.5km larch plantation walk and if you follow the dark blue permitted path arrows, roughly half is along the woodland roads and half across a rough terrain track, though well worn. We are not natural 'valley bottom' walkers, we usually take a direct route to the summit of something, though to make a return route here you really have to walk the valley floor. This had the advantages of stretching in the old Achilles tendons and offering views of Thirlmere from different vantage points than I have seen before.
After an hour we were at the crossroads of the valley path and our original intended path from the church, this was marked by a four handed marked fingerpost sign. We turned left and ascended steeply by a 'fix the fells' route to Nethermost Pike where we quickly left the plantation behind and got onto a fell path proper. I had hoped for a light rain and had chanced walking without waterproof trousers, this decision was a bad one for me. The higher we climbed, the more unrelenting was the wind and rain and we quickly achieved the snowline.
This was a tricky 'fix the fells' descent on this path, in wet and hard snow it is easy to tumble, but we eventually got to the point where the gradient eased. We crossed the bridge over Helvellyn Gill and were on the valley floor.
The dogs were put on the leads for the very short road walk to the cars and when placed in the cage, looked a little forlorn to have only covered 12km with 950m ascent.
A quick change at the roadside into normal attire and we were off to the pub, deciding to try The Kings Head Hotel, a few hundred yards away. This pub was a classic at one time with it's roadside look of a place of safety and comfort for those travellers of old in a bygone age. One expects some reflection of that with modern facilities in a modern age but the fabric of this seems to have been ripped out and is reminiscent of a city centre 'new age eater'. Though we knew what we would see having been once before, I hoped we could steal ourselves to remain; we couldn't. We made a quick about turn and headed up St. John's In The Vale for The White Horse on A66 and a brilliant decision this was.
This was shut a while ago so I've always driven past it but on entering, there was a good log fire, local people and three pumps of Corby 'Blonde', Heskett 'Skiddaw' and Derwent Brewery's 'Carlisle State Bitter'. We both had a Corby and I then polished off a Skiddaw while Steve plumbed for The Carlisle State Bitter (It gets it's name from the government managing the brewery as the munitions for WWI were made near Carlisle and the government couldn't have drunken workers, so controlled the liquor trade http://news.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-lancashire/plain/A644645 ) Time for home and a good soak in the shower to warm up.
A short walk for us, but a new route onto Nethermost and down to Swirls, so it builds on the knowledge. At cold windy day but still enjoyable for that, it puts air in the lungs and makes the heart pound, easing the conscience when drinking beer, it's been paid for in sweat. Out for another walk tomorrow, I hope the weather is better, but whatever it throws at us, we'll be out and hopefully have other company.