We started up the grassy embankment of Kidsty Howes, looking across to Riggindale and Rough Crag, the former nesting area of England's only golden eagles, sadly there is just the one now; one day, perhaps he may find another mate. As we headed up the wind increased substantially. You went to place a foot and were pushed off the planned footfall by this invisible, though ever present force. This route is not an edge and is a wide grassy bank, so still safe in these conditions. With our heads down and face turned as far from the wind's onslaught as possible to shelter from these liquid needles that stung our faces, we reached the summit cairn and continued on for the High Street path. Our route turned us into the wind when we reached this but what can you do about it? Nothing but walk on and we lowered our heads even further and cracked on for the primary trig point of High Street, hoping for some shelter by the wall to eat our bait. No such luck as the wind was coming down the wall length and not at 90 degrees to it so this was not to be our haven of rest for a food stop. This is not my most walked area but I still know it and the only suitable place for a respite from this onslaught of wind and rain I knew to be the built shelter at the head of Nan Bield Pass. This is high on three sides and has a seat, albeit stone slabs, but would be a luxury on this day. We broke into a jog to warm the blood as we headed for the lower summit of Mardale Ill Bell and dropped even further to the shelter. Before a food intake and now in some protection, we donned further clothing and a change of gloves to keep warm and after 15 minutes there, we had a decision to make. Was it the easy short route of Nan Bield Pass or the longer 'up and over' Harter Fell and Gatesgarth pass we would take? I started this by saying we were a couple of idiots, confirmed by the fact in all this we saw no other human being on this popular route. Yes, we took the Harter Fell path, subjecting ourselves to a little bit more 'character building' pain. We got to the top, saw nothing and headed down Gatesgarth meeting only one other and he was protected, enclosed in a digger cab doing path repairs. We dropped out of the cloud and saw the reservoir below us, making it back to the car. We looked at each other and just laughed the laugh of 'well, that was interesting'. We quickly changed as you can't sit in a pub dripping all over the floor and knew the Mardale Inn to be shut down so we decided to give The Hawswater Hotel a try with our custom.
I was hoping they would have at least one cask beer on but apart from keg beer it was just bottles. We had one Deuchars Pale Ale, refrigerated, which they served in a Magners glass and charged £3.50, top whack, for this privilege.
We headed for Bampton but had to continue to Askham and The Queens Head. It was Jennings Cumberland Ale which Steve plumbed for and I had a Black Sheep. It seemed over with too quickly so a half of Black Sheep later (Steve had a pint) and we were satisfied. A good though taxing day of 14kms with 990m ascent and plans laid for Thursdays walk. Bring it on.