North Lake District

Present: Richard S (organiser), Martin, Dave H, Bruce, Si, Claire, Alan, Simon H

It was the first weekend in August and with it a promise of a break in the rotten weather that the summer had brought so far. On the Friday morning, Richard, Dave and I left behind a Berkshire basking in early sunshine that was to turn out – for the southern part of the country at least – to be the hottest day of the year so far. But for us this was not meant to be, because by the time we arrived in the Lakes, the skies had greyed and brought forth drizzle.

After taking in the Whinlatter pass and a rather narrow road across the fells we arrived at the camping barn which is situated at the northern end of Loweswater. Here the rain had settled in for the day, and the night and what we thought was to be the weekend too, therefore after bagging bed space in the largest (if airiest) room (we did leave the two smallest rooms for the couples arriving later) an early visit to the pub was called for. This was described in the official brochure as being just over a mile away: well I suppose 1.8 miles is still less than two. A wet walk back found us united with the rest of the party who had arrived at the barn.

The rain was still falling at breakfast the next morning, which left enthusiasm for the high fells in short supply (I had at least a small excuse in that it was my first trip since a knee operation in April), so a low level walk was planned along Loweswater and over some low lying fell to drop into Buttermere and the Bridge Hotel for a pint before walking back along Crummock Water. However, this plan was soon modified when the rain stopped and the cloud lifted to above the summits. Grassmoor became the target instead, though I decided that its slopes were a little too steep for the first test of my repaired knee. Therefore at the northwest end of Crummock Water we parted company; I to continue along the eastern shoreline of the lake, and the others onwards and upwards to brilliant views of Grisdale Pike across to Keswick. We arranged to rendezvous 3 hours later in the Bridge Hotel.

Following a leisurely walk that was frequently interrupted whilst I stopped to take photographs, I arrived in Buttermere village and proceeded to the shore of Buttermere for lunch and more photographs. I was sure that three hours had passed since I left the others so fully expected them to be sampling the local brew when I arrived back in the village, but they weren’t. They arrived a little later than planned explaining that navigation wasn’t easy on top as the cloud had returned. We had a couple of beers in the pub before setting off for the walk back along the western shore of Crummock Water. Not too long into this and the rain returned, continuing all the way back to pub of the night before, in which we all dined on fabulous fare.

Sunday morning and it was still raining whilst we breakfasted, but by the time we had packed the cars blue skies were breaking through the cloud, which brought about calls for an assault on Blencathra via Sharp Edge (not my idea for a change). Off we all went (all minus Bruce that is) up the long plod from Scales in what was by now glorious sunshine. This wasn’t to last as by the time we reached Scales Tarn it had clouded over and turned chilly in readiness for wandering up Sharp Edge. The two Simons made short work of it breezing up the rocks; I followed behind them with Richard and Dave following nervously behind me. We then had two refusals (three if you include a Labrador, which was eventually coaxed up by its owner) with Alan and Claire deciding to return to the tarn and take the sensible path around the other side. Then a quick descent to the cars and the long journey home.

Martin Butler (words and pictures)

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