This year’s boundary walk is on Saturday 2nd July 2011. Click the link above for more details. Last week I did a training walk with some of the Amigos and another friend. This is my usual attempt to make light and interest from what was basically yet another slog in the mist, rain and sunshine of the Lake District….
- Chris (aka “the Professor”) with his trusty hound Scruffy. Veteran of many boundary walks, the Sahara Trek and Lake District guru
- Luke (aka “how bout we do St Sunday”) lover of the Lakes, committed fell walker, boundary walk first timer
- Mountain Mike – Boundary walking since birth, also veteran of the Sahara Trek and undisputed king of the local hills. Currently lean of body and with a mind honed on too many ryvitas and not enough steaks
- Me and my less than trustworthy hound Morgan (aka Mountain Morgan). Mind and body currently weakened beyond repair by lack of nicotine (32 days and about 3 hours ago since you ask….)
Luke has gamely agreed to give the boundary walk a go this year (with his wonderfully named “Dead Men Walking” team). Being a Lake District aficionado he’s already done the second half of the walk “by accident” (as you do). So whilst up on a half term trip en famille we’d agreed to have a crack at bits of the first half of the walk. Basically start at Glencoyne and see how far we get. Minimum of Helvellyn, Comical maximum of making it all the way to Kirkstone Top.
After some standard bravado about kicking off at silly o’clock we agreed to go for a more sedate 09:30 start. This was still way too early for Mountain Mike, genial mein host of the best luxury Lake District Bed and Breakfast, and therefore busy serving eggs and cleaning toilets to join us at the start. he had promised to meet us along the way – more on that later..
So Chris, Luke, Scruffy, Morgan and I set off from the Glencoyne Carpark is reasonable weather, headed up through the wonderfully and aptly named “seldom seen” (which you should try and see if you haven’t) and tried to gain height without losing the will to live. Despite having done this particular stint of Glencoyne up to Greenside and on to Stybarrow Dodd a few times before it amazes me just how tiring it is! This despite having had a month with no nicotine (maybe that’s the problem..) Anyway as we got onto Greenside the mist descended and we decided to save Stybarrow for the day itself and avail ourselves of the “short cut”. Sadly given the mist and the fact it was early in the season only us and about 3 sheep seemed to have used the track all year and so it was quite hard going. It was also getting quite cold – to the point where Chris announced at one point that he couldn’t feel his fingers. Not being one for too many layers I opted to change my T-shirt at this point..
Finding Mountain Mike
Just to emphasise the pointlessness of mobile phones up a big hill we tried in vain to get hold of Mike on Sticks Pass. As the mist swirled around we caught site of some nutter running under the ski run on Raise. Assuming this was Mike (who else would be mad enough to do such a thing in these conditions) we duly hung around in the cold waiting for said nutter. We confidently joshed that only Mike would be so stupid as the spectre got closer and closer. At a range of about 100 yards we finally worked out that in fact although Mike has lost a fair bit of weight recently the person coming towards us was in fact a fell running lady. So we obviously pretended we weren’t waiting for her at all and began a) kneeling down to do up our bootlaces and b) cursing Mike for not being a woman..
We set off up Raise and finally got a mobile signal. Mike duly appeared out of the mist having come straight up Raise and deciding that he too had had enough of this fell walking malarkey. He has also decided to wear his jacket inside out and at first glance looked more like a female fell walker than his doppelgänger earlier (no disrespect intended either way..)
Pushing on to Helvellyn
By now the mist was swirling in style. Luckily we had not seen a soul other than Mike’s double and so Morgan and Scruffy had had free reign. Needless to say as we came down from Whiteside and off Helvellyn Lower Man Morgan smelt company and shot off into the mist.
Cue me breaking into a lolopping trot and trying to catch him before he caused too much mayhem on Helvellyn summit. I finally got him back on the lead by the Summit cairn. Apologies to anyone he annoyed in the interim.
Good job I got him then as at the shelter along with the usual huddle of walkers melting in the mist was a tent from which was emanating the sweet smell of frying bacon and coffee. 2 lads were up there selling sarnies and hot drinks to raise money for a trip to some mountain somewhere. I did ask them to send me their details but obviously they made so much dosh they didn’t need to extra publicity so fair play to them!
Coming off Helvellyn
After watching Mike nibble on a Ryvita and Chris polish off his usual curry we headed off again and lo and behold the mist began to clear. Again we opted to take a “short cut” although this time we got a little carried away and ended up having to go off piste again to avoid ended up in Grasmere. We headed down Dollywaggon to Grisedale Tarn (having toyed for about 10 seconds with the idea of doing Seat Sandal “for fun”) at which point it was decision time on where to go next.
Needless to say Scruffy and Morgan took the opportunity to head into the tarn and needless to say Morgan managed to get stuck in a particularly smelly bit of bog from which I had to drag him out. What a hound.
St Sunday Bloody St Sunday? (with no apologies to Bono…)
By now it was around 15:30 and the White Lion beckoned. Obviously Kirkstone was out. Fairfield is never very inviting from next to Grisedale Tarn. Straight down the Grisedale valley seemed very sensible if a little tedious. However Luke was keen to make the most of the day and did an excellent sales job on St Sunday. Chris pointed out a nice looking track which meandered up the side of it. So what harm could it do?
Plenty. Obviously. Whilst I am an admirer of St Sunday from afar and quite happy to walk it when coming down from Fairfield today it seemed more annoying than usual.
As for the mass of “false summits” even Mountain Mike had had enough when Morgan finally led us to the real thing.
So a quick rest and then it was down to the valley floor, stopping off for a brief detour while I tried (and failed) to get a decent aerial shot of Home Farm, my current favourite Patterdale Bed and Breakfast. And then home and the pub…
If you’d like to see more photos from the day or from other Lake District Walks please see our Helvellyn on Flickr page.