Earlier this year, whilst Rowan was off gallivanting with his Anma and Grandpa, Rick and I decided to go for a big walk. Rick had always fancied climbing Helvellyn, preferably by the edges, but we were taking Rocky and Pebble with us. A few years back, during a walk by a local canal, they had both fallen in, so Striding Edge was deemed to be just n0t suitable for our giddy furry pair. Instead, we decided walk the Helvellyn range, south to north for a brilliant high level walk.
Lying just off the A591 between Ambleside and Grasmere, Loughrigg Fell is one of the Wainwrights I had been looking forward to climbing with Rowan for a long time. It’s a busy little fell though, so we waited till mid-week in a school holiday to make a day trip for a mountain adventure.
Running up to getting married in Coniston earlier this year, we were up in the Lakes for meetings with the hotel on several occasions. After one, much shorter than expected, visit to the venue, we found ourselves with some free time but no walking gear to venture onto the fells with. We decided to make our way to Grasmere to visit Allan Bank, former home to William Wordsworth and Canon Rawnsley (one of the founders of the National Trust)
Around nine months after first walking the Kentmere Round, I found myself back in the South Lakes ready to walk those hills again. This time, I was with Sarah and her gorgeous rescue staffie, Chester, a.k.a. Chester the Adventure Dog. On my first wander over the Kentmere Round, Kathryn and I added in High Street (the route of which you can read in more detail here). Today, we would follow more or less the same paths, except instead of High Street, we would add on Gray Crag instead.
“A family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together, a place beloved.” This is how Alfred Wainwright described Cat Bells, near Keswick and we couldn’t wait to get exploring this little fell.
At the start of this year, my friend Flick was over from Ibiza. We decided to catch up whilst walking in the Lakes, because going from a pleasantly warm 12 – 15 degrees to single digits in Manchester wasn’t enough of a temperature change – close to freezing on the fells was what was required.
During the last months of 2017, I made plans to get up to the Lakes for a solo walk. I’m pretty cautious regarding the weather when I go on my own, and it seemed that every time I made plans to go, near gale force winds were forecast and I would end up cancelling at the last minute. After the third time of postponing it occurred to me that I didn’t actually know what it felt like to walk in 30 – 40 miles per hour winds. After a chat with Rick, I decided I would head up anyway. If it was too windy for me to feel safe, I would turn back and take myself for a nice low level wander somewhere.
At the end of August, I was really excited to be out in the Lakes with my lovely friend Kathryn again. Back before our children arrived, we had volunteered with Fix the Fells together, regularly making the journey up the M6 to spend the day with brilliant, passionate people repairing or maintaining the upland paths. (You can find out more about the great work they do here.) This time, our destination was Kentmere, to try and tackle the “more challenging than we had walked in ages” Kentmere Round.
With lovely weather forecast for the weekend, we decided we would visit the Lake District once more, to bag another Wainwright with Rowan. After a bit of research using the trusty Wainwright pictorial guides and the brilliant Hillbagging website, we decided to tackle Gowbarrow Fell. The walk we had planned was slightly shorter than our previous Wainwright walk, but included more of a climb so I was expecting it to be a bit of challenge for Rowan’s little legs.
After a five year break, it’s my second Wainwright walk in as many weeks, this time with the whole family. As Rowan has been not just managing, but truly enjoying every walk we have been on, we decided we would make the drive to the Lake District so he could tackle his first Wainwright. Black Fell (with its very heavy metal name) was to be our destination, chosen for its diminutive height yet fabulous views, with a South Lakes location making for an easier drive from Manchester.