18th May, 2009

Four days in remote Wasdale

I’m reaching the end of a wonderful week off, which included a five-hour drive to remote Wasdale in the Lake District, two full days of trekking and scrambling, and a return journey of over eight-hours through three national parks. And all of that under sun-kissed skies. Plus, my highest-ever tweet!

Great Gable from Lingmell Col
Tarn near Scafell’s summit.

As previously blogged, I have thrown myself right back into epic wilderness walks, scaling summits (in February, I twittered that I should climb 25 summits in 2009), and generally losing myself in the mountains. It’s the tonic my weary soul needs. I’m back sellotaping together old maps, re-reading Wainwright and stocking up on new camping and trekking kit.

Twittering from England’s highest mountain

This trip included a long, hot clamber up to England’s highest mountain, the epic if rather rock-strewn Scafell Pike, with stunning views across the Lakes, Scotland, the whole Isle Of Man, and even Snowdon and Northern Ireland (just).

In a valley devoid of mobile coverage, it was a delight to power up the iPhone on the summit and find coverage, which resulted in a summit tweet or two, and me TwitPic-ing myself and the views and engaging in plenty of @replies from over 3,200 feet. I know I’m a sorry geek, but this was quite a thrill - sharing images and receiving congratulations/abuse via Twitter whilst on the summit. More real-time Twitter sharing pleasure.

Tweet from Scafell
My tweet from Scafell, the highest point in England.

The route back to Wasdale, known as the Corridor Route, was one of the most stunning treks I’ve ever taken, and it includes some classic scrambling, with a fine pub at the end.

The Hardknott in a Datsun

On the drive back, I also took my 32-year-old car over the notorious Hardknott Pass, the incredible winding, steep (it’s “1 in 3” in old money), dipping, frightening route between Eskdale and Langdale. Unless you’ve attempted this route in a 1977 Datsun, you can’t argue with me. People were actually cheering me on around the steep bends!

The Datsun on Hardknott Pass
The Datsun on Hardknott Pass.

To get an idea, watch this 9-minute video of a bloke on a motorbike doing the Hardknott Pass. You’ll see the worst bit at around 3:50 and also 5:24 - except I was travelling in the other direction - up that!

An epic drive home

I drove for hours through some of my favourite English countryside, the full route being Lake District National Park (Wasdale, Eskdale, Hardknott and Wrynose passes, Ambleside, Bowness On Windermere), Kirkby Lonsdale, Yorkshire Dales National Park (Ingleton, Clapham, Settle), Gargrave, Skipton, the Pennines (Keighley, Haworth, Hebden Bridge, Huddersfield, Holmfirth, Peak District National Park (Longdendale, Glossop, Snake Pass, Bamford, Hathersage) and so on… all the way to Nottingham. Quite a journey!

If you’re interested, there’s a Lakes Flickr set with a host of other photos from the trip.

More summits to follow

I’m already scoping out numerous further walks and summits for the rest of the year, including a full Kinderscout plateau circuit, the Snowdon Horseshoe (via the frightening Crib Goch knife-edges), the Glyders, Cadair Idris, and the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge. In the meantime I’ll be trudging a few old and familiar Peak District summits such as Win Hill, Lose Hill as I try and get a fit enough to cope with all these tougher climbs.

I might invite others to join me on some of the routes, so drop a comment or email me if you might want to come along at some point. I’m also working on a special trekking-based case study for a forthcoming book’s second edition. More on that - and maybe a couple of other web-based crossovers as and when…

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