Leicester in the Lakes.
Like all groups, Leicester run coach trips to distant parts and organise holidays from time to time. Chris Mortimer recalls a couple in particular in 2007/8.
“Nine members of the Leicester group went to the Lake District for a five day walking holiday. We arranged to meet at a car park just to the south of Clappersgate at 1400 hrs only to get there and find that it had become the entrance to an elegant looking timeshare complex. Luckily Jenny had had a scout around and we moved off to Skelwith Bridge to start an afternoon stroll in the rain, to Elterwater and then back along the Cumbria Way; pile into the cars to drive to Elterwater and book into the Youth Hostel. After everybody had showered and pampered themselves the most important decision of the evening was which of the many bottles we had brought with us to open first!
Saturday, the weather looked good and the local hill & fell forecast was ok so we decided to set off for the Loughrigg Terrace with its great views of Grasmere and Rydal Water. Later in the week it was interesting to see a picture of the local mountain rescue team giving assistance to somebody who had got stuck on the path in their electric buggy!
From Rydal we started off up the beginning of the Fairfield Horseshoe, mainly to give those who had not been to the lakes a taste of the hills and see how they coped with the ascents. Just beyond Heron Pike we stopped for lunch and the views were just the sort you would see in the travel brochures, fantastic. Seems to be a tradition to start up hill after lunch so we continued on up to Great Rigg and then took the path down into Grasmere to seek out afternoon refreshment. A quick look at the Wordsworth graves and a purchase of some of Sarah Nelson’s gingerbread saw the refreshed group finish the final bit of the days walk with renewed vigour. Phil Frear had noticed on a brief visit to the Britannia on Friday evening that it was quiz night on Sunday so it was essential that we all went off to the pub after dinner to investigate the possibility of taking part. The publican assured us that team numbers could be anything from one to one hundred. Having travelled so far from the hostel to the pub it would have been churlish not to have begun an in depth study of the offerings, this was duly started. This complemented the study of red wine that was taking place at the hostel.
On Sunday we decided to do a low level walk and drove to Staveley for a meander to Potter Tarn, Gurnal Dubs, up Longsleddale and back over Potter Fell. After the walk an acquaintance of Jenny took us Wilf's café in Staveley for the required post walk rehydration, well worth a visit if you are in the area. Once dinner was over it was off to the Britannia and with the width of knowledge available within the group we managed to slaughter the opposition, though Ingrid, one of the staff back at the Hostel, didn't seemed too impressed with our score, she thought it was probably the lowest winning score on record. Still a fifteen pound voucher to spend at the pub was safely in our mitts.
The weather on Monday morning was none too good but the forecast was for a gradual improvement so we decided to split into two groups. John Jackson led a low level walk down to Skelwith Bridge on to the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and back to Elterwater. The second group drove to the aforementioned hotel and set off with the idea of going up Pike o' Blisco and on to Crinkle Crags. The walk up Pike o' Blisco was fine although due to the amount of water falling on and down the hill the scramble sections near the summit had been converted into ghyll scrambles!! On the summit through odd breaks in the cloud and horizontal rain the views were magnificent but looking towards Crinkle Crags it was obvious that conditions were much worse in that area so we decided to descend to Red Tarn and take the path from there down Oxendale to Stool End and go and have a look inside the famous Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, what a wonderful place. It was very noticeable during the day that conditions on the other side of Great Langdale were much better; we had obviously chosen the wrong side of the valley for our perambulations. On returning to the Hostel we found that the other walk had been abandoned due to the torrential rain and they had all gone for a mooch around Ambleside. Naturally in the evening we had to return to the pub to redeem our winnings.
Tuesday looked like a different world. Big yellow thing in the sky and fluffy clouds here and there, and again we decided to split into two groups. Again John lead the low level walk, this time a figure of eight based on Ambleside. For the harder walk we set off along the path by Great Langdale Beck to Chapel Stile from were we climbed the valley wall, around the end of Raven Crag and up onto Silver Howe. Apparently there are about thirty Raven Crags in the Lake District which occasionally causes a little confusion for the mountain rescue teams. From Silver Howe it was a pleasant undulating walk to Stickle Tarn were we had lunch while watching climbers going up various bits of Pavey Ark. Down the path by Stickle Tarn Ghyll and into the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel so we could compare it with the old hotel. The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel won by a large margin.
Back to Elterwater via the Cumbrian Way and another great day's walking finished. One of the maps I used was the British Mountaineering Council /Harvey’s 1:40000 sheet that covers the whole of the Lake District. Very good once you are out on the fells or hills but not so good in the urban areas and the legend for the paths takes a bit of getting used to when you are so used to O.S. maps. The fact that it is printed on old plastic table cloth makes it useful if you decide to have a picnic. Still a good idea to take the relevant 1:25000 O.S. map along as well.
We vacated the hostel on Wednesday and drove down to just west of Kendal for a short walk before everybody left for home.
We all enjoyed a great few days at Elterwater, good walking, good company, very friendly hostel staff and excellent food, certainly didn't loose any weight!”
The following year they were back in the Lakes.
“Seven of us gathered at Wasdale Hall one Monday afternoon in September for a few days walking in west Lakeland. We had a three hour stroll down to Nether Wasdale and back via the low fells to the northwest of the hostel.
After dinner time to decide on Tuesdays walk and we thought we would have a wander over Great Gable and possibly continue up Kirk Fell so we drove to Wasdale Head and set off up the path to Sty Head but instead of taking the main route up the flank of Great Gable we decided to follow the alternative path that follows Spouthead Gill, as advised by A.W., which made a pleasant change.
Bit of a trudge up Great Gable but the views from the summit were fantastic, the weather was being very kind to us, somewhat better than the last time I was up there when you could see about ten feet! A reasonable descent from the top once we had found the path amongst the multitude of tracks leading off the summit. Lunch stop at Beck Head and as everybody felt ok we carried on up onto Kirk Fell. A compass bearing took us to the point where the path off the hill started but on looking over a six foot drop I thought 'good grief' this must be the wrong point, but after a bit of a scout around and watching several people and dogs disappear over the drop we decided this must be the correct route, a bit of reverse scrambling and we set off down the very steep descent of Blacksail Buttress to the point were it joined the Black Sail Pass and our return route to Wasdale Head where survivors enjoyed the products of the micro brewery at the Inn!
Wednesday night we were staying at the Black Sail Hut so we had to go over one of the passes into Ennerdale, we also did not fancy walking to Wasdale Head as we were leaving the cars at Wasdale Hall. The solution was to go via Whin Rigg and Illgill Head bringing us to Wasdale Head just in time for lunch which was taken in the grounds of the delightful St Olafs Chapel. After non alcoholic fortification at the Inn we set off up the path towards Sty Head but turned off onto the path that ascends the southwest flank of Great Gable with the intention of using Moses Trod as the route towards Ennerdale. Unfortunately the cloud base that day was down to about four hundred metres, which had meant no views in the morning and we ended up on a path that followed Gable Beck, it got us to the top but was a nightmare and in clear weather the following day you could easily see Moses Trod which looked a much better path. This ascent brought us to Beck Head were we had had lunch the day before in glorious sunshine. Today the visibility was about ten feet and the first problem was to find the two large puddles on the coll so we could start the next leg of the journey from a known point. Eventually we found the start point and set off east to find The Tongue, our path down into Ennerdale, which should have been about fifty metres after crossing a ghyll.
It soon became evident we had missed the path and back tracked to the ghyll were it became apparent that people had been walking down by the bank of the ghyll and this became our route into Ennerdale. A slow and slippery descent but eventually we came out of the cloud and we could clearly see the Drumlins just up the valley from Black Sail Hut, it had been an interesting day with the problems of navigation in poor visibility concentrating the mind somewhat. About half past six we arrived at the hut and dinner was at seven so a quick change and straight into a very welcome hearty meal prepared by Steve and Lorraine the Black Sail managers.
While we had been planning this walk, the evening before, we thought we would just pop over into Ennerdale and if the weather was ok we would go and have a meander over Haystacks so that we didn't arrive at the hut too early, something about best laid plans comes to mind! After an evening playing Jenga we all retired for a good nights sleep to recharge the batteries ready for tomorrows walk. If snoring is an Olympic sport a certain gold medal contender was found that night, not a lot of sleep in the male dorm!!!
Thursday dawned with the valley full of cloud but by the time breakfast was finished and we were ready for the off this had dispersed to reveal a beautiful day. There was a thought of returning to Wasdale via Pillar but once we were up on the Black Sail coll it became obvious that Pillar was spending a lot of time in the cloud and we didn't fancy going up only to find we could not see anything, and most of us could have done with a fresh pair of legs, so it was back down to Wasdale Head via the previous days route and into the Inn yet again for refreshments. One of the party decided to return to Wasdale Hall via the screes path but the rest of us elected to go back over Illgill Head and Whin Rigg were we had great views of the surrounding sun dappled countryside, hills and the Isle of Man, a big contrast with the previous day.
Friday we set off for home after having a morning walk utilizing little used paths around Waberthwaite.”