Thursday 12 February 2015


A Frozed Up Angle Tarn
So yesterday evening I says to Hyperdog Moss “Where do you fancy going for walkies tomorrow?” and he just looks at me and wags his tail a bit, so I says “Come on help me out here, we have the whole of the Lake District or the North Pennines to choose from", but he just wags his tail a bit more and walks off and brings back Bill. Bill is one of his toys. It’s a sort of knobbly green rubber thing. Actually, there is no ‘sort of’ about it, it is a knobbly green rubber thing. I then had to throw Bill for him to catch for the next three hours and that was the end of that conversation.

So I had to choose. The day being claggy and generally yucky we decided not to drive too far and to stay relatively low, so we walked from Patterdale to Angle Tarn via Boredale Hause, as you do, it being the obvious way to go.

There was a lot more snow than this but that was until Hyperdog ate most of it
You can never have too many photos of Angle Tarn I say

The sun looked like it was coming out as we headed through Side Farm, but that was a trick it was playing on us, because the clag soon came back, along with intermittent snow showers.  Most of the snow had gone below the Hause, but there was some left above that, and a few icy stretches on the path, but nothing difficult that couldn’t be avoided so the spikes stayed in the pack. This lack of snow didn’t stop Hyperdog suddenly and inexplicably flying sideways off a grassy bank into a big drift, and not yet being an expert with snow he decided the best way to get out of the drift was to eat the snow which wasn’t very effective but he seemed to enjoy it.  When we got to the Tarn he also decided to test out the ice but I shrieked at him and he came back sheepish like and sheep dog like ie slinking like he was about to round me up. I explained the dangers to him but he just looked bored. Teenagers never take it in when you tell them of the dangers of whatever it is that you are telling them is dangerous but they usually learn eventually.

And then we went back down again.  As it was brightening up a bit, and we hadn’t gone too far when we were almost back in the valley, we took the higher path above Side Cottage and Side Farm that runs parallel to Ullswater and went over and down to Silver Bay and watched a group of youngsters having fun in a large rowing boat from the Outward Bound School on the other shore.  And that was it really, apart from my cunning trick of enticing Hyperdog in to the lake down in Glenridding by throwing a stick in for him to chase.  He thinks this is a game but it is really to get the mud off him and what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him as I always say.

Outward Bound - but not to Henley Royal Regatta any time soon

Ullswater, Glenridding, Sheffield Pike, Birkhouse Moor etc

Wednesday 4 February 2015

TGO Challenge Training in the Snow

Helvellyn from Arthur's Pike

This blog is just a gratuitous excuse to post some photos taken on a couple of smashing walks I did this week in the Lake District.  The weather here has been winter at its best – very cold, dry air, and quite a decent amount of sunshine and brilliant blue skies, following a few days of snow.  This makes a wonderful change from the usual cold, grey and damp that is all too common at this time of the year. Views have been spectacular.  For the last couple of days the wind  has been moderate.  This is just as well, as when I left my cottage yesterday it was still minus six degrees at half nine in the morning. In these conditions the mountains are just fabulozy.

Looking over the Vale of Eden to Dunn Fell and Cross Fell in the Pennines

A Panorama over Ullswater from Helvellyn to Blencathra

As a weirdly obsessive maker of lists and keeper of records, I always log my walks in the hills. But these from the last two days have also been put down on the list of my training walks for the TGOC (The Great Outdoors Challenge).  This May I will be doing my third TGOC, walking coast-to-coast across Scotland.  If all goes to plan my chosen route will see me walking for fourteen days, a total of 322km (daily average is 23km) and climbing 9679 metres (daily average is 691m).  My longest planned day, distance wise, is 32 km but probably the toughest will involve 27km with 1172 metres of height gained.  This may be nothing to the tyros, but to me this really will be a challenge. 

I guess all Challengers will have their own approach to getting fit for the event.  Some will (or claim to) take the devil-may-care approach of going to the pub regularly, and will leave getting fit for the Challenge itself.  I reckon if I tried that I would be giving up by the first time I reached a place with public transport.  Others walk regularly enough in the hills with their backpacking gear not to need any special regime.  And others will do some form of training routine, its nature partly dictated by where they live and how easily they can get to the hills.

Blencathra from Arthur's Pike
For the past two years I started my training proper in the January before the event.  I probably averaged a training walk a week from January through to March.  Nothing spectacular or hard.  By ‘training walk’ I mean one where I put a pack on my back weighing about 10kg , with the weight provided by various tins of baked beans, tomatoes etc.  I tried to build up distance, time walked and height gained, although the latter was not always successful, given one of my favourite walks was along the Llangollen Canal where the only inclines are next to the locks.  Once the evenings started to become lighter (I am not in to lying in a tent for 14 long, damp hours in winter) I also managed a few nights out backpacking in the Lakes, including the 2014 memorable Pre- Challenge Daunder organised by Alan Sloman (who wrote up the experience as he imagined it to have been on his excellent blog, which can be found by following this link). An accurate account ie my own can be found here.  Few of my training walks reached the typical daily distance or height climbed on the Challenge.

A rare chance to practice in my crampons
I almost certainly didn’t do enough training in 2013 or 2014 and found the first couple of days on the Challenge quite tough.  But I did finish, so the routine just about worked for me. This year I was going to do more but, surprise surprise, so far I haven’t.  However, I am now trying to ratchet this up, and these fabulous short walks in the snowy Lake District Fells have spurred me on.  I will leave you with some more photos of my efforts…….

Hyperdog Moss admires the view from Arthur's Pike

A roll in the snow

The North Western Fells over the Vale of Keswick