New Year’s day was too cold for rock climbing and lacked the necessary white stuff for winter climbing.
A desperate need to be in the hills drove John Russell and Ian Wyatt to go backpacking, something neither of us had done for years. We left a very dark and soggy Birmingham at 09:30 on New Year’s day, and by 13:00 we were in beautiful sunshine wandering though the quarry at Chapel Stile looking for our route up Lingmoor Fell.
A brief perusal of Ken Wilson’s The Big Walks had given us the Langdale Horseshoe, as a walk that should be interesting and doable in mid winter with a bonus wild camp.
The great weather stayed with us until we were heading up Pike O’Blisco, and yes you guessed it: the clag came down, the wind picked up and we had a bit of sleet. Nothing too dramatic, just enough to give us a proper mountain feel. We managed to get the tent up at Red Tarn just as darkness fell. Plenty of time for tea, food, hot chocolate and a can of beer which John had carried, what a star!
By morning the tent was covered in a fine layer of ice and a dusting of snow. Off we set up Great Knott, over Crinkle Crags and on to Bowfell. The iridescent blue sky was matched by the sharp chill of the air, an unbelievably beautiful day and we didn’t see another soul until we reached Bowfell. Of course, the ground was frozen and most of the paths were covered in ice (unlike the crags) which slowed our progress more than expected, the walk down to Angle Tarn was quite anxiety inducing.
Up and over Stake Pass, Martcrag Moor and onto Pike O’Stickle. By now we are back in the walking crowds. After Harrison Stickle we do a time check and realise that we will not complete the ridge before dark, so we drop down to Stickle tarn and then onto the valley floor. The interminable walk back to the car was saved only by the thought of a pint of Sneck Lifter at Wainwright’s Inn.
A fantastic weekend in the hills.