CUMBRIAN TRAVERSE May 2023
Participating were Steve, Martyn and David.
Many thanks to Claire who provided transport at the start and also at the finish of this challenge.
The walk commenced at Broughton Mills, initially on a farm track and then on to the fells. This walk was not about the peaks to be bagged (as that would take a day or two longer), but in the distance to be covered through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country (weather permitting). The weather forecast was mixed with high winds predicted later on and rain late afternoon. We were all carrying our full backpacking rucksacks (the one I was carrying weighed about 12kg, without water). It is a tough walk and we were doing quite well until after lunch when the wind speed significantly increased which made walking very hard and into the wind almost impossible. This was particularly evident on ascending Walna Scar, going over Brown Pike, Buck Pike and Dow Crag. For me, it was the highest wind speeds I have ever experienced whilst wearing a backpack which was dangerous, but we had to crack on. To reduce the effect of the wind from the south east, we followed a path which avoided the ridge walk from the Old Man of Coniston to Swirl How where we started to descend into Wrynose Bottom. From there another ascent up good quality paths which took us to Red Tarn where we camped for the first night. An exhausting day followed by a very windy and wet night.
12 ½ miles, 4763 ft of ascent.
After a stormy night, on looking out of the tent, it was virtually impossible to see more than a few yards as the mist and cloud was right down. There was a wet start to the day with the kit being packed away somewhat damp! We started off as soon as we were ready and ascended Great Knott, Long Tap and skirted just around the top of Crinkle Crags (to avoid the bad step whilst carrying large backpacks which would be dangerous as the rock was wet and slippery. The route went up Bow Fell, Esk Pike (the rain was particularly bad here). Up to now the distance achieved was slow due to the conditions. By the time we descended to Sprinkling Tarn the weather had eased and we started to see other walkers. The route was to take us up Great Gable which looked intimidating, or at least what we could see of it. We decided to take a route that none of us had done before, to ascend Aaron Slack, another 1000 steep climb. At the top we met three lost souls who were pointed in their right direction. From their we traversed over Green Gable, Brandreth and Grey Knotts to Honister Hause. A last ascent up Dale Head to our second camp at Dalehead Tarn. This was a delightful camp site helped by the weather being dry and with little wind. We arrived at 7.15pm, a 10 ½ hour walking day.
10 ½ miles 4793 ft of ascent
A different day entirely. Whilst in London the weather was poor for the Coronation, we had good weather. Low cloud but bright which improved. Today was more straight forward and in the dry. On good paths up and over High Spy and on to Cat Bells (hoards of walkers of all sorts). This was followed by what seemed a long walk on the flat to Portinscale and finishing in Keswick at 12.40am with plenty left in the tank for more. We finished off with a beer and fish and chips
7 miles 1103 ft of ascent
A good trip with mixed weather. This will probably remain a little used route due to the difficulties in arranging transport to the start and collection at the finish.