Hill Safety…knowing when to turn back!


Blog post 3

Fells: None…unfortunately (was going to be Red Tarn, then Birkhouse Moor)

Wainwright count: 0

Date: 13th December

With: Malcolm Cooper (University Friend) and Susie my dog (as always)!!

So, my friend from University, Malcolm was coming over from Yorkshire for the weekend, and having never been to the Lake District, I needed to sort him out. We are good friends having lived with each other for 3 years, and one thing that you should probably know is that Malc recently lost about 9 stone…YES 9 stone, in the last 18 months through Weight Watchers. Now, I’ve always loved walking and not 2 years since, we went for a walk on the beach at Lytham where I live, or tried to….with us getting about 1/2 a mile as he was tired! Mind you he was 23 stone, so it must have been difficult.

I am proud to say that he has shifted this weight and is a lot more mobile, so I thought I’d introduce him to the Lakes and do a walk while we were at. So, we headed up to Glenridding after a night that had received a good bit of snow and was snowing on our way up. Perfect I thought.

So we parked in Glenridding and made our way up the valley footpath, past the campsite at Gillside and round towards the mine and YHA, but on the other side of Glenridding Beck.


View back over Glenridding towards Ullswater, in the early morning sun.

I was impressed how Malcolm was doing, as this was his first time walking up fells, so we took a lets see how he gets on approach. Before we came level with the Youth Hostel, we saw the Mountain Rescue team training their search and rescue dogs, which Susie my dog was keen to join in with! The snow was coming down quite heavy now and we could see it moving in, but Malcolm was feeling good and although the path was icy in places it was still very walkable. This wouldn’t normally be a problem for me, as I have crampons etc, but this was Malc’s first trip out so we were trying to be sensible.


Malcolm crossing the footbridge.


Me and Susie enjoying the walk!

We got to the Sheepfold and crossed the footbridge before starting making our way up alongside Red Tarn Beck where it gets a bit steeper, with Malcolm keen to reach Red Tarn after everything that I had told him about it.


Susie loving the snow!

As we started climbing the ice on the footpath was getting a lot thicker and making progress without crampons on very slow, and I could see that the weather was moving in quickly, so we made the decision to cut our walk short, which was to Malcolm’s disappointment, but this got us chatting on the way back down to Glenridding. Malcolm was happy with the decision to turn back in the end, and I continued to explain the importance of having the correct equipment and knowing how to use it! This was more than could be said for a couple of young lads who were inappropriately dressed to say the least, but chose to ignore our advice to turn round….one had trainers on! And this is why Mountain Rescue teams continue to be so busy! Whilst both Malcolm and I were disappointed, he knew we had made the correct call.

I explained to Malcolm the importance of knowing when to turn back when you need to, even though it is the last thing that you want to do. If I had been alone, as I had the appropriate gear and knowledge, I would have happily carried on, however Malc learned an important lesson on his first venture out into the mountains.


View from the cottages by the Youth Hostel overlooking Glenridding.

Anyway, we had a cracking day out together in the hills, and even called into the Travellers Rest for a swift one on the way down. He thoroughly enjoyed the day, so hopefully there will be more days out together in the future – enjoying the fells.

The moral of the story is to enjoy the fells, don’t take too big a risk when out, know your limits and STAY SAFE!! That way there will be another day to enjoy on the hills and the Mountain Rescue can spend their time training and fundraising….not rescuing!


My old Land Rover, my weekend toy! My BMW wouldn’t have got this far up Kirkstone Pass


Cloud inversion over Windermere from Kirkstone Pass

2 thoughts on “Hill Safety…knowing when to turn back!

  1. Knowing when to turn back is the first and most important lesson people need to learn for the hills. I have to admit to being guilty of breaking that rule quite often when I’m out on my own though…

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