An early morning blast into the hills

Blog post 12

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Date: Saturday 14th March

Wainwright count: 2

Wainwrights: WhiteSide, Raise

Who with: Susie, the Patterdale Terrier

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With plans for lunchtime, Susie and I had an early start (6 am) and made the 25 minute journey from Skelwith Fold to Glenridding. I’m not sure how impressed Susie was with the early start, as she reluctantly got out of the car and looked rather sorry for herself. We made our way up to the Youth Hostel, and proceeded on the footpath towards WhiteSide.

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It was a cold and overcast morning, but there was very little wind in the valley, which was a nice change than of late. The snow remained in places in the valley, but got significantly deeper from around 500m, which Susie loved! The path through the valley is a pleasant one, and is overrun with walkers in the summer, but at 6.45am on a cold winter morning, I had the whole mountains to myself I think, which was lovely.

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The cloud cleared a little and visibility was good, except for some of the mist hanging over Catstye Cam and Swirrel Edge, and the light was lovely, reflecting beautifully off the snow. As the path climbed up, the dam came into view, with Helvellyn’s Lower Man shining in the sun behind. The path snaked up the side of Brown Crag before reaching the col in between WhiteSide and Raise.

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The snow at this altitude became much deeper and there was a slight cornice overhanging from the col, which had to be navigated with caution. There was a bit of fresh snow which had compacted overnight and the wind increased significantly as we reached the tops. Susie was now disappearing in the snow, and I think the significant wind-chill had forced her to wake up!

We made our way towards the summit of WhiteSide, before retracing our steps to the col, before ascending Raise, before the cloud dropped significantly and in a short space of time, which left near white-out conditions. Thankfully my winter skills learned on my recent course in Glencoe, paid dividends. Following reaching the viewless summit of Raise, we continued down to Sticks Pass, before dropping on the path down towards the quarry at the foot of Sheffield Pike. We crossed the footbridge over the beck, and skirted the old mines back down on the path to Glenridding before returning to the car. All this before 09.35am!

As we were heading down, the streams of people were heading up on to the fells to start their days out, which will no doubt be much longer than ours, but it probably looked as if we had had enough early doors and turned around! The early morning cloud was clearing by this time and so the views would be even better than at first light in the morning for the dozens of spritely walkers and climbers heading into the mountains….it was as if a coach had just arrived and dropped them all off!

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Upon returning to the car, Susie climbed into her cage and almost instantly fell asleep, which is quite unusual for her, as 15 mile walks don’t usually tire her out! I think it must have been the early start, but upon returning back to Skelwith Fold, she got into her bed and had another couple of hours sleep before coming back to life again. 7 miles and a 6am start mustn’t be Susie’s bag! She enjoyed though….I think, and if she didn’t…I did!

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