The Coledale Round, in winter…

Date: 6th January 2018

Who with: JP

Following our night under canvas, we left the Scotgate campsite in Braithwaite at around 830am, slightly later than planned, due to Sir Faff-a-lot, JP!

We headed through the village towards the small car park, at the bottom of Whinlatter Pass, and it was from here that we began to climb up towards our first summit of the day, Grizedale Pike. On what can only be described as a perfect winter’s day (Again! We have been lucky with the weather these last couple of months). On this route, you are straight into the climb, and soon start gaining height, with some fantastic views over Bassenthwaite and towards the snow-capped Northern Fells of Skiddaw and Blencathra.

We began to feel the wind picking up, as we climbed, and the morning clouds soon dispersed, leading to blue skies and a couple of happy walkers. We followed the path and meandered our way up alongside the nearby tree line and we soon started to over-shadow the valley floor below. We had met a few people, who were also taking advantage of the fantastic winter conditions and there were a number of walkers following us on our route.

We were soon into the snow on Sleet How, and the air was very cold with a real wind chill, with much lower temperatures than I had been expecting. We have done a lot of winter walking and are used to the temperatures in these conditions, but there really was a bite in the air. It may have been the fact that I was just getting over a bad cold, but the cold air was really hitting my chest.

As the route became increasingly icy on the final third up Grizedale Pike, we decided to don our crampons, which soon aided our progress. The number of fellow walkers was increasing now, and we could see them ascending from all directions to enjoy the conditions. We summited Grizedale Pike, where we saw two lads who were pushing their mountain bikes up the final section to the top, no doubt ready for the long and fun descent! JP and I enjoy getting out on our bikes and so it was one for the ever growing ‘to do’ list…

We didn’t loiter on the top, due to the blustery wind conditions, which were cutting, but we dropped down just a few metres in the direction of Hopegill Head, until we were just out of the wind, by the small shelter that resides there. It was here we stopped for some hot coffee and a bit of a snack, although we soon began to feel the cold, especially me following my cold, so we continued on.

We dropped down, before removing the crampons, and continuing up directly into the hammering wind, which must have been 50mph + and extremely blustery. As we plodded up towards Hopegill Head, we were battling against the spin-drift repeatedly thrashing us, but carried on to reach the top, before dropping down over Sand Hill to Coledale Hause. It was at this point that the cold had really got to my chest, and I couldn’t contain the coughing, and as we were heading to Aviemore in a couple of weeks, we made the decision to drop back down into the valley and back towards Braithwaite, rather than continuing on over Crag Hill and Sail. It is the first time that we have cut short one of our walks, but we must be getting more sensible with age! Whilst disappointing, as I love the Coledale Round, it was the right decision, as I wasn’t walking at my usual speed and could feel that I wasn’t 100%. Hopefully, I will be back at 100% before we make the trip up North for a week of Scottish fun.

We followed the path down towards Force Crag Mine, passing Pudding Beck and Low Force on the way, which was living up to its name and in full ‘Force’ producing a magnificent waterfall spectacle. As we continued down, I knew I had made the right decision not continuing over the tops, and instead, as usual our conversation was in full flow, putting the world to rights.

We crossed Coledale Beck and followed in the shadows of Grizedale Pike, this time looking up at the massif, as opposed to looking down into the valley as we were doing earlier in the day. We ended up at the car park where we had begun climbing this morning, and soon dropped back down into Braithwaite and towards the campsite.

Upon unloading all of our gear at the tents, we decided to nip into Keswick for some bits of supplies ahead of our trip to Scotland. We enjoyed a quick pint at the Dog and Gunn and then came back for a shower, before heading out for a few more pints and a well-earned Steak and Ale pie at the Royal Oak….that will sort my cold out!

I have done the Coledale Round before with my wife and Susie, our Patterdale Terrier, but JP and I will no doubt return to finish off what we have started at some point in the future. The fells are not going anywhere anytime soon!

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