A couple of weeks ago I attended the AAC Patterdale meet held at the George Starkey Hut. My brother and I were both feeling pretty feeble with a variety of tweaked muscles and chesty cough’s between us. The weather forecast for Saturday was awful, so we were pining all our hopes on a fine Sunday, and a possibly a Friday afternoon stroll.
We parked behind the hut at 2pm on Friday, after a trouble free drive up the motorway. The cloud was down to about 700 metres, but at thankfully it wasn’t raining, so we togged up spent a pleasant couple of hours wondering along the eastern shores of Ullswater.
Saturday morning turned out pretty cold and grim, the wind had been blowing like mad overnight, it had been raining, and the peaks looked dire. As no one seemed in a rush to head for the tops, we decided to take a trip to the Ambleside gear shops, with a view to doing a walk after lunch if the weather improved. Gone are the days of heading into the cold wet and windy hills, to spend hours navigating in the mist with no view!
We returned from the fleshpots of Ambleside over the Kirkstone Pass, and parked in the Hartsop car park alongside Low Wood. The weather still looking threatening so we decided to take the track to Hayeswater, if the conditions improved we’d climb The Knott, otherwise we’d cut our losses and return the same way.
When we arrived at Hayeswater it was cold and windy and it looked as though it might rain or snow, so we took shelter in the humps by the lakeside and ate lunch. When we’d finished our food the weather was still pretty miserable, so we left The Knott for another day and headed back to the car.
As we descended the wind was becoming stronger and we could see a band of hail or snow heading our way from the Helvellyn direction, when the hail storm arrived it was quite ferocious but is soon blew over and we’d dried off by the time we reached the car park.
Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny. We decided to take the St Sunday path as far as the saddle, and either return via Birks or if the icy wind dropped, we’d continue over St Sunday Crag and return via Deepdale Hause, Grisedale Tarn, and the Grisedale valley.
The path to St Sunday Crag climbed steadily and as it cleared the tree line we were treated to excellent views of Ullswater, and Helvellyn.
It was a glorious day, but the wind became much colder as we reached the snow line at about 600 metres, it was decision time, and reluctantly we turned left and headed for Birks.
Tony’s pulled calf muscle had been tight all morning, and it seemed wise to take the short day option, rather than risk doing more damage. We followed a feint path to the summit of Birks, and then descended over the top of Black Crag before re-joining our upward path.
At times the ground was frozen so hard that we considered putting on our Kahtoola Microspikes, but in the end it wasn’t necessary. Once back on level ground, we had a short but pleasant walk back to the hut.
We’d planned to have a brew before setting off home, but unfortunately someone had gone off with the key. It’s not the first time this has happened, so we always pack the car before going on the hill. With nothing more to detain us we headed for home, maybe not a classic weekend but very enjoyable all the same!