Anyway, the sensible decision was taken and we had a lovely wander up and down the railway walk from Threlkeld to Keswick – much more conducive to a good old natter and catch up between ladies who’d gathered together from all over the north, not to mention facilitating a lunchtime trip to the pub and gear shops, and that’s after necking 3 bottles of champagne and copious birthday cake. That’s three bottles of champagne between quite a lot of us, by the way!
We stayed at the White Horse Bunkhouse behind the pub at Scales. It’s amazing value at £10 a night, the showers are hot and free, the pub’s right there, and so is the path to Blencathra – walk out of the bunkhouse and you’re on it. It’s a fairly short taxi ride to Keswick too to hit the town like we did… even if we were home by 10.45pm…
In everybody else’s defence, they did stay up till the early hours, it was just lightweight me who got straight into bed! With good reason though, I might add – with a minor reduction in wind speeds forecast for Sunday I was determined to get out even if only as far as Scales Tarn on the slopes of Blencathra… a stunning spot in August, but something else in winter!
The winds were still strong – the full extent of which wasn’t apparent till we got much higher up the ridge – but reasonable enough at bunkhouse level to go up and have a look. This definitely was one of those days where knowing your own limits comes in very handy. I wouldn’t have gone up so far on my own because of the lingering danger and no guarantee of rescue if there was no phone signal… but I felt comfortable enough with two other people present, and Jane - another experienced hillwalker - and I knew that while we may not stay on our feet, we weren’t going to get blown off any cliffs and we were well equipped to deal with the weather and inevitable wind chill. On the other hand, by the time we reached Scales Tarn where the wind was funnelling quite powerfully and actually did stop us in our tracks a few times, we both knew we wouldn’t withstand the force of the wind on the summit and decided it wasn’t worth it even though our other companion was far more experienced and would have been happy to continue. It’s pretty reassuring if you are going to do these things to take one of the UK’s most experienced and renowned mountaineers with you: we were lucky enough to be in the company of Alan Hinkes, and if you haven’t read his unique account of climbing the highest mountains in the world, go here and buy it now: 8000m.
Weather conditions and wind chill on ungloved hands didn’t allow for much taking of photos but here’s a handful from a relatively short but truly exhilarating day out: