Post 272: 22 June 2018, Ullock Pike and Skiddaw (Again!)
First of all apologies for the delay in posting this and the next walk; both to regular readers (believe it or to there are one or two – actually over 9,000 reads since August 2015) and also walkers I met on these walks and promised to post photographs of the walk and fabulous views. After the walks I headed to the Midlands to take my 95 year old Mom to hospital for treatment over 5 days. The good news is that the treatment seems to have worked and there will be a review in about 6 weeks. She is one ‘tough cookie’. The World Cup is also taking up many hours of the afternoons and nights, football and the World Cup being one of my other passions (I even attended three matches at Villa Park in the 1966 World Cup when we won!)
Two weeks after the Keswick Mountain Festival, my wife Celia and myself had been invited to stay with friends in the far west of the Lake District. The wives would be attending the Woolfest. Cumbria Man (trail name) and myself along with hundreds of other male fell walkers decided the excitement of a Woolfest would be too much for us and we would go walking instead. What I did not know when all this was planned months ago was that the weather would be superb and probably the best I had ever walked in.
On the Friday Cumbria Man was still at work and, after pouring over maps, I decided I would go and climb Ullock Pike at 2230 feet. It is south-east of Bassenthwaite village. I had noticed its fine ridge when climbing Skiddaw up the tourist route from Latrigg two weeks earlier. This ridge is is known as the Edge and the dark peak is Ullock Pike. Wainwright describes “this slender pyramid as one of the simplest yet finest mountain forms in Lakeland”.
Parking at Bassenthwaite I was soon going through pastures with cows and calves, a little tense, particularly when walking solo. However, the already hot weather seemed to have tired them. What would it do to me?! I couldn’t use my bus pass here. I passed through Barthwaite, Hole House, Barkbeth Farm and around Barkbeth Hill through pleasant pastures. The views looked good towards Great Cockup in the west and Skiddaw to the south-east.Then the ascent began and Scotland, across the Solway Firth, in the far distance and Bassenthwaite Lake came into view. An unusual but natural out crop of rocks called the Watches was reached and the first good sightings of Ullock Pike (right) and Skiddaw (left) seen. I had a gradual climb towards the summit of Ullock Pike with changing views, including of the new £300 million water supply line being laid by United Utilities from Thirlmere to West Cumbria. This is to stop water being taken from Ennerdale Water, which is now a protected wildlife habitat. It is due to be completed in 2022. if this heatwave continues I wonder if they will need water from Ennerdale and Thirlmere?! £300 million for a glass of water seems a bit steep to me. Time for a coffee break – much cheaper.
My ‘altitude training’ a few weeks ago in Bavaria (see blogs 254 to 265) was paying dividends as I was full of energy and passed two young ladies from the Leeds area.A few more puffs and fabulous views and I was at the summit of Ullock Pike. Another Woolfest husband had escaped to here. What now? With this weather there was only one thing to do – carry on up to the summit of Skiddaw (3053 feet), which was 823 feet above me. The fourth highest peak in Lakeland, but only a little lower than the highest peak Scafell Pike (3208 feet) . There was a somewhat steep path to get there! Even the sheep were feeling the heat at Carlside Tarn, especially with that wool coat! Just remember what the sheep (and husbands) have to put up with all you ladies at the Woolfest!
The Helvellyn range looked fabulous in the background. Views ahead, and back where I had climbed, distracted from the heavy breathing as I climbed steeply. I passed two young men descending, one of whom was hobbling on his trekking poles with a knee bandage on. Not the most encouraging sight.
Finally the summit along the ridge came into view and views towards Blencathra and the Caldbeck Fells:A quick photoshoot on the summit and it was time for lunch. It was now 1.42pm and I had started walking at about 10.30am. Of course I had booked the best table in the restaurant on my previous visit here two weeks ago, but a young couple had taken it over! However, they let me join them at the table, out of the cooling breeze. Of course they only had T shirts on, but by the time I sat down I had 4 top layers of clothing on. There is no way I will get cold over lunch.
According to Mountainsafety.co.uk:
The temperature drop is 1 to 3 degrees centigrade per 1,000 feet under normal conditions?! For dry air temperature the drop is higher, saturated air the drop is more likely to be 1 degree in practice. This means that the temperature at the top of a 3,000 foot (900 metre) mountain (i.e. Skiddaw) will be at least 3 degrees centrigrade cooler than in the valley, but could be up to 9 degrees colder. A good rule of thumb is to assume 2 degrees drop per 1,000 feet (300m).
The couple were Patrick and April Brosnan, travelling from Boston, Massachusetts, but originally from Bradford in West Yorkshire and Knoxville, Tenessee.
It was their first hike in the Lake District. Well if they bring fantastic weather like this they are most welcome to come again! One of the nice things about walking, even more so solo, is that you meet people from all around the world with a similar interest in the ‘Great Outdoors’.
I read on Facebook later that April (what a lovely name) found this walk “a tough one”! How does she think I found it, especially as I couldn’t use my bus pass?!
However, they still managed a beer on the summit. All I had was Yorkshire Tea! They must have drunk the beer before I got there! She owes me a pint.
Now all I had to do was get back down this little descent! I took it very slowly as it as very steep and ‘crumbly’. I passed the two ladies I had passed earlier still ascending and encouraged them to carry on. I hope they made the summit? One was having asthma issues, which was affecting her breathing.
At the bottom of the steep descent I found a great viewpoint looking towards Keswick and Derwentwater.It was a long descent back over Ullock Pike, but in continuing good weather the views were stunning. I dropped off the ridge to find an alternative path back to the car using a section of the Allerdale Ramble. At the junction I stopped for a rest and a nice couple asked if I wanted my photograph taken as I was solo, a nice thought.
So I took a photograph of them too. By now the sun was dropping and creating lovely reflections on Bassenthaite Lake It was about 5.30pm by the time I got back to the car. Celia phoned me to ask where I was!
I was at the end of a fine walk in some of the best weather I had ever encountered in the Lake District.
Miles Walked 12.63
Calories Burnt 3963
The next day I was due to go to an area which Wainright described as universal swampiness…………….sounds interesting!