Friday was a tough day for me, so at around 4pm I decided that Echo & I needed some fresh air. We threw all the kit into the car & headed for the lakes.
The weather forecast wasn't great, but for the past few nights it'd been identical & the sunsets had been amazing. with this in mind, we headed up to Eskdale Needle via Hardnott Pass & Wrynose Pass. Now Ive driven up Wyrynose a couple of times & quite frankly couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Compared to the West of Scotland, its a piece of cake. Hardnott was another matter however.
Heading up through the langdales, everything was going great. The light was looking brilliant & everything was on track for a really good evening. Then we crossed the top of the pass & headed down the other side.
The first thing I noticed was signs about 1:3 gradients... these were followed by hairpin bend warnings.... they neglected to mention you get them all at once....
for approximately 20 minute all I could see through the windscreen was road going up. REALLY up. A couple of times I didn't think the car would make it! but it did, with me laughing my lungs out the whole time & echo dancing around in the back!
Eventually we made the small parking area at the top. Then the rain started. And the wind.
We sat & waited for a bit & it all cleared up again so having come all that way, I put my boots on, grabbed the kit & off we headed.
It was dry most of the way across the peat bogs but really windy. as we got to the other side however, the rain started. You can't see the needle from that point(its only 50 feet high) so we headed down, making our way carefully through the crags & scree slopes until I had the view I wanted. Which was when the weather went a little pear shaped.
The rain started. So did the sleet. And the hail. All at once. The wind picked up & the temperature dropped dramatically. Fortunately Ive been around mountains all my life, so I have the experience and the gear to deal with this so I wasn't too worried. Besides, Echo had just found a stick & was perfectly happy. I covered the camera with my Paramo dark cloth, got the shots & started packing up. With everything stowed we headed back up the hill to cross over again. Suddenly the wind was driving into my face, making the going considerably tougher. It was also getting dark. I stopped, took off my pack & dug out my head torch. Which promptly fell apart in my hands. Oh.
It was now dark. The weather had meant that the light had gone considerably sooner than normal, & I was faced with a steep walk off path uphill, threading between boulders & small cliffs. All this with a dog who was having far more fun than I was at this point.
We kept going.
Having crossed the top, I used my gps unit to follow my trail back the way Id come. In the dark you only see in 2 dimensions so it can make travelling in rough terrain really difficult, but I took my time & everything was ok. The rain was torrential by now, but I was still pretty dry & warm so it was just a matter of keeping going.
We crossed aver the top & headed down the other side. Visibility was down to around 10 feet by now so I was relying on GPS for navigation which was working out ok. I always carry a map & compass plus spare batteries but this was a short walk so I wasn't overly worried. The descent was interesting to say the least, with loose rock & large boulders appearing out of the gloom. More mountaineering accidents happen on the way down than the way up so I was being really careful.
Eventually we got back to the car. At which point Echo ran up with another stick.....
Heading down the pass in pitch dark was another experience. The road was now a river, so most of it was done at 5mph, and I can safely say I need new brake pads now! We finally got home at 1145!
Would I do it again? Oh hell yes, after all no-one remembers the easy trips!
Points worth noting about this are;
You're never over prepared in the mountains. I just had a 90 minute round walk turn into over 3 hours in pitch blackness.
Fitness is pretty important in these conditions.
Never EVER let you 4 year old son play with your head torch & always check it before you go.
Hilltrek make the best waterproofs on the Market & Lundhags Boots are worth every penny!
And finally, Echo can ALWAYS find a stick....
The shots not too bad either!
#Hilltrek #Lundhags #Paramo