Somehow, I clean forgot to finish this blog that I started just before New Year. I had a lot on, including more hiking and somehow this one just slipped the net, so here it is. We are back on December 28th 2015 just after all the floods in Cumbria and my daughter Steph having completed a few smaller hikes with me wanted to try Cat Bells with a view to extending it onto Maiden Moor and the High Spy if conditions allowed. It was extremely windy still as the tail end of a storm was still with us so we planned to crack on and just see how the day panned out.
Our route today was to include:
The route we took, downloaded after the event from my Suunto Ambit 3 peak looks like this in Google Earth.
And like this on a map.
So we left Blackpool at 7:30am, grabbed a bite to eat at Tebay services and were parking up by the Swinside Lodge at 9am. There is a only very short road walk in to Cat Bells from here.
And by 9:15 we were stepping onto Cat Bells flanks. I was very surprised to see the damage the floods and cold had caused to the path. Ive been up here a few times now and its always been in great condition.
The great thing about Cat Bells is the view. And it appears very soon indeed. This is looking back after only a few few minutes walk.
Looking back to Swinside Lodge area where we have parked. (The building in the middle)
Skiddaw as always, just looks amazing even in today's hazy conditions. It's Steph's favourite mountain to look at, so I am sure one day soon we will climb it together.
Onwards and upwards
We soon come to the first small scramble. I think this is Steph's first little scramble and she seemed to quite enjoy it, although I'm sure she would enjoy it more had there not been....
A coachload of onlookers behind us!
Onwards again, the path up is about as simple as they get. It's very well maintained up here considering the footfall it gets.
The view across Newlands to Causey Pike, Sail and so many other great peaks.
And the view back towards Skiddaw.
Having reached what I call "The false summit", the real summit is in view now.
Looking over to Robinson and Hindscarth.
Not too far now, but the wind is picking up.
Time for a coffee. Hmm... Steph's Scarpa Mantas make me want to buy a pair of new boots!
What a beautiful ridge walk Cat Bells is. It's pretty steep from here on up.
There are many ways up from here and you just make your own way up. Since its busy we opt to go round the outside into the strong wind to avoid the surprisingly large amount of people trying to come back down.
And we found out why a lot were rushing down. The wind was right up in excess of 45mph and biting cold. It seems Cat bells has been sheltering us from a direct wind all the way up, so as we breach the summit we feel its full force and it nearly had us off our feet at times. When hair as short as mine is being blasted by the wind, you know its strong! Steph and I linked arms and grabbed a Summit selfie!
The route to Maiden Moor as seen from Cat Bells summit.
We stopped in a little wind free spot on the saddle between Maiden Moor and Cat Bells where the descent path joins the ridge and had some lunch and a brew while discussing what to do next. Should we battle the wind and carry on higher, or turn left and head down.
Upwards and onwards it is... brilliant. I'm proud of her, there are very few folk carrying on upwards.
A bit more scrambling for Steph. Great practice and very unnerving in these winds.
Maybe this is why Steph's boots look so good. Like my wife, Steph likes to give her boots a clean in every puddle we come across. I captured this image to give my wife Mandy a smile as I am always moaning at them both about avoiding mud to keep their boots clean. Surely one of the joys of expensive hiking boots is the fact you can walk through mud in them? it must be an age thing as my 7yr old daughter is quite the opposite and loves jumping in mud without dad moaning at her for it. Mind you, the 7yr old got hers off dad. The 21 yr old had to pay £225 of her very hard earned pounds for them. I guess that makes a big difference.
Maiden Moor ahead and to the right. But we are going to stay left and visit that one on the way back.
The view back across to Cat Bells as Steph ascends.
Now on Maiden Moor, we can see ahead to High Spy. Surely one of the best names for a mountain? On that note, its also to be Steph's first "official" mountain since anything under 2000ft isn't actually classified as a mountain. I'm sure that fact hasn't escaped her as a lot of folk would have turned back in this wind without doubt.
I took Steph off the path and over to the northern edge to enjoy the stunning views I had found on a previous visit.
Dale Head with High Spy summit to its left. What a view!
An image I will treasure forever. Steph on her first ever Mountain Summit. High Spy (2143ft) I couldn't be prouder of her for sticking with this new hiking bug and not deciding to become a warm weather hiker as so many people prefer. And she has also taken good advice and bought all the right gear first time too, so she is never cold. Its nice that my previous mistakes with hiking gear have enabled me to advise her well and save her making them too. My wardrobe is full of gear that isn't quite up to the job of winter hiking.
The view across to Dale Head from here is awesome!
But it's time we left before the wind removes us itself.
On the way back we visited Maiden Moor summit. Its as bland as they get actually, but still offers nice views.
Almost on the descent point from Maiden Moor. It will be great to get out of this cold wind.
Steph negotiating the tricky bit above Hause Gate.
Its going dark now, but the return path is simple enough. Follow the path from Hause Gate to High Ground and then turn left and head to Brandelhow.
It's a very well maintained path again now, so no real challenges bar my sore knees. I hate getting old. I remember when I used to refer to my knees as "left and Right" but nowadays it seems to be "Good and Bad"
As always, at this time of the day there are very few people around. What an awesome place the fells are when your alone.
We stopped for a brew and to don our head torches. Keswick looks beautiful lit up below Skiddaw but my little camera couldnt capture it well with so little light available.
And that was the end of another great day. Three new Wainwrights for Steph and just over 8 more miles on her legs. Cant beat it!
Some data from the walk download from my Suunto watch.
The ups and downs.
And finally a short 60-second video showing the route.