Winter Walk – 2018

Location: Snowdonia, UK
Dates: February 3rd/4th, 2018

On Saturday 3rd February a group of members and students including Jo, Cas, Kyle, Chris L, Abbie, Ruth, Lewis, Ben and myself, set off just after 9 a.m following a hearty breakfast at the New Dungeon Ghyll. We headed NW from the hotel up Stickle Ghyll past its waterfalls to Stickle Tarn which looked jet black surrounded by freshly fallen snow. After a short discussion we followed Cas to Jack’s Rake and began to make our ascent up wet and partially snow covered rock. Although we encountered a few ‘sticking points’ and a rather slippy exposed slab at the top of the route, we all made it up unscathed; unfortunately the same cannot be said for a Kamikaze sheep that tumbled down from above across the route not far from Jo, a close shave.

At the top of the route John D and Patrick appeared out of the mist having taken a more appropriate route round the back of Pavey Ark and joined us for the rest of the day. Visibility had deteriorated with altitude making accurate navigation tricky. We found ourselves contouring round the north side of  Thunacar Knott and the relatively flat land around Martcrag Moor before picking up the footpath in Langdale Comb joining the Cumbrian Way back down the valley under clouds that had lifted treating us to spectacular views. A few of us stopped at the Old Dungeon Ghyll to enjoy the open range in the walkers bar before heading back to base.

On the Sunday morning we were treated to blue skies and views of snow covered mountains. A small group formed from those who didn’t need to rush off, consisting of Kyle, Chris L, Lewis, Ben T and myself. This time we set off for the other side of the valley walking to Oxendale and up Brown Howe to the col between Pike of Blisco and Great Knott. Shy of the Tarn we turned right up a snowy slope around the south side of Great Knott heading towards Crinkle Crags in ankle deep snow. From Crinkle crags Chris L and I had to motor on as a drive to Inverness via Perth awaited us. We managed to find the three tarns under ice and snow and made our way down The Band back down to the valley floor with the warmth of the sun on our backs and smiles on our faces.

Group shot looking back into Langdale Valley
Slippery stream crossing up Stickle Ghyll
Ascending Jack’s Rake
From left: Kyle Pattinson, Luke, Ben Talks, and Chris Lewis heading to Crinkle Crags
Sunday morning views

Account of a Friday walk by John Delamere:

With a very fine forecast and a much looser commitment to remunerated employment, an early morning start was possible on the Friday morning of the winter walk weekend. Ten thirty saw the three of us (Jo, John and Patrick) emptying out of the car onto the Walna Scar Road..  A brisk walk on a rough track with views back to Coniston village and Lake with Morcambe Bay glimmering in the winter sunshine, brought us to the to the crest of the ridge and views across the Duddon valley to the snow capped Scafell peaks. Breaking off from the main track we ascended the ridge topping Brown and subsequently Buck Pike before scrambling to the summit of Dow Crag. The rocks were icy with a dusting of snow somewhat limiting any desire (assisted by gravity) to run down the ridge to a lunch stop on Goats Haws.  Fully refreshed the three old men sped up the Old Man and barely pausing at the summit commenced the off track descent down the mountains south west flank back towards the car and further fluid replacement in Coniston.

From left: John Delamere, Patrick Cadigan. and Jo Bradwell on Friday.

Account of alternative Saturday walk by Ian Maclennan:

Alex and Ian set off southwards from the New Dungeon Ghyll and followed the Cumbria Way down past Elterwater. They then turned north and walked through the ancient parkland and magnificent trees past High Close before descending to Grassmere. There in keeping with BMRES traditions of wild walking the party stopped for coffee/chocolate before heading up Easdale. At this stage it looked as though it was clearing and the waterfalls on the well-refreshed Sourmilk Gill were magnificent. At Easdale Water the conditions were starting to become gloomy and as the party made their way up Eagle Crag the moved into white out conditions. On reaching the plateau sporadic footsteps seemed to be the only clue to the route as the path was hidden. After following increasing numbers of Heffalump footsteps for a few minutes Alex suggested it might be a good idea to consult a compass. This guided the walkers through virgin snow down the head of Stickle Tarn and onwards down the slippery pavement of Stickle Gill back to the hotel.

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