Friday 2 January 2015

Blea Rigg & The Dark Descent

We'd actually not gone for a walk the previous day, the weather wasn't very inviting and I was still having back problems.  Caroline did get out in the afternoon and ended up almost getting all the way up to the top of the Old Man, but was advised by people returning that the top was really miserable - very windy, raining, no visibility, so she wisely came back to the house where we were all sheltering in the warm and dry.

Still, our last full day was brighter and drier, so it was time to really stretch our legs and pick up something a little more challenging.  We decided to start from the car park at the bottom of Dungeon Ghyll (I seem to remember the parking meter was broken so we didn't even have to pay, forgetting that the next car park along is National Trust), walking up to Stickle Tarn before making a right hand turn.

Difficulty: 4
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Isabelle (12), Grace (10), Evie (7), Poppy (4)
11:15, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (91)
14:16, 3.7km 3h01 482m, Blea Rigg (541)
17:46, 10.0km 6h30 622m, End (91)

We set off, and made good progress in the morning, up the obvious path.

Or taking the slightly less obvious route after fording the stream.

After reaching Stickle Tarn, we didn't stop straight away since it was pretty windy, so we turned right and found an place that was more sheltered.  Well, it really wasn't that much more sheltered, so lunch was fairly quick...

Poppy looking less than impressed.  Perhaps she missed out on eating all her crisps.  She does eat the slowest out of all of us, so when we don't have long she does tend to be unlucky and just miss out on some of the food.

Reaching our target, Blea Rigg.

Now to find the way back home.  I'd planned this walk out, and had seen a very convenient path down the hillside, leaving us time to get back to the car.  There was a longer variant, staying up high and walking around to Silver How, but that looked too long to get back before it got dark.

Last shot of the family before we really descended, with the sun starting to go down over the far hills.  Never mind, still lots of time to get back...

Or maybe not.  Turned out that the path was marked on the map but less so on the ground, with a farmers wall blocking the way.  We took quite a long diversion trying to find the path, before turning back and then just trying to go down hill, assuming that the path had been diverted through the neighbouring field.  Turns out not, so we ended up having to climb back up, as the light rapidly was failing.  The need to find a sensible path was so great that we ended up scaling a wall, thinking carefully about the order we should go over and how to help everyone get over.  It really was a great team building exercise, although slightly stressful for me looking at the map and the clock and trying to find a path off the fell side.

We finally reached a better route down and just about made it down to the road before the light completely went, very useful since trying to walk on uneven ground when you can't see the ground is quite hard.   The path we had to take was quite a detour, following the edge of the farms down to the south east until the farms ran out and led to a path.  It was slightly ironic since that was the path we would have been on had we taken the longer route to Silver How, but I bet that we wouldn't have been there any earlier had we taken that route.

The only good part about this route is that once down to the valley floor we knew there was a very easy flat straight path back to the car park - there was a short road section, where we got to use our torches (carried on all walks, and virtually always unused) to warn cars that we were on the road, but after that it was all offroad.

Still there were puddles to avoid, but the really great thing was that the moon was out, and actually giving enough light to see the puddles and each other by.

So all in all not the best walk, but a real lesson in checking the route (on multiple maps) before setting off, being very aware of any alternative routes back and carrying enough things like torches.

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