Friday 24 June 2016

Simple Cupcake Birthday Cake

I did this take cake for Poppy's 6th birthday, which (as usual) we celebrated with her friends before they all disappeared for the summer holidays.

First make lots of pink coloured cake.

I can't remember the quantities I'm afraid, but it looks enough to make two healthy round cakes.  Well, I say healthy...

So after cutting all the edge off you're left with a nice tower.

Hacking away even more gets you the right kind of shape.

After putting roll out icing down on a cake board for the base (great for covering up all sorts of tears on the cake board), slather on lots of buttercream icing.

Looks quite neat, really.

Then fully decorated.  Most of the top was cake, covered in pink coloured buttercream and then decorated with smarties.  The height wasn't very well planned - it was higher than the chocolate fingers I'd got to simulate the folders in the case, so I ended up cutting a load down and putting them on the bottom.  It's the kind of thing the average 6 year old won't mind, but bothers me!

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Dollywaggon Pike

The purist would say that climing Helvellyn from the west is boring and I'm sure some say it doesn't count.  Anyhow, needing to drive back that afternoon meant we didn't have time to walk from Glenridding, and actually our target was the peaks to the south.  So we parked at the south end of Thirlmere, striking lucky by both getting one of the last three spaces and finding the ticket machine out of order.  A total of just under 15km at 5h15 was slightly more than I had planned, but that's partly since we took advantage of the great weather to visit Helvellyn.

Difficulty: 6
Walkers: Tim, Caroline
10:22, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (198)
11:48, 4.1km 1h26 778m, Helvellyn (950)
12:09, 5.3km 1h46 821m, Nethermost Pike (891)
12:38, 6.9km 2h15 880m, Dollywaggon Pike (858)
13:50, 9.9km 3h27 1083m, Seat Sandal (737)
15:37, 14.8km 5h15 1153m, End (196)

So this was the walk up - not much to say, other than we generally were overtaking people!  We also met a couple of guys in the car park who didn't have a map but clearly were on a mission to climb Helvellyn - we met them a couple of times later on and they clearly met their objective and were having a great time.

The top of Helvellyn, with Swirral Edge to the left, Red Tarn center and Striding Edge to the right.  The great mystery has to be whether we'll ever do either of these routes...

Top of Nethermost Pike, really the most impressive thing here is the view of Striding Edge!  Apart from my wife in the foreground, naturally.

The path down at High Crag.

Dollywaggon Pike, looking back the way we had come.

Then the long descent down to Grisedale Tarn.  We could see much of the route we had taken the day before, it was great to get closer to some of the sites we could see then.  The path down was really quite long and tedious though...  Just matched by the short but quite exciting climb up Seat Sandal - seen opposite the Tarn to the right on this picture.  We took the direct route up the left hand edge, Caroline didn't much like it, but Evie would probably have loved it...

The view from the top - quite windy, with St Sunday Crag center opposite.

We retreated back down the valley, taking the direct route back to the road.  We then walked back up the path then forest road to the car park, and seeing two fly pasts by 2nd world war planes - a quad propeller bomber (?) then a fighter.    They were flying down the Thirlmere valley, a lot lower than the cliffs either side, very impressive, and too fast for me to get the camera out!

Monday 30 May 2016

St Sunday to Red Screes

To be honest this was a walk that I didn't think we would be able to do in one go, and had planning this to cover 2 walks.  Driving back up the Kirkstone pass, the plan was to come back via the Kirkstone Pass Inn for a pre-dinner drink.  To be even more honest, I spent quite a bit of the second half of the walk thinking it would be sensible to cut it short, but Caroline was keen to do it all, the weather was warm but not too hot, and we could always skip our dinner reservation that evening...

Here's the list from this, our longest walk to date, at 29km in just over 9 and a half hours.

Difficulty: 11
Walkers: Tim, Caroline
9:53, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (161)
11:16, 4.3km 1h23 305m, Arnison Crag (433)
11:59, 6.3km 2h05 536m, Birks (622)
12:38, 8.2km 2h44 774m, St Sunday Crag (841)
13:36, 10.5km 3h42 987m, Fairfield (873)
14:07, 12.0km 4h13 1033m, Hart Crag (822)
15:03, 14.2km 5h09 1076m, Hartsop Above How (581)
16:11, 17.4km 6h17 1423m, Dove Crag (792)
16:45, 19.3km 6h51 1443m, Little Hart Crag (637)
17:05, 20.3km 7h11 1445m, High Hartsop Dodd (519)
17:58, 23.5km 8h04 1813m, Red Screes (776)
18:13, 24.5km 8h19 1827m, Middle Dodd (654)
19:32, 28.9km 9h38 1907m, End (162)

To start with we planned to find a route from the car park at Brothers Water around the valley and up to Arnison Crag, but ended up climbing up a fell opposite a farm without a clear track to avoid an extra mile or so.  Potentially not the best option to follow the path we took...  Still it meant that we approached Arnison Crag from the south, so only got the view of Ullswater when we were right at the top, which was great.

From here there was a fairly clear path which joined one wall to go to Birks and then followed a stream up a valley.  We were just about to strike up the hillside when Caroline spotted the actual path, following this wall up the hillside - much easier.

 This was our reward - great views, but mainly over the route to come to St Sunday Crag and the edge of the Fairfield horseshoe in the background.

It was a fair climb up, although it didn't get too steep to slow us down too much.  We were hopeful of a much better visit to Fairfield than earlier when it was all encased in cloud.

 This was the view walking to Fairfield, with Grisedale Tarn to the right, somewhere I was hopeful of visiting the following day.

After Fairfield (which is a pretty boring top) we walked down to Hart Crag, again being really impressed we could see anything this time.

This is the ridge out to Hartsop Above How, showing the ridge to the left with Arnison Crag at the end, and the farm at the bottom where we walked up to start the walk.

This the the top of High Hartsop Dodd, which was about the point I really started to worry about whether we could finish the walk.  The main concern was that I couldn't see any paths down from Middle Dodd, the next ridge along, which would have meant quite a backtrack to come down Scandale Pass.  This photo is looking back towards Hartsop Above How, with the ridge behind St Sunday Crag.

So we committed to climbing back up another 250m to Red Screes, and both really pushed up the pass next to the wall - taking about 10min for each 100m of ascent.  At the end of the day this felt quite hard, The photo capture the end of the hard section, looking down to Scandale Pass and Little Hart Crag - the rocky lump to the right.

We met a fell runner at the top of Red Screes, who agreed that we needed to get a move on to make dinner that evening!  This was the view - well worth it, looking down the way onwards to Middle Dodd and Brothers Water beyond.

The view from Middle Dodd - from which we could see pretty much every peak we had walked that day.

Caroline was motivated to be faster than normal on the descent, but as it turned out my fears were not grounded, there was quite a good path and not too many steep sections.  This was looking back up to Middle Dodd, showing the way we took.  We never got our pre-dinner pub stop, but we made dinner and thankfully (for the other guests) even had time to shower first!

Sunday 29 May 2016

Coniston Old Man & friends

This was a walk we'd planned and were keen to do in good weather - having climbed up the Old Man too many times with no view.  We ended up walking 21.4km in a total time of just under 8 hours.  Here are the peaks:

Difficulty: 8
Walkers: Tim, Caroline
9:45, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (55)
11:29, 5.1km 1h43 736m, Coniston Old Man (803)
12:07, 6.9km 2h21 858m, Dow Crag (778)
12:50, 8.7km 3h04 1007m, Brim Fell (796)
13:53, 12.0km 4h07 1158m, Grey Friar (773)
14:22, 13.4km 4h36 1239m, Great Carrs (785)
14:33, 14.0km 4h47 1285m, Swirl How (802)
15:35, 16.0km 5h49 1426m, Wetherlam (763)
17:37, 21.4km 7h51 1433m, End (55)

We parked in Coniston, and wanted to buy lunch - to our (mainly my) disappointment the Duck has stopped making packed lunches.  We ended up buying some food in the petrol station, then going up via the car park at the bottom of Walna Scar road.  Predictably there were quite a few people going up, including many families.  We looked on with a mixture of relief and pity (me) and envy (Caroline) as parents alternated between encouraging and holding back children from bounding off the edge of cliffs.

We continued up to the top, I was relishing being able to climb a lot faster than with Evie, although we were both really glad of the little wind there was to take the edge off the heat.  
The top was fairly busy, but it quickly thinned out as we continued beyond the summit, and the people we met tended to have more expensive walking gear!  The next target was Dow Crag, which turns out had a very small piece of climbing to reach the very top.  Caroline was persuaded to make it up - the view was clearly much better than just slightly lower down!
We retraced our steps, and took the option of going back to Brim Fell. On the way we met a rather confused lady, who wasn't sure where we was - she at least had a postcard sized map, so we helped her understand which route she had taken to the top and which way to go next to find her way back to Coniston.  This is at Brim Fell, looking back towards the Old Man.

Grey Friar with the sharp peak of Dow Crag visible in the middle of the far ridge.
 Great Carrs, looking over the Tilberthwaite Fells to the Little Langdale Tarn just visible.

Swirl How, the cliff edge is Great Carrs.  From here we took the path down to Prison Band, and then onwards and upwards.

Wetherlam was our eventual reward with this great view back over to Lake Windermere in the distance.

We then walked back along the ridge, avoiding going down the lower path down the valley where Grace lost her boot many years before - both times I've gone that way I've not really found a path.  Coming back down the ridge made for better views of the mining scars of the Old Man, and this great view of a very luck sheep.

Saturday 28 May 2016

Great & Little Mell

We drove up to the lakes from Birmingham, slowed by traffic it took around 5 hours, so we debated which walk to do.  We ended up going to Penrith and down to find off-road parking just north of Aira Force.  Great & Little Mell were the targets.  Less popular and relatively isolated, it was a gentle introduction to the week, at 10.8km in just under 3 hours.  Here are the peaks:

Difficulty: 4
Walkers: Tim, Caroline
15:13, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (261)
15:59, 2.8km 0h45 275m, Great Mell Fell (537)
17:24, 7.9km 2h10 559m, Little Mell Fell (505)
18:10, 10.8km 2h56 573m, End (259)

About 5 minutes into the walk along the road the long drive seemed worth it.  We found the track up just below the trees, ignoring the first style and taking the second just beyond the tree line.
It was a fairly easy walk up through scattered trees to the top.

 Okay, so not the most impressive, but really good to get a great view.  We then walked down, before finding the path next to Brownrigg Farm, where Caroline made friends with a very sociable lamb.  We just about managed to trace the path up to Greenrow before going around the base of Little Mell Fell.  At this point we came across a couple who had stopped their mountain bike ride to have a glass of bubbly.  Turns out he had just proposed - we didn't dare ask whether she had said yes, but given the smiles and laughter I'm guessing it all turned out okay.

 Going up Little Mell I was hopeful of a view over Ullswater, but it turns out the peak is just too flat to get a good view.  There was a least a decent pile to mark the top!
Going down Caroline stopped to take more photos - an ongoing theme to the weekend, before we returned to the car.
We drove towards the Drunken Duck via Glenridding and over the Kirkstone pass, but before leaving Ullswater we stopped for the great view.

All in all a great shorter walk, it might have been nice to capture Gowbarrow Fell, but that would have added quite a few miles and we just didn't have the time.  Still, that's in reach from Aira Force, so I can see going back there with the kids and doing Gowbarrow from there.

Thursday 31 March 2016

Grasmore and Rannderdale Knotts

We finally had a day that didn't promise rain or snow, so was the chance we were waiting for to do Isabelle's walk she had planned.  Evie had seen what was going on, so wanted to get in on the walking planning front - and had planned a 2 mile walk that would barely have us break a sweat.  Now the problem was the peak she had picked (Rannerdale Knotts) was also one we could take onto the end of Isabelle's walk.  This would clearly devalue her planning, so virtually all of this walk was take up trying to get Evie to accept that we might do Rannerdale Knotts on this walk...

Difficulty: 5
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Isabelle (13), Grace (11), Evie (8), Poppy (5 1/2)
9:58, 0.0km 0h00 0m, Start (114)
12:33, 2.9km 2h35 729m, Grasmoor (852)
13:35, 5.1km 3h36 843m, Crag Hill (Eel Crag) (839)
13:55, 6.0km 3h57 872m, Wandope (772)
14:30, 7.3km 4h32 906m, Whiteless Pike (660)
16:09, 10.3km 6h11 995m, Rannerdale Knotts (355)
17:28, 13.0km 7h30 1039m, End (113)

It really was a marked change from the rest of the week - calm and warm.  I even found an extra free car park on the way to the one we had picked out.  And then had to reverse back out again.

The view over Crummock Water was great, almost not quite enough to distract everyone from the relentless climb up to Grasmoor.  700m of ascent straight from the car park, covered in under 2 miles of walking but taking 2 1/2 hours!  Slow going at the back, watching Caroline stride away.  Still, a lot better than having to persuade Evie to take another 20 steps, as we did a few years earlier...

Finally it flattens out near the top.  Robinson is in the background, still snow covered, with the ridge between Whiteless Pike and Wandhope between it and us.  Here Isabelle is walking with Poppy, with Evie just behind.

All smiles at the top of Grasmoor, the high point for the week.

From here it's a really easy stroll over to Eel Crag.  Well, it's fairly open, even if 130m down and 110m up isn't that easy for everyone or motivating for the likes of Evie.  No hint of scrambling here.

Caroline at the top of Eel Crag, Well actually Crag Hill on the map, since Eel Crag is to the north, but this is the GPS for the official Wainwright, which is what we're really counting...

More at the top of Eel Crag.

A lovely smiling Evie, although Caroline looks less convinced. A snowy Robinson is easy to pick out in the right hand background.

The walk over to Wandhope is one of those that you just don't want to get that close to the edge.

The top of Wandhope, Robinson far left, and Newlands Hause mid left - you can see the road appearing over the crest and going down to Buttermere village.  Buttermere itself is also just visible in the centre.  At this point I revealed to Evie that I did actually have some fudge - she had been going on all week that the megre walking rations of mini chocolate eggs were insufficient and she really wanted some fudge.  Sorry, did I give that enough emphasis - Evie wanted fudge.  Anyway, on the last day we relented, and brought out the fudge for all - the effect was miraculous as we all sped up with the sugar rush!

The top of Whiteless Pike, with the route up to Grasmoor visible running diagonally up the ridge in the center.

Evie, frustrated that the fudge had all gone, made sure she was the one handing out the eggs.

We finally managed to persuade Evie that we were going to do Rannerdale Knotts as well, which was a really great finish to the week.  Superb views, not that high, and a great Poppy sized path.

One the way down we had a brief hour of family harmony, as the girls made up a very complex and evolving story.  Poppy was the Queen, Grace was the butler, and Evie and Isabelle were the naughty princesses that were always going out on exotic and expensive holidays.

Just to point out how great the location was, this was my view from the sofa, beer in hand, as Caroline read Poppy a bedtime story, with Maiden Moor catching the last rays of the sun.