Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Three Norberts and a V Diff

I spent last weekend with some friends from university days, Nick and Anne, who live in Kendal and who are obviously in demand as a base for adventures in the Lakes.

On Saturday we walked up onto High Street from Hartsop.  It goes without saying that the weather was pants.  I don't seem to be able to go outside Derbyshire these without walking into rain.  Leaving the car park and a group of intense looking mountain bikers who were engages in assembly their double sprung machines (lets hope they didn't get them from Ikea), we strolled up the track to Hayes Water.   For some reason I had it in my head that Wainwright's ashes were scattered here and we debated why he would want to end up in such a uninspiring location.

Hayes Water

Actually, I've just checked and they are by Innominate tarn on Haystacks.  You can see my mistake, Hayes Water, Haystacks.  Anyway...

Summit of The Knot

We plodded up the bridleway and speculated if the bikers had set up their gears and would be making an appearance any time now (they did - in case you wanted to know).  And we bagged out first Norbert of the day, The Knot..

A brief word about Norberts

Norberts are my response to tickers.  Norberts are to be climbed because they are there, for the pure pleasure of the hill and not for any statistic (especially one that is meaningless now OS maps are metricated) that may have been attributed to them by some glory seeking, albeit possibly well-intentioned, individual.   The only rule for a hill to be counted as a Norbert is that it should have a summit.  Norberts shouldn't be tickable but that would rule out anything that was a Munro, Marylin, Birkett (i.e. most of the hills in Lakes), Corbett or Nuttal (and I'm sorry if I have missed any).  I haven't quite resolved this dilemma yet but I'm working on it.

There is a sub-class of Norbert, which is a hill that is 'in the way'.  It's the unwelcome hill that lies between where you are and where you want to be.  These I refer to as Fekkin Norberts although the descriptor may be modified to one of your own chosing.  Clearly one person's Norbert may be another's Fekkin Norbert and vice versa.

The Knot, sports a summit cairn and pillar built from stones pillaged from the nearby wall.  Nick, a planner for the National Park, was critical of this wanton destruction of local heritage, even though the wall no longer serves any purpose.  A brief photo stop against grey skies and we headed onto High Street.  Somewhere near the trig point we stopped for a snack and to sit in the rain and following that felt no inclination to go in search of the actual highest point, so we headed on to Thornthwaite Beacon.  High Street doesn't have much of a clearly defined summit (it's more of a ridge if one were to get picky about it), so its Norbert status is questionable but I counted it on this occasion. You can have hours of pointless fun with this malarkey.

The Beacon is a stone tower and must have some history to it but I haven't researched it yet, so I'm going to make some up.  Built by a jealous farmer, he locked his beautiful daughter in there to protect her from unwanted suitors and also so she could watch over his sheep during the day as they grazed on the fellsides.  Every night he would bring food to the tower and she would let down her plaited hair, which was the texture of tousled Herdwick wool (she wasn't actually that beautiful), with which to raise the basket of vittals.  What happens after that I'll leave to your imagination. I'm bored with this now.

The Beacon

The track from the Beacon is a knee-wrecking descent to a col, either side of which are magnificent U shaped valleys, and is followed by a lung-wrenching climb up to Stony Cove Pike, the third Norbert of the day.  And hey, the clouds lifted and the skies cleared and we were bathed in sunshine and it was good.  We could see half the Lakes and down to Heysham Head and over to the Howgills and across to Ingleborough. 

From there we headed over Caudale Moor and down a much longer knee-wrecking descent to the road and a conveniently sited pub, where we felt obliged to consume a small but refreshing glass of beer before continuing round the back of Brothers Water (in the rain) back to the car.

Distance 9 miles, Upness (and down-ness)  3300 ft

Sunday - Wallowbarrow Crag

On Sunday, Anne and I drove round to the Duddon Valley and climbed a route on Wallowbarrow Crag.  It's almost 20 years since I last climbed here and at least 10 since I climbed anywhere in the Lakes.  Wall and Corner (195 ft) is a Hard Diff in my 1984 guide but is now graded V Diff in the current edition, which works for me.  It's four pitches and the first one felt decidedly thin for a VD, whilst the second came with the added frisson of being wet on the crux moves.  I'm slightly embarrassed to admit I was starting to look for an abseil point when I decided to have one last go with a hand jam in a greasy, wet crack and a smear on the damp wall. Commitment is the name of the game and this seemed to get my head in the right place, as the final two pitches were just a dream, with good gear placements and lots of variety.  Best of all the sun was out and, standing on grassy ledges whilst belaying Anne up, I remembered how much I used to love this aspect of climbing.  It's just the fear thing I could never really come to terms with.

Wallowbarrow Crag, Duddon Valley

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