Swinside Weekend I

Swinside Hill with Bassenthwaite behind.

Had a fabulous weekend with a bunch of old friends staying at the Swinside Inn and Swinside Farm B&B in the Newlands Valley. We’d all left our kids with grandparents and hastened from all points to a late Friday night muster in the bar at the Swinside. A forecast for a bit of everything weatherwise on Saturday – some showers, some cloud, some bright spells – seemed to be belied by cloudless clear blue skies on Saturday morning, but the clouds had left their kids with grandparents and converged on the lakes with much the same singularity of purpose as our own speeding motorway journeys the night before. We got the drizzle as we climbed above Derwentwater on the prow of Cat Bells. (Yes there really is a hill in the Lake District called Cat Bells and all because of the tragic story of Keswick Ginger and the ghostly tinkling that can occasionally be heard on the fell….or perhaps because the name is a corruption of Cat Bield and the area was once the haunt of Wild Cats.)

Inexplicably I’m not the last to the top….”somebody tied my boot laces together” fumes the Shandy Sherpa

As we reached the top of Cat Bells, our second Birkett for the day – Skelgill Bank having passed by unrecognised as such – the sky was clearing and we had fine views of Causey Pike (of which more in another post).

Just beyond the busy summit we sat down (some might say slumped in my case) to drink in the views and the tea from our flasks (and lungfuls of air in my case).

The first of many lunch stops. Notice the Adopted Yorkshireman (centre) modelling ‘the grunge look’ circa 1990 on behalf of the Victoria and Albert Museum costume collection.

We ambled on (well…I ambled on – the others waited patiently every so often) over Maiden Moor…

Looking back to Cat Bells. Skiddaw and Blencathra almost clear behind.

…where naturally we felt compelled to sit down for a while. Then diverted slightly to the cairn on Blea Crag (to my surprise not a Birkett despite having a name, a prominent cairn and very nearly a contour line of its very own) for…well – a sit down.

Looking to Maiden Moor from the cairn on Blea Crag – Skiddaw and Blencathra playing hard to get again.

More sitting down followed on High Spy (probably) and at Dale Head tarn (definitely). A long steep climb (that’s how my legs remember it anyway) took us into the mist and up to our highest point of the day on Dale Head. We stayed in the cloud round Hindscarth Edge to Hindscarth…

The magnificent seven.

… and for much of the long ridge we descended back to the Newlands valley. A quick visit to the tiny Newlands Church (too dark now for photos I’m afraid) and a very, very long road walk (that’s how my legs remember it anyway), brought us back to the pub, a hot shower, foaming mugs of ale, steaming mounds of food, the Jacuzzi, a team of Swedish masseuses…..

Well…some of the above.

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Swinside Weekend I

One thought on “Swinside Weekend I

  1. Cat Bells is nearly always like an anthill, last time I had to join a queue to descend northwards down the rocky summit cone, then walk amid huge numbers of picnickers. Maybe it won’t be quite as crowded now that parking is prohibited on the road just below.

    Blea Crag does have a contour, it’s a Nuttall – High Spy North Top (if it’s the cairn I’m thinking of).

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