Spindrift on Selside Pike

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Another snow-hunting expedition. The forecast was once again for mixed weather: wintery showers and maybe some brighter spells, but also for fierce winds. This is our crew shortly after we’d left the cars. We were joined by three of our friends, one of whom long-suffering readers might recognise as The Tower Captain, otherwise known as the Faffmeister, and also by their highly excited dogs.

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High Street and Kidsty Pike across Haweswater.

We’d had quite a bit of rain and snow on the journey up and as we drove alongside Haweswater it was snowing pretty heavily and settling on the road. But soon after we’d parked we had probably the sunniest spell of the entire day.

Our plan was simple: follow the Old Corpse Road, which crosses between Mardale and Swindale, to its highest point and then divert up Selside Pike, returning by the same route. This had been one of the possibilities I’d considered for the day that we’d been up to the Garburn Pass and, never one to waste things, I’d decided to revivify the idea for this outing.

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Waterfalls on Hopgill Beck.

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Rough Crag, High Street and Kidsty Pike.

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The kids had their small plastic sledges with them again and weren’t long in finding an opportunity to use them. This time, I didn’t wait to watch them, but climbed a little further to…

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…the small ruined, roofless cottage of High Loup. Although we’d not walked far at all, I had it in mind that this might be our last chance of any kind of shelter from the strong winds and suggested it as a lunch spot.

I didn’t have to twist anybody’s arm.

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After our stop, we made it too the pass with relative ease, and then found a couple more spots for some sledging. Once on the ridge, I was finding the snow conditions very frustrating: it was the kind of compacted snow which suggests it will hold you, but then collapses when you shift your weight, which is hard work. At least, it was that kind of snow for me. For most of the party it was perfect snow – firm enough to walk on top of, but soft enough to take an edge and give some grip. Little S, however, had the opposite problem to me: he was making no impression on the snow, but the wind was making a huge impression on him. Between the icy snow and the gales he was struggling to stand up. He didn’t complain, but after watching him struggle for a while, it seemed madness to let him continue and I asked him whether he would like to turn back. He would. And the other boys would be very glad to keep him company. I don’t think that they were any of them very impressed with the spindrift which was attacking us. It’s a lovely word ‘spindrift’, but totally inappropriate for the wind-driven ice shrapnel which stings any exposed skin and manages to get inside every garment.

The boys were also keen to put into action their plan to use the sledges as much as possible in their descent. Unfortunately, Little S didn’t keep a tight enough grip on his and it whipped away on the breeze and is probably now lying in a field down in Swindale.

The girls, meanwhile, were keen to carry on to the top. TBH offered to accompany the boys and so I joined King Dilly Dally, and A and S in the summit party.

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Here’s A sitting on the snowdrift filled summit shelter.

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The view of the snowcapped Pennines across the Eden Valley was better then this photo suggests, but it was quite difficult to hang on to the phone at this point, never mind hold it steady for a photo.

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Baron Behindhand on the descent.

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S and A with poles nicked from their Dads.

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Rough Crag and Haweswater again.

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A modest outing of just 5 miles, but very enjoyable.

I’ve climbed Selside Pike twice before, since I started this blog. Once on another wintery February day, with X-Ray another old friend. Although it was February and very icy, in every other respect this was a very different day:

Selside Pike and Branstree

And once on a mammoth (by my standards anyway) circuit around Haweswater.

A Haweswater Round

We’ve been meaning to get out with the Duke of Delay again ever since his igloo collapsing antics on Wansfell last year:

Grand Designs – An Igloo on Wansfell

 

 

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Spindrift on Selside Pike

Garburn Pass in the Snow

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A snow hunting trip. The kids wanted to play in the snow; the forecast was quite good, well half reasonable; so why not? We were all intending to go, but TBH discovered a leak near our boiler just before we set-off and stayed to wait for a plumber (who didn’t materialise until my turn to wait for him the following day). So, it was just me and les enfants terribles.

We parked down near Troutbeck and then followed the long steady climb up the Garburn Road, which is actually a track. We hadn’t walked very far when Little S asked me the time. It was just after midday and we all knew what was coming next: “Can we stop for lunch?”

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Given that it was pretty windy, and that behind this wall and below the branches of this tree might be the most sheltered spot we were going to see for a while, that actually wasn’t a bad idea. We made ourselves as comfortable as we could and then watched a buzzard circling above the valley before enduring the first of many snow showers of the day. This wasn’t the gently drifting flakes you might imagine, but wind-driven lumps of ice with more than a passing resemblance to hail.

The kids didn’t really care though and were soon engaged in a snowball fight as we continued toward the pass, oblivious of further showers coming in behind us.

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Troutbeck Valley and the hills around its head.

We reached a point close to the top of the pass and climbed a stile giving access to Sallows (a curious name for a hill), but only because we thought we’d spotted a slope with sufficient snow to allow the kids to use the small sledges they’d carried up with them.

The weather was pretty changeable…

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…this is Yoke in the sunshine.

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And this is the same ‘view’ moments later.

And again…

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Once again, the kids weren’t bothered. They sledged…

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Then built walls…

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When I took this photo we had both sunshine and snowfall at the same time.

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B helped the other two with their walls, then decided to build one of his own. He didn’t seem deterred by its modest size.

The wall building was a precursor to a spirited snowball fight. I took photos, a good excuse, I thought, for not getting involved this time, but sadly they didn’t come out too well as the weather had deteriorated once again.

Eventually I persuaded the kids that we ought to start heading back to the car.

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The clouds had come in, and the mountains, and then even the valley sides, disappeared behind us. The light was nice ahead though.

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This is a common sight on one of our family walks – the boys deep in conversation, probably about a computer game.

“Aren’t they cute when they chat like that,” was A’s observation. It’s true, but I’m not sure they’ll thank me for saying so.

Garburn Pass in the Snow

Woozles on Arnside Knott

As usual, I’d been monitoring the forecast as the weekend approached and it was pretty unequivocal: snow first followed by rain, rain and more rain. I’d just about resigned myself to a lazy weekend indoors, but late on Friday night, decided to check the forecast one more time. And lo and behold, between the two weather fronts, it seemed that there would be a few hours of much brighter weather. I hastily chucked some gear into my rucksack and retired to bed with the Ordnance Survey’s Lake District South East sheet.

Accordingly, I was out early the following morning. Our driveway was coated with a thin film of what had clearly fallen as snow, partially thawed and then refrozen into a crackling, slippery surface. But the road through the village was clear – it would be fine! A mile down the road and I was driving on snow. Another mile and I was passing abandoned cars and feeling the wheels spinning as the car struggled to to gain traction on a short, sharp little hill climb. The main road, when I reached it, was only marginally better. In Milnthorpe, I stopped at the petrol station to ask about the road ahead and to weigh up my options. To the North apparently the roads were likely to be bad. To the South I would find no snow at all.

I deliberated for a while and then decided to head home. I took a circuitous route and found that the snow had indeed petered out in just a couple of miles. Silverdale seemed to be on the dividing line, with green fields on the south side of the village but a thin white-over covering on the north.

 Arnside Tower

Arnside Tower

I’d already formulated Plan B: drag the kids out in search of snow. Little S couldn’t be enticed away from the goggle-box, but A and B were both keen to go seeking the white stuff, with the proviso that we must take sledges and find somewhere to use them.

Arnside Knott from the Tower 

Arnside Knott from the Tower.

In Eaves Wood, there was more mud than snow, and a lot of water dripping from the trees, but once north of the wood we found enough snow to sledge. It was as much ice as snow however and the sledges skittered down even a slight slope at an alarming speed.

Once onto the Knott, the snow was still pretty patchy and I began to worry that I had lured A and B out with false promises.

Saul's Road 

Not that I felt too guilty about that – it was fabulous to be out and they were clearly enjoying themselves, although both seemed to be quite tired, or at least, that’s what they told me when they insisted that I should carry the sledges.

Sledging at Heathwaite 

We kept giving the sledges a try, but it was still too icy to commit to anything but the gentlest of slopes.

Approaching the toposcope. 

Near the top of the Knott however, the snow was slightly deeper, although still with an icy crust. The view across the Kent, of Cartmell Fell and Whitbarrow Scar was wonderful, but the higher hills beyond were obscured by cloud, so perhaps it was serendipitous that I had turned back from my planned trip to the Lakes.

Across the estuary to Cartmell Fell and Whitbarrow Scar 

Along the shores of Morecambe Bay to the south we could pick-out green fields where no snow had settled.

Morecambe Bay 

A and B found another place to sledge….

Another icy sledging run 

…and then we paused for hot black-currant cordial with a view.

A pause for hot blackcurrant cordial

We visited the trig pillar…

Approaching the trig pillar. 

…thinking of heading home for some lunch, but decided first to check on the sledging possibilities in the large open field on the north side of the Knott.

At the top of 'the sledging field'. 

Pay dirt! This was the best sledging yet. A tells me the best sledging ever. That’s her…

The sledging field and the river Kent beyond

…slightly right of centre in this photo, on a long sedate run which will take her almost down to the far trees. Two of those, and two reascents of the hill and she declared herself ready to head home. Whilst A made her steady, controlled progress down to the bottom of the hill, B made several wild careering runs down the steep top part of the slope, all ending with him tipping out of the sledge or crashing into a bush or a patch of heather. They’re very different.

Tracking Woozles and Wizzles 

This photo of the two of them, which really belongs a little earlier in our story, made me smile, I think because it reminded me of..

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Well, I know, it’s not very similar. But it was in my mind because we’ve been rereading the stories together. What a delight it is to have an appreciative audience to read them to. All three of the ankle-biters enjoy them and find them funny, despite, or perhaps because of, how many times they’ve heard them before.

Great walk, anyway.

The next day the snow was gone. It’s raining again now, of course.

"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is a good morning," he said. "Which I doubt," said he.

"Why, what’s the matter?"

"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it."

"Can’t all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose.

"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."

Woozles on Arnside Knott

Barley in the Snow

Sledging, Pendle Hill behind.

With a disappointing lack of the white stuff around home this weekend, we filled the car with kids, sledges, spare clothes, flasks of hot drinks etc and drove to Barley near Pendle Hill.

Sledging 

There wasn’t an awful lot of snow there either, but enough for a little sledging. Or falling off sledges…

Falling off sledge. 

..which B managed to do far more often than he managed to stay on board. I think he just enjoyed an excuse to roll around in the snow.

A, on the other hand, didn’t need an excuse….

Snow Angel

….here she is making a snow angel.

Incidentally, we can heartily recommend the Village Cafe in Barley where we were Royally looked after.

Barley in the Snow

Only Weather

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So, after some bright and spring-like weekends in January, February’s first weekend heralded a return to more wintery fare. On Saturday it snowed. I dropped A off for an overnight stay with friends who live in a cottage on a hillside with a grandstand view of the Lyth Valley. Well, normally it does – on this occasion, with snow falling thickly – we couldn’t see further than a couple of field-lengths away.

By the time I arrived home, the snow had turned to rain and a rapid thaw was underway. This didn’t happen further north however, and that evening, we later found out, A was sledging by moonlight.

Sunday morning brought a dense blanket of fog. The fields were still white over, but what looked from a distance like snow, turned-out, on closer acquaintance, to be wet slush.

The boys wanted to sledge however, and grey, wet and dispiriting though it was, the slush was at least slippy – so sledging it was.

At the Cove a couple of fishermen sat in deckchairs looking out into horizon-less grey.

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We met numerous friends on the Lots – sledging seemed to be the order of the day. The forecast had suggested that things would brighten up, but although the sun kept appearing as a white disc through the murk and threatening to break through, the promised improvements never materialised.

Sledging on the Lots

The boys were shown (by our friend E) a run which had a small jump in the middle. Here’s a ropey film of B sledging down it:

Eventually, after a snowball fight and lots more sledging, the boys were ready for some warm, dry clothes and some lunch.

I decided I could wait a little longer for those pleasures and went for a bit of a longer stroll through Eaves Wood and down to Haweswater. The photos I took were of exactly those things I like to photograph at this time of year, in these conditions…..

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Bare trees through fog.

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Refracted trees through water-droplets.

Snowdrop from below

The secret hearts of snowdrops…..

Snowdrops near Haweswater

…otherwise known as snow-piercers.

Later in the week (Wednesday?) I arrived home form work just as the moon was rising. Full moons generally rise at around the time of sunset. This was a little after sunset, and rising in the eastern sky, I presume that the moon was bathed in light which had passed through the earth’s atmosphere? Certainly the moon was noticeably red. I fiddled with the settings on my camera, but still ended up with a collection of blurred and useless shots. This one does at least give an idea of the colour:

Blood moon

Today, despite sub-zero temperatures, it rained. Not surprisingly, the rain froze as it landed. It was lethal – I passed the immediate aftermath of a multiple vehicle pile-up on the motorway on my way to work. The A590 in Cumbria was apparently very badly effected.

What next?

Only Weather