Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Planning the last 12 Outstanding English Nuttalls

Only 7 walks left to complete the English Nuttalls

With only 12 Nuttalls left to complete ascent of all 253 of the 2000ft tops with a prominence of 15 metres in England, it has becoming increasingly difficult to organise a single trip whereby a significant number of hills can be bagged.

It has also turned my thoughts to which of these 12 Nuttalls will be the last. Had I thought about this sooner it may well have been a totally different top to any of the 12 remaining, but this is just an excuse to dwell in the past. The twelve left are the twelve left and in all honesty you have to go on many of the walks that would have included a suitable candidate for the last top anyway to make any objective selection.In any event after all the pontificating it is still only an opinion.

Firstly, of the remaining twelve,there are also a number of isolated tops left which remain for that very reason. So to select one of these by default does not sit easily with me. That is why I have planned to knock off Cold Fell and the two Dartmoor tops in two seperate trips before I return to the Lake District, taking the Nuttall count to 244.

Because there are 171 of the 253 Nuttalls in the Lake District I have always felt the last one should also be in the Lake District. But even within the last nine remaining there is still one more isolated peak which is indeed a very eligible candidate to be the last top. However it is also isolated for a reason and that is because Pillar Rock is the only English Nuttall that can not be sensibly walked without the assistance of a guide. It has been conquered by lone walkers without ropes but they are either far more experience than me or surprisingly have less sense than me.

It still does not sit easily with me, even with its unique status, to be the last by default so I am making every effort to arrange for it to have the special distinction of being the 250th Nuttall on my list. In addition there is also a risk to me if it were left till last that I may not get round to it. And although there is a category of English Nuttall completer's that have not summited Pillar Rock the line that says "Steve Smith 252 (NPR)" says to me "One left to do" rather than what it really means "Not Pillar Rock".

So that now leaves 8 candidates and rather than eliminating more for reasons why I do not want them to be last it is about time I started thinking about ones which I want to be last. Well what are my criteria:-
  1. Has to be in the Lake District
  2. Has to be a prominent peak that at least could be justified as an adequate qualifier to be the last peak.
  3. Has to be straight forward so I can be joined by friends who are not experience hill walkers
Criteria one already met, but criteria 2 & 3 at first glance seem to be mutually exclusive. However because I know the conclusion I am going to arrive at, this is not the case. At 12.66 miles the Haycock & Ennerdale Fell walk looks like it will be one of the tougher walks especially as at 1026.12m of ascent it is the walk with the most climbing. That combined with it's isolated start point and the fact there are four Nuttalls to bag I am going to get this one out of the way early to progress the count to 248.

Now because I want to make Pillar Rock Nuttall number 250 I am going to have to choose a walk with only one peak. Oh decision time Seat Allen or Catstye Cam. Well Catstye Cam with its conical peak at the other end of the vertigo inducing ridge walk of Swirrall Edge seems an ideal candidate to be my last Nuttall, satisfying criteria 2. however criteria 3. comes in to play. To make the Catstye Cam walk even more memorable I want to include the most famous ridge walk of Striding Edge as well. Although I have reached the high point of Striding Edge I do not consider it truly bagged without the traverse of the ridge, so the walk will also include a repeat visit to Striding Edge summit as well as Helvelyn and may as well include Birkhouse Moor to complete the original walk planned back in November 2008, Catstye Cam. (Only I could select my fist fell walk in the Lake District to include Striding Edge) Therefore selects it self to be Nuttall 249.

Pillar Rock weather conditions permitting will now be Nuttall 250. I say weather permitting because although I will have pre-booked the guide to rope me up and take me up Pillar Rock, I am led to believe it is only to be done in reasonable weather conditions that are not too wet. If that is the case and there are no contingency days left I will then have to do Loadpot & Wether Hill or Seat Allen next, making Pillar Rock Nuttall number 251 or 252. Not the end of the world I am sure if I allow 7-8 days to do the 3 walks in the Lake District I am ever hopeful Pillar Rock will be Nuttall 250.

So with Pillar Rock out of the way what will be the penultimate walk? To satisfy the seemingly mutual exclusivity of points 2 & 3 Seat Allen selects itself as the final Nuttall because the walk is shorter, the ascent is less and the terrain looks slightly more forgiving (not that it will be easy), therefore Loadpot &/or Wether Hill be Nuttall 252.

This first trip to the Lake District will complete eight of the outstanding nine in Lake District leaving the way open to return with friends hopefully in early June 2013, leaving Seat Allen as the last top.

Now that I have arrived at the final summit it is clear it is well worth the status. It is a Marilyn, it is one that I had to abandon on an earlier walk which included the Yewbarrows and finally it will be the only Nuttall on the final walk leaving plenty of time to celebrate with a picnic on the summit. Because it will be June I will be hoping for better weather than the last time I was in The Lake District in June. But because there is only one walk left to do on this final trip, if 2 or 3 days are allowed I should be lucky enough to have one day, if not a blue sky day requiring sun cream I should have one that is not raining and with a bit of luck at least a day when the summit is not shrouded in cloud, thereby (hopefully) ensuring a good weather day to enjoy the walk and picnic on the final summit with friends.

Here is the complete schedule for the four trips and seven walks to complete the last remaining 12 Nuttalls.

Distance Height Climbed
Walk Title (miles) (metres) Nuttalls Wainwrights Birkets Marylins Deweys
Cold Fell 9.09 476.52 Cold Fell Cold Fell
Yes Tor  & High Willays 8.94 542.38 Yes Tor
High Willays High Willays
Haycock & Ennerdale Fell 12.66 1026.12 Haycock Haycock Haycock
Little Gowder Crag Little Gowder Crag
Caw Fell Caw Fell Caw Fell
Iron Crag [Ennerdale Fell] Iron Crag [Ennerdale Fell]
Catstye Cam 7.81 973.8 Catstye Cam Catstye Cam Catstye Cam
Birkhouse Moor Birkhouse Moor Birkhouse Moor
Helvellyn Helvellyn Helvellyn Helvellyn
Striding Edge
PILLAR ROCK Pillar Rock Pillar Rock
Loadpot & Wether Hill 9.22 803.28 Swarth Fell (Ullswater)
Bonscale Pike
Arthur's Pike
Loadpot Hill Loadpot Hill Loadpot Hill
Wether Hill (Wainwright) Wether Hill (Wainwright)
Wether Hill
Red Crag
Gowk Hill
Brownthwaite Crag
Steel Knotts [Pikeawassa - Steel Knotts] Steel Knotts [Pikeawassa - Steel Knotts]
Seat Allen 7.18 769.97 Buckbarrow Buckbarrow
Glade How
Seat Allen Seat Allen Seat Allen Seat Allen
Middle Fell Middle Fell Middle Fell
38.63 3345.58 12 9 19 4 1
PILLAR ROCK No distance or height ascended as route will be decided by guide
Tops already visited are not included in totals

The 2 English Nuttalls south of where I live
The only 2 English Nuttalls south of Derbyshire are Yes Tor & High Willays in Dartmoor. They are therefore the only ones south of where I live in Suffolk and not really on the way to any other Mountain area in England and therefore require a special trip, which cannot reasonably be tagged on to another trip to The Lake District or any other area. This is reason these peaks have not been visited already and I want to get them ticked off sooner rather than later so they are not last by default.

High Willays & Yes Tor
February 2013 has been scheduled for the trip to Dartmoor. Although Gina won't let me go off on my own this year she does not seem all that keen to wander around Dartmoor in the middle of Winter. However that is not a problem, my mate Clive promised to carry me up the last 12 Nuttalls when he visited me in hospital last August 2012 so feel it is only fair to avail him of this opportunity.

A trip from Monday to Friday staying, at Oakhampton Youth Hostel, will allow three days in Devon giving us flexibility to pick the best day weather wise to complete the one walk necessary to visit Devon's County Top and her sister 2000ft top nearby. The other 2 days will allow us to bag some of the smaller but by no means less difficult Tors or if the weather is bad discover some of the local English Heritage sights in the area.

Studying the route to the right shows most of the walk will be along unfenced track. and even though it is not marked on the map I suspect this track will extend at least as a path to the summit of Yes Tor. There is also an unfenced track between the two summits.

The final check to make before setting off to Devon is to confirm there are not any MOD live firing exercises. Details of access can be found on theMOD firing-programme website.

Completed 12 February 2013 Walk statistics, photos, map and route description

The remaining 10 Nuttalls in more familiar locations
Cold Fell, Seat Allen, Haycock, Catstye Cam, Wether & Loadpot Hill
So with Dartmoor sorted the way is now clear to sort the remaining 10 peaks in a single trip.This would be fine if I only had myself to please and I was going to complete all on my own. However as you may know I had a health set back in August 2012 resulting in me not being able to complete the English Nuttalls by the end of 2012 as originally planned. (see background for further details) Since then Gina has become incredibly protective and decreed that I would not be fit enough to go off on my own. Now although my recovery has been remarkable and I am managing in excess of 10 mile walks and 1000m of ascent in a single day, I do not think it is fair or reasonable to give Gina this amount of unnecessary worry. Fortunately Gina will be accompanying me on one of the remaining walks and Clive will be joining me on the other trip.

Cold Fell
Cold Fell

This will complete all Nuttalls in the North Pennines and deal with what has become an isolated peak. It has been included in many previous trip plans but on every occasion has slipped off the schedule due to not enough contingency being allowed or simply not having enough time or energy to include in the limited schedule available.

Again there is a danger this may become the last peak by default so to avoid that eventuality Gina and I will be stopping off at Carlisle for a couple of nights on the way up to Scotland and bagging Cold Fell together.

The walking day will be fixed so unless the weather is absolutely horrendous we will be going out in most conditions, therefore to mitigate against less than perfect weather there is a 5 mile option starting at Forest Gate rather than the planned route to the right which  is 9 miles starting from Hallbankgate.

Whatever the conditions navigation for the ascent will be straight forward simply following what I suspect will be a well used unfenced track and when that disappears head due north to the fence which runs through the summit area. Similarly descent will continue west along same fence to bridleway where we turn right to return to car.

Completed 15 January 2013 Walk statistics, photos, map and route description

The Lake District
As mentioned earlier I will complete the remaining 9 peaks in two trips. The first one will complete eight of the peaks in 4 walks over a period of approx. one week, leaving the way clear to return with friends hopefully in early June 2013 to bag the 253rd Nuttall of Seat Allen in the Lake District - Western Fells.

Planned routes and more musings when these walks become imminent sometime between March and May 2013. As it happens it will be in April 2013 see "April 2013 - The Lake District and the last English Nuttalls"

Haycock & Ennerdale Fell

Catstye Cam

Pillar Rock

Loadpot & Wether Hill

Seat Allen

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