Friday, 22 March 2013

April 2013 - The Lake District and the last English Nuttalls

So far with Cold Fell & High Willhays and Yes Tor in Dartmoor out of the way the plan the last 12 outstanding English Nuttalls is on schedule with only 9 remaining English Nuttalls all of which are in The Lake District. Also as planned, there are only five walks left to complete them.

One major difference to the plan is that I am going to complete them all in one trip rather than leaving one to return with friends at a later date. Instead I am going to be joined by friends at the end of this one trip to complete the last 2000ft tops in England I have left to visit in April 2013. With further thought I just do not see the point of going all the way to the Lake District and then returning home with just one peak left to visit.

The other difference is that Seatallen will not be the last Nuttall climbed. It will be either Catstye Cam or Loadpot Hill with the current favourite being Loadpot Hill as set out in the schedule below. 

Actually, there is another difference, the concept of contingency. Maybe if I had used this in previous trips I would not have these isolated peaks now. However with a journey of 350 miles each way from home to the Lake District I was and still am, reluctant to plan in spare days. The lesson is simple though, do not plan in multiple destinations within one trip unless all trips in the first area of the trip are completed. Effectively plan in spare days to complete an area, then if the spare days are not required, move on to the second area so that as many days are not required for that area on the subsequent trip.
This final trip is different - I want to complete the remaining nine Nuttalls, five walks during this trip and have allowed three spare days for horrendous weather - always hoping for the best and planning for the worst, with the worst being one horrendous day resulting in an extra day being booked at Wasdale midweek. 
For reference the definition of horrendous does not include; heavy rain, thick cloud or even strong winds. With the experience gained over the last 4 years any of these conditions (with the exception of Striding Edge and Pillar Rock) singularly does not present a problem. It is when any two of the above combine that decisions tend to be rushed or just influenced, resulting in bad decisions being made and walk objectives not being met.Accommodation is now booked with the first 3 nights Saturday to Monday staying at Wastwater Youth Hostel and Wednesday to Sunday night being in a 4 bedroom house near Keswick where I will be joined by friends and family. The Tuesday is being left open to allow flexibility depending on the weather.

The trip has therefore been split into 3 phases over eight days with 1 days contingency in each phase, leaving five walking days for the remaining five walks:-

PHASE I Wasdale
PHASE II Pillar Rock

PHASE I - Wastwater Youth Hostel Saturday 13 April 2013 to Tuesday 16 April 2013

Haycock & Ennerdale Fell Sunday 14 April 2013

At 12.69 miles this is the longest walk of the trip and with 1027m of ascent it is the one with the most climbing. Also with 4 Nuttalls it is the one remaining walk with more than two peaks, it therefore makes sense to get this walk out of the way at the beginning of the trip while our legs are fresh. It will also boost the Nuttall count to 248.

Post trip Analysis
Actually walked on Monday 15 April 2013. See Haycock & Ennerdale Fell walk report for full details
Turns out this was the second walk of the trip due to yesterdays poor weather forecast resulting in trip getting back on schedule in terms of Nuttall count, also with 3 contingency days still remaining.
Forecast was still for strong SW winds, but without the rain, So once again we let the forecast dictate the plan resulting in us reversing the direction of the walk and shortening it slightly by missing out Grike, heading straight for Crag Fell and then on to the days four Nuttalls.
Turns out to be a good decision, although we felt like we had been in a battle with the buffeting wind we were at least sheltered somewhat by following and staying on the north side of the wall to Iron Crag, all the way along the ridge to Haycock. 
Furthermore after a difficult and lengthy descent from Haycock to Ennerdale Water the two hour walk back to Bleach Green Cottages was at least in calm clear conditions. Just as well as we were well tired by the time we reached Ennerdale Water.

Seatallan Monday 14 April 2013
As a standalone Marylin, Seatallen was a very strong candidate to be the last Nuttall, however to meet what almost seems to be mutually exclusive criteria to be a significant peak as well as being straight forward enough to be joined by friends, trying to work Pillar Rock as the 250th top, not being sure of the terrain around Buckbarrow along with the descent down Middle Fell as well as avoiding zig-zagging backwards and forwards around The Lake District ensures Seatallen chooses itself as the next and 249th Nuttall whilst already in Wasdale.
Post trip Analysis
See Seatallan walk report for full details.
First walk of the trip on Sunday 14 April 2013.
They say a plan is good until first contact with implementation and so it was in this case. With the start of the trip coinciding with a change in weather from cold and dry to the more familiar wet and windy conditions, it was decided to do this walk on the first day and change the priority of the walk as a straight up and down to Seatallen from Wasdale Youth Hostel andbag the one Nuttall ignoring the 3 other minor peaks. As it turned out the weather improved on the descent from Seatallan and we managed to visit Buckbarrow & Glade How meaning Middle Fell was the only peak in the original plan not visited.

Contingency Day 01 Tuesday 16 April 2013
If the previous two days have gone to plan today, Contingency Day 01, will be a spare day in which case, subject to weather forecast for later in the week I will use this as a rest day or more likely fit in an extra walk to pull in the two Wainwrights of Illgill Head and Whinn Rigg (Wasdale) on the opposite side of Wastwater. Accommodation for tonight has not been booked so if we do fit in the extra walk we will book an extra night at Wastwater Youth Hostel then move on to Keswick which will be our base for Phase II & III of the trip.
Post trip Analysis
See Thack- Moor- [Renwick Fell] walk report for full details.
Great use of a contingency day. 
Moved to Keswick Youth Hostel in the morning followed by short drive along A66 to Renwick and short walk from Renick up to Thack Moor on Tuesday 16 April 2013
It was not even a Nuttall when the trip was planned. 

Keswick Wednesday 17 April 2013 to Monday 22 April 2013
Accommodation for the last two phases of my last English Nuttall peak bagging trip will be of a much higher standard than I have allowed myself on previous trips staying in a very nice 4 bedroom house in Braithwaite booked through Lakeland Cottage Holidays. They were the first company I found who offered a choice of the type of accommodation I was looking for in the area I was looking for. More importantly they were flexible with arrival days rather than being tied to Friday or Saturday.
Why Keswick? Well because of the diverse locations of the last nine Nuttalls and the level of flexibility needed to deal with contingency in the middle of the trip, it was not sensible to book somewhere in the Eastern or Far Eastern Fells just in case Pillar Rock does slip towards the final weekend. So Keswick is mid way between the two, with the bonus of good walking around Coledale, Whinlatter and Bassenthwaite if as planned there is a spare day in the final weekend.

Wednesday 17 April 2013
Due to the person coming up Pillar Rock with me not being able to get to the Lake District until Thursday of this week the contingency day for this phase is before the planned walk. I will therefore be looking at the weather forecast for the weekend very closely and if there is any doubt about the weather conditions I will be bringing one of the two walks from Phase III forwards to today. Catstye Cam will be the first choice to ensure Loadpot/Wether Hill is retained as the last walk that is straight forward enough to be joined by friends.  

Pillar Rock Thursday 18 April 2013

Pillar Rock from Pillar, High Stile and High Crag on other side of Ennerdale
Taken on walk round Mosedale Horseshoe back in September 2009
I have tried to make Pillar Rock the 250th Nuttall and if the weather forecast for the weekend ahead is  favorable this will be the case. Failing that it will be the 251st if Catstye Cam is brought forward or the 252nd if weather conditions on Striding Edge dictate that Loadpot & Wether Hill is the route to be walked on one of the earlier a fore mentioned contingency days.
In any event it will be one of the few walks I will not have made any detailed plans before I set off, other than arranging a guide with MIA qualifications who will be able to safely rope me up and guide me to this summit. I have never had any real interest in mountain climbing until I started hill-walking in my early 50's and I have always followed the rule that if I need a rope I won't go there. So it will be quite an experience for both the guide and myself.
I have now arranged a guide through The Glaramara Centre and weather permitting will make this my 250th  Nuttall.
Post trip Analysis
As per Tuesdays weather forecast, Wednesday was a complete washout and after walking 3 consecutive days it was decided to make Wednesday 17 April 2013 as a rest day and use up Contingency Day 02. So after packing up and leaving Keswick Youth Hostel we headed to The Glaramara Centre and discuss with the team plans and options for the attempt on Pillar Roack. Looking at the weather forecast for Thursday it was much the same as Wednesday - Heavy rain and strong winds. Although Friday's forecast  was dry there was still some doubt about icy conditions above 2000ft. Clear skies and bright sunshine on Friday morning looked good, However looking across to Skidaw we could see a fresh dusting of fresh snow over night was enough for the MIA guide to reluctantly call the attempt off.
Big disappointment especially after all the planning to avoid Pillar Rock being the last English Nuttall. All things considered there is no doubt it was the correct decision, like all hills, Pillar Rock will still be there another day and with 73 Wainwrights and 281 Birketts there will be many more trips to the Lake District when conditions are safe enough to climb Pillar Rock

The contingency for this phase is Sunday, hopefully with all the weeks considerations and use of the earlier two contingency days as required will mean if there is any chance of bad weather over this final weekend there will only be Loadpot/Wether Hill left to climb. Catstye Cam with or without Striding Edge will have been completed on the Tuesday or the Wednesday. Ideally we will be lucky with the weather. Pillar Rock will have been my 250th Nuttall and there will be two walks left to complete in the final 3 days.

Catstye Cam Friday 19 April 2013
Catstye Cam was also another candidate for the last Nuttall. No one can argue its' pyramidal shape does not make it a significant top but even without my desire to include the traverse of Striding Edge as part of the route I think it may still be too much for one of my friends with a fear of heights. This will therefore be the 252nd Nuttall unless it is brought forward to Tuesday or Wednesday as already discussed.

Post trip Analysis
Walked on Saturday 18 April 2013
After all the planning, naval gazing and pontification it turned out that Catstye Cam would be the final English Nuttall that I would climb (not withstanding Pillar Rock). In any event it's distinctive pyramidal shape in the shadow of Helvelyn, opposite Striding Edge made it a fitting and memorable summit to be the last. In addition the weather was kind and most importantly was joined by family and friends on the summit on what was for me was a very special day. See Catstye Cam walk report for full details.

Loadpot & Wether Hill  Saturday 20 April 2013
So here we are after 4½ years since the first Nuttall back in October 2008, planning the very last walk to visit all 253, now 254, English Nuttalls. I would never have guessed back then that it would have been Loadpot Hill, in fact I had never even heard of it. Even within the last nine Nuttalls I have left, it still would not have been my first choice. As mentioned earlier Seatallen as a Marylin and Castye Cam with its pyramidal shape and approach from Swirral edge are far stronger candidates as significant hills. But Loadpot Hill has an easier ascent, so combined with the fact it will be my 253rd and last English Nuttall where I can be joined, even by vertically challenged friends and family, in my mind, makes it the most significant of all the preceding 252.
Post trip Analysis
Walked on Thursday 14 April 2013. See Loadpot & Wether Hill walk report for full details.
After using 2 of the weeks contingency days, Tuesday to climb the unplanned Thack Moor and Wednesday due to adverse weather to attempt Pillar Rock, I did not want to use/lose the third and final spare day. We therefore decided to attempt one of the two remaining walks. At this stage there was still 4 days left to complete the 3 remaining walks. We chose to go up Loadpot and Wether Hill, although the conditions were too severe for Pillar Rock, the whale back ridges, lack of precipitous paths and previous experience in similar conditions meant it was safe. In addition despite the rain the cloud base was above 2000ft so even though visibilty was less than perfect we could more or less make out where we needed to be heading. After donning snow goggles as the rain was stinging our faces i shouts to Clive "What is there to not like about this". Due to the wind and my hood flapping round my ears I could not quite hear his reply.

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