Go with the Flo
For all those naysayers who thought the Lake District Tranearth Conniston meet would be a complete washout, I’d like to say “get it up ye”.
It was a great weekend with only a wee bit of rain in the mornings that meant a nice long lie-in on both mornings in a hut that would better be described as a mansionette – it was huge.
I arrived late on the Friday night to find Steven and Flo playing some weird card game that involved inflicting as much (imaginary) misery on your opponent as possible.
The next morning, the three of us decided to drive to Patterdale and walk from the village up through the valley and hang a left up St Sunday Crag onto Pinnacle Ridge (grade 3 = diff climb), do a horseshoe walk up to our right, then over and back down to a saddle, back up to Helvellyn (950m) and down Stridding Edge, keeping to the crest of the edge and back to Patterdale – a good seven hours in all.
We had a rope and some slings for the crux pitch on Pinnacle Ridge, which we only took in case it was wet. There was a guide with three of his clients at the ridge all roped up when we got there, which we pass, but they caught up with us as we discussed if we should use a rope or not. The guide asked if they could climb past us, which we let then do. In hindsight, we should have just gone for it as we were stuck at the bottleneck for 20 minutes, waiting for the other party to clear it. Flo lead and we followed, which was pretty much the theme for the whole weekend.
We headed up to the top of Seat Peak (I think) then a long walk down and back up again to the high point of Helvellyn. From there it was a long descent along the top of Striding Edge, and back to the car for about 5pm. As you can see from the pictures, the weather was dramatic, with bursts of sunshine lighting up the lush green valleys that are so icon of this area. And most importantly – it didn’t rain.
Back at lake level we went for a well-earned pint at The Wilsons Arms in Torver. As you’d expect from a country pub on a Saturday night, it was busy, but we managed to get a seat in a corner to ourselves. I had my back turned to the bar where some testosterone fuelled youths were enjoying a beer. The next thing I know one of the bastard threw a complimentary biscuit in a plastic wrapper at me, which bounced off my right ear. I was fucking fuming, but Flo said just forget it, which I did. I didnae wanna fight, and none of them challenged me with eye contact when I looked round. But I was ready to confront them if it happened again. – which thankfully it didn’t.
The rest of the night was uneventful: food back at Tranearth courtesy of Steven (thankyou); joking about club members past and present, all done in the best possible taste; a bit of wine, beer and idle chat about everything and nothing.
Sunday: Again we all had a long lie-in, leaving Tranearth just before noon, for a traverse around the outdoor shops in Ambleside. Flo was looking for a new pair of gaiters and some tips for her walking poles, and I was looking for a new baseball cap to cover the alarming bald spot that is starting to appear on the back of my head. I think Steven just had a general mooch about. There were lots of other people doing the same thing.
We then went for something to eat and by this time the sun was starting to show its face, so we did a three hour circular walk up a hill near Ambleside with a name I’ve forgotten. It was then back into Ambleside for a final look around the outdoor shops and to admire the little hearts that Flo had drawn in a colouring-in books for bored children in a rest area of one of the shops.
Flo and Steven had decided to stay another night and planned to climb on Sheppards Crag on Monday. After the hugs and hand-shakes it was time for me to bid them farewell and head back to God’s own country. Apparently they did climb the next day, but according to Flo it was “Weeeeeeeeeeeeet.”