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22 April, 2006

Walk: Coniston-Wetherlam-Tilberthwaite-Coniston

On the drive up from Lancaster last night, Harriet & I had agreed to go for a walk this morning, planning to climb Wetherlam then follow the ridge around to the Old Man of Coniston.  Despite the mist, we went ahead anyway, half-hoping to get above the fog.

However, past the Youth Hostel and into Coppermines Valley, it became obvious that we were heading into denser cloud. By Red Dell visibility was very restricted and without significant landmarks it became difficult to find the path; the final ~100m of ascent to Wetherlam was simply a matter of consistently heading upwards on sheep tracks or no path at all. We stopped at the summit cairn for lunch, but there was no view, apart from momentary glimpses allowed by swirling cloud, which only confused my sense of direction ("there shouldn't be a ridge there") and made me wonder whether were were even at the true summit.

Plainly we couldn't go on; climbing in cloud is straightforward, but choosing the correct downward direction or navigating across an undulating plateau/ridge is more challenging (a few years ago, Andy and I climbed the Langdale Pikes from Langdale and accidentally descended into Langstrath). Instead, we followed the very obvious main Wetherlam-Above Beck Fells-Miners Bridge path, with the intention of returning to Coniston via Tilberthwaite.

Repeating the luck experienced by J. and I last November, as soon as we started to descend, the cloud began to lift, initially enough to snatch quick photographs through tantalising gaps then revealing all but the very tops of the hills. By Hole Rake we even knew exactly where we were....

I'd never been to Tilberthwaite, but the remnants of mining and quarrying were interesting, and there were hints of picturesque views through the remaining mist; it's somewhere to explore again. It's certainly within easy cycling distance of Windermere.

It was good to walk with Harriet, and something of a novelty. With the possible exception of Andy, with whom I haven't walked for a few years, H. is the only person who walks at about the same pace as me. Walking with J or Hedley tends to be a matter of starting together and meeting at summits, but otherwise walking alone. It was good to walk and converse, for once.

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