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Lake District Walk - Sunday 2nd May 1999

A report by Dave Miller

As arranged, interested parties met up in the car park at Mardale Head, all keen to be sure that we met Ian's strict deadline to start walking at 10:30 "sharp".

As the time approached with no sign of our leader there was some consternation that we had all somehow got the wrong car park, but then with immaculate timing (12 seconds to spare by my watch) Lindsay and Ian arrived. The excuse for the last minute? "Got stuck behind a Porche". I'm not sure what Ian drives!

There was an excellent turn out with a total of 17 raring to go and we set off with the minimum of fuss. Two of the group showed a distinct advantage over the rest of us having twice as many legs. These were Ray's Shelties Cindy and Heidi who provided much entertainment during the day.

There was some excitement surrounding the presence in the area of an RSPB man who confirmed that there was a possibility of sighting Eagles. No one did as far as I know but it all adds to the thrill of the day.

Anyone who is familiar with the writings of Wainwright may know the walk Ian had planned. This is listed as one of that Authors favourite walks in the Lakes and was to take in High Street and Harter Fell high above Haweswater.

We started with an easy stroll around the end of the reservoir which soon became a fairly steep climb up the ridge that includes Swine, Heron, Eagle, Rough and Riggindale Crags (sounds impressive) and runs almost dead West up to High Street. The weather varied little during the climb with a rather overcast sky and some mist that restricted our outlook. We could however see some of the surrounding area and as someone remarked, at least it wasn't legging it down - an all too common feature of a day in the Lakes.

The pace was fairly relaxed which gave plenty of opportunity for a chat en route and kept the party together very well. I can't remember all the places where we stopped for breathers and snacks, but it seemed to me like we achieved a good balance between walking and socialisation.

Up on High Street we walked to the edge of the Hayeswater valley to look out West. There was not much to see because of the mist, but then it wasn't much extra effort either.

From High Street we got back on track, past Mardale Ill Bell and down onto Nan Bield Pass. Our last climb of the day took us up on to Harter Fell from where we made our way back towards the car park via Gatesgarth. It was here we had the minor irritation of two motorcycle scramblers doing their best to enjoy themselves while inflicting maximum noise and air pollution on the rest of the world. No one's hope that they might fall off was realised and they were soon out of smell, sight and earshot in that order.

We arrived back at the car park still with a party of 17, of whom 2 looked decidedly livelier than the rest. No prizes for guessing.

A fitting end to the day was the planned gathering at the Haweswater Hotel for various kinds of refreshments, where the party was swelled by a visit from John and Trudy Lymer who were staying nearby - well nearer than Manchester anyway.

And then there were six.......

Vanessa and I had decided to stay over on Sunday night and found that two other couples had made the same choice. We had an enjoyable dinner and some drinks with Joy and Les and Jonquil and Barry and managed to stay awake until well past 10 o'clock.

The Haweswater Hotel proved to be a very friendly and relaxed establishment albeit a little frayed around the edges. Dinner left a bit to be desired, but after a day on the hill was quite acceptable. Breakfast was an improvement.

With apologies to those who had to go home on Sunday, I have to report that the weather on Monday was absolutely superb. It did get a bit hot for walking at some points but you can't have everything.

There was some debate over breakfast about who wanted to do what, how long to spend walking , uncertainty about the best time to drive back and such, but in the end we all decided to walk together and chose Helvellyn as our goal for the day. Despite some earlier talk of heading back early to miss the traffic we wound up spending a full day walking and with no regrets. Our route took us from Glenridding up Striding Edge and back round via Whiteside Bank and Glenridding Common. Excellent views were to be had in all directions and it was as good a day as could be hoped for. A grand walk in good company.

Many thanks to Ian for organising the away day, put us down for the next one.