There's nothing like a challenge to give yourself the extra motivation, or the excuse, to get out more. Thats exactly what Gather ambassador Chris Forbes, aka @mr.fizzle, had in mind when he set his mind to conquering all 214 of the Wainwrights. These are all the mountains and fells described in loving black and white ink drawings by legendary outdoorsman Alfred Wainwright. His first outing was one of those days you have to chalk up to experience, and know that you at least earnt a pint and a good feed at the end of the day. Over to Chris...
I began my personal mission to complete every Wainwright in 2017 on Saturday 7th January.
It all started with a 04:00 alarm, a strong coffee and a pea souper trip across the Pennines to the Helvellyn YHA car park in Glenridding.
My plan was to bag seven Wainwrights, starting with Catstye Cam and ending with St. Sundays Crag.
When I started the ascent up Helvellyn at 06:30, there wasn't any wind and zero cloud. All that changed within half an hour and I was surrounded with that damp and shitty mist that soon turned into thick fog. Not one to to give up, I kept on trucking and made my way up to Swirral Edge and then to summit my first Wainwright peak of 2017, Catstye Cam, a little after twenty past eight. Conditions were not ideal, to say the least! After a quick touch of the cairn I quickly made my way back down to Swirral to shelter from the howling wind and now rain. Visibility was about 20 meters and made Swirral Edge look a lot more daunting than it actually is!
Once on Helvellyn I made my way sharpish to the shelter to sit it out for about twenty minutes, praying for the relentless wind and the fog to pack it in for just a few hours!
As I was sat soaked through, realising that this was set for the day, I picked myself up and bagged my second Wainwright and made my way to my third and fourth peaks - Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike.
Normally I'd be pretty chuffed that I'd done four peaks all by eleven o'clock, but I was that sick of being wet and cold that I just wanted it to be over!!
Making my way down to Grisedale Tarn, descending those awfully slippy stone steps, the rain stopped and the fog started to lift and for once I could actually see more than 20 meters! The fog may have lifted but my mood hadn't.
Once at Grisedale Tarn, I could see a sliver of Ullswater and some glorious light on the fells in the distance. It was at this point I decided enough was enough, and abandoned my Wainwright bagging for the day, making my way down the valley and into Patterdale.
If I'd have known how long that valley would be, in soaking wet clothes and boots, I'd have jumped off Dollywagon Pike and been done with it!
On the plus side, at least the walk down the valley allowed me to bust the camera out. Having not had the camera out all day, I got a little snap happy taking photographs of everything and anything but nothing of note.
All this time I had my little mountain buddy Lola with me. Our days spent on the fells couldn't be more different as she had the absolute time of her life. She always does on the fells. She loves it!
Once in Patterdale and on flat and dry ground, I could smell a pint from my favourite pub in the Lake District, The Travellers Rest, and quickly made my way there only to discover that I'd left my money in the car which was about another mile away, up hill!!! It felt like two, but it was such a good feeling to be back at the car knowing that in about five minutes I'll be sinking that pint that I could smell back in Patterdale!
I was a little disappointed that I abandoned my peak bagging at a little over the half way mark, but still pretty stoked that I managed four in terrible conditions.
What I learned from Saturday was to double and triple check the forecasts and that Lola (who never ever sits still) will do anything for scotch eggs!
CumulativeElevation - 3300
Distance Covered - 21.082K
Wainrwights Bagged - 4 (Catstye Cam, Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike)
Blisters - 0
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