BB1312 : Don't Be A Statistic

Wednesday 27th March 2013

"Take care," said Margaret as I left the house.  "I don't want you to be a statistic."

This was prompted by an article in the Westmorland Gazette suggesting that "The Lake District fells death toll sparks warning from mountain rescuers".

Well, I certainly didn't want to be that sort of statistic either, so I had first checked the forecast. Having read about the possible chill factor (feeling like -17°C) arising from the easterly wind, plus the likelihood of snow, I phoned Bryan in the hope that he was sufficiently recovered from lurgi to venture forth and lead us.  Sadly, he was still unwell but he did give me a pep talk.

The target was not extreme, nor was it trivial.  The intention was to start from Grasmere, go up the nose of Tarn Crag, then drop down to Codale Tarn, further down to Easedale Tarn and finally descend to the Wordsworth Hotel.  This destination being chosen because the £10 car parking fee is refundable at the bar.  Much better than SLDC's £8 with no added benefits (other than keeping down our Council Tax bill, of course).

Given the prospect of such cold, I was taking precautions.  Normally, I forget to open my handwarmers until I need them which is, of course, too late as they take about 29 minutes to warm up.  Today, I opened them as we set off.  Only, not for the first time, one of them immediately burst open, leeching nasty black chemicals over my hand.

Poor job, Karrimor.  Fortunately I also had a packet of Mycoals and they worked fine.

Not for cars!

The camping barn

Sour Milk Gill with Tarn Crag behind

The day was duller than hoped for, with some wafts of light snow blowing around, but not viciously cold.

We set off along the Coast to Coast route, passing on the way a sign saying "Not for cars" which I know is untrue as I remember taking my old Morris Minor up that rocky trail to my school's camping barn.  I have often wondered why the suspension was subsequently suspect.

The only vehicle there today was a LandRover.

As we started to climb there was soon snow underfoot and crampons were installed. John and I were using Kahtoola Microspikes about which I have raved previously.  Martin, on the other hand, had bought some Pogu Spikes which at first glance look identical but closer examination showed subtle differences, including an additional Velcro strap.  It would be interesting (to me at least) to see which performed better.

The route we chose was, in parts, challenging; about as steep as I find comfortable. Once on the top, however, the nature of the problem changed to snow drifts, some of which were quite deep and all of which were energy sapping.

Easedale Tarn

The weather started to close in so Martin suggested we took shelter and had lunch.

He made a comment about Tony time. For some reason I thought it was 11:30 and said that it was too early for him.  It was only later that I realised my mental clock was an hour early.  Tony would definitely have been complaining.  

A happy man

Tarn Crag

Comitibus :  Near Tarn Crag

The flurry cleared and it turned into quite a nice day, mostly without the strong cold winds that we had feared.  In fact I was starting to get snow blindness so I put on my goggles (Bryan would have despaired).

They didn't help with the terrain but I enjoyed a much brighter afternoon than the others through the orange visor!

Dollywagon and Fairfield well snow covered in the distance

We pioneered a route down to Codale Tarn in virgin snow, then discovered some frozen inverted footprints.  Not as distinct as those seen on BB1310 but intriguing none the less.

Codale Tarn

The inverted footprints

The path down to Easedale Tarn had signs of  use but was challenging in places, especially for anyone without crampons.

Easedale Tarn, Fairfield behind

At the tarn,we started to meet people tthen many more as we descended beyond.

The descent to Easedale Tarn

Would you do this?

On descending Sour Milk Gill, we witnessed a most unusual sight.  A young lady was taking off her clothes.  A group of people stood around here so naturally we joined them. She slipped on her swimming cossie and jumped into a rock pool where the water could only be a fraction above freezing. I though she might be doing it for charity or for a wager but no. Apparently this is something she just enjoys doing.  Whether her milk turned sour I wouldn't know.  Or whether her name was Gill.

The lion and the lamb and the lion and the lamb

A little further down we had a second stop and discussed crampon experience.  My take on the matter is that there is no real difference in performance.  The Kahtoolas are a little easier to fit as they don't have the Velcro s trap but the quid pro quo is that the Pogu Spikes hold their position better whereas the Kahtoolas have a tendency to slip out of position somewhat.  Given that they are around the same price but you get a carrier bag thrown in with the Pogus, I think they are probably just about the better value.  But if you have a spare plastic bag in the house (and who hasn't?) that advantage is minimal.

Sour Milk

Pogu Spikes

Finally we reached Grasmere and the Wordsworth.  Misquoting the renowned phrase, we had counted ourselves all out and counted us all back in.

The same can also be applied to the time in the bar except that "out" and "in" should be reversed. 

In terms of the only statistic acceptable to Margaret: 100% success.

Don, 27th March 2013

The Mark Of Zorro

I am please to report that Bryan seems to have no lasting damage from his encounter with Zorro on BB1311.  

That was not the reason for his absence yesterday. As hinted above, he had a dose of the lurgi which is a shame as the conditions were the sort he really relishes.

He tells me that he is fast recovering and hopes to make up for lost opportunities tomorrow, above the snowline in Kentmere.

Don, 28th March 2013





Wednesday 27th March 2013

Distance in miles:

7.6 (Garmin gps)

Height climbed in feet:

2,072 (Anquet / Harveys)


Tarn Crag

Other Features:

Codale Tarn, Easedale Tarn


Don, John Hn, Martin C


BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading bb1312

To discover which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?

For the latest totals of the mileages and heights see: BB Log.


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