BB1832 : The Cross Wind Rule

Thursday 27th September 2018

I learnt something new this week. I was glancing through a Mountaincraft book that I had found and there it was:

The Cross Wind Rule

We used it today.

We were not expecting good weather.  The mountain forecast was for fog and 20% chance of rain.  The international definition of fog is visibility of less than 1000 metres but the Met Office uses the term for much more restricted visibility- less than 180 metres.  Also, winds were expected to gust up to 50 mph.

We had a plan with three options (Tony would say four).

First option point was at the miners’ cottages (now walking club houses) where Lucy’s Tongue reaches down to Glenridding Beck.  If the predicted fog could be seen, we could traverse round to Grisedale for a low level walk.  To our surprise, the sun was bright and clouds were disappearing.  It was quite windy though.  We rejected that option and continued on our way up the valley, Catstye Cam in full view, then turned left, climbing towards Red Tarn.

The next option point was after Striding Edge had dramatically come into view on the other side of Red Tarn.  The sun was shining onto its hidden side so those crazy souls braving the winds were silhouetted on the skyline.

However, our target was not Striding Edge, nor Swirral Edge; in fact little to do with Helvellyn.  We were intent on climbing Catstye Cam.  Were it not for its ridge link to Helvellyn, this would rank as one of the best high hills in Lakeland in its own right. But would it be in cloud?  Had visibility been bad, we would have aborted and headed straight for Birkhouse Moor.  To our continuing delight, it was in sunshine, though that wind was still blowing strongly.  The third and preferred option, the ascent of Catstye Cam, was go.

We contemplated a direct route but decided instead for the much gentler path to the bottom of Swirral Edge from where it is an easy climb to the Catstye Cam summit.  Another tick in the Wainwright book for Terry and me. What a view point.

We had promised Tony lunch as soon as he liked once we were back on the Red Tarn track. Inevitably, as soon as we reached it, he sat down.  After all, it was now 12:30.  We stayed there for half an hour but then suspected that things might be changing.  I remembered the Cross Wind Rule.  I stood with my back to the wind then looked up at the clouds.  If they are coming from your left, pressure is dropping.  There is a cyclone and rain could be on its way.  If the upper winds are coming from the right, it is anti-cyclonic and the weather probably improving.

It was cyclonic.  Rain was on its way and we had better get moving.  We dropped down to Red Tarn then followed the path to the Hole-in-the-Wall, looking back frequently to see Helvellyn starting to disappear.  The cloud was forming and dropping.

Fortunately the rain hadn’t reached us by the time we reached the Birkhouse Moor cairn, another tick and another fine viewpoint.  

However as we descended towards the valley, Catstye Cam had now vanished in cloud and the air was very damp.

Our next objective was Lanty’s Tarn.  Somewhat to my surprise, I have never been there before.

It is a delight.  Holly, Robin’s dog, certainly thought so.

At the far end of the tarn is a permissive footpath to climb Keldas- a small outcrop with a good view of Ullswater.  

We then dropped back down to Glenridding where flood repair work is still taking place, more than two and a half years after the event.

Now the Tony option came into play.  Which pub?

The Kirkstone Inn won the vote and this is where Tony applied his version of the Cross Wind Rule.  He enters and stands with his back to the door.  If the beer pumps are on his right, a mysterious wind blows him directly to them. This rule also works if they are on the left.  Or straight ahead.  It even works when he stands up from his seat.  

I asked Tony how it was that he was able to apply the Cross Wind Rule with such unerring effect.  "Easy" he replied.  "Wind is caused by changes in atmospheric pressure.  Atmospheric pressure is measured in units equivalent to a hundred thousand newtons per square metre.  These units are called Bars.  Bars are my life-long speciality.  Simples."

Another beer, please, Tony!

Don, Thursday 27th September 2018

Martin's Comeback

We are pleased to report that Martin is making great progress after his hip op and hopes to be back out with us soon.  To prove it, Mike took this photo of Martin with Terry at Arnside.



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If you want to know which BOOTboys reports refer to having visited any particular Wainwright or certain other tops, see BOOTboys Hill Log.

See in Glenridding over a derelict shop:

A small prize awaits the first person to decipher the full wording.



Terry has taken me to task for my spelling of Catstye Cam, pointing out that Wainwright spells it Catstycam.  As we were bagging Wainwrights, I have to concede that he has a point.

The Harvey maps also use that spelling.  However as those maps highlight the Wainwright tops, it is not surprising that they use his spelling.

The 1895 and subsequent OS maps have spelt it the same way as I did (again, not surprising as I copied them).

Just to be different, the Bartholomew maps of 1885 and 1919 spell it as Catchedicam.  On the 1965 edition they added, in brackets and small type, Catstye Cam.  

So from whence AW derived his version, I don't know although he does acknowledge that it is sometimes known by the other spellings.

Whichever version of its name you prefer, if you are a Facebook user, you can see Terry's impressive 360° video from the summit.

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Comitibus:  Robin, Tony, Terry, Don

Map : OS 1:25k


BB1832 : The Cross Wind Rule


Thursday 27th September 2018


Catstye Cam, Birkhouse Moor, Lanty's Tarn, Keldas

Distance in miles (Garmin):


Height climbed in feet (OMN):

The Garmin reading was 3,150.  The Cross Wind Rule implied that the air pressure was dropping which is consistent with the Garmin wrongly thinking that we had climbed higher than we actually had.

GPX track



Don, Robin (& Holly), Terry, Tony


If you want to know which BOOTboys reports refer to having visited any particular Wainwright or certain other hills, see BOOTboys Hill Log.

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