Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

May 2016

Lakeland Early Birds

Middle Dodd, Patterdale

It was a sunny day in the valley, but the tops of the hills were crested with cloud. Still, it wasn’t raining and the forecast for the bank holiday was such that we couldn’t afford to waste a day. Starting at the Kirkstone Pass we climbed up steeply to St Ravens Edge, where we disappeared into the swirling cloud. Luckily the path was pretty easy to follow, except that it didn’t go to the summit. The top of Caudale Moor is several metres from the ridge path. Not an issue in normal conditions, but in dense fog it was a bugger to find. However it had to be done: you can’t claim the peak unless you touch the summit cairn. Eventually we found a faint trace in the grass that led to a large pile of stones, but sadly not the magnificent view mentioned in the guide book. Returning to the main ridge path the next summit (Stoney Cove Pike) was thankfully much easier to find, although the descent on the far side was a bit of a scramble. We were now on the return leg of the walk, but still with poor visibility it took some nifty navigation to take us down the right valley. Up until now it had been too cold and damp to stop for lunch, but descending into the valley we came out from under the cloud. Blood sugar levels restored, we looked down the valley and saw a nice additional lump we could bag. It was only small, but with a commanding position over the Kirkstone Pass, Troutbeck Tongue gave us the spectacular views we’d been missing all day.

The last bit of our return route involved some ‘Birketting’ over a (thankfully) sturdy wall and crossing one of the best stone bridges in the Lake District. Whilst these rewards were very welcome after our day in the mist, it didn’t end there. Not due to meet up with the rest of the group until the next day, we were booked into the Kirkstone Pass Inn for the night, so we stepped in from our walk straight up to a steak and ale pie and a couple of pints of real ale. Perfect.


The Long Good Friday

Having detailed Dave and my extra curricular ascent of Caudale Moor, there’s no way we could skip describing the Good Friday summiting of Red Screes. The forecast for the weekend was a bit dire, so the pressure was on to make the most of the best weather we were likely to see. After a pleasant stroll to the far end of the valley, the real work began with a tortuously steep climb up Middle Dodd. Pausing to gasp for oxygen, we were treated to stunning views down over Brothers Water and Patterdale. It was hot work, but as we neared the summit a cold wind started up and one-by-one all the layers had to be piled on. By the time we got to the summit proper it was absolutely freezing, so naturally we huddled together for a spot of lunch. As daft as this might sound, it gave us the opportunity to admire the view: from Windermere all the way to Ullswater, plus the ridge beckoning us on to Hart Crag. It was too much of a temptation for some of us, and the walk got stretched not only to Dove Crag and Hart Crag, but along the length of Hartsop above How back into Patterdale. After an early start due to the implementation of British ‘Plummer’ Time, the last of us staggered over the threshold just as twilight fell. Now that’s maximising the best day of the trip!

The Snows of Place Fell

Place Fell

Our Easter trip was characterised by very chilly weather, so I suppose it was inevitable that at some point it would snow. After a particularly miserable Easter Sunday, we woke up on Monday to find the hills all dusted in white. Starting from the centre at Hartsop, we headed up the valley to Place Fell on the banks of Ullswater. Whilst this is a fairly modest-sized fell, it has an excellent view-to-effort ratio, and we were not disappointed. There was still a bit of cloud about, but we could see the whole of the snow-clad Helvellyn massif, right down to Red Screes where we’d been just a few days before. If this wasn’t treat enough, our return via the lakeside path turned up an unexpected tea room. What a bonus!

In the Footsteps of Constable

Thanks go to Dave J for organising a superb walk from Manningtree out to Flatford and back. In the days leading up there had been dreadful weather with torrential rain and flooding, but the Sunday dawned clear and bright. It was chilly in the shade, but gorgeous in the sunshine and the rolling scenery on the Suffolk border gave wonderful views of all the lush spring colours. There were a couple of spots where you had to trust your boots were waterproof, but it was worth it.

Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer