With expectations of high clouds clearing out by lunchtime to leave bright blue skies we arrived at Dunmail Raise early enough to catch the first of the sunshine as it crept over the high ridges.
The first climb up Seat Sandal suggested we were probably going to do less than we planned; the frozen turf was fine but the snow drifts, although usually not more than ankle deep, more progress more difficult and suggested descending might be entertaining.
The descent, by any route towards Helvellyn, from Fairfield would have been difficult so we turned north for Nethermost Pike and the Helvellyn ridge.
Two more summits and we would reach Helvellyn but before we did, we found the weather hadn’t read the forecast and instead of the clearing out the cloud base was dropping and with it the temperature. Thick clouds were pouring on from the north east.
By the col between Helvellyn Lower Man and Whiteside it was apparent we were unlikely to see any improvement in the visibility unless we were able to either stay below or get above the band of cloud forming on the ridge.
Briefly we dropped off the ridge out of the clouds and below the worst of the wind and saw two skiers slaloming down the fellside below us. You may be able to see two ‘specs’ in the lower right hand corner of the above photo; the ‘specs’ are the two skiers, one of whom it turned out, is a friend we met skiing on Winter Hill on Christmas Day. With the best of the weather behind us we turned and headed south over Helvellyn and back, eventually, to Dunmail Raise.
Google Earth Route: Download