Sunday, 17 March 2013

Not High Street – 16 March

We headed north on Saturday with a plan to do the end of the Joss first leg and the start of the second leg but I wanted the visibility to be good so that I could relearn the descent from Caudale Moor. The snow at the Kirkstone Inn and the low cloud put paid to any ideas of a worthwhile recce.

20130316_001_fairfield-101-EditKirkstone Inn

20130316_003_fairfield-109-EditKirkstone Pass (i)

20130316_002_fairfield-108Kirkstone Pass (ii)

The Fairfield Horseshoe seemed a reasonable local alternative which Pauline (quite wisely) decided against and settled for a lower level run out of Ambleside. A clockwise attempt might have been a mistake but I don’t it would really have made much difference. Just beyond Nab Scar the ridge had already climbed above both the cloud-base and the snow line. The rain had turned to snow and the visibility simply vanished. Not quite a white-out but close. The ascent over Heron Pike and Great Rigg was straight forward with fresh boot prints to follow, at least as far as Great Rigg. There I passed the first of the day’s walkers and was on my own.

The stronger winds on Fairfield had done a pretty good job of scouring the old snow so that even my studs left almost no impression. The wind also cleared the tops of some of the cairns and some of the shelters on the summit even although the shelters remained full of snow.


20130316_004_fairfield-2-Edit Shelter on Fairfield Summit

So far so good but reaching the summit is a job half-done and getting down is the mandatory half of the day. Reduced to taking a bearing to the east bound path I found my compass wouldn’t show a consistent direction. Three times I returned to the shelter and three times after setting off in the same direction my compass indicated a different direction after about 50 yards. Having concluded I had a problem with my compass and that retracing my steps wasn’t possible because the faint impression I had made on the way up had already been obliterated. Fortunately I have descended to Grisedale Tarn often enough, both day and night, to recognised the significant landmarks even under a foot or more of drifting snow and so I descended from Fairfield in deep snow to the tarn.

Seat Sandal was tempting but I was already off my declared route and it wouldn’t have been sensible to go over Seat Sandal in these conditions. Tongue Gill provided a route down to the road and all that remained was the slog back to Ambleside.


20130316_005_fairfield-7-EditTowards Grasmere

20130316_006_fairfield-10-EditGreen Burn

20130316_007_fairfield-12-EditRydal Water

1 comment:

  1. Well you certainly had an adventure that day Ian! And once again you still managed to get some awesome photographs.