A quick route up Seat Sandal

Mist and drizzle was the order of the day, but at least on Sunday it didn’t sap the desire to head for a proper walk. Seat Sandal is quite close to the road, making it easy to do in a few hours as a quick walk before heading home.

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The route up the Little Tongue Gill path and as you can see the mist was circling.

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Further up you can just about see that the path runs up and over the top of the crag to the right. The mist had settled and the wind had picked up.

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Once at the col at Grisdale Hause you cross the wall and head up to the left up a scree bank. This photo is looking back to the wall and the small shelter. From here on a clear day there would be a good view of Grisedale Tarn (to the left of this shot).

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There is a cairn around here somewhere!

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I continued straight over the top to descend the southwest ridge of the mountain, to head straight back to the path near the farm. Half way down I finally got a good view of Grasmere.

A good walk even if, as usual, there was no view from the top. The walk took two hours as a round.

Commemorating my best friend

Two things have happened this week. I finally got around to seeing some friends in Cumbria for the first time this year, and my 14 year old dog died.

The two things do not combine well for a post but heading off to Cumbria made me think about all of the trips around the Lakeland Fells which Dougal did over the years.

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Dougal, a labradoodle we got from a rescue centre when he was about 1 year old, loved to dig in rivers and bark at the stones. He would like nothing more than finding the largest rock to keep, which he could barely fit in his mouth to drag out of the river, and he got very upset when you insisted he left it behind. There’s been many a brick he tried to take home.

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He loved climbing mountains and has bagged more than some of my friends and certainly didn’t mind a night under canvas, though I spared him from wild camping trips.

In 2004 he climbed Ben Nevis on a very wet and foggy day, and that is the only mountain that ever left him aching and hobbling around, so the day after we spent the day heads out of the window on the steam train to Mallaig.

This is him at the summit of Scafell Pike with my mum in 2005, wet and misty as usual.

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And this is him (ear’s blowing in the wind) when we headed off on the second leg of the Pennine Way, from Standedge to Todmorden.

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He never shied away from daft outfits or having his photo taken. This is from a very windy day on Eagle Crag when mum was convinced he was going to get ear ache.

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Dougal loved travelling and only last month did he get to spend a month touring Scotland with mum and dad. I’m definitely going to miss him x

Avoidance is the best kind of defence against midges

I love Scotland. Massive mountains, endless views, unreliable weather. Big mountain days, playing in the snow and always knowing you might not meet a soul all day.

However, I have to admit that I only visit Scotland before the Summer season, sticking to snowy winters or early spring. I did have the misfortune to have a week in late June in the Cairngorms a couple of years ago, which was pleasant enough until I ventured away from civilization and was promptly eaten by midges. Then it was a battle of stamina v the midge to get high enough up the mountains to be in the wind.

So since then I have planned trips to avoid this, in the last few years sticking to winter alone. We were lucky to have both perfect sunshine and no midges when I visit the Trossachs in May but i guess that’s not quite the heartland midge territory.

However, now I know this website exists I might plan differently – Midge Forecast – I guess its probably about as reliable as weather forecasts and common sense and DEET might still be required, but nevertheless a useful website, (even if it is a promotional tool for anti midge product too).

Whiskey and walking, walking and whiskey.

Always one to make the most of the bank holiday weekends, I dragged my best friend to the Trossachs. Not only was this her first time hiking in Scotland, it was also the first time she had been camping in the UK too. I had to rectify that immediately!

Now I’m not suggesting she isn’t a hiker, as she’s done the Inca Trail, but somehow she’d made it through her life and never walked any of the amazing hills in the UK. So we took the opportunity to visit a friend in Scotland to rectify the situation.

I opted for Crieff as our base, deciding there would be enough to keep us all happy if the weather was awful the whole time we were there, which lets face it is always a possibility in Scotland. It was also close enough for our Scottish friend to join us for a few days.

I was careful not to have the whole break revolve around mountains, which I would have done had I gone alone, I resisted my urge to inflict my obsession on others. Out of the choice of great walks in the area bizarrely they both opted to climb Ben Vorlich over the shorter walk of Ben Chonzie.

After a day of relaxing at the Blackford Highland games and sampling some very fine whiskey, we spent the next day bagging the two munros of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin.

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Ben Vorlich is an easy munro to bag as there is a clear path from Ardvorlich to the summit and we were very lucky to have great views once there. However from there it is clear that not many walkers carry on to bag Stuc a Chroin too; probably put off by the wall of rock staring back at you.

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Despite the rockface ahead there is a path of sorts around it to the left to avoid any need to scramble, although my fearless friend still didn’t want to look back at the view!

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From the summit of Stuc a Chroin most people skirt back below its summit to the north side to end up back on the Ben Vorlich track. Despite the long walk and jelly legs from the ascent, my friends decided they wanted to descend down to Glen Ample to walk through the woodland. This added an entertaining climb through a 10 metre high deer fence (thankfully there was a person sized hole in it!) and another 2-3 miles to the walk, past the deers at a local farm and back along the country lane.  Nevertheless it was a good route all round.

Our second day’s walk was a half-hearted affair to bag Ben Chonzie, just because it was there. But I was please to discover that despite the blanket fog we encountered my friend really wanted to go on. I think I might have turned her into a munro bagger after all! 

DSCF2988 There’s a summit cairn up here somewhere!