Friday, December 25, 2020

My Top 10 Best Lake District Mountain Photographs

 I can’t get out and up into the fells at the moment for reasons explained in my previous post and so I’ve been trawling through my photos from the last few years and have selected my favourite 10. I thought I would stoop to the title of  ‘Top 10 Best ...’ as I read somewhere that this is a favoured search term on google eg. ‘Top 10 Best Smart Phones’, ‘Top 10 Best Oil Tankers’, ‘Top 10 Stickiest Glues’ etc. So here we go. Drum roll please.

In no particular order ...

1) Let’s start at ‘Lakes Level’ with a lovely Autumn scene looking over a glass calm Grasmere towards everyone’s favourite mini-mountain, Helm Crag and its bigger brother across Dunmail Raise, Seat Sandal. A circuit of Grasmere on a fine day is always a joyous affair but particularly so in autumn when the trees are at their very best.

Grasmere with Helm Crag & Seat Sandal

2) This is Side Pike on the path up to Lingmoor Fell. I love this view, with the dry stone wall, the heather and the Langdale Pikes in the background. It’s a lovely little fell within 30 mins walk from Blea Tarn. Well worth a visit at any time of year but even better in late Summer when the heather is in bloom.

Side Pike in late Summer

3) Another low level view. This one in winter from the old Walna Scar Road on a walk up to Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man. The view is looking over to Wetherlam and when the sheep turned round to look at me, it made for the perfect Lakeland winter picture.

Wetherlam in Winter

4) This next picture was taken from the summit of Grasmoor in the late evening during a summer wild camp. The light seeping through the clouds was just stunning and reflected beautifully off Loweswater and the Irish Sea. 

Loweswater Gold

5) Next is another winter scene. This is Dow Crag (left) and Coniston Old Man (right) from the same hike as picture 3) was taken. It looks quite calm and serene but the wind chill was around -15 degrees C as it was blowing a hoolie! 

Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man 

6) This next picture is of Ullswater with Gowbarrow Fell and the Great & Little Mell Fells in the background. The Ullswater Steamer and its wake sets the scene nicely. The picture was taken on a hike of the Deepdale Horseshoe in late November.

Ullswater from Thornbrow End

7) This photo was taken from the summit of Bessyboot and looks down the Borrowdale valley over Derwent Water and towards Skiddaw in its lovely winter apron.

Snowline on Skiddaw

8) This picture was taken on a winter hike of the Kentmere Horseshoe. I had hiked the route clockwise so the view is looking back over the ridge I had just hiked. The scene appears almost alpine with the 3 peaks of Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick in their winter coats.

The Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick Ridge

9) This is the view that will reward you if you make the easy climb up onto Rannerdale Knotts by the banks of Crummock Water. In fact you don’t even have to make it to the summit as this picture was taken from a small promontory about half way up. The view is of Mellbreak, a stunning mountain dominating the western shore of the lake. 

Mellbreak over Crummock Water

10) One the of best winter hikes in Lakeland must be the classic route up Helvellyn via Striding Edge and Swirral Edge. I was lucky to have a perfect calm, cold winters day for this hike. The view is looking back along the route I had already hiked, along Swirral Edge and towards Helvellyn.

Helvellyn over Swirral Edge

11) I know I said the top 10 best photos but having just shown shown you Swirral Edge in winter, it would be remiss of me not to show you Striding Edge from the same day. So this is the view that greets you as you stand at the start of this magnificent arete just before you take the plunge. Just stunning!

Striding Edge & Helvellyn

So that’s its. My 'best 11' fell photos of the past few years. Hopefully more to come in 2021 if this bleedin virus does one!  

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Lock Down Ramblings

 This has been the longest time I have not visited the Lake District in 20 years. The current pandemic has no doubt imposed similar restrictions on many others but as the rules and regulations have ebbed and flowed over the past 9 months I have made the decision to just stay away. This is partly due to my perspective as a health care worker who has seen first hand the devastating effects that the coronavirus can have on some people, including previously fit & healthy individuals like myself. I have also started seeing the worrying longer term effects of the virus in some people. This was highlighted recently when one of the first Covid patients in my hospital, who was applauded out of critical care in March, died recently from multi-organ failure as a result of so called 'Long Covid'. This really is a nasty virus that can potentially leave life changing symptoms in its wake. It would be foolish to risk contracting it through unnecessary risk. 

 In healthcare we consider the individual risks and benefits of each treatment option and when I consider the risks of me travelling to Lakes (for myself and others) weighed against the benefits (for just me), I cannot justify travelling out of my region for pleasure. Of course each persons risks v benefit decision will be individual to them and I am certainly not trying to impose my choices on others. But I would urge careful consideration, caution and good old common sense. Hopefully it won't be too much longer before the situation changes. The encouraging vaccine news over recent weeks has provided a light at the end of the tunnel and being a healthcare worker does have its advantages in that I am likely to be one of the first to receive the injections (and probably then help to provide them!). 

 And so instead, I have been trawling through old photos, video's and routes and updating the blog, including a new domain name. So welcome to I've also added many new YouTube video's of summit view panoramas with all the view points labelled (I'm hoping to get all 214 eventually) and 3D Fly-Through video's of some of the classic Lakeland routes that I have hiked. Again, I am hoping to increase these over time. There are 2 new pages on the blog dedicated to these niche videos. 

So no trip reports or wild camps for the time being. The mountains will always be there, and their absence will no doubt enhance our appreciation of them when normality eventually resumes. Stay safe.  


Thursday, May 14, 2020

An Ode to the Summit Slug

A while ago, I wrote this post about ‘Summit Slugs’ (aka ‘summit hogs’) and my general feelings about them. The response was overwhelmingly positive, which was reassuring, as I thought it might just be me being grumpy. But I am clearly not the only one who gets annoyed by this behaviour, as can be seen in this thread on the ‘walking forum’ where the post was discussed at length. 

Despite the current Covid-19 restrictions being slowly lifted, the sensible amongst us will be following Mountain Rescue and advice, and staying away from the region. Of course, there are those amongst us who will interpret the guidance to suit their own agenda and will no doubt be hiking the fells regardless this weekend. Which got me thinking of our old friend, the summit slug. Maybe, just maybe their days are now numbered. Maybe the idea of stubbornly occupying the busiest footfall area of a hill will no longer seem attractive to them. Maybe there is now a clear moral reason, in addition to common courtesy, to stop this behaviour and finally pour salt on our slugs. 

Anyway, here is my ‘Ode to the Summit Slug’. Let’s hope some of them read it !

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Playing around with Tarps in the Garden .... again !

22nd April 2020

It's been funny year. I had planned to complete the Wainwrights before turning 50 in June. I'd booked off a number of days in March and April, plus a week at Easter and another in late May. That should have been plenty of time to climb the remaining 35, especially as most of them are clumped together in the Northern Fells. That was the idea anyway. Unfortunately though, a particularly stubborn virus with grand ideas of world domination has interfered with my carefully laid plans. And to add insult to injury, the recent weather has been glorious. We are now 4 weeks, or is it 5, into the Covid-19 lockdown. I lose count. Being an NHS key worker has thankfully spared me from the boredom of weekday 9-5 lockdown but there was no escape from my planned Easter week off. So having completed my list of garden chores I thought it would be a good time to update my old tarp pitching video on YouTube from 2015. Since then, nearly all my wild camps have been under a tarp and I've become much more adept at pitching them. I've learnt which shelters work well in the Cumbrian fells, particularly on windy summits where I seem to find myself more often than not. So here is my updated video showing, in my humble opinion, the best 5 tarp configurations using 2 trekking poles and my 9x5 foot silnylon tarp (the solo tarp, £55 from

The A-Frame and the Cave are probably the least useful for my needs, the former being only suitable for really calm weather and the latter as a 'hunker down in a storm' shelter. Others may find them helpful though. The A-Frame would be the best option for a sheltered woodland camp and can be pitched between 2 trees instead of trekking poles. The Cave would be much more useful with a bigger tarp, but that's not really my thing. 

The other 3 shelters (the lean-to, the 'closed end' lean-to and the Flying-V) are my favourites and ones I use most. They can all stave off the wind which is usually my primary objective, and they all represent what wild camping with a tarp is all about for me. Wide open vistas, a real feeling of space and an open view of the sky. One of the best things about the tarp and/or bivvy is being able to lie supine in the comfort of a down bag and slowly allow your night vision to soak up the celestial arena. To fall asleep under a pitch black sky studded with countless stars and bisected by a glowing milky way that is hardly ever seen in 'urbandom'. To have wandering satellites, distant galaxies and streaking meteors for company.  You just don't get that experience in a tent. Of course its not always like that and I've had plenty of camps where the weather has unexpectedly turned for the worse. Where wind and rain have rattled the tarp and sleep has been sporadic, but even those experiences are special. Yep … I must admit that I've really fallen for the tarp.