Wednesday, 11 September 2013

My Final Wainwrights

30 years after my first Wainwright, the day had arrived to tick the final fell of the famous 214.

With some cunning planning I had engineered my previous walks to ensure that the final Wainwright would also be my final Fellranger and final FRCC 244 summit.  But before the final tick, I wanted to complete the Outlying Fells.

A restless night’s sleep wasn’t the best preparation for an early start.  I felt like a child on Christmas Eve and I think that nerves brought on by the imminent culmination of a life’s ambition got the better of me.  So, before breakfast, I drove to the top of the Eskdale-Wasdale road crossing the southern slopes of Irton Pike and set off for the summit.

I hadn’t expected the dew and after some bushwhacking through bracken my trousers were soaked.  I rethought my route and decided to follow some forest tracks rather than make a beeline for the summit.  I had the top to myself – not surprising before 8’o’clock – and enjoyed the hazy view up to the head of Wasdale and Great Gable.

So the Outlying Fells became the first major hill-list that I had completed.

I drove back to the Bower House Inn for a well-earned breakfast and then set off for Greendale to meet some mountaineering club friends to walk up and help me celebrate my final summit.

An abortive start (but that’s another story !) was followed by a second attempt and we followed the path up to just below Greendale Tarn.  We aimed roughly for the unseen summit and picked our own paths among the crags and bogs that make up Seatallan’s south-east slopes.  This last thousand feet felt hard in the heat of the early afternoon and I was soon left behind, although they waited for me at the start of the summit plateau.

I was given the honour of topping out at the trig point, even though the true summit was 60 yards to the north-east.  So we quickly bagged the true summit at the small cairn before returning to the pillar to set up the bar.

the Bar !

Quite a few bottles of Thwaites Wainwright had been brought up and the contents were soon shared amongst us.  Wainwright is a superb beer but drinking it on a summit on a hot summer’s day makes it taste even better !

the Beer !

As we were packing up, another walker approached saying “2 down, 3 to go” on his day’s walk but I told him I could do better than that – “214 down, none to go”.  He congratulated me and took a group summit photo before he continued on his big day out.

just to prove I was there

We descended a lot quicker than we ascended and reached the cars in about an hour, with my wife waiting for me with open arms.  Boots were taken off and we all drove to the Bower House Inn for a final celebratory pint.

It was a great day !