Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Three Dodds and a Pass. . .

It's not something that we're fanatic about, but at some point over the next ten years or so, the Liverpud and I would like to have climbed every Wainwright fell in the Lake District.  There are 214 and we have a little scratch map on the wall at home.  He's done a few more than me - I've climbed just over fifty -  but when planning a walk, he tries to incorporate a few new ones each time.

Last Saturday on a hot and hazy day, we set off to do a recce for an upcoming walk that he is leading for our rambling group and it was to include not one but three new Wainwrights!

We started from Glenridding and made our way up the Sticks Pass. This is the view looking back at the valley once we've hit the beginning of the pass.

And this is where we're heading - you can just see the path going up in roughly the middle of the photo.

Very near the top, looking back.

From the top, we can turn to the right to go up our first new Wainwright - Stybarrow Dodd. The path as you can see is good and it wasn't too steep (we'd already done a good deal of climbing already to get here).

But first a look ahead at the other side of the pass.  This is looking west over Thirlmere. I wish it hadn't been quite so hazy as we'd have had a good view of lots of other fells.

At the top of Stybarrow Dodd, it's a short jaunt off to the left to Watson's Dodd and then up to Great Dodd which you can see on the right of the photo.

Here we are on the top of Great Dodd - you can just about see Keswick and Skiddaw in the distance.

We then made our way down and spent the next hour (in the rain no less), walking over tufty bog. Still the colours were quite vibrant.

The sun came out eventually though we could still hear thunder in the distance. This is looking back at Great Dodd.

We crossed more moorland.

And made our way up to the valley that is just behind Sheffield Pike.  We walked to the edge and starting descending. About halfway down, you meet a path that takes you to the right and all around this horseshoe.

This is the view halfway around - you can just see Ullswater in the background. We then descended to roughly where the Sticks Pass begins and retraced our steps back to Glenridding.

It was a long walk - over 14 miles and it took us about seven hours with all the ups and downs.  I don't fare well in the heat and I probably didn't drink enough water during the hike.  A hot bath sorted out my sore legs and then I slept about ten hours.  Unfortunately, it's too long a walk for the group as we are bound by a coach schedule, so the Liverpud is going back to the drawing board.   And I went to our map and scratched three more Wainwrights off.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

The BIG Stashbusting Project. . .

Six years of going to yarn festivals in the UK has resulted in quite a large stash.  Too large.  So large it's now really bothering me every time I pass by the tower of plastic bins in my spare room, or trip over another jute bag filled with overflowing skeins. It especially bothers me when I know I have a specific skein stored somewhere. . .  and I have to search through piles of yarn to find it. 

Time to get serious.

I have picked up a project I started months ago and am crocheting a rug for the living room. I started with some balls of rough wool that I picked up for 50p each at Woolfest a couple of years ago. I had intended them for weaving as they are far too coarse to wear against the skin, and these are proving perfect for this rug.  I then pulled out lots of skeins bought during various sales and now languishing because I don't really want to knit anything with them. Some of these yarns are akin to roving and I know they will pill if I knit them as is, but paired with a strand of the rustic yarn, they are crocheting up into a study fabric with just a touch of softness. Perfect!

I am not attempting anything fancy; I am just doing rows of double crochet. If I run out of a colour mid-row, I'm just adding another one.  As this thing got bigger, I've been spacing out the more colourful rows between neutral brown/grey/cream ones.  It is crocheting up fast - each row is at least an inch high and I can usually get two or three rows done each night while watching telly.  I'm aiming for a 7 x 8 foot rug and I'm about halfway there.  It also feels great underfoot. 

Best of all, I reckon there's about thirty balls/skeins of stash in just what I've done so far.  So liberating!

Friday, 1 June 2018

A Walk Up the Mighty Great Gable. . .

We spent the second May Bank Holiday weekend up in the Lakes with our rambling group. The Liverpud and I were lucky enough to bag one of these pods at the hostel. They are simple, but much quieter than being in a room of bunk beds with potential snorers.  Each pod comes with two single beds, a small heater and a lamp. There is an outlet to plug something in, such as a phone charger. On the outside of the main hostel building there are showers and one toilet for the use of the pods and the campers on the field just in front. You can also use the facilities in the building as well.  I found it quite soothing and relaxing to sleep in, although it did get hot, despite a window in the back, which I only had partially open as I didn't want a ton of midges descending on us either.  I would definitely book hostel pods in the future.

One of the tough walks we did was up Great Gable. I had only hiked it once several years ago,  but it was in the rain and visibility was nil, so I was eager to give it another go; it's such an iconic mountain.

We started on easy bridle paths through the lovely Borrowdale valley.

This led us to the Honister Pass and the slate mine/museum where we stopped for a latte and a slice of cake in their cafe.  Below shows where the road heads down but doesn't at all convey the steepness.

We headed off on a steep path to the left which took us up Grey Knotts to these stunning views.  Looking west, you can see Ennerdale Water on the left and Crummock Water on the right.

Great Gable (the domed mountain in the middle below) beckons, but we first have to descend Grey Knotts, go up Green Gable, then down again and then up for the final ascent.

 Here, we are about to ascend Green Gable.  It was very hot this weekend, but the real challenge was the wind. And this was before hitting Windy Gap which lies just between Green Gable and Great Gable.

On top of Green Gable.

And the top of Great Gable. I couldn't take a photo at Windy Gap - I could barely stay on my feet.

This is the very poignant and beautiful WWI memorial on the top of Great Gable.  A remembrance service is held here every year and I can't think of a more beautiful and peaceful place to reflect.

 This is the view from the top, looking east.

And the fabulous view looking southwest over Wast Water.

We then returned, skirting Brown Base and descending a rather treacherous path down to Seathwaite.  This bit wasn't so bad, but I have since learned to be wary of paths beside waterfalls - they are often very steep and uneven and scrambling, or sliding on your butt may be required for some stretches. Very hard on the knees and tired soles.

We were out for about seven and half hours and what with the sun and wind, I was fairly exhausted by the time we returned. I certainly slept well that night in the pod.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Travel Yarns and What We've Knitted Along the Way. . .

We've been travelling a lot in the last month.  At the beginning of May, we flew back to Canada for a couple of weeks. First stop was visiting friends in Ottawa.

And discovering a new (to me) yarn shop. Wabi Sabi is a colourful treasure trove and they carry Brooklyn Tweed so I was able to pick up two skeins of Vale, their laceweight yarn which I've been wanting to try.

Then we flew north to visit family in Sault Ste. Marie where not all the ice had quite melted on the St. Mary river.

Beaver spotting!

And we drove to get some lovely, peaceful views of Northern Ontario.

I was excited to find this Sugar Bush yarn in Shabby Motley, the indie yarn shop in Sault Ste. Marie.  It's called Cabot and is a sportweight cotton/linen blend.  I fell in love with these colours.  Perfect for a summer top.

Incidentally, Shabby Motley also runs the cafe/gift shop at the airport, which makes Sault Ste Marie only the second airport I know of (Keflavik being the other) that sells wool.  In this case, some Icelandic wool from local sheep just down the road.

We also spent a few days in Toronto (I may have bought more yarn) and had a lovely day out on Toronto Islands.

As you can see, the weather was gorgeous and even hot, so I was itching to cast on something with the Cabot. I also had a long flight coming up.  And then Kate Davies released her Pabaigh pattern -  a perfect layering piece with lots of stockinette in the round.  Perfect!

I cast on and this is how far I got by the time we got home.

We'd barely unpacked before we were off for a relaxing weekend in the Yorkshire Dales.

With a climb up to Malham Cove.

By the time the weekend was over, I'd nearly finished the top - just a few rows left to go of the funnel neck.

And then came the realization that this yarn, which I thought would have the drape necessary for the neck, just didn't have the crunchiness that is also needed. Try as I might, I just couldn't make it lie in a way that looked good.  And suddenly a cowl neck also didn't seem appropriate for a summer top.  I ripped back. . .

And ended up with this stockinette curled neckline instead which I am very pleased with.  It's a far cry from the original, but I now have a summer top that feels very comfortable and will get a lot of wear over the next few months.

In which we'll be staying more or less at home. 

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Hiking the Howgills. . .

If you ever take the Settle to Carlisle railway, or travel up to Scotland on the west coast lines, you'll inevitably pass by the Howgills. These are a gorgeous series of hills that are just a wee bit east of the Lake District and much less populated.  They are a great place to head on a holiday weekend as there are lots of great hiking trails and open spaces, and you'll likely not encounter a soul.

I've previously hiked these hills from Sedbergh (a village well worth a visit in its own right), but on Easter Sunday, the Liverpud and I decided to tackle them from the north side and we parked at Ravenstonedale instead. The beginning of our ten mile circular walk was through lovely fields.

With the hills beckoning in the distance.

The sheep were all enjoying the sunshine and so were we.

The paths up are quite gradual and a lot less steep than some of the Lakeland fells. Apart from a few boggy bits lower down, by the time you are on the top, the paths are dry and springy underfoot.

This is the view from our first summit - Green Bell Hill.

I have nicknamed these hills "the Pillows" because they do have that look of soft, slightly crumpled, slightly squishy, dishevelled bedlinen.

My camera couldn't really capture it, but when on the top of the Howgills you do get marvellous views. The Lake District is to the west, the Pennines are to the north and to the east you can see the Yorkshire Dales.

We came down via Hooksey and found a field full of happy Herdies.  What a nice way to end a walk.