Dave, Mark, Paul and I had a wonderfully magical winter solstice walk under a full moon the other night. We walked up Stickle Ghyll, over the Langdale Pikes, across Martcrag Moor to Stake Pass and around to Rossett Ghyll, where we descended into Mickleden to follow the valley back to Stickle Ghyll. The moon glowed brightly through a thin veil of cloud and lit the fluffy snow crystals like sparkling little jewels. We even had a small earthquake!
Pashley and I drove up to Langdale to meet Laura and Sarah for a day of navigation training. We enjoyed some great weather and fantastic views on a walk around the Langdale Pikes, whilst I taught the ladies all I could about contours, handrails, bearings, timing and pacing. My boots were off within a few minutes of leaving the road and Pashley soon followed suit.
The following day began with a luxuriously late start and a leisurely stroll up Lingmoor. I left my boots behind, Pashley’s boots were soon in her pack and Laura joined in too. Two more converts to the joys of barefooting in the mountains! Every step has a meaning, you feel a deep connection with the ground and nature gives you a free all-day reflexology treatment. Try it out…
Pashley and I said goodbye to Laura and Sarah after coffee and cake in Ambleside. Then we went to the Golden Rule for a pork pie and a pint. Back in Langdale, we ended the evening in the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and walked out out of the pub to find one of the most beautiful starry skies you could hope to see.
The night was just too good to miss so we packed bags with climbing gear, sleeping bags and mats, a stove, coffee and porridge oats. We walked along Mickleden and up Rossett Ghyll to sleep near the col and stare at the stars. The sunrise brought a warm and bright morning that we enjoyed over coffee and porridge. Simply sitting still and enjoying the view for hours was a pleasure.
We finally got moving at mid-day and walked up to the base of Bowfell Buttress to climb the classic route right up its centre. It may be polished but it’s still great fun and furnished with bundles of huge, positive handholds. We climbed the route in 5 pitches and it provided Pashley with a good opportunity to learn more about multi-pitch ropework and belays.
Climbing with full packs for the first time in a while was a good reminder of how it raises your centre of gravity and makes you feel very heavy indeed!
We reached the top of Bowfell and were greeted by a warm and orange sun low in the sky. The views that evening were wonderful…
Thanks to Andy Docker for this last photo. Here’s a link to Andy’s Flickr page. Take a look at the rest of his Bowfell sunset shots. They’re very good and you need your whole screen to really do them justice.
Tryfan is my favourite Welsh mountain and a fantastic option for a fast and fun outing before the long drive home to London. I’ve been getting into barefoot walking, running and climbing for a while now and I was curious to see how I would fare on a rocky barefoot scramble. I put my sandals in my pocket in case my feet began to feel sore and off I went.
Clear skies, a good forecast, a big breakfast inside and a sound knowledge of the mountain encouraged me to enjoy myself without a rucksack. I felt light and free on my feet, skipping over the rocks on the approach to Tryfan’s north ridge. By the time I was on the high and rocky half of the ridge, I was well warmed up, moving smoothly and delighting in the feeling of barefoot connection with the rock. The soles of my feet felt great all the way to the top, over Adam and Eve and back down to the A5. Sitting in the car on the way home, they were buzzing with sensation after a two-hour reflexology session with nature.