Tom Clague: One Year, 214 Wainwrights
At the start of 2015 I set out on an adventure to climb all 214 hills and mountains in Alfred Wainwright's guide books, back in August I wrote a blog post about how I initially decided to take on the challenge at the time I had climbed 140 of the 214. Now that the challenge is complete I can look back on the fantastic memories I have from this year, the highs and lows. Despite some of the weather being absolutely atrocious I still loved every second. I want to thank everyone who followed my adventure on my Instagram, @greyfox2711 and hope you all enjoyed following the challenge as much as I enjoyed completing it. The Lake District is an incredible part of the world and this adventure has taken me to parts of it that I had never seen before. The fells North of Skiddaw and Blencathra, the Vale of Lorton, Haycock and the Far Western Fells all stunningly beautiful just like the more popular areas of the Lakes.
Seeing the seasonal changes in the Lake District has been fascinating from the snow of early January through the Snowdrops and Daffodils of Spring into long Summer days and the falling leaves of Autumn before heading up Scafell Pike in temperatures of -5 at the end of November. I have completed the challenge in 35 walks which has taken me over 430 miles and 130,750ft of ascent which is the equivalent height of Mount Everest from sea level to summit 4 and half times, I started on January 10th on Steel Fell and completed on December 13th on Loughrigg. 337 days in total.
The challenge got off to a slow start back in January when I completed 2 hikes covering 11 fells, the first was the morning after a stormy night on January 10th it was still incredibly windy when my Dad and I reached the summit of Steel Fell and we struggled to stay on our feet. Later in the day after the summits of Calf Crag, High Raise and Gibson Knott we arrived at
Helm Crag in a hail shower. The second hike in January I completed alone in very wet conditions the summits of Walla Crag, Bleaberry Fell, High Seat, Raven Crag, Armboth Fell and High Tove the highlight of the day was seeing a Red Deer in the forest around Raven Crag and the great views of Thirlmere.
Green Burn in spate, 10th January 2015. Thirlmere from Raven Crag 25th January.
February was a little busier in which I completed another 3 hikes over 23 fells, a beautiful day at the Greater Fairfield Horseshoe was the first on February 7th. I was joined by my friends Rob and Aggie for this one and we had a fantastic day in the snowy conditions ticking off Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Stone Arthur, Great Rigg, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Dove Crag, High Pike and Low Pike before returning to Ambleside. The second took me to Troutbeck on February 17th for a mid week solo hike over Sour Howes, Sallows, Troutbeck Tongue and Wansfell. The views from Troutbeck Tongue are amazing for a fell of its height, fabulous views of Windermere and the sunrise I saw that day really stuck in my memory. A stunning pink sky over the Coniston Fells and Scafell Pike. For the final hike in February I was joined by Rob on February 21st on another perfect winters day at the Eastern Martindale Fells where we completed Bonscale Pike, Arthur's Pike, Loadpot Hill, Wether Hill, High Raise, Kidsty Pike, Rampsgill Head, The Knott, Rest Dodd and The Nab. The conditions allowed for some great wintery pictures of the Helvellyn range and the Martindale Valley.
My Footsteps in the snow on Heron Pike, 7th February 2015. Sunrise over Troutbeck, 21st February 2015.
In March I completed 15 fells over 2 hikes that could not of been anymore different, the first on March 7th I completed the Langdale Pikes from Grasmere alone, in heavy rain and 60-70mph winds. A truly awful day where unsurprisingly I saw not a single other person. I bagged Silver How, Blea Rigg, Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle, Loft Crag, Pike of Stickle, Thunacar Knott,
Sergeant Man and Tarn Crag. Check out my Instagram for evidence of how bad the weather was on this day, a real shame as the views from the Langdales are stunning on good days. The second hike on March 21st I was again joined by Rob and Aggie for a return to Langdale this time tick off Pike of Blisco, Cold Pike, Crinkle Crags, Bow Fell, Esk Pike and Rossett Pike. A stunning day with sunshine and no clouds in the sky, I got some fantastic pictures of the Scafell's and Langdale.
Grasmere from Silver How, 7th March 2015. Langdale from Bow Fell, 21st March 2015.
Into a very busy April in which I completed 5 hikes covering 25 fells, the first of which was the Wythop and Lorton Fells with my Dad on April 4th, ticking off Graystones, Ling Fell, Sale Fell, Broom Fell, Lord's Seat, Barf and Whinlatter. This hike took us into the Whinlatter Forest which made for some fantastic views and a great smell of pine trees. I was out again on April 9th where unseasonably high temperatures called for short sleeves and sun cream on a solo hike up Whiteside, Hopegill Head, Grasmoor, Wandope, Whiteless Pike and Rannerdale Knotts. There was a high level of pollution in the air and the views were very hazy on the higher fells but Rannerdale Knotts was beautiful in the early afternoon sunshine with great views of Buttermere and Crummock Water. On April 11th I was once again joined by Rob and Aggie for a hike around Swindale, bagging Selside Pike, Branstree, Tarn Crag and Grey Crag. The highlight of this walk was seeing a huge herd of Red Deer in the Haweswater Nature Reserve and once again the weather was perfect. We had great fun at the end of the day exploring Mosedale Falls on the return to the valley. April 15th took me to Great Mell Fell, Little Mell Fell and Gowbarrow Fell where the good weather came to an end, I was out so early that I finished this hike before 11am but still managed to get soaked to the skin by heavy rain. The final hike of April took place on the 18th where again I was joined by Rob and Aggie for Souther Fell, Blencathra, Mungrisdale Common, Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell. We got very lucky with the weather again and tackled Sharp Edge to be rewarded by incredible views at the summit of Blencathra.
Buttermere from Rannerdale Knotts, April 9th 2015. View from Blencathra's summit April 18th 2015.
By the start of May my total stood at 74, 3 hikes and 20 fells in May the first being the Coledale Horseshoe on May 9th with my Dad which took us to Grisedale Pike, Crag Hill, Sail, Outerside and Barrow. Great views of Bassenthwaite Lake and the Coledale Valley. The second hike on May 16th was the Kirkstone and Dovedale Round which I completed alone bagging Hartsop Dodd, Caudale Moor, Red Screes, Middle Dodd, Little Hart Crag, High Hartsop Dodd and Hartsop How. I remember the ascent of Hartsop Dodd being pretty tough from Hartsop Village. The last hike of May I was out again with Rob on May 23rd to tackle Helvellyn via Striding Edge from Glenridding, a Lake District classic that we extended to include the summits of Birkhouse Moor, Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike, Dollywaggon Pike, Seat Sandal, St Sunday Crag, Birks and Arnison Crag making for a pretty epic day out.
Grisedale Pike in the clouds, May 9th 2015. Grasmere from Seat Sandal, 23rd May 2015.
June saw the completion of 2 more hikes and 17 fells the first being a very testing solo hike on June 6th around the Coniston Fells in 80-90mph winds, I managed to bag Wetherlam, Swirl How, Great Carrs, Grey Friar, Brim Fell, Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag. For the second hike I was joined by Rob and Aggie on June 20th for the very long Newland's Watershed hike, 15 miles and the summits of Catbells, Maiden Moor, High Spy, Dale Head, Hindscarth, Robinson, Knott Rigg, Ard Crags, Scar Crags and Causey Pike. It rained for the first 9 fells that day and just as we arrived back in the valley the sun came out!
Tarn Hows from Wetherlam, June 6th 2015. Derwent Water from Causey Pike, June 20th 2015.
At the start of July my total was 111, another 4 hikes and 23 fells completed in July starting at the Back of Skiddaw on July 4th. This was another very long solo hike starting with Binsey before heading to Bakestall, Great Cockup, Meal Fell, Great Sca Fell, Brae Fell and Longlands Fell. As I crossed the valley floor between Binsey and Bakestall I was attacked by a Buzzard
protecting its nest, it swooped on me over ten times until it was happy I was no longer a threat. I certainly was not expecting that at the start of the day. On July 11th I was out again for another solo hike of the Western Martindale Fells, Hallin Fell, Steel Knotts, Beda Fell, Angletarn Pikes, Brock Crags and Place Fell. I took a cool picture of Brothers Water from Angletarn Pikes that gave another perspective of a picture I had taken from Hartsop in May. It was July 18th when I was out again with Rob for a hike around Seathwaite, we bagged the peaks of Seathwaite Fell, Great End, Allen Crags and Glaramara. I also attempted to bag Rosthwaite Fell but took my summit selfie in the wrong location which left me with a bit of problem. This was the reason I returned to Seathwaite alone on July 24th to tick off Grey Knotts, Brandreth, Great Gable, Green Gable, Base Brown and after heading 3 miles back along the valley I succeeded in completing Rosthwaite Fell after a tough ascent due to the fatigue from the mountains I had already completed that day.
Angletarn from Angletarn Pikes, July 11th 2015. Wastwater from Great Gable, July 24th 2015.
Into August and the busiest month of my challenge by far, 6 hikes and 33 fells completed this month. I was joined by Rob and Aggie for the Buttermere Marathon on August 2nd, they did not complete all summits that day as it was a very long hike, obviously due to the nature of my challenge I had no choice but to bag all summits and over 16 miles I ticked off Great Borne, Starling Dodd, Red Pike, High Stile, High Crag, Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike. The views from Fleetwith Pike of the Buttermere valley are amazing and well worth the final push. Next up was a solo hike up Skiddaw and surrounding fells on August 8th a gorgeous summers day with clear skies and outstanding views, I intentionally saved Skiddaw for a day like this as I knew the views from the summit were legendary. I ticked off Dodd, Carl Side, Long Side, Ullock Pike, Skiddaw, Little Man, Lonscale Fell and Latrigg. On August 12th another perfect day at St Johns in the Vale and another solo hike to bag Clough Head, Great Dodd, Watson's Dodd, Stybarrow Dodd and High Rigg. I remember this day being particularly warm and suffering in the heat on High Rigg by mid afternoon. Amazing views of the Vale of Keswick and Blencathra however made it all worth it. Next I introduced my girlfriend Rebecca to hiking on August 16th for a short hike ticking off Hard Knott, Harter Fell and Green Crag a very quiet corner of the Lake District the summit of Green Crag was wonderfully still and quiet. Next up was a solo hike at the Back of Blencathra on August 22nd to bag Carrock Fell, High Pike, Knott and Great Calva another quiet corner of the Lake District that I had never visited before this challenge. For the final hike of August my Dad and I headed to complete the Mosedale Horseshoe on August 29th completing the summits of Kirk Fell, Pillar, Scoat Fell, Steeple, Red Pike and Yewbarrow. Two great memories from this hike the first being my solo ascent of Kirk Fell as my Dad took the Black Sail Pass to meet me before we tackled Pillar together, I took the route Wainwright described as a "turf clutching crawl" and it was wonderfully difficult. Later that day after meeting up with my Dad again after soloing Yewbarrow we came across a herd of sheep one of which sat and allowed us to stroke her something I have never witnessed before or since. The video of this is also on my Instagram page.
The summit of Skiddaw Little Man, 8th August 2015. Blencathra from High Rigg, 12th August 2015.
By the start of September I had completed 167 fells and I was way ahead of schedule. 3 hikes and another 24 fells in September starting with another solo hike on September 5th starting in Glenridding to tick off Glenridding Dodd, Sheffield Pike, Hart Side, Raise, White Side and Catstye Cam. As this hike took me so close to Helvellyn I made another visit to the summit and tackled Swirral Edge to bag Catstye Cam. Next up on September 19th, again I was alone in Lorton to bag Mellbreak, Hen Comb, Gavel Fell, Blake Fell, Burnbank Fell, Low Fell and Fellbarrow. This should of been 2 hikes but I, maybe foolishly, joined them together which made it crazy difficult. I was on Mellbreak at 9am and did not reach Fellbarrow until quarter to 3. A very long day but it felt great to bag 2 hikes in one go. On September 26th I was joined by Rob for a slightly extended Kentmere Horseshoe. 10 fells that day, Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag, Gray Crag, High Street, Mardale Ill Bell, Harter Fell, Kentmere Pike and Shipman Knotts. We saw some incredible clouds which again you can see pictures of on my Instagram and enjoyed great views of Kentdale.
Low Fell from Mellbreak, 19th September 2015. Cloud formations at Kentmere, 26th September 2015.
In October, with the pressure slightly off due to being way ahead of schedule, I completed 2 hikes and 10 fells. First being a solo hike of the Far Western Fells on October 10th bagging Grike, Crag Fell, Caw Fell, Haycock and Lank Rigg. Another beautifully quiet corner of the Lake District probably down to the fact that it is so remote. Great views of Scafell and Scafell Pike from the summit of Haycock. The last hike of October was another solo hike around Wastwater on October 24th, the weather was dreadful it rained almost all day and my waterproofs failed. I ticked off Whin Rigg, Illgill Head, Middle Fell, Seatallan and Buckbarrow with the sun coming out on the descent from my final fell that day.
Scafell and Scafell Pike from Haycock, October 10th 2015. From Buckbarrow to the coast, October 24th 2015.
November brought another 2 hikes covering 10 fells both being solo hikes. The first on November 8th was probably the wettest hike I did all year, the Stonethwaite Fells of Eagle Crag, Sergeant's Crag, Ullscarf, Great Crag, Grange Fell and Castle Crag. I joked at the time that I could of sat in a bath fully clothed and got out dryer than I was by the end of that hike. Next up was a much more pleasant hike of Lingmell, Scafell Pike, Scafell and Slight Side on November 21st. It was the morning after heavy snowfall on the summits which made for fantastic conditions to bag England's highest mountain. There were some issues with technology as it seems iPhones and -20 windchill do not agree with each other. My phone died on the ascent of Lingmell and in order to ensure I documented my summits I had to return to Wasdale Head to pick up my iPhone 4 to take the summit selfies. This meant a double ascent of Lingmell but still a fantastic day.
Eagle Crag from Stonethwaite, 8th November 2015. The Scafell's from Lingmell, 21st November 2015.
So into December with 210 fells complete and just one hike remaining. I had saved this hike to the end as Loughrigg was the first ever Wainwright I climbed at the age of 5 with my Dad. On December 13th a week later than we originally planned due to the devastating floods after Storm Desmond my Dad and I completed the final 4, Lingmoor Fell, Holme Fell, Black Fell and Loughrigg Fell. It was a perfect place to end my challenge and again the wintery conditions only made it more special.
Sunrise from Lingmoor Fell, 13th December 2015. Loughrigg, my final summit, 13th December 2015.
Now I just have to think of a challenge to follow this one for 2016 but first I will be heading to Scotland to bag some
Munro's on New Year's Eve.