Monday, 4 July 2011

Lake District Heatwave: Part 1- Lovely Langdale

Yep, you read right, I've been south of the border. To some this may not be surprising (it is where I originate from), but those who know me also know that I have vowed never to tousle with traffic, queues and expensive car parking ever again. And yet last week I found myself in the Lake District, in a heatwave, looking for rock to climb.

The story began in Langdale, a place I know reasonably well, and anticipating a long week of climbing, we started gently with a couple of routes on Upper Scout Crag. Even by English standards this is a valley crag with an easy walk in, which is just as well, as the day was roasting hot. The classic routes on this crag are imaginatively named Route 1 and Route 2, both V Diff (ish). The latter takes a rising line through ledges and slabs, while the former is more direct and probably the more satisfying for it. In between routes, it was all I could do to lie very still in the heat, trying to cool down. (We don't get this kind of heat in Scotland...)

Day 2, and we decided to go a little further afield and visit an old favourite, Gimmer Crag.  Gimmer is notorious for having an arduous approach, but after 6 years of living on Arran and stomping up and down Glen Rosa, an hour walk in to a crag feels like roadside! Nevertheless, the heat was astonishing, and we were glad to arrive in a heap at the looming base of Gimmer Chimney (V Diff). 

The compelling line of Gimmer Chimney

The route is really only 4 pitches long, but after a sweaty thrutch in the lower chimney, it was all I could do to lie in the sun a bit more.  Game over. Heat 1, Lucy 0....

Day 3, and at last I'm starting to get the measure of the weather.  An early start put us down a grade and on Middlefell Buttress in the cool morning shade. This is one of the most famous Diffs in the Lake District and rightly so.  Although now quite polished, it is still quite straightforward, with the only sting in the tail being the descent. With hindsight, this would have been a great approach to Gimmer. However, on this occasion it was an early finish for ice cream, and then a drive up to Basenthwaite to visit the Lake District Osprey Project.

Still to come: Borrowdale and Grisedale!

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