Palaver over we finally got started at about 10:30. We parked between Milbeck and Applethwaite and started off up Carl Side in the lashing rain. The cloud cover up high was thick but we went for it on the basis that we may well be turning back. It's a fairly long slog up some pretty steep terrain to Carl Side but this does give you some pretty impressive views out across Keswick and Derwent Water. We did then descend to Long Side to get the best view of Ullock Pike and up Skiddaw which is an incredible looking Goliath of a beast from that perspective and on this occasion draped in a rather soft and fluffy luxury blanket which in fact to be quite the contrary. The rain did start to ease at this point, praise the lord as I was feeling mildly moist and a touch nippy - time to re-proof the jacket me thinks.
From Long Side we contoured around Carl Side on the path to the base of Skiddaw for the final push to the summit. We immediately started to notice the difference of the lower cloud which was noticeable but not at thick as we'd anticipated. What was deeper than anticipated was the snow (in places) which is always a bit slowing on the pace. With that and Dave's double squash session and Si's 2 hours sleep (2 1/2 if you consider the drivers seat slumber en route) progress became a bit steady. A couple of friendly hikers passed us in the snow heading for the top, pleasantries were exchanged. Not long later they passed by us on their way down saying that they'd hit the top and that is was biting so they were on their way back to the bottom. Strange I though as the Trig point is a way up the plateau - I think they probably thought the cairn was the top. On the back of that nugget of info we decided we'd employ the summit and plummet method. So in the clouds (visibility of about 20m) we got to the windy plateau and headed the few metres to the trig point, where we tapped it and headed to somewhere where we could get out of the wind for a bite to eat and a drink - there was absolutely no point in being up there longer than we needed to be, the view was non existent.
We headed off the top and towards Little Man which at the outset we had intended to do (we were initially hoping to do 8 Wainwrights) but due to the conditions we knocked it on the head (as we did with 6 of the others), navigating off the path in these conditions is never a great plan (always play safe and use zi common sense).
We sidled from the top down the main path. It was still some time before we got out of the fog however the rain had stopped and although the wind was ripping through it did go some way to drying my outer layers. At one of the gates on the way down we came across a group of gents who sensibly sacked off the top due to the nastiness setting in. Not much further on we came across a few guys in jeans and trainers tooled with cameras, asking how far it was to the top and for an idea of what the conditions were? We duly filled them in at which point they sensibly turned back, not quite the day to be out in your Sunday best.
Lunch in the way of an oversize pasty was thrown down (into my mouth, not discarded on the floor - that would have been sacrilege) for the knee jerking yomp back to the car park and along the road back to the cars. On the way eagle-eyed Dave spotted a couple of deer on the road which we had to get some snaps of! Not often you see deer as close as this in the wild (mind there are a few places north of the border where they are in herds)
Following that it was time for a pint or two in the Peacock and then the drive home. We set out to do 8 Wainwrights and 10 1/2 miles, we actually did 2 Wainwrights and 8 miles. Nice walk, would be mad keen to see the view from the top at some point so will hopefully come back and have another go shortly in advance of the challenge (Lakeland 3000's that is not the TGO that is currently on a lot of folks minds).
I'm having an internal "which camera is best" battle at the moment as I'm thinking there is just no point in taking an SLR up on the hillside when the weather is as it was. Thinking I'm now on the lookout for a decent compact for these darker days that I can keep more accesible whilst it's wetting it down.
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