Trek Diary September 2018: Meeting Little Man (865m/2,837ft) … And Skiddaw (931m/3,053ft)

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Me on the summit of Skiddaw. Note the wind-swept hair! Not the most flattering of photos but a reminder of just how blustery it was up there

Here’s an obvious fact – the more exercise you do, the fitter you will feel. But if you stop exercising for a four-month period, that fitness level will drop. And the delight at finding Scafell Pike not quite as hard as first thought because there had been a swim/walk campaign in the three months beforehand… Well, that joy will be non-existent when walking up Skiddaw with no fitness plan in place prior to the walk. Scafell Pike was a hike. Skiddaw – and Little Man, a cruel juxtaposition if ever I saw one – was a trudge.

If you look at the photos of me doing it, I appear to be taking my clothes off (well, my coat and jumper, it got increasingly hot), then at the top putting them back on again! On, off, on, off…

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We set off from Keswick, where we were staying for a weekend. A walk out from town, bypassing the Pencil Museum, took us on a upward path where we met quite a few walkers. Further up, it turned out there was a car park – so we could have got away without this gruelling hill to begin with!

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But that was only a little stroll up a staircase in comparison of what was to come.

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At the car park, there was obviously an event going on. From earlier signs in the town centre, I suspect it was a race for fell runners. A group of people I much admire but could never belong to! Oddly we didn’t encounter any up the hill, but I think their course went a different route. Enticingly, amid the army tents, a tea and cake stall greeted us. But we ignored this most pleasant venue and carried on to our date with Little Man.

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The monument (according to Wainwright) is a memorial to three men of the Howell family, who were shepherds.
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Me on the summit of Little Man

Little Man. Ha! As apt a name as Liverpool’s famous and fabulous ‘Little Boy’ (he’s actually a puppet giant), Little Man is also a giant in these hills. My lack of fitness levels was becoming increasingly apparent to me, why had I stopped swimming once I reached my target? Why was Scafell Pike an easier climb when it was actually higher? Lesson to self: you really do feel the benefits of consistent exercise.

Funnily, although the weather wasn’t terrible at that time, there was hardly a walker to be seen. The greatest majority of people were mountain bikers, speeding up or down the scree.

Ah, yes, the scree. I’ll get back to that later.

The problem with Little Man is there is no consideration for those who wish to visit him. No rest spots of delightful flatness. Just a steep slope uphill. You’d think if you were visiting a Little Man he would offer you a nice rest for weary legs, but no.

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There were a few times when I pondered ‘are we there yet?’, after reaching a cairn. And then another cairn… And another.

Eventually we reached the top of Little Man and the weather was getting tough. Mist and rain and wind. Should we carry on to Skiddaw or go back? We approached a couple who showed us where we were on the map and we trudged on.

Ever the troopers.

The wind and fog got worse. And there were so many fake cairns mimicking the summit – although later, I realised they actually were very helpful as they guided walkers back down the hill. When the top was finally reached, there was no splendid view to be seen, just a grey-white sky.

On the way down, I was nervous of the scree and scattered stones, of which there were many. Especially on the steeper than normal sections. We passed a group of mountain bikers who also made it to the top. How they managed, I’ve no idea. It took me all my time to edge down carefully.

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Skiddaw

 

 

We walked back via Carl Side, another hill, although I was past caring at that point. I wanted warmth and a cup of tea.

And everything went okay until Ouch!!!

(Ironically we weren’t that far from the bottom at this point).

Cue swear words (I don’t generally swear unless I am very p….off, which I was then!) as I fell and landed on my left ankle. To fall on a bottom is embarrassing but fairly painless but an ankle?

It was painful. Thankfully, I was able to stand, delicately picking myself back up. And walk. But not as easily as before.

Thankfully I had my walking poles with me to help and we headed back into Keswick where we enjoyed a much-needed caffeinated drink and a warm shower, and then our evening meal in a local pub.

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It took nearly two weeks for my ankle to heal properly.

Afterwards I turned to my trusty guide Wainwright, expecting him to agree that Skiddaw is a long, tiring, difficult mountain to climb.

Instead he writes in his Northern Fells Pictorial Guide: ‘It has been derided as a route for grandmothers and babies, rather unfairly: the truth is that this is an ascent all members of the family can enjoy. It is not so much a climb as a mountain walk to a grand, airy summit’.

Was Wainwright talking about the same mountain?! ⛰️⛰️⛰️

(To be fair, if it wasn’t for the scree, lack of fitness, blustery weather and sprained ankle, I’d have liked Skiddaw and Little Man more). 🏔️🏔️🏔️

Facts of the Day

1. Skiddaw is the fourth highest peak in the Lake District.

2. Skiddaw Little Man is one mile away from Skiddaw. It is classed as a ‘subsidiary summit of Skiddaw’.

3. Skiddaw is mentioned in the fourth book of John Keats’ poem Endymion.

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11 thoughts on “Trek Diary September 2018: Meeting Little Man (865m/2,837ft) … And Skiddaw (931m/3,053ft)

    1. There were times when I wasn’t sure I would get very far either! It felt quite a long trek at times but glad I persevered. The opening picture is of Dottie, not long after I got her last year. She was ill earlier this year and thankfully recovered. She can be a little bossy! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Such a beautiful area! Great photos! I would love to visit! I am from Colorado, USA and we have many mountains here that we call 14ers, which means they are over 14,000 feet high. In 1998 I climbed and summited Long’s Peak. I am almost died on that mountain and sadly many people have. I am thankful for the memory of conquering Long’s though. It is a very dangerous peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. Little Man and Skiddaw would be more my cup of tea now. God bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, 14,000 feet is amazing. Well done, I’m glad you survived, it must have been a frightening experience. I would love to see the Rocky Mountains, I’ve seen pictures of them and look spectacular. 14,000ft makes our highest mountain in Britain (Ben Nevis, 4,409ft) look like a little hill in comparison! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! Rocky Mountain National Park is definitely a great place to visit! You can drive through the mountains on Trail Ridge Road, which is at 12,000 feet at its highest point. You can see the Continental Divide from up there, as well as big horn sheep! I highly recommend a vacation to Colorado. I was raised here and have lived here most of my life.

        Denver sits at 5,280 feet hence the name “The Mile High City.” Our home just 20 minutes southeast of Denver sits at 6,115 feet. The Rocky Mountain air is thin, but fresh and the skies are very blue here. We get over 300 days of perfect sunshine every year (2nd only to San Diego, CA)! The ski resorts are fantastic and Winter Park is my fave!

        I would enjoy climbing around the peaks of Britain too. You have a beautiful country! Blessings!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, yes, I would definitely recommend visiting the British countryside. I tend to go to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales more as they’re nearer to me but there is so much choice and variety. Scotland’s countryside is absolutely stunning. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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