Saturday, 20 April 2013

Catstye Cam

Walk Summary
After 4½ years, 22 separate trips, more than 100 walks, nearly 1,000 miles walked and approx. 80km of ascent I am now describing my very last English Nuttall that can be reached on foot and without having to climb or be roped up.

The elephant in the room is of course Pillar Rock. 

During the 12 trips to the Lake District out of the 22 total, it never occurred to me to organise an MIA guide to take me up Pillar Rock, always thinking I will do it on a later trip. All I knew was that I did not want it to be the last. Well my advice to anyone else who does not want Pillar Rock to be the last – make sure you do not leave it to the last trip. Contingency in the trip plan enabled the original planned date to be slipped by one day due to heavy rain and strong winds. However, even with overdosing on contingency, spare days and going to any length to avoid using a contingency day during the last trip, no amount of planning (short of qualifying as a winter climber) could have allowed for the late winter we have experience during 2013 coupled with a significant dusting of snow on the high fells the night before the deferred climb with sub-zero temperatures forecast all day above 700m. 

The decision was not mine but the MIA guides, and although I was bitterly disappointed on the day and in fact even now to some extent, it was the only sensible decision.

As is true in all cases – if the conditions put the walk outside of your skillset/capabilities; abandon the walk or change to a less demanding route. The hill or “mountain” will be there another day.

With the planned Pillar Rock day becoming spare and in an effort to not waste a contingency day we decided to go for Loadpoat Hill & Wether Hill. In spite of the rain and wind it was a safe decision in view of our experience gained over the four years of hill walking, combined with these hills being very rounded and devoid of any crags or steep slopes on the planned route.

This meant that Catstye Cam would become the last Nuttall and also meant a slight revision to the route to cater for the varying abilities of the friends and family that would join me on my final walk. After discussion with my mate John Parkin, he suggested we abandon Birkhouse Moor (which was my first Lake District Nuttall) and go straight for Catstye Cam along Greenside Road to the hostels, then follow Red Tarn Beck up to Red Tarn before going on to "summit out" Catstye Cam. This would allow the route to be split into 3 stages; Hostel, Red Tarn, Catstye Cam summit and safely allow the group to be split to return back on an easily navigable path if necessary.

As it turned out Alison started to feel ill due to an upset stomach and decided to return, just before Red Tarn Falls and the old disused pipeline. Joss offered to keep her company as she did not need any encouragement to NOT go up a hill and Howard kindly offered to escort them to ensure they did not get lost.

Again disappointed that I would not be joined by my oldest son, but very grateful he offered, allowing the remaining 4 of us to press on.

An hour after splitting up we reached a heavily frozen, though thawing Red Tarn which provided an excellent back drop with Striding Edge and Helvellyn for photos as well a spot to enjoy lunch behind a wall out of the breeze, benefiting from a rare but appreciated warm sun.

After lunch John set the pace for the final leg of the ascent, Gina and Lizzie chatting quite obliviously were heading towards Swirral Edge before I called them back and I enjoyed the experience of being with friends and family on my final English Nuttall taking loads of photos.

As Lizzie and Gina turned away from Swirral Edge, heading up Catstye Cam, I could see John stood on the summit. It made a great photo - him in the distance as a small matchstick man with Gina & Lizzie lower down in their bright red and pink coats at the beginning of the walk along the ridge to the summit.

John saved the privilege for me to be first on the cairn and another party took our photos and allowed time for us to enjoy the summit on what was for me a very special day.

With photos complete all that remained was to head home safely and join the rest of our friends in Glenridding car park. They had returned slowly enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery then spending the remaining time in shops and cafes in Glenridding, during which time they kindly bought me the most appropriate mo-memento of the day a mug and coaster with 1:25,000 map of Helvellyn, Red Tarn and of course Catstye Cam. 

Thanks very much for this.

And thanks to all who joined me, with special thanks to +Clive Kirk, who could not join me on this last trip (he was manning a water station at the London marathon the day after) but has accompanied me on many trips climbing nearly 100 Nuttalls himself.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 20  April 2013
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith, John Parkin, Lizzie Wold, Howard Smith, Joss Johnson, Alison Wright
Accommodation - Wychwood, Braithwaite
Start Point - Glenridding Car Park (NY38555 16967)
Start Time - 11:36
Finish Point - Glenridding Car Park (NY38555 16967)
Finish Time - 17:45
Duration - 6hrs 09mins
Average pace - 1.49mph
Distance Walked - 9.19miles
Height Ascended - 1021.51metres

Peaks visited
Nuttalls (254)
Catstye Cam 253)
Hewitts (179)
Catstye Cam (179)
Wainwrights (214)
Catstye Cam (141)
Birketts (541)
Catstye Cam (261)

Other walks on this trip
14th Seatallen


Walk Description
 1.) Exit Glenridding Car Park near the Information Centre on to Greenside Road.
 2.) Walk about 50m along Greenside Road.
On the way to
Glenridding Youth Hostel
overlooked by Glenridding Dodd
 3.) Take first left away from lake heading out of village. This is also Greenside Road.
 4.) Take right fork just after Travellers Rest,then next left fork signposted to Youth Hostel.
 5.) Stay on track all the way to Youth Hostel.
 6.) Go through gate to hostel and exit gate on other side.
 7.) Ascend track staying adjacent to Glenridding Beck.
We have been walking nearly one hour.
Must be time for a snack
 8.) As you pass weir on the left take footbridge over what is now Red Tarn Beck.
 9.) Turn right on other side of footbridge.
10.) Stay on easy to follow footpath to sheepfolds on the right and disused pipeline on the left.
The group passing Red Tarn Beck Falls
as the ascent begins in earnest
11.) As the rate of ascent increases, path turns to the left alongside Red Tarn Falls.
12.) Path continues around base of Catstye Cam on right and continues all the way to Red Tarn.
13.) We spent a bit of time taking photos and enjoyed lunch overlooked by both Striding Edge and Helvellyn.
14.) From here you have the choice of a long option up High Spying How, across Striding Edge, summit Helvellyn and approach Catstye Cam across Swirral Edge.
15.) We took the direct option following path diagonally up Catstye Cam to the col between Swirral Edge and Catstye Cam.
16.) As you approach Swirral Edge look out for path turning to the right up Catstye Cam.
Walk up to Catstye Cam summit
from end of Swirral Edge
17.) All that remains is to follow path up the west ridge of Catstye Cam to the summit.
18.) From the summit we continued over the other side and dscended down the slightly steep path and rejoined the path we ascended to Red Tarn.
19.) Near the bottom the path disappears but continue SSE until you reach the path.
20.) Turn left on the path and continue descent to footbridge near weir.
21.) Route home from here is reverse from step 8.) above.
22.) Alternatively do not cross footbridge and stay on south side of Glenridding Beck.
23.) As the path splits, take the left fork to descend slightly to the wall and wood.
Closer to Glenridding
and the view gets better
24.) Follow path along wall all the way to Miresbeck.
25.) Turn left after the gate at Miresbeck and descend towards Gillside Hostel and Campsite.
26.) As you pass the campsite on the right continue to follow Glenridding Beck all the way to the village.
The Glenridding Hotel
27.) Turn left over bridge near Glenridding Hotel and retrn to Glenridding car park.

More Photographs
The photo I have worked and waited 4 ½ years to take
Click on photograph to view slide-show

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