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Helm Crag, Gibson Knott & Calf Crag - 214 Ups and Downs214 Ups and Downs

DATE: 23rd November 2013
WAINWRIGHTS BAGGED: Helm Crag, Gibson Knott, Calf Crag

That dreamy weekend away 3 years ago seems like a lifetime. So much has happened since then but the sanctuary of the fells never diminishes with time. While certain parts of the Lakes will always draw me back to them, I cannot wait to discover what lies in store in other locations.

Having said that, the decision of where Arran and I would start our adventure was only ever going to go one way. I toyed with the thought of Arran and I ‘bagging’ Silver How first; I’d done it before and I knew it wouldn’t be hard work. But I wanted us to get a decent walk under our belts right from the off.

I also wanted Nicole to see the spot where I planned to propose.

Some of my closest friends were to ascend Helm Crag, kitted up with a small table, chairs (stools would do), table cloth and battery operated candle. A chilled bottle of Verve Clicquot would be waiting for me to pop along with the question I was itching to ask.

Alas, life and the weather took over and that proposal never happened. It did this past weekend, but without any of the planned chutzpah.

I’ve done this walk twice before and it is one of my favourites because you are soon rewarded with views all the way up to Helvellyn, down to the southern shores of Windermere and beyond. Look east and you can see, amongst others, Fairfield and Dollywagon Pike (that is a must very soon, just because of the name!)  To the west, beyond our beautiful friend Sour Milk Gill, you can see Blea Rigg and a hint of Pavey Ark. For such a diminutive peak at 405m the rewards are great.

I’ve made enough significant mistakes in my life to ensure that I have learning from them down to a fine art. On this outing I made a handful. None will be repeated. This time last year we invested in a rather snazzy child carrier and it needed christening in style. Unfortunately, I neglected to read the instructions and the yellow bands that are across the top of my chest in the photo, should rest straight across my shoulder-blades.

After nearly 5 hours of walking I was sore; friction burns on my shoulders and in dire need of a hip replacement. We’ve resolved that issue now so when you come on a walk with us soon, I will still have “all the gear” but maybe slightly more of “an idea”. But don’t count on it.

One of my other mistakes was thinking that the Calpol that I almost packed wouldn’t be needed. Arran is largely the most placid of little men, but when he wants you to know something he has no trouble at all informing you. Just after lunch at Gibson Knott, the second peak bagged today, Arran’s cheeks got suitably pink and the teething he’s been suffering from on and off recently kicked in with a vengeance. The Calpol would have been a good idea.

Arran shouted at Nicole and I for a good half an hour while we thought it best to sing and comfort him, while getting as many miles under our belts as possible. Eventually Arran fell asleep but not before we noticed the impact Arran’s discomfort had on us.

Naturally, we hated seeing him upset but while he was fighting with his gums, we began to struggle to concentrate on the task in hand. We started to lose our footing and were rushing our route. We barely looked up at all for those long 30 minutes or so and in doing so missed savouring the joy of our third and highest peak of the day, Calf Crag.

Arran needed us to focus on him at that point, and rightly so, but there is a significant lesson from today that I must learn. I’ve been trying to for a long time. I wonder if looking up and seeing the things that surround us which are good in our lives, and being thankful for them, is a wonderful tonic to lift us? I’m told it is and when I manage it, I know it to be true.

In reality, I’m absolutely dreadful at this in practice, but maybe Arran and I can learn this vital lesson together as we explore more of our beautiful countryside and continue our adventure together.

We had a wonderful first walk; we got some much needed fresh air into our lungs, enjoyed a righteous pork pie (mandatory walking fayre), took in some most wonderful views when we weren’t ‘eyes down’ and talked and sang our way round.

And so onwards to the next challenge. Dollywagon Pike is calling.

Photo Gallery

Route map of this walk

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