Hello, my name is Mal Tabb.
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Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Grassmoor & Thereabouts

With: on my own
Weather: a kind of Indian summer; warm; humid; no wind; at times appalling visibility but when high enough spectacularly clear!

Its been a few days of firsts & a first ascent of Grassmoor has long been on the cards.

However, a set of tensions made this far from a straightforward day, in the balance were: the opportunity for an early start; promises of fine weather; the opportunity to pick off some new summits versus a series of appointments in the afternoon & evening; visibility which was much worse than anticipated!

Cloud Inversion From Grassmoor Summit

An early arrival at Rannerdale Bridge saw a muted scene across Crummock Water, it was mild with little to no breeze, the tops sat stuck in low cloud that the weather forecasts indicated was likely to burn off as the day progressed.

Its a steep and unrelenting ascent alongside Cinderdale Beck for the most part. Considering this is a well documented & easily accessible route it does in places have the look of a path less traveled. The climb was warm and much of the higher reaches were swathed in thick low cloud. However, crossing the summit plateau of Grassmoor the first hint of a clearing picture emerged amidst an array of fascinating optical effects, some of which there are attempts to capture on camera below. Ultimately though the potential of a cloud inversion became apparent and an extended stay at the summit in order to witness this ensued. Brockenspectre(s)?

In many ways to have stayed even longer at the summit might have been a good plan, however, the decision taken to move on led to a descent in the general direction of Wandope & Whiteless Edge, unfortunately this led to a return to low cloud which to be frank just got worse & worse. The unremarkable Wandope "bagged" for the first time it was onwards along Whiteless Edge. After ten minutes or so of hand in front of the face visibility I lost the will to live & made the decision to leave "The Edge" and opt for a more direct descent into the valley & out of the cloud - whilst being a great advocate of getting off the beaten track on this occasion it was a mistake which led to much sliding on scree and damp grass and not a little impromptu scrambling. So much so a further relocation was needed and a gentler line of descent found. The valley walk out was pleasant.

It might be a little controversial but I came to the conclusion today that for me ponderous circuits aimed at "bagging" minor Wainwrights (eg. Wandope, Whiteless Pike) detract from the quality that is available in the Lake District - a much better use of "fell time" is to interact with the many challenging route options (scrambles; lesser frequented approaches) to the local summits. Maybe a better use of today would have been to ascend Grassmoor via Lorton Gulley; spend more time photographing the incredible scenes at the summit & descending via the route I went up by?

This is by & large the route followed but with the deviations described above in the Whiteless Edge area not attempted to be drawn.

Total distance: approx 6 miles
Ascent: 3,000'

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