> Winter Old Crown Round - Paul Hainsworth

3rd January 2009

My New Year’s resolutions were: (a) to pack in as much long winter and spring Lakeland training as work and life permit; and (b) by the same token, to shed as much recently acquired Turkey and Christmas pudding as possible.  What better way than by starting with a leisurely 19 miles and 6,600’ with Dave (legs smooth as a baby’s bottom) Atkinson and Louise (wish I was fitter) ‘Wilko’.

Rendezvousing at the head of Swineside near Mosedale, Louise had already managed to ‘bottom out’ on ice driving up the lane.  A possible dozen punters were whittled down to three hardy souls and Joe Faulkner, chief organiser for the weekend (thanks Joe) and unfortunate victim to his back, waved us off.

A beautiful frozen landscape awaited, ground hard as iron and clumps of grass rigid enough to turn an ankle.  This report is just an excuse to show you some of the pictures we took.

Bowscale Fell (tarn frozen) and Saddle Back from Carrock Fell

The Old Crown Round is a challenge walk/run originally including just four tops, Carrock Fell, Great Cockup, Skiddaw Man and Blencathra, commencing and finishing at any point.  First-up on ours was Carrock Fell with a great Cairn for a lesser summit.

Dave and Louise approaching Carrock Fell

Great cairn for a small hill

Excellent frozen grassy running off Carrock Fell

We followed the direct path over Milton and Great Lingy Hills.  Rather than stick to the Cumbrian Way, the frozen ground allowed us to make swift progress over what is normally leg-swallowing bog, taking us north of Knott.

Across Little Lingy Hill

Knott from Little Lingy Hill

A sweeping trot north of the aptly named Frozen Fell and its equally cold Gill took us below Meal Fell to the namesake of what most of us try most to avoid – Great Cockup. 

Wilko’s contempt for the diminutive cairn on Great Cockup

There are various options for dropping off Great Cockup.  Wilko showed us the ‘direct’ route through sharp steep heather following which Dave’s (smooth as a baby’s bottom) legs were less smooth and much redder.

Looking over Little Calva to Dead Crags, Bakestall, Skiddaw Man and Little Man from the east side of Great Cockup

Round the retaining wall to Whitewater Dash Waterfall and up along the fenceline to Bakestall, the main summit ridge of Skiddaw appears.

An inch of hoarfrost on the wire frames the sharp edge of Lonscale Fell

It looks cold enough to freeze your electrolyte drink – mine did

We were mightily glad to warm up running off Skiddaw along the fence to Sale How and then down to Skiddaw Forest House.

Fast running off Sale How to what’s left of Skiddaw Forest (top left)

The summit that usually only Bob Grahamers go to – Mungrisedale Common

Foul Crag from top of Mungrisedale Common

As on the Bob Graham Round, we cut across the usually very wet and now frozen common, taking a slanting ascent onto Blencathra.

Southern aspect from Hallsfell Top

Tiredness beginning to show: leaving Blencathra with Sharp edge on the skyline

A final demonstration of uphill running approaching Bowscale Fell

Exactly six hours saw us back at Swineside for a swift cup of tea.  A feat of civil engineering was needed to extract three of Louise’s four wheels from three exactly matching icy potholes in the gathering dark.  Then a cold shower at the excellent Hudscales Camping Barn saw us into our glad rags for a night in ‘The Old Crown’ at Hesket Newmarket.  The four tops of the Old Crown Round are aptly represented in liquid form.  Sampling all four is of course compulsory, despite Carrock only being found in the cellar.

My thanks to the cooperative villagers who own ‘The Old Crown’ for my first free pint of Skiddaw High Man (pointed at).

Lots more photos from Paul

Paul Hainsworth

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