> Winter Old Crown Round - Will Horsley

descending from Carrock with Knott in the distance - photo Will

Another conundrum presented to me recently when Joe Faulkner invited members on his winter Old Crown Round scheduled for 8th January. North East cross country championships vs. 20 mile slog on winterised fells. The former would be over in a flash, it was local and I would have the rest of the day spare but I was not exactly going to set the course ablaze and would just be making up the numbers. The OCR would involve a long drive, early start, late finish, pain, hunger, thirst, cold and tiredness. No contest. Grovelling apologies to my XC captain and I was away. Decided against taking Casper when I looked up the camping barn on the internet and pets absolutely not allowed. Reckon I could have sneaked him in though. Start, 9am, came and went. After some faffing, much to Chris Little's relief as he arrived 15 mins after the start time, we got going about 9:30. A direct but perhaps not the quickest route got us to top of Carrock Fell in under an hour. First pint earnt. Clear skies, sunny, beautiful (see pic descending Carrock towards Knott in far distance). Jog along the ridge towards Great Cockup but differences in pace and preparedness showing (some had come prepared for a faster round than was on the cards and by necessity needed to keep moving to stay warm). I took over navigation with the aid of my all-singing all-dancing map-on-screen GPS device. But, I look back as I contour around a deep gulley and group has headed off the other way into the gulley. They know a short cut to Great Cockup but loose time in the mist (stick with the guy with the GPS!). Head straight over top of Knott, well, it would be rude not to seeing as so close. No view anymore, thick cloud overhead and wind picking up. Wonderful descent and get crampons out for first time (Kahtoola Micro-Spikes - worth every penny). Break in cloud but can't see group at path junction. Maybe on top of Great Cockup? Get there quick (1150) but no Joe. Oh well, second pint earnt. Utterly uninspiring summit with a cairn to match (more disappointment later when this is the only pint absent from the Old Crown). Leave message in snow "Will is OK. C U in pub". They get it. Off to Skiddaw now. Perils of designing a route on computer without knowledge of ground become clear so must contour around crags. Take direct line to Cockup and then begin the long slog to summit. Hard work and strong wind mean that there is no hanging around. A lot of work for a pint. Etch 'Will' down side of trig point in case they follow (1320). Descend quicker than planned to get out of the wind. Energy running low now so in desperation break out the Jelly Beans. Have gone a little too low so skirt below Jenkin Hill and head for summit of Lonscale Fell. Again, route choice by PC sends me straight through crags but too knackered to adjust so its on with the crampons and clatter through the rocks and heather. Get to valley bottom quick where it is warm and wet. Rehydrate from streams and now only one big climb left. Energy hit rock bottom and too exhausted to stop and put crampons on. Wind strong. Hit summit ridge just as there is a break in the cloud and have lovely late afternoon sunshine and views down to Keswick. Meet some climbers who seem surprised to see me. Can't run across ridge as snow too deep. Can only manage a 'W' in the hard snowy ice on summit (1520) but figure rest of group probably headed back via Cumbrian Way after Great Cockup anyway (they had). Final pint in the bag. Energy levels rise on knowing it's five miles to car with one small climb over Bowscale fell. Get to Foule Crag and realise it would be foolish to attempt it without crampons. Making swift progress, less than 20 mins to summit of Bowscale. Getting dark and no head torch but GPS still going. Snow begins to fall. Can see my car now and Dave Atkinson arrives back in his camper. Has he come to check I'm OK? Are they worried about Will? No, he couldn't get to the pub in Mungrisdale (ice + camper = disaster) so is heading to the Old Crown instead. He doesn't hear my shouts. Get to road and have to slow down as too much ice. 6h40m, about 2 hours longer than I had rather optimistically thought. Shame I was by myself for so long, but will see the rest in the pub. Complete my second Old Crown Round in five hours but have to substitute Great Cockup for a pint of Doris. Wonder how the XC went?

Present: Will, Dexter, Paul Hainsworth, Joe Faulkner, Chris Little, Chris Rowe, Pete, Kay, Jill, Sarah, Pluto (dog). Dave, Val and Nel (dog) went for a walk up Carrock to High Pike and back. I managed a few photos and will put these on my Flickr page later.

Will Horsley

> top