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Heaven and Hell on the Hill


Firstly an apology for a very late show from Dale Head, LD-020, on Saturday 12th September, the reasons will emerge shortly but firstly a word about the circumstances surrounding the activation.

As a member of the Mercian Mountaineering Club I try and get out on at least one Meet per month. This time we had booked the Carlyle CC Hut in the Newlands Valley. This delightfully isolated hut is reached by a drive of over 1.5 km along an unsurfaced track, a relic of the one time thriving mining industry in the valley. The hut has alpine accommodation, gas cooking and lighting, and a coke-fired pot belly stove which we got glowing a nice dull red in the evenings! A little primitive, perhaps, but a bargain at £6.50 pnpp, and you look out over the flank of the Hindscarfe ridge with High Spy behind you, Dale head shutting off the end of the valley and a glimpse of Skiddaw the other way. In a word, heaven!

Saturday morning was glorious, deep blue sky, no wind, nothing stirring except for sheep and about a hundred rooks! So, an English breakfast, butties and thermos’s of tea made and packed, and Pauline and I left the hut at 09.30 ready for a stroll up the valley and an ascent of Dale Head…only to find the world had stood on its head! There were crowds of people, cars, even a large campervan, dogs running everywhere, and a mournful horn blowing! The Blencathra hunt was working over the Newlands Valley! The spectacle of fifty two hounds running up, down and along the hillsides, scrambling up gullies and burrowing through bracken flushing out surprising numbers of sheep was quite fascinating…and not a horse or red jacket in sight, it was all done on foot by people who made us mountaineers look terminally unfit! Well, I’ve spent more days on the hill than I care to admit, but I had never been in the middle of a hunt before, and we stood and watched for a long time as they contoured around the valley and finally vanished behind the spoil heaps of the Pan Holes lead mine. Then we set off up the valley, realising that whilst we stood and stared the midges had been feasting on us and I now sported a collection of white itchy lumps…Hell!

The day was windless and the sun very hot, our progress up the valley got slower and slower until finally Pauline decided that this was a day for sunbathing by the stream and I could do the hill alone, so I headed off up the path that traverses below Eel Crags: my friends were thinking of climbing there on Sunday and wanted to know what they were like. They were awful! Loaded with vegetation and weeping water everywhere, fit only to be climbed in a drought! Eventually I passed above the waterfall and reached the col, which was like Brighton beach on a Bank Holiday…so much for solitude! At this point I made a poor decision: last time I was up here I continued past the tarn to climb from the Honister side, which wasn’t too bad. This time I joined the crocodile of people going up directly from the tarn on an inexpertly laid stone path: unrelentingly steep, often insecure and where the slabs were covered in scree, a little dangerous. And of course, you top out on the ridge only to find you still have a long way to go to the summit…but the views are to die for!

Eventually I reached the summit, and found a neat little steel fence post surrounded by a cairn. I appropriated this and enjoyed a late butty and tea whilst unpacking my gear, ignoring a sotto voce “breaker break” from a passer-by! I fixed the pole to the post with a couple of strips of duct tape and prepared to open the batting, noticing with amazement that it was already 1530 UTC! Well, one activation is much like another, I got a good pile-up, worked 27 contacts, all on FM, had seven summit to summit contacts, and still had callers when the battery died - I had inadvertantly left the power at 50 watts. My apologies to those who had not secured their six points when I had to close down at 1620.

As I stretched the kinks out of my muscles and looked around, I suddenly realised that I was alone on the summit! Brighton beach hell had morphed into heaven again, there is something totally exhilarating about mountain solitude. I packed, finished off my tea, and considered what to do next. Robinson was out of the question, although its green dome beckoned to me over the crags of Hindscarfe Edge the sun was getting low and there was no power for another activation. I couldn’t face returning the way I came, so I headed off the other way, over Hindscarfe Edge, and dropped down at the col - there was no path so this way gave a nice pioneering flavour to the descent! The route was no harder than I expected and I made good time as the shadows climbed up the flank of High Spy in front of me. Then things changed once again…

Suddenly I felt sick and was devoid of strength. I had to sit down and rest for half an hour as the light faded. Eventually I forced myself into motion but was now moving pitifully slowly. Pausing only for an attack of dry heaves, I crept down to the valley and slowly plodded along the track as night fell. Eventually I reached the hut, surprising my friends who were discussing whether to inform the Mountain Rescue and how to organise the search!

The guess is that I got a little too much sun on my head, I have been lucky enough to keep most of my hair but the carpet is getting a little theadbare in the middle now, and old Sol had been beating down on my exposed dome all day! By the end of the communal meal (a huge vat of chilli con carne!) I was back to normal, but a little thoughtful. After long experience I am reasonably competant and confident in the hills, well able to look after myself in a solo venture, but we are always at the mercy of accident and illness and that is definately no time to be alone in the hills. But what do you do, abandon your enjoyment of mountain solitude for the safety of mountain company, or do you accept the risks with your eyes open? I would still accept the risks, but am perhaps now more aware that the risks exist and are real.

So there you are, more an account of a day in the hills than an activation report, and I won’t even bother to describe the Sunday activation of Gummers How LD-050, reached eventually through hords of people milling about the “Great North Swim” event!


Brian G8ADD


In reply to G8ADD:

and I won’t even bother to describe the Sunday
activation of Gummers How LD-050, reached eventually through hords of
people milling about the “Great North Swim” event!


Brian G8ADD

It’s a matter of timing Brian - did Gummers Sunday am.
Left home at 06:45z A65 very quiet.
Arrived at car park 08:45z only car there.
Strolled to top arrived about 09:08z- summit to myself, xyl and dog.
Stayed an hour but it was getting busy (8 people).
Must have passed about 30 ascending on way down.
Car park full!!

Roger G4OWG


From your thread title, I thought you were going on to report that all the commotion was due to Brummie band Black Sabbath playing an open-air concert!

You don’t do things the easy way do you Brian? It looks a fabulous route though. This perspective perhaps shows, better then a map, what it really entails:


LD-020 and LD-021 are a strange pair. I once did Honister - Dale Head - Robinson - Buttermere (linear walk), but found the final descent tough going - especially in the dark of 5pm in late November! The easiest route has to be Honister - Dale Head - Robinson - Dale Head - Honister, which doesn’t have the satisfaction of a circular route, but can be done in half a day, even with Dale Head needing to be summited twice.

Robinson will be still there for another day Brian, but it is still probably best approached after summiting Dale Head en route! Thanks for the report though. We did note how late your were on summit, and thought you couldn’t possibly be doing Robinson after it.

Don’t forget to add a sunhat to your kit!

73, Tom M1EYP


In reply to M1EYP:

Talking of not doing things the easy way, I spoke to a couple of guys who had done Robinson up the ridge from Little Town, diverted to pick up Hindscarfe, traversed to Dale Head (where I met them) and were going on to do High Spy, Maiden Moor and Cat Bells before returning to Little Town. A super day out but needing a high level of fitness.

With my allergy to midges and mozzies, I would need to hang corks (or crown caps) around the sunhat brim!




In reply to G8ADD:

Thomas and I did Robinson and Dale head earlier this year from Little Town via Scope Beck and then back via Dale Head tarn and along the valley - a fine walk. Sadly we didn’t have the light to attempt the the continuation over High Spy and in any case Thomas vetoed it on the grounds that it was not a SOTA summit.

We wondered about who owned the hut as we passed it and now we know.



Not doing stuff the easy way is great fun. My best one in LD was Haweswater - High Street LD-011 - Thornthwaite Beacon - Stony Cove Pike LD-018 - Kirkstone Pass Inn - Red Screes LD-017 - Dove Crag - Hart Crag - Fairfield LD-007 - St Sunday Crag LD-013 - Patterdale - Place Fell LD-027 - Angletarn Pikes - The Knott - Kidsty Pike - Haweswater. It did take three days, but was wonderful walking.

260 miles of walking up the Pennine Way to do The Cheviot SB-001 is probably the upper limit, but the hardest was walking from home and back to do The Cloud SP-015 - very enjoyable though!



In reply to G8ADD:

Thanks for the report and reminding us that we need to be as prepared as we possibly can for any eventuality when in the hills. Even when there are more people around than we would like you can bet that when you need someone’s help no one will be about.

Thanks also for reminding me why I bought my very silly hat (see my Nine Standards Photos). Not only does it keep the sun off my head but it is impregnated with insect repellent. The kids can laugh all they like!

Steve GW7AAV


In reply to G8ADD:

It was fortunate that it wasn’t Rombold’s Moor. Such an omission there would be unforgivable.




In reply to G3CWI:

Bar t’at possibly?

Richard (soft southerner)


In reply to G8ADD:

I won’t even bother to describe the Sunday activation of Gummers How LD-050

FWIW, you were a good signal onto Corserine, but you didn’t appear to hear Caroline calling you for a S2S.


In reply to G4ERP:

In reply to G3CWI:

Bar t’at possibly?

Should be Baht (Yorkshire for without) Richard.

Roger G4OWG


In reply to M1MAJ:
I’m sorry to hear that, Martin, after about ten minutes a distant station started using the frequency which made it difficult to hear some of the callers, and there was also one of those carrier pests indulging his pathetic idea of fun - I propose a cull! :wink:


Brian G8ADD