Jul 04 2010

Walk 13: Cloudy Nine!

The nine standards of Nine Standards Rigg

route: nine standards rigg from nateby
Date: 4th July 2010
distance: 8.8 miles
ascent: 2,036 feet
time: 4 hrs 40 mins
walkers: carol, dave, graham, leanne, sandra & simon

I woke up with no hangover, no aches or pains and no car journey to start today’s walk. Having done about 12 miles the day before and had a few beers to celebrate last night I was please with my efforts as I headed down for breakfast. A quick bowl of cereal was followed with a full English and by the time I had eaten all that I was ready for bed again. Instead we didn’t rush to get ready, choosing to confirm the route at the breakfast table before packing up and checking out.

After checking out we picked up our packed lunches, well, all except Beaky who thought the £5 fee to be excessive, then made our way outside for the team shot.

After another ten or fifteen minutes we set off with the weather overcast but dry, and we were hopeful of another good days walking. Shortly after leaving the pub we noticed a couple of donkeys in what seemed to be someone’s back garden. We went over to take a look and found that one of the donkeys was just as interested in us as we were in it.

As we moved on we said goodbye to the little village of Nateby and moved out onto the footpath that left the road. At this time the heavens decided they would open, not just for half an hour or so, but for the next four hours. We made our way over the fields and down towards Ladthwaite where we could continue our journey up to Nine Standards.

By this point we had managed to lose the footpath although we didn’t know it. There was a clear track on the ground and we were on it so why would we. It isn’t as if I had a piece of technology around my neck that could confirm it (note to self, always keep checking for location). The weather played a part in that as it was gusting and driving the rain straight at us so I didn’t want to continuously check. We took shelter under the trees and decided to use the natural canopy for cover for a while longer, but in the process of doing so, we realised we had left the path and ended up going too far. In front of us was a small air strip cut in the grass that had wired fences either side. We didn’t fancy chancing that, or going right around it, so we decided that the best thing to do was turn back and pick up the path we were looking for. We soon found another footpath that would take us to Ladthwaite and en route we spotted the plane covered up to protect it from the elements.

The weather hadn’t threatened to cause a problem, but the slight detour had cause a little friction between some of the team (not me I hasten to add). Once we made it to Ladthwaite, the direction we needed to take became a whole lot clearer and the entire team were full of smiles again.

Not wanting to hang around too long, we set off following the signpost and choosing to follow the road rather than the footpath that took higher ground but ended up at the same spot.

After a short period of time we reached the area near Birkett Hill where we would join the coast to coast route to the summit. From here we made our way onto the more open fells, although we were still on a track of sorts so the pace was reasonably good. We passed a couple of small farm outbuildings and hid from the wind behind the walls from time to time. As we continued up we kept meeting walkers coming the other way who I presume were doing the coast to coast. Each time I would ask, how far we had to go, and we always seemed to get a different answer but none seemed to give the answer I was hoping for. We kept on plodding none the less and soon we could see the cairns after which the peak is named.

The higher we climbed the more the wind blew and by the time we neared the top I can’t recall ever being as wet. It wasn’t spoiling my day though, I don’t mind a bit of water at all.

We took shelter behind some of the big cairns and had a look at the others before we headed to the little shelter (or what is left of it) nearby.

We sat down and in typically English style had our lunch. It was like the scene from Carry On up the Khyber, but instead of bombs going off there were strong winds and driving rain, but we carried on as if it was a warm sunny day. After twenty minutes of being sat around a few people started to get cold so we packed up and went for the summit cairn. This isn’t too far away from the shelter so it didn’t take long to get there, and we didn’t spend long there!

With the weather not letting up we decided to make a hasty retreat back to Nateby. On the way up I do tend to slow on steep sections but when descending I am in my element and I began to stride on purposefully. At first I could hear numerous footsteps close behind me and the chattering of voices, but they slowly became more and more distant until I could hear nothing except my own squelching. I looked over my shoulder every twenty seconds or so to make sure I could see those behind me and I had earlier encouraged everyone to do the same. I didn’t want anyone becoming detached in these conditions. After half an hour or so I had made good progress and the path entered a tiny little valley. It wasn’t a valley as such, but with raised ground on both sides it offered some shelter so i decided this would be a good place to wait for the others. I sat on the grass, opened my bag and took out my last tuna and sweetcorn sandwich. Before I had managed to eat half of it Beaky had joined me, and soon after the rest of the troops arrived, and all were still smiling.

After leaving the hill side behind, we made our way back down to Ladthwaite where we again regrouped for the last mile or so of our journey. We noticed that Graham’s legs had started to foam in the wet conditions, which led to him being given a new name of Sherbet G-String. This coming from the belief that he must have been wearing edible underwear that was dissolving in the deluge.

We left Ladthwaite using the permissive path and climbed up towards the road. This was the path we should have used on our way up and as we reached the crest of the hill we could see where we had gone wrong earlier. That didn’t matter anymore as we were back out on to the road and we had the short journey back to the Black Bull.

As we took our final few strides, and with the Black Bull in sight, the rain stopped and the sun came out. I reached the pub with Wu Tang and we nipped inside to ask if 3pm was last orders or kicking out time. The lad behind the bar wasn’t sure but as we went round to the car the landlord came out and said he had been keeping an eye out for us. He told us that even though the rooms had been cleaned we could use one of them to dry and change and he would let us have a beer when we were ready. I told the others as they arrived and they were just as pleased as I was. I thought it was a genuinely nice gesture and one I wouldn’t have expected. We changed and went downstairs to enjoy our beers in front of a roaring log fire that helped warm us up. This had been the second day of our dual weekend and everyone had been fine. Carol had jolted her knee slightly earlier in the day, but she still managed with the minimum of fuss. The whole weekend had been a success and we were already talking about our next stop over somewhere. The weather had threatened to ruin today, but our spirit proved that the weather doesn’t matter. I am quite lucky in that I try to look on the bright side of everything, today I was glad that everyone chose to do the same. It would have been easy for anyone to moan and complain about the conditions, but nobody did and that made my day even more enjoyable. We jumped in the car and headed home vowing to return and have a good look at the nine standards, in the sunshine!

Sir Edmund


Leave a comment