Bakestall for Dessert
Bakestall for Dessert – 214 summits in 214 days
Time is something I’m going to be short of in the next couple of weeks, with our mammoth Ultimate Trails event coming up in just over a week, then a week long business trip to the Pyrenees soon after. With school summer holidays looming, I need to make the most of every opportunity if I’m going to finish off running all 214 Wainwrights within 214 days.
Today I’d started work very early, before 5am, so I could watch our six year old son, Ash take part in the school sports day, on a beautiful warm, sunny afternoon. After tea, I was off, driving up to Keswick, getting stuck in traffic in Ambleside, grabbing a couple of bottles of my favourite Hawkshead beer from Booths for the end of my run.
It was after 7pm when I padded along the quiet tarmac lane east of Bassenthwaite, hedgerows blazing with pinks and purples of red campion and foxgloves. Up the ridge edged with young yellow green bracken, my right achilles tight and sore from yesterday’s long run.
I love the name of the first Wainwright, Great Cockup, running off the summit with a smile. Another short, steep climb to Meal Fell, with views out towards a silver sea.
These small rounded hills were strangely quiet, no birdsong, skylarks already roosting amongst heather and tussock. A fresh south westerly breeze my only company, the running a joy, fast along well used grassy trods. First contouring below Little Sca Fell, then a roller coaster ridge to Longlands Fell, ignoring the contouring path which avoids the extra climb. I love ridge running, wide open views, always worth the extra effort.
A steep plunge down to Charleton Gill, jumping the stream, low sunlight bringing out the contrast of the eroded contours. Hands on knees to Brae Fell, cold wind freshening. I stop and pull on a long sleeved top. Now into wind on the gradual climb to Great Sca Fell, my legs now loose and running strong. Hurdling deep bogs amongst dark peat, reaching Knott, evening skies darkening.
Reeling in distant Great Calva, rounding the valley of Wiley Gill, suddenly climbing the final slope to the windswept summit, marked with a sculpture of stone and twisted iron fence posts. It’s late, nearly 9pm, and the low setting sun lies hidden by dark grey cloud.
Fast down the wide boggy path through heather, reaching the main Cumbria Way bridleway and Dead Beck, a sleepy carrion crow taking flight from a small hawthorn tree at the junction. I could hear the frightened call of young chicks, the crow has a bulky nest in the hawthorn. This robber of other birds’ eggs and young was a coward and had left them behind. I would never have known there was a nest if it had been braver and hadn’t flown off.
Along the rocky track, skittering down an eroded bank to cross Dash Beck, then a steep drag up Birkett Edge, rounded pebbles of white quartz amongst the stones in the path guiding me to my final summit of Bakestall.
From here, a more or less vertical descent down through tussock and bilberry bushes, cutting the corner and joining up with the single track tarmac lane of the Cumbria Way. Another short cut, taking the west side of the drystone wall, through lush bogland, preferring this to the well grazed grass on the other side. It was hard work needing a high knee lift, lovely starlets of pink ragged robin my reward.
My van was parked amongst the trees, with hidden Halls Beck just a few metes away. I gathered a towel and change of clothes, stripped off, and lay on my back in the gentle current of the stream, watching a bat twisting and turning in the light night sky, draining a bottle of Windermere Pale Ale in almost one blissful gulp.
I dried off, pulling on warm, clean gear, the air now feeling cold. I lay on my makeshift bed in the back of my van and opened another bottle of beer, reflecting on the evening’s run, and thought my final summit Bakestall was a great name for dessert.
8 Wainwright summits today, that’s 192 down, 22 to go.
© Graham Patten
Tuesday 21st June 2016