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Snowdonia Peaks

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A Snowy Walk In The Lake District 26-11-2016

What a fantastic but tough day this was. I'd wanted to do this ridge walk after my one and only visit to FAIRFIELD about five years ago and looking down on Cofa Pike & St SUNDAY CRAG, thinking that looks a good ridge walk! Fast forward to this week and I knew I was going out over the weekend but where and what day wasn't decided until Thursday, last minute as usual. As I'd not been to the Lakes for a bit and with the fells looking like they had a bit of snow and very settled conditions, I decided that this may just be the day for a look at St Sunday & Cofa Pike and it didn't disappoint :-) As there's only about 10 hours daylight at this time of year, it was an early start and I was booted up and set off from PATTERDALE at just gone 8am with the car temperature showing a cool -5.5 and everywhere covered in a hard frost.
So out of Patterdale following the marked footpath that took me up and along a good well trodden path along the boundary wall of Glenamara Park, that offered some good views back down to a partly frozen ULLSWATER, and up on to ARNISON CRAG
My route for the day
A bit chilly to start with
View back down on a partly frozen Ullswater
Up up and away next to the boundary wall
I soon gained a bit of height and got to the rocky outcrop of Arnison Crag, which offered a great view back down to Ullswater and also of the way I was heading.
View back down on Ullswater from Arnison Crag
Looking good ahead
Following the path and then all other footprints in the snow I followed the line next to a wall going straight up the bank to get onto BIRKS and then followed the curved ridge of St Sunday. Hard going in the snow but well worth it for the views and the solitude as apart from one fell runner coming down, I was the only person going this way. I did see two others near to Cofa Pike who told me it was too difficult to go up so they turned round.
Footsteps in the snow
My way forward on to Birks and the curved ridge of St Sunday
View back down to Arnison Crag
Summit of Birks
Blue sky & white snow
Looking back down to Birks
His only way is down!
My only way is up to St Sunday summit
There was some great views over to the HELVELLYN range and it seemed that there was very little snow over there, especially on the summit plateau. Quite different to where I was with some big drifts towards the crags and indeed, I quite often found myself up to my knees aswell as on more solid compact snow. It had quite an alpine feel to the day and despite the hard going in places, I was loving it :-)
View over to the Helvellyn Range from St Sunday summit
Striding Edge
Deep snowdrift forming
The way forward to Cofa Pike
It was as I neared the start of the ascent up Cofa Pike that I came across the two other people I'd seen up to now. They told me that they didn't fancy the climb up as they couldn't see a distinct path, just as I pointed out there was two others and a dog making there way up. I said I'd take a look and make my mind up when I get there. As it was, there was a path of footsteps that zig zagged upwards that proved no trouble to me and found it hard to think that they had missed out. Caution, yes, but they seemed to have the right gear, crampons, map and of course exceptional weather conditions. Still, the mountain isn't going anywhere.
I made my way up following in the footsteps and topped out to a virtually snow free summit plateau which was quite a surprise and as I made my way across to find a place to rest, I couldn't help sensing the people looking at me wondering why I had crampons on struggling across all the rocks and boulders! No help up here but certainly helped lower down.
On the way to Cofa Pike
Cofa Pike
Looking back up St Sunday
Fairfield looms large from Cofa Pike
A big build up of snow with the Helvellyn Range as the backdrop
Looking back down on my route so far
Zoomed in on a virtually snow free Helvellyn
Summit view of Windermere & the Western Fells
snow free Fairfield summit
Summit view of St Sunday

After resting for about forty minutes I made my way down and up on to HART CRAG. Bit of a hard pull up here as there was quite a bit of hard snow and ice so the spikes went back on again and they certainly helped me stay upright, that's for sure. From there it was straight down HARTSTOP ABOVE HOW, which was quite straight forward but did have a sting in the tail just as my legs were feeling it!!
View down Rydal Head towards Windermere
Looking down onto Hartstop above How, my descent route
The way to Hart Crag
Hart Crag summit
Straight down Hartstop above How
The way down from here took a little longer than I expected as there are one or two ups and down as you make your way over rocky outcrops following a wall back down to the woods. I did stop a few times to admire the views of the sun setting that seemed to light up the sky like a fire. I also got chatting to a group who had a drone and was  making their way back down to Hartstop. In fact, they were the only other people I saw going down this way making it a very quiet day in the fells.
Looking back up to Hart Crag just as the sun goes down
Last of the sun on Hartstop Dood
Follow that wall
looking back as the sky catches fire
Looking back as the sky catches fire
 I got back to the car in darkness after a twenty minute road walk back into Patterdale about 5pm so a fantastic but hard nine hours in the most perfect weather conditions. Although the clouds rolled in mid afternoon it was sun, blue skies, warm with next to no wind for the most part. This is one walk that I'll definitely do again in the longer daylight hours of summer with a bit more thrown in for good measure. Great day :-)

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