Following coffee and stickies we're off up a lane towards Orrest Head...
...where we fight through the throngs of snap happy tourist types (we're adventurers, not tourists in case you didn't realise). Leaving said tourists behind we plough on through the fields to ascend via Dubbs Road but not before making fine adjustments to our technical clothing systems.
There will be many stops like this, cos we have VERY technical clothing systems, which require constant attention, (either that or we're both lazy, tired or indeed, a combination of the two).
David has decreed (it being his trip really; I'm just tagging along, making encouraging grunts and sighs) that we shall be mostly collecting Wainwrights along the way. Quite why escapes me but who am I to complain? Wainwright has a lot to answer for, in my very humble opinion.
And so it is that, after dining by the side of the track, espying a stile over a wall, David makes onward-and-upward noises and gestures and we begin an ascent of the silliest of gradients to reach the top of Sour Howes; which is named quite appropriately I think. David poses...
David excels at posing. He is a veritable master of the art. Hence the jaunty angle of his trekking poles.
Turning our back on our first Wainwright of the trip we dash (I jest) off to our second, Sallows. This being more easily gained by a much less silly slope. I attempt to pose as well as David, but fail, miserably. Maybe I have the wrong poles.
Plodding down to Garburn Nook we climb the northerly path and luckily, before too long, find a place to spend the night. We pitch our highly technical shelters (everything we're carrying is "highly technical"); our new Terra Nova Southern Cross 1 and David's new Hilleberg Soulo. I win the whose-tent-is-up-first? competition and have water filtered and boiling as David finalises adjustments to his beautiful tent. Did I mention, David has a new Hilleberg Soulo?
Rain comes overnight. I wipe down the flysheet before packing, the better to minimise wetting of the inner tent.
Soon we're tackling the slope up to Yoke, Wainwright number 3. I try again with the pose but, once more, David wins the prize. The man has such style.
And we're away again, climbing to Ill Bell, Wainwright number 4.
I give up...and leave the posing to someone who knows wot he's doing.
On the way to Froswick, Wainwright number 5, I spot an Ordnance Survey benchmark, set into the ground. I'd no idea wot it was. David knew though. He's very clever.
Then it's up to the fine Beacon up at Thornthwaite Crag, Wainwright number 6. We stop for lunch and David succeeds in taking a photo of me, looking my most ridiculous, which he then proceeds to share with the whole of Twitter. Grrrr! It's not this one...in which I almost get the pose right (I was practising, while David wasn't looking).
From Thornthwaite, we wander cheerfully along High Street, Wainwright number 7.
A chap walking towards us tells of a large herd of red deer visible in the valley below Kidsty Pike. He's right. We can see 'em. But they're not really visible in the photo, unless you use a magnifying glass.
After a short break, while we wait for the weather to worsen, we head off for Kidsty Pike, Wainwright number 8. It's wet and windy. David struggles with the pose...only just managing to carry it off in the face of adversity.
With a hop and a skip (humour me...) we're off over Rampsgill Head, Wainwright number 9. It's not really the most impressive of places, but it's another tick on David's list and the pose is a four star!
Down now, over gentle slopes before a pull up onto The Knott, Wainwright number 10 and the last of a long day. I'm tired! I think David may be too...but he doesn't show it...cos he's 'ard. Hence the nonchalant, I'm-not-really-bothered pose
And then we meander down and over the undulating path towards Angle Tarn. Our final climb to get away from the popular spots by the water leaves me gasping. We finally settle on a place for the night, tucked away...out of sight. Water is filtered from an almost-hidden stream. And, once again, I win the tent-up-first prize. Well, we're all good at something. And I'll never look as good as David on a summit.
I try to make David jealous by sitting on my Thermarest chair kit, outside, in the sun. But he's unruffled...as usual.
Again we have rain overnight, but the morning dawns fine, if cool. We're soon up and off. First agenda of the day is gaining the summit of Angle Tarn Pikes, Wainwright 11, but a short bounce over the tussocks. My pose improves a little...
...and in an effort to keep David in his place I take this shot of him falling over.
We're pootling down now, towards the fleshpots of Glenridding...
...where we're soon ensconced in the comfortable surroundings of the Glenridding Hotel's fine cafe, guzzling cake and coffee (tea for David, who's less sophisticated than wot I am). We steal electrickery for our phones and borrow their Wifi.
The shop across the road supplies provisions for the next couple of days and the staff in the Catstycam outdoor shop puts up with my hilarious attempts at humour while David spends a fortune on the smallest gas canister he can find.
With heavier sacs, we return to the Glenridding Hotel for a delicious lunch, more electrickery and even more Wifi before we feel we can put it off no longer. Shouldering rucsacs we head off in the approximate direction of Grisedale Tarn. It rains.
By the time we're approaching the tarn the rain has stopped. We find a place away from the water to have another tent race. David's getting better now though. I still win...but only just. And, a bonus, I catch a photo of David not-posing.
Afternoon tea and Swiss roll lifts flagging spirits...well, mine anyway.
It's a cool night and we wake to find we're surrounded by damp clag. It lifts quickly though and improves significantly as we approach Grisedale Hause.
Now, we're wandering happily down towards Easedale, warmed by the sunshine, chattering joyfully.
As we stop to readjust our highly technical clothing systems we're watched by a couple of lizards, who clearly wonder what we're at.
From Easedale, we mount an alpine assault on the arduous Helm Crag, Wainwright number 12, I think...I struggle with two digit numbers.
It's a tough climb. But we man-up...probably.
We watch as a couple tackle the Howitzer, but decide it's beneath us...metaphorically.
David contemplates our route along the ridge to Greenup Edge, whilst posing.
The ridge falls and rises to Gibson Knott, Wainwright 13...and a five star pose, if ever there was one.
We climb to Greenup Edge then begin the long descent past Lining Crag to Stonethwaite.
It's a long, rocky, stumbling route down. My feet are sore by the time we reach the campsite in the valley. I barely scrape the tent-up-first thingy. I fear my heart's not in it anymore...
But David has a plan to revive my weariness. Thus, after a thorough clean of my bits'n'pieces and a change into the cleanest of my dirty shirts, I find myself sat in front of this...the most succulent of rump steaks ever, in the ever-so-comfy, ever-so-welcoming Langstrath Country Inn. The beer was luvverly! As was the cheese board...
On our final morning, we ambled along the Cumbria Way to Grange where, fortuitously, we found a cafe, open. A delicious second breakfast was devoured with delight. Then, along the shores of Derwent Water to Keswick, where David's staff awaited our arrival with a highly polished horseless carriage to transport us back to the warmth and comfort of Fellbound Towers a short canter away (I may have deviated into a minor flight of fancy there).
What a wonderful few days!
Thank you David. I didn't mean it, whatever it was.
Oh...and while I was away SOMEONE appears to have entered me for that there bloomin' TGO Challenge thingummy! I need better staff...like David's.
PS There'll be a separate review of the Southern Cross 1 to follow.