April 2012  Extract from my journal.

Hay Stacks (Cumbria, Lake District). 4.5 miles. Height to summit, 1,900ft.
Time – all day as I’m a bit slow!! (3-4 hours normally)

From the car park at Gatesgarth Farm, under grey cloud cover, a winding path
stretches into a meandering valley, on out left, Fleetwith Pike, on the ground
– wild dog violets and the sound of a splashing river. We cross a bridge to the
right side for Hay Stacks mountain and take step after boulder step up past
waterfalls and old quarries, scrambling up a grassy verge as the wind begins
to gather strength and whip across rattling shingle mounds. Craggy outcrops
hide the route and we take lots of photo stops looking back over the valley.
Somewhere we take a u-turn, we check the map, there’s a track rather than a path.
It’s a scramble at times rather than a walk. The wind begins to wail on the hummocky
plateau. We come across Blackback Tarn, two mallards beg for food (the places they
find!). We are blown to Innominate Tarn, Wainwright’s resting place. By shelter
of green and mossy mounds we share pies and sausage rolls (the dog drinks from cupped
hands). I’m on auto-pilot now, cannot show fear or tiredness in this location, I say,
‘I think I’ve got the drugs out of my system by now,’ as way of a joke, was it only
three days ago I was wheeled into the hospital ‘oscopy’ room …

Ascending Hay Stacks

We reach the summit. It’s freezing cold. We can see snow. We can’t find the path down.
We follow knolls each with a cairn but seem to go around in circles. After what seems
like too long searching some walkers appear and tell us we have to climb down what
looks like a sheer drop! No one can recall this from our last visit, though I
recall a little scramble … There are foot holds of toe width which can take all the
body weight, and my bottom is safer to slide on. There’s no looking down, no looking
back, only ooze reassuring words to my grandson that everything is okay. The sense
of relief when the rocky slope is done is overwhelming. Though it’s not really over,
there’s down, down, with slithering and manoeuvrings, to a pass at Scarth gap. The
descent eventually becomes straightforward down to Buttermere Lake. Peace envelops us.
This England is all about routes and paths for me lately. A spring lamb bounces through
a locked gate, we climb over a style, a shepherdess with a crock waves to us.
It’s an ice-cream back at the car park, saying how we all enjoyed the walk so much,
weren’t we glad we did it?

Some scrambling

Carpe diem (seize the day). On my return home, a friend has died from cancer, one of my brothers
found he was sitting next to his daughter while they both having chemo after radical surgery.
 God Bless All xxx