Note: This completes the twenty Quality Mountain Days (QMDs) required to book myself on a a Mountain Leader course!


This weekend, I’ve once again been over to the Lake District to get in a couple of walks. There were two differences this time around, other than walking up mountains I haven’t attempted before:

  1. My ribs still weren’t right from the previous weekend at Scout camp and I’m still on a cocktail of painkillers.
  2. I was accompanied by Tom Broughton, who I picked up at Penrith train station.

QMD 19: Sharp Edge, Blencathra, and Bowscale Fell

Tom was kind enough to send through some suggested routes from a book he had. I adapted one of these to create this route for our walk on Saturday (QMD 19):

QMD 19 (planned)
QMD 19 (planned)

We left the car near Mungrisdale, and walked clockwise up Souther Fell, and then up to Scales Tarn. Tom fancied a dip, so he stripped down to his underwear and dived in!

Tom swimming in Scales Tarn
Tom swimming in Scales Tarn

After lunch, we walked up the path you can see behind the tarn, up Sharp Edge. Tom enjoys scrambling, and I appreciated the challenge! We made it up though, and in a slight deviation from the original plan, then headed over to Blencathra.

Scrambling up Sharp Edge
Scrambling up Sharp Edge

It was a pretty straightforward walk from Blencathra over to Bowscale Fell, and then down back to the pub and then to the car.

Foxglove near the end of our steep descent down from Bowscale Fell

The main challenges on this walk were our health. I was struggling a little with my ribs, and Tom hadn’t done much since injuring his knee last year. Although it turned out to be a walk of about six hours, but one which we were just pleased to complete!

QMD 20: Hayeswater Gill, The Knott, and High Street

At YHA Patterdale on Saturday night, Tom and I planned out our route for the next day. He was keen to do some scrambling, and we identified a particular one up a waterfall just up from Hartsop that looked interesting.

QMD 20 (planned)

From there, we planned to go up The Knott, and then down High Street and around to Stony Cove Pike.

Given Tom had a booked train to catch, we gave ourselves the option of going down Pasture Bottom instead. In the end, because we spent a good deal of time going up Hayeswater Gill, that’s exactly what we did.

Relaxing in a waterfall pool after scrambling up Hayeswater Gill

The scramble up Hayeswater Gill was challenging in places, and I slipped over once onto my knees, and saw my sunglasses float away down a narrow channel. Thankfully, Tom managed to retrieve them, and it was mainly my pride that was hurt.

Tom convinced me to have a dip in a pool created by a waterfall near the top of Hayeswater Gill. The water was freezing, but the experience nevertheless glorious.

Hayeswater
Hayeswater

The ascent up from Hayeswater up The Knott was pretty steep, but worth it when we got to the top. We then walked across to Thornthwaite Crag where there is a beacon.

Tom at the top of Thornthwaite Crag
Tom at the top of Thornthwaite Crag

We stopped for something to eat, but there were lots of midges about, so we ate quickly and started the steep descent towards Pasture Bottom.

The walk along the river and back to the car was a little bit boggy, but relatively unproblematic. Tom and I talked about life, the world, and… co-ops, actually.

When we got back to the car, I stripped off and had a quick rinse in the river before getting changed. We found a pub, sunk a pint, and headed to Penrith to drop Tom in time for his train. I’d definitely go for a walk with him again, as he was good company, and challenged me to do stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise done!

Next steps

The Mountain Training website lists a number of organisations that run Mountain Leader courses. It’s a six-day course, and it looks like I’ve got a couple of options:

  • All in one go: take a week off work and do six days in one go in a single location
  • Split weekends: do three weekends spread over a few months, in three different locations

The second option is most appealing to me, but can’t make any of the options this year. So it looks like potentially May 2020.

In the meantime, I’ll probably get in some bonus QMDs just in case, and sign up for the Mountain Training Candidate Management System so I can officially log all of the walks I’ve recorded on my blog!