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Rydal Weekend - May 2019

The club’s AGM break was held at Rydal Hall, north of Ambleside. The house was a new venue for us, though we have walked through the grounds and visited the tea shop many times over the years. There were 24 members staying in the house plus two in B&B.

On Thursday afternoon Chris led a 3½ mile walk for the early arrivers; along the path from the back of Rydal Hall, south-eastwards past Rydal Park to join the A591, followed as far as the north side of Ambleside then past the former Countrywide guest house at Loughrigg Brow (closed in the 1990s, now private apartments), before returning to Rydal.

On Friday, four 'A' walkers set off to climb Sergeant Man from Grasmere. The forecast was for rain in the later part of the afternoon, so it was disappointing to feel drizzle beginning to fall as we were booting-up in the car park. The rain was continuous by the time we reached Easedale Tarn, then gradually turned first to sleet and then snow as we climbed higher. Fortunately the snow stopped just as we reached Sergeant Man, and with zero wind we had a clear if rather cold lunch stop. The afternoon’s (dry) walk took us along the Helm Crag ridge and back into Grasmere just in time for tea and scones.

Peter led what started off as one ‘B’ party of about 7 miles – from Rydal a clockwise triangular circuit of Loughrigg Fell via the café at Skelwith Bridge, and reaching Loughrigg Terrace for good views of Grasmere lake and village and Rydal Water just as what had been a drizzly day brightened up for a fine afternoon. As the party reached a crossroads of paths, some walkers raced on up the higher path to the quarry (a spectacular cave), whilst the others stayed with the leader along the lower path close to Rydal Water.

The same four 'A' party walkers climbed Coniston Old Man on Saturday. The walk-in via the Walna Scar Road and Goats Water was peaceful, with views of the Isle of Man and (it was claimed) Blackpool Tower. However the Old Man summit and the return via the Tourist Track were exceedingly busy. Again we found time for tea and cake before returning to the House for the AGM.

Meanwhile Elaine led the ‘B+’ party on a walk of about 11 miles from Rydal up to the summit of Loughrigg Fell then north-westwards to Easedale Tarn and back through Grasmere village onto the “Coffin route” bridleway to Rydal Hall.

Chris led the ‘B-‘ party on a walk of about 8 miles from Rydal along the southern shore of Rydal Water onto Loughrigg Terrace and the south-western shore of Grasmere, then round into Grasmere village. In the church Peter uncovered a Steinway grand piano and played hymn tunes requested by Chris and a couple of the church regulars. From the village a path was followed northwards to the former Countrywide guest house at Forest Side (now a hotel and restaurant). Due to a rebellion against the leader’s plan to climb up to Alcock Tarn, the party instead took the path behind Forest Side leading onto the “Coffin route” bridleway to Rydal Hall.

There were six 'A' walkers on Sunday, and with a favourable weather forecast waterproofs and extra layers were jettisoned in order to make room for sun cream and more water. Our target was the Fairfield Horshoe from the house, but returning via Scandale using a permissive shortcut which doesn’t appear on OS maps – thanks to Dave S for pointing it out. Tea and cake at the Rydal Hall café finished off the walk.

Colin led the ‘B’ party on a walk of about 10 miles along the path from the back of Rydal Hall, south-eastwards past Rydal Park to Scandale Bridge then along the A591 into Ambleside and ascending past Stockghyll Force to Wansfell Pike, then descending to the café (former Post Office) in Troutbeck, and completing the clockwise circuit via Robin Lane and Jenkin Crag back to Ambleside and Rydal Hall – the vanguard of the group raced the ‘A’ party back to the tea shop.

Monday's ‘A’ walk drove to Patterdale then walked up Grisedale Valley to the 'hole in the wall' and on to Striding Edge. The weather conditions could not have been much better, lovely views over Red Tarn. The edge itself was narrow but not difficult with just one or two big steps down towards the end. We had lunch in the shelter on Helvellyn with great views all around. Then down Swirral Edge, again one or two difficult steps. We did a detour to bag Catstye Cam and then came down the Glenridding Valley. The YHA had no cakes left, so we had a tea stop in Glenridding before returning to Patterdale and driving home.

The highlight of the evening entertainment was a Caption Competition featuring photos taken at recent club events. Many witty (and a few slanderous) explanations of the images resulted. Thanks to Chris for coming up with the idea and for managing the judging process! “Playdough Pictionary” was another winner.

Many thanks to Chris for organising the break and to Chris, Colin, Elaine, Julian and Peter for leading the walks.

Dave P


Maps of the walks

Sergeant Man Circular from Grasmere

Coniston Old Man

Loughrigg and Easedale Tarn

Fairfield Horseshoe