It’s always a good indicator you’re doing something fun on a mountain bike when every hiker you meet tells you you’re crazy. I get particularly confused when I get wished “good luck” by hikers when I am pushing my bike uphill, why am I going to struggle any more walking up this hill than you? In fact my bike is like a zimmer frame and helps me stop falling over!
Anyhow it was to be a fun day out in the Lake District after I deliberately set off late and with lots of warm clothing so I could catch the brewing sunset from the top of Skiddaw which was going to be amazing.
The track up from Bassenthwaite towards Dash Falls was surprisingly snowy, the only clear bit was the last steep section which meant I could still try and ride up it all! This climb is a challenge in dry conditions but ice made it fairly impossible.
At the top of the climb I could see the track over to Skiddaw house was covered in deep drifted snow, in fact more than I expected based on my weekday rides in the Scottish Borders this week. I guess this was the crazy decision, I decided to take the direct route and shoulder my bike to the summit up the path. This can’t be ridden at all but it would be less time and effort walking than riding deep snow around Skiddaw then pushing up the High Rigg path. I know the area well and the snow was soft and not too deep where it was wind affected on the ridge.
Along the way I met a few friendly hikers who I discussed my route with and told me the top was worth the effort. I then passed many others who passed comment on my sanity, a few in crampons in the soft drifted snow and most well prepared with ice axes. The dirt was frozen underneath the soft snow making it hard going, but safe in the right footwear so I carried on to the top.
A wind blown ice fence had formed as usual on the left side of the path here. It is a common feature of winter as the wind whips across but always stunning to look at.
The summit was warm and calm and the cloud inversion still hovered in places but otherwise it was one of the most stunning days I have set foot on top of Skiddaw. Marion had already beat me to it be fell running up earlier and she had a totally different view with a cloud inversion sitting high over all the valleys. That constant change is why the fells here are so addictive!
The views were simply stunning at the top:
It did look quite unlike the Lake District and more like the Arctic:
I stayed up on the top where the wind was light and the sun surprisingly warm, I spent a while taking photographs before descending down a snow covered track! It wasn’t too bad on the hard pack snow, which requires a certain finesse and sharp handling but I find snow can be as grippy as wet mud when you’re tuned into how it rides.
The sunset over Bassenthwaite lake and Derwent water from Keswick was just as I had hoped for, although the winter colours exceeded anything I had seen in a long time.
I almost had to tone the colour down in the photographs so they looked more believable!!
It was then a dash home before the air got too cold with the sky above an unbelievable tint of pink from horizon to horizon, it was just an amazing day to be out!