I would have bet money on my last visit to the Lake District being last weekend during the Adventure Racing Ball, but when another chance came up, I took it! My friend Andy wanted to do a recce of Legs 1 & 2 of the Bob Graham Round, as his attempt at the route will take place in May this year. I hadn't been doing a lot of long stuff lately so both legs sounded a little too far for me. So I dropped Andy off at the start of Leg 1, and then drove to the end of Leg 2 at Dunmail Raise and started back the opposite way.
Honestly, though, I wasn't terribly motivated to do a big hike, so I figured I would just go up to Helvylln and back, maybe across Striding Edge which I had never gotten to do. I went quite slowly and just enjoyed the sun peeking out of the clouds and the nice weather. The waterfalls were flowing strongly down Raise Beck, and a little ice and snow stuck to the trails even down low. As I climbed higher, the snow and ice accumulated and often covered the trails, although I never needed cramptons to safely stick to the trail.
That is, until I got to the top of Helvylln and looked over the Swirral Edge trail down to Red Tarn. At least, I tried to look over the steep trail, and couldn't find it over the cornice of snow at first. I took a few tottering steps on the sloping snow, and realized that I would have to be mad to attempt going down the slope without crampons and an ice ax. Sure, it was only 50 feet down to the clear rocks, but it would only take one step to slip down far enough to donate some bright red blood to the white snow. Striding Edge was the same, quite steep and slick, so I gave up any attempt to make an extra circle and started heading back again.
Although it had been windy on the summit, a short descent got me in sunny shelter, and I must confess....I took a nap. Hard to believe I could be (just) warm enough in wintry conditions on March 1, but it was beautiful and I just enjoyed sitting still...I really don't do that very often. I had my GoPro camera with me, so I could use the stopped time to take a few time lapse sets.
So a few more naps on a casual afternoon while I was waiting for Andy to catch me up so we could finish the route. I gradually kept wandering back to the car, and never saw Andy. The sun started going down and finally I could see the small figure heading down to the car, yay! Needless to say, he hadn't had the time to take any naps, while fording rivers and clamboring over a lot of icy trails. Luckily, there should be snow during his attempt at the Round in May. Good luck, Andy!