With the past six months having flown by, and our climb up Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro now just six weeks away, Andy and I took on the final ‘Mountain a Month’ challenge of 2016.
For December’s challenge we decided on The Fairfield Horseshoe in the Lake District, with a summit of 873m; a long walk with some challenging ascents and descents. The drive to Ambleside, where our walk would begin, takes two and half hours and we would then be walking for 7 hours. Even though we left at 6.30am, we would be tight for time and so for the first time, we packed head torches.
Our route from Ambleside to Fairfield summit and back
The head torches were not the only new toys on this trip; I brought my satellite messenger which will allow me to send messages via SMS or e-mail and let others track my progress via a dedicated website while on Kilimanjaro. It will also allow me to send an SOS from anywhere in the world and request full GEOS SAR (Search and Rescue). I wanted to test it out on this trip and so I uploaded our coordinates to the ‘Mapshare’ application and we began our walk.
We followed the path to Rydal Hall, onto the Fell and upwards to Nab Scar, which is the first crest, at 450m above sea level. The weather was a fairly warm 8⁰c, cloudy and unfortunately misty. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but with the spectacular views of the major peaks on offer, this is a walk best done in clear conditions. We were cheered up, however, by the discovery of mince pies, left at a farm gate with an honesty box. We left a contribution and took some for our coffee break on the way back down... we’re all too aware that these luxuries will not follow us to Kilimanjaro!
The climb to Nab Scar was fairly steep to start with and then a steady uphill trek for the following three and a half miles. As we passed Heron Puke and Great Rigg, the temperature dropped and visibility worsened; it became difficult see the Fairfield summit (at 873m). Unable to see more than 20 yards in front of us, we stopped for coffee and sandwiches. We took out the map, compass and my satellite messenger and confirmed our location by taking coordinates. Battling with the fog, Andy took a bearing for the way back and we were about to leave when the wind whipped up and blew the mist and fog away to reveal some stunning views from the summit (pictured below).
It was a fairly steady descent, although some of the crags were very slippery- the damp conditions and lichen on the rocks made us concentrate hard on foot holds. As we descended further the conditions under foot became rather wet and boggy. After one particularly Bambi-like moment, when I slid through a rather fresh and slippery Highland cattle deposit, we stopped for our long anticipated mince pies and afternoon coffee.
In the end, our timing was spot on and we arrived back at Ambleside just after 4pm. Using my satellite messenger, we let those at home known our whereabouts and headed home for some well-earned supper. The trip was another success and I am delighted that my satellite messenger works and I will be able to communicate from Kilimanjaro!
We now have one final climb in January before Kilimanjaro, so we aim to make that an overnight camp... stay tuned for updates and, if you haven't already, please follow the link to donate. I’m delighted to say that my fundraising target has nearly been reached. Many thanks to all those who have donated so far, your support for the Hendrie family is greatly appreciated.