Up To One's Arse on Ullscarf

by Mike Wilmshurst, Cheshire

The weather man said it would probably snow.

It had been raining all night and it was raining now as we were doing up our laces in Dob Gill Car Park on the East shore of Thirlmere in the Lake District.

Still, we had come all the way up here from Manchester and paid for Bed & Breakfast lodgings in Glenridding - so we were hardly going to just pack up and go home without doing at least some walking were we?

Not because some weather man sat in a warm studio said it might snow anyhow!

The path was easy to follow up past Harrop Tarn and through the trees before reaching a rather large turnstile gate that led out onto open fell.

It had started to snow.

"We'll give it ten minutes" I said to my companion "If it gets any worse we'll head back"

We carried on - Bed and Breakfast is getting expensive these days.

Eventually we clambered up on to the top of Ullscarf amidst thick mist and worsening conditions. No problem route finding though, just following the line of old fence posts that were poking up out of the snow.

Then it started to snow a bit harder - covering up the fence posts.

We took a bearing and continued towards the col between Ullscarf and Raise. Close to the col the mist was pretty thick and the the snow was showing no sign of letting up. The summit of Raise was up there somewhere - but we couldn't see it.

We decided to cut our losses, skip the summit of Raise and head back down.

At the bottom of the col we turned NE and made our way across the open fellside through the snow to reach the N bank of Flour Gill - a raging torrent even at this height. Further down the stream widened as it joined its neighbours to form Wythburn Gill. Crossing it was not going to be an option.

No problem though - if anything the conditions were improving (no doubt due in part to our lower altitude) even if it was still snowing. The walking was a little rough underfoot but not too bad - until we started across the area marked on the map as "The Bog".

Hmm . . Interesting name. Wonder how it got it?

Half-way along the going was getting very difficult through tall reed grass so we decided to head N to try and reach firmer ground. Unfortunately, much unfirm ground lay between us and it and I suddenly found myself waist deep in a very cold and clammy bog.

Sweet joy.

I surveyed my situation.

Satisfied that I wasn't still sinking, I gently eased off my rucksack and threw it onto firmer ground. Then very deliberately, I grasped at clumps of grass and slowly eased myself out of the bog whilst trying to present as big a surface area as I could to prevent further sinkages. Eventually, I managed to roll across the top of the bog to reach my rucksack and firmer ground.

"I think its time we went home" I said trying to brush wet lumps of Cumbria off my tracksters.

Gingerly stepping from grass clump to grass clump, we left the bog behind and walked down the valley in the rain and back to the car. After changing into dry clothes we sped back down the M6 to Manchester - confident in the knowledge that the mountains will always be there on another day.

We went back 6 months later and did the walk again, in much better weather, and completely without incident. It really is a lovely walk.


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