The day and date Friday 19th January 2018.
Destination Greg's Hut on the side of Cross Fell.
The team Mark Davies, Ian Brewster, Mike Slater, Jon Waring, John (Johan) Brandon and Dave Owen.
Myself, Ian and Dave boarded the Black Stallion and headed North. Jon, Johan ( Only called this because Jon thought it would reduce any confusion in general conversation) and Mike headed for the nearest Mini-market to buy whatever they bought and then headed North.
Snow fell as we cruised up the M6 towards Penrith, Mike told us when he and the other 2 arrived in Penrith and we were all munching on our chippy supper that they had passed a car facing them in the outside lane of the motorway facing directly toward them. It was only afterwards when I gave their experience some thought and had seen how all 3 of them performed over the next few hours that I thought perhaps the offending car, was facing the right way and that it was Mike and the boys who were going in the wrong direction.
Lets move on and put the whole incident behind us, just like Mike and the boys did and move on, after all we are a Mountaineering Club not a road traffic reporting service. From Penrith we all headed toward the bottom of Cross Fell on the East side and parked at Kirkland which has a small car park near the start of the track which passes by the North side of Cross Fell and onto Greg's Hut.
It was 8.40 PM when we all headed out of the car park toward our over night accommodation. We were in high spirits, after all it was only 3 miles and 1500ft of climbing, shouldn't take that long. Some of the boys had coal onboard, I was told that I would not to be allowed near the fire as I carried no combustable material except for my stove. Which I said we could have all gathered around.
The weather was coldish but not that bad, the sky was clear and star studded a great start to the adventure. We started the steady climb on a good track, we soon reached the snow-line but no big deal as it was only 3 miles to the hut. The higher we got the deeper the snow became. Ian, Dave and I took turns to break the trail. I felt in great form and was really enjoying being out on the hill. Just to clarify the last sentence when I say "being out" I am still heterosexual and used the term in an attempt to be as inclusive as possible.
Higher, colder, deeper the snow, stronger the wind, poorer the visibility, but all considered things were going well, and moral was still highish. As I have mentioned before we were not unduly bothered as the hut was only 3 miles away and we had covered half the distance. We were all keeping a close eye on the direction of travel as mistakes would have had serious repercussions on such a wild night, but we were closing in on the hut.
To cut along story short we got to the hut after a few minor navigational re-adjustments. The statistics speak for themselves. 3 miles covered in 3 hours, simple maths 1mile per hour I was amazed at our pace. It just goes to show how the weather, conditions under foot and the need for careful and accurate navigation can drastically change best laid plans. 11.40PM saw Dave Owen rapidly lighting the the stove and generating some very warm heat. "And rest" as Derek K would say.
We made ourselves at home in the weather proof and well maintained hut which is named after a man called Greg who fell to his death in the Alps, there is a webpage about the hut if you go on the worldwide internet web. Ian and I head back out into the wild weather to find some water. We discovered a buried stream further up the path. I cannot recommend enough staggering about in a blizzard at midnight trying to locate a water source buried under 2 foot of snow, and then freezing your hands buy filling a large plastic bucket. The last thing I want to do is bang on about it so I will not. Ian and I got back to the hut to find the remainder of our very close and well organised team gathered around a furnace like fire drinking whiskey slightly diluted with hot chocolate and coffee. Ian and I were so glad to see they were all ok.
We sat around for an hour or so putting the world to right and discussing Brexit and all the huge complex issues it has created for us all, I did not understand as I am a Weetabix man myself, and so to bed.
A lazy start to the Saturday morning, porridge and coffee with some more coffee and off into the whiteness. The plan was simple back up towards Cross Fell and then over the top and toward the col to the south, turn west and back to the cars. We had a sit down on the summit of Cross Fell in stunning clear weather. It was great and always is to have time to catch up with everybody and find out what is happening in their lives. Dave is heading North, Cumbria is calling, Ian has now started a big new adventure, good luck with that, Johan was able to make a brew on top of a mountain using all his skills to produce a luke warm chocolate type drink, and Jon and Mike both found a phone signal.
Back to the cars for 3.30PM less than 24 hours after leaving, 17 hours in fact. What a great mini adventure, remember boys and girls it is not always about the walk, weather or mountain it is nearly always about who you are with.
Thanks boys for a great 17 hours,
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