Sharp Edge with Sir Chris Bonington

As chancellor to Lancaster University, and honorary president to our hiking club, we like to invite Sir Chris Bonington along on one of our walks during the summer term. He’s always very happy to oblige, and this year chose Mungrisdale as the destination. It goes without saying that this trip is more popular than usual, and twenty-six of us set off en mass from the Mill Inn. Chris had suggested the route, which was up the relatively unfrequented eastern ridge onto the summit of Bannerdale Crags, and then across and up the much more frequented Sharp Edge onto Blencathra, before returning via the grassy ridge-line of Souther Fell.

Starting off on Sharp Edge

Starting off on Sharp Edge

The ridge up Bannerdale Crags made for a refreshing change from the usual route via Bowscale Tarn, and offered great views back down Bannerdale itself. The group split at the col before Blencathra, with some heading straight up the broad north-eastern ridge and the rest of us opting for Sharp Edge. A cliché it may be, but it felt a bit of an honour to be scrambling alongside such a legendary mountaineer with such impressive routes to his name. The grade I ridge was, as always, great fun.

Compulsory photo! On Sharp Edge.

Compulsory photo! On Sharp Edge.

Chris had his fair share of “are you who I think you are?” en route to the summit, and the day was in danger of turning into more of a photo shoot  than a walk when we actually reached the summit. Our route back over Souther Fell was much more quiet, and a perfect end to a brilliant day out which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Chris was ever-grateful and made the point of making sure we knew so, adding that he was looking forward to next year’s outing – so am I!

Walking back over Souther Fell

Walking back over Souther Fell

Howgills with Sir Chris Bonington

Bivvy spot

Bivvy spot first thing in the morning, with Andy Goldsworthy’s work of art behind us.

Report of a trip with LUHC to the Howgill Fells that took place on 27 May 2012.

As chancellor to Lancaster University, legendary mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington occasionally joins us for a walk. We got in touch with him last term and he suggested a trip to the Howgills, as the only other time he’d been up there (apart from a winter ascent of Cautley Spout) was two years ago with the Hiking Club again, and the weather was awful!

It couldn’t have been more different this time around, and the forecast was so good that Lorna, Imogen, Darren and myself decided to bivvy at the top of Cautley Spout the night before. We picked a spot alongside Force Gill Beck, in a sheepfold that it turned out included a work of art by acclaimed artist Andy Gouldworthy, who from 1996-2003 took about in restoring 46 sheepfolds around Cumbria and further afield. It was a bit windy, but once wrapped up warm in my bivvy bag I had a fantastic night looking out at the stars overhead. It stayed surprisingly light all night long.

The morning after, we walked back down to The Cross Keys to meet the minibus and Chris. By then it was already shorts and t-shirts weather. We headed up the side of Cautley Spout and along Force Gill Beck to The Calf. From there, we took the large footpath down to Bowderdale and then back down to the minibus by the Cross Keys. The Cross Keys is one of the only temperance inns left in the UK, and the building dates back over 400 years. It has only been a temperance inn since 1902 however, after the then-landlord drowned trying to rescue a drunken customer who held fallen by the river banking. I was quite surprised to find the Ginger Beer had an alcoholic content of 0.5%!

Cautley Spout

Walking down beside Cautley Spout in the morning.

It was great chatting to Chris about all of his adventures and expeditions and I think he really enjoyed chatting to us about everything from politics to climbing. He has written about the day on his own blog, as well as a bit about how day with the Mountaineering Club the day before.

The Calf

Everyone on the summit of The Calf.