Hats & Cairns

August 1, 2012

Climbing a mountain is a challenge and we all have our own little idiosyncracies to alleviate the almost inevitable pain involved.  For myself I mutter the lines of that old Jam classic, ‘Going through my own Private Hell’ but other walkers I have spoken to have more original thoughts and incentives to drag them up the final few metres; some work out all the hills they have previously climbed, others ex girl/boy friends/cars/places they have lived/countries visited/football matches, some dream of what they are going to eat or more likely drink but the saddest I have heard was a chap who confessed that he tried to remember the names of a many motorway stations as time allowed along our lovely road network!

Over the past few weeks I have seen many others struggling on a walk but happily all managed to complete. The other day I took the family up Scafell Pike via the Corridor Route and each managed the climb with little fuss which I actually put down to 2 or maybe 3 facts. My eldest daughter tends to suffer with the heat and the sun which puts her off – simple solution was to pop my cap on her head and feed her plenty of water whilst the youngest needs mental stimulation on a long walk and counted 101 cairns (apparently) between the flat bit before Styhead Tarn and the summit of the Pike itself. Throw in a packet of foxes glacier fruits and they could both have probably made the crossing to Scafell as well.

The previous Saturday I had been guiding a party of 14 over the 3 Peaks of Yorkshire and as we peaked on Pen y Ghent myself and fellow guide Rob thought it prudent to split the group in to the A and B teams! At that early stage I would not have put a bean on all my B team finishing but on they plodded, showing a mental determination well beyond their walking experience (which was nowt in 2 cases) and physical ability. There was a massive determination not to let the group down by the slower member’s of the party, typified by Charlotte on the steep pull below the summit of the 3rd peak, Ingleborough. I took her pack but she crawled up (literally), clearly in so much pain and exhaustion but she did it through simple determination and a positive attitude.

Without doubt it is the satisfaction of completing such a difficult challenge which makes it all worth while. Charlotte will not remember the beautiful Dales countryside that she walked through and Lucy will not be impressed with the views across the high fells of Lakeland but they have pushed themselves to their limit and come through. It brings to mind the famous quote of Lance Armstrong ‘Pain is temporary, quitting is forever’  Unless of course you wear a hat, count 101 cairns or snack on a packet load of sweets in which case there is no pain at all!

If you are interested in hiring a guide for the 3 Peaks or any other fell walk just click here where there are many more details.


We have added a quick, easy and cheap map and walking book buying service to the website on all the individual walks and walking challenges.  Just click here to see an example

Previous Posts:

10 Dales Favourites. Some of the most popular walks in the Yorkshire Dales

10 Lakeland Classics. A list of my favourite 10 full day walks in the Lake District

Walking Holidays. Choose a walking holiday in the Lakes or the Dales, many choices.

Buses & Trains . Save on cost and hassle by looking at the Buses and Train options

Why go walking? Many good reasons to get off your backside and get out and about

Fell Top Assessors. What do they do and how are they funded

Windfarms – simply no need. As wind farms continue to be built why are we doing it?

Inspired by Autumn Watch? Some photography of animals in the countryside and the pleasures of limestone walking

Extending the National Parks. Views and news on the decision to extend the national parks of the Lakes & Dales

Using a map to navigate. Why using a map and compass adds so much to a good walk.

Walks for the family. How to educate your children to enjoy the great outdoors.

Away from the Crowds. Some tips and suggestions on where to still find peace and solitude when many walks are crowded out.

My favourite villages in the Dales. The villages in the Yorkshire Dales which are extra special.

Delighting in photos. Why it is so easy to enjoy photography these days.

More than just a walking heaven. Different reasons why people take to the fells and dales.

Watch out for the little blighters. Sheep ticks continue to be a growing menace.

Map Reading Skills on the decline. Impact of new technology on traditional navigation.

Hidden Yorkshire Dales. The joys of walking in my favourite lesser known dales.

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