It was the Thursday night before Easter, around my kitchen floor was various piles of items to be packed ready for the long weekend away in North Yorkshire.
In one pile was a bag ready packed with all the usual clothes etc and in another pile was my camera equipment and in another the contents of my rucksack that I needed to check over before I repacked it.
I arrived at Ribblehead around 8 am after a couple of hours driving from Cheshire, sat in the car and had my breakfast with a good hot drink. It was then on with the boots, my various layers of clothing (4 that day) and double checked I had everything in my rucksack I might need.
I then set off on the circular walk around Whernside which would take me up to (736m) with a distance of 8 miles but I Intended to take lots of photographs so speed was not one of my priorities or completing it in a set time. But I knew my limitations, what I was comfortable walking distance wise and had plenty of spare time if required.
When I set off the weather was lovely, I could see the summit of Whernside to my right and across the valley I could see glorious views across to Ingleborough.
I was only when i saw other walkers – some in just a tee-shirt and shorts and very little else, did the thought cross my mind how well had they planned for the day? what equipment did they carry? If they had an emergency how would they cope?
So what is in your Rucksack ?
So what do I have? I always have spare warm clothing, warm hat, gloves, spare socks, waterproofs, map with waterproof cover, compass, survival orange bag, first aid kit, whistle and walking poles. Lots of high energy bars, hot drink and water bottles, wind up torch (great if your batteries zap) and plenty to eat. I also carry sun lotion and hand cream – winds can be very chilling and we all know what the sun does but even more on the hills. I would rather bring back uneaten food than to run out and that applies to drinks as well. Mobile Phone but remember you cannot always get a signal!
Lots of these items stay in the rucksack permanently but are always checked before getting repacked for the next trip and renewed if necessary. My life is important to me so I am also first aid trained so I can help others as well.
Preparation and Planning
I had spent the week before keeping a very close eye on the weather as snow had fallen in the area I was to visit. Using various sites like www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/ which has some useful links to some webcams as well but more importantly visiting the www.swaledalemrt.org.uk/ one of the local mountain rescue teams that work in the area and whose site is full of information.
Have a good guide-book with you and OS Maps with a waterproof map case.
Let someone know where you are walking and your expected time back and once you get back tell them you are back safely especially if walking alone.
Know what to do in emergencies
Always keep a supply of emergency food in your rucksack – I have various sealed items for such.
Keep yourself safe and warm to save energy and remember emergency signals
Never underestimate the weather it may be nice when you start but not stay that way on the hills.
The weather changes quickly as I found out on my walk
Greensett Tarn loved lovely but it was not to last
Within an hour this descended in the valley below
I could see the summit at last !
To say I was disappointed would be to say the least, on my approach all the way the views had been delightful but when near to the summit the mist came down, you could see about 30 foot ahead but no more. The view of the summit was no more today for me !
At this point I decided to pack my camera away to protect it from the damp mist but I did get a photo of the trig point and me at the summit cairn.
Had a break at the cairn and drank the rest of my coffee, had a sandwich, took a few photos for other walkers and then got them to take the only one of me all day! The cairn was great but the wind and cold whistled through and chatting to two fellow walkers we agreed all that was missing was a good log stove….. I started to feel the cold now I had stopped and decided to move on quickly and start the descent with the mist coming down further
The way down was an even bigger challenge due to the hanging mist, at one point on the descent the limestone sets were so icy it was a case of how to keep your feet intact and not slip …. over head ! Even with walking poles it was challenging and lots of other walkers were having a good laugh at we all negotiated it.
Whilst I enjoyed the day,I was so looking forward to the views from the summit towards Ingleborough but it was not to be today.
But I did meet some great fellow walkers especially the two guys who stopped for a chat and we exchanged lots of walking banter as to where we had walked, My thoughts did go to the guy who was doing all three peaks did make it as he said “he felt half dead whilst on the ascent of Whernside and still had to make it back to his start point “, I felt tired just watching him, never mind the 28 miles he had done. But he still had time to stop for a brief chat. Also to the guy and two girls who turned back half way up as it was too much for him.
But most of all I had achieved the challenge of my first peak at fifty three and had enjoyed every minute of it.
I hope this blog makes people think a little more about what they should be carrying next time they head for the hills.
So next time you go walking what will YOU pack?