WOTA Weekend 2011
2011 saw the first Wainwrights on the Air (WOTA) weekend. The idea in its simplest terms is to activate Wainwright summits over the August bank holiday weekend. The rules of engagement are similar to those used by Summits on the air (SOTA) only each of the summits is worth a single point fopr those who are looking for points.
I got involved in WOTA by accident. I live just outside the Lake District national park and fancied activating a summit or two as part of SOTA and WOTA seemed like a nice local addition where a number of the summits are quite a lot easier to get to and activate.
Getting out onto the fells with a young family at home is going to be a selfish hobby and so I limit my activations to no more than 1 a month. So as it was my monthly activationI planned on doing a big one. Some if not all of the Ennerdale horseshoe. This is the group of summits that provide the peaks for the Ennerdale valley and lake and for me start a Great Borne and finish the other side, some 20 miles later at Caw fell, taking in some of the better known summits of Great gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar.
The week before the activation I started developing a bit of the ‘lergy’. I’d been out on the mountain bike the previous weekend and for a short 6 mile run to Fleswick bay and back only to find that I was very short on energy. The run up St Bees head from my house is not exactly difficult but floored me and Dent on the bike was more of a push. I had a sneaky suspicion that this was going to be a good ‘lergy’. Having training very hard for the physical aspect of this activation for several months beforehand I was a little annoyed to say the least.
The morning of the activation came complete with low cloud and the threat of rain. Sure enough on the route up Great Borne I did question what I was doing as the mist started quite low and got even lower as I had to change the route from the direct one to the easier one half way up. Having started later than planned by about 2 hours I was definately not going to make it all the way round but still determined to make the most of the day out.
As I activated Great Borne the cloud suddenly lifted and Starling Dodd started to come into view which was excellent news and behind the low cloud to the West, and the coast, was what look suspciously like sunshine. Red Pike shoved its peak through the cloud only to be met with a short rain shower before the low cloud returned only to be blown away as I approached High Stile and by High Crag the day was turning out to be a rarity in as much as it was sunny. Having been as good as on my own for most of the morning the walkers who’d come up from Buttermere started to show themselves on the summits. It was hard to find somewhere quiet to activate Haystacks as I sat down for lunch and the activation.
At Haystacks I decided that I wasn’t going to make it round Pillar and a warning from MM1MPB that he had just been rained on in Annan confirmed to me that at best Great Gable would be the last summit on todays list although I had hoped to get onto Kirk fell before the rain came. I really wanted to get onto Great Gable so decided to ignore the easier summits of Grey Knotts and Base Brown that can be accessed from Brandreth in favour of the bigger one. This still meant dropping down into the valley and facing a good 6 mile hike along the valley bottom but the grey clouds on the horizon made the shelter of the valley a sensible move.
Activating Great Gable was achieved even though I was feeling a bit tired, the lergy had started to catch up with me and I hadn’t banked on the scree slope on the Wasdale side of windy gap being quite as loose. Neither had the family below me and their slow progress meant that I stayed way back as the loose rocks were in danger of planting themselves on top of them as they slid under my feet and rolled down the slope. By the time I caught up with them I offered my help as the daughter looked petrified, the dad spent most of his time on his back side, the mum was off on a completely different slope heading back to Windy Gap. Only the dog seemed to be alright on account of his 4 paw drive. It took best part of 45 minutes to get down. My day on the summits was definately over.
Heading down the tongue I met the valley floor feeling a little more tired and finished off the day with the trudge along the fire road. All in all a good day out that didn’t make it to great on account of the lergy and late start.
The route – I didn’t save the route this time as a gpx or kml as I went along so here is the route as a retrofitted version that ignores the change of heart at the very start and the profile.