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Coniston (New Year), 6—10 January 2017

Author: Erin Barnard

This was my first New Year’s trip and having been warned that past trips at this time had been mostly mild and damp, I wasn’t hopeful of fine conditions!

In fact, on arrival it wasn’t looking particularly promising that we would be able to appreciate the bunkhouse’s location. Dense fog was obscuring all the nearby peaks. Having never been to this part of the Lake District before, I was baffled. In which direction is Lake Coniston? Am I really in the Lake District at all? The air of mystery to the trip was intensified due to late arrival of two extra trip attendees not on the list…

On Saturday, in spite of the lingering fog, the conditions were very calm and a large group of us decided to explore the supposedly nearby peaks of Brown Pike and Old Man of Coniston. The contact lens wearers were smug as the glasses wearers struggling with perpetual condensation. I realised, on removing my glasses, that it wasn’t as foggy as I thought and we began to notice patches of blue sky and some cloud inversion. Note at this point that some glasses wearers (cough Ben) hooked their glasses onto their backpack.

However, unfortunately but inevitably, this was not going to continue as we climbed back into the fog. Grateful for the cairns along the ridge we passed Buck Pike and Dow Crag virtually unnoticed and reached the summit of The Old Man of Coniston for a compulsory summit photo. As we descended to Levers Water, Ben noticed his glasses were no longer there. We considered a search but concluded that the Old Man of Coniston could keep the glasses.

On returning to the bunkhouse we appreciated the excellent showers, fine food from Shirley and Paul F and the joys of Sushi Go, a theme that was to continue.

On Sunday, the mist was still there. Ben, Sarah, Paul F and I went for a long but touristy low-level walk while Ranulph, Alex and Paul C went on a Langdale Pikes epic capturing the best of some impressive cloud inversion. The evening saw a comprehensive run-through of the club songbook, with Paul F on guitar and myself on blow-piano, the tubing of which was used continuously in our struggles to light either of the two stoves.

Pretty tired from two relatively long days and unmotivated by the high wind and heavy rain that greeted us, Monday saw a very slow start. After a lethargic breakfast we noticed that we could actually see the mountains outside the bunkhouse! As the rain passed, we all quickly left, the majority of us heading for Wetherlam. Finally we could appreciate the surrounding landscape!

In characteristically high spirits we attempted unsuccessfully to set a cheesecake in a few hours that evening. A Sushi Go tournament was won by Paul F drawing the trip to an end. Much fun was had by all!