This was a perfect winter day. The valley temperature was around zero degrees. Arctic weather was forecast for the summits with winds of forty, fifty, or sixty miles an hour. I planned on a wander of perhaps two hours. Not for walking as such, but an opportunity for photographs and video. There was a mild breeze only. It was however icy cold. The still air temperature was around minus two or three. In sunshine, when you’re walking, that’s very pleasant. If I stopped walking I had to get moving again quickly.

Many years ago that was a borderline predicament. I was climbing Glaramara which is not too far from here, the other side of the Borrowdale valley. Conditions were worse with little sunshine and greater cold. If I rested more than five minutes I was very chilled, and had to restore warmth with walking. That’s not ideal. You should be safely warm at rest for some reasonable time, perhaps twenty or thirty minutes. It was however a memorably enjoyable day. Like this one.

I was here a few years ago in wind of about thirty miles an hour and couldn’t stay too long. The strongest wind I’ve experienced was around fifty miles an hour at Ben Lawers in Scotland. You had to be careful where you walked, measuring the weight of your body against it. I shouted at the wind, testing myself. In Irish folklore the wind has different colours. In Chinese medicine wind is both external and literal, internal and symbolic. I lost my silk balaclava, whipped away without me noticing. Two years ago a man died at Helvellyn, blown off Striding Edge. The coldest I’ve experienced is minus fifteen. It varies according to dampness. In the Arctic, I understand the cold is not too bad because it’s very dry.


Maiden Moor Newlands Valley 3

Saturday April 4, 2015