A team of sturdy airmen from DSS (TMF) took part in a week long hill walking expedition during April and what follows is their version of events.

After a long drive to the lakes from a variety of locations around the country we decided that gentle leg stretch was in order which would prepare us for the rest of the week. We headed out of our base which was The Brotherswater Bunk House near Patterdale and made our way towards the old Roman road “High Street”, this is a 2,000 year-old road built by the Romans to link their forts at Brougham near Penrith and Ambleside. It’s believed to follow the line of a much older, prehistoric track. The weather was fairly poor and the only thing keeping morale high was the fact that Teddy Locke had turned up completely in his DPM gear and looked like action man. Unlike the advert he wasn’t “the greatest hero of them all”.

Day two involved a short drive across to the base of Blencathra which was the most difficult peak of the week to achieve. Due to the recent snowy weather the planned route via Sharp Edge was out of the question so we opted for the more gentle approach and guided by Polly Parrott we had fairly soon reached the summit and the view was incredible.  The route down was fairly sedate and the only exciting thing was watching a local husband and wife team training their sheepdogs. Ash Bradshaw and Gaz Hughes said that it reminded them of the ‘runners’ at TMF only with sheep rather than nuts and bolts. With them being Welsh I am sure there were other thoughts going through their heads with regards to the sheep but that’s another story.

Hellvellyn was the aim for the third day and we had been reliably informed by the tourist information people and the staff at the Brotherswater that the route up to the summit was easily passable even in the slightly snowy conditions towards the top so we quickly made our way towards Striding Edge.  The information proved to be spot on and as we passed a camera crew complete with lighting umbrellas we suddenly felt satisfied there was no danger. This was proved when some nutter in a pair of trainers and running gear jogged past with his dog!!!!  The eastern side of the fell is geographically the most dramatic. Two sharp arêtes lead off the summit, Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, either side of Red Tarn. The knife-edged Striding Edge provides one of the best-known scrambles in Lakeland, while the Swirral Edge ridge leads to the conical summit of Catstycam.

The final day was a more sedate walk due to our exertions over the previous three days although it did test the legs a little more than we anticipated. Greg Tolson had walked this route fairly recently and assured us it was a nice way to finish the walking for the week but it turned out he is a sadist.  We set off from Hesket New Market which lies in the north lakes and although it has a brewery as it’s main business we were focused on the walking. We then pushed on to Great Sca fell and further to High pike. The conditions were outstanding and from this vantage point we could see as far as Scotland, The Pennines and the sea. We finished our circular route and headed for some well earned refreshments in the already mentioned brewery!!!

In summary the expedition was a resounding success because of one main ingredient…..the people who took part. Each and every team member learned a lot from the adventure from simple map reading and navigational skills to planning contingency routes off the cuff due to the ever changing conditions. The positive approach by each team member was infectious and we look forward to pulling on our walking boots in the very near future.

Organiser: Sgt Brierley

Participants: SAC Greg Tolson, SAC Polly Parrott, SAC Ash Bradshaw SAC Gaz Hughes, SAC Teddy Locke.