Barrow in a Blizzard (and Outerside)

Barrow and it’s parent fell, Outerside, are situated in the Newlands Valley which is about two-and-a-half miles south-west of Keswick. Two innocuous easy-to-climb fells… until the weather turns around and bites you on the bottom.

The forecast was for rain and it was certainly precipitating with enthusiasm as we parked the car in a large layby parallel to the start of the walk. However, the forecast wasn’t too bad and as seasoned walkers, we were wearing suitable clothing.

Conditions rapidly deteriorated with a strong wind blowing towards us as we battled against the torrent. Certainly this wasn’t a day for sitting and admiring the view. At this point the rain had turned to snow so our vista was fast becoming a whiteout. Thankfully the path was very clear.

We left the main path and turned right to start our ascent to the summit. The wind was howling as the snow settling on us and we seriously considered turning back at this point. The climb ahead looked safe so we decided to plod on for a few minutes. Just as we were contemplating a strategic retreat, the summit appeared ahead of us. We decided it was therefore quicker to go up and over rather than retrace our steps.

With a hat-full of wind, I battled to stand upright – one of those days when I really wished I could see without the aid of specs!

Once we started our descent, conditions improved dramatically as we were able to take advantage of the protection of the lea side of the fell. In fact, we managed to find a sheltered spot for a quick slurp of coffee.

When we reached the path to take us back to the car we had a choice to make – pop up to the top of Barrow or leave it for another day? The snow had turned to a steady rain at this point with a significant drop in the wind, so we opted to tackle the second climb.

May in the Lake District!

This was the kindest weather we had during the whole walk. There was almost nothing falling from the sky and it was possible to clearly see the route down. We took few photos because we couldn’t easily get our phones out of our sodden wet weather gear!

We met another couple starting the walk just as we were on the final stretch. The female look very determined; the male less so. In fact, he looked thoroughly miserable as we all exchanged a soggy greeting. Once we arrived back at the car, we stripped off our outer layers and steamed gently as we ate our picnic. Within about ten minutes, the positive lady and petulant man reappeared on the path, clearly making the eminently sensible decision to leave both Outerside and Barrow for another day.

So by hook or by crook, that’s two more ticked off my list of Wainwright fells!

A word of caution – if you follow my blogs regularly, you’ll know we’ve tramped the fells for many years but the conditions we experienced on this day were the most challenging we’ve ever encountered. We were well-prepared with the correct equipment and had listened to the weather forecast but conditions can deteriorate in an instant.

These were two very small fells but in poor conditions they posed significant problems. If you are uncertain about continuing, then turn back. So much better to stay safe than to have to call on the emergency services who respond in all weathers to rescue walkers whose ambition has outweighed their ability.

About Julie Haiselden

Between 1999-2019, I worked in the NHS and am now a Church of England verger and National Trust room guide. I've written three published novels and am an amateur blogger. As well as being a school alumna, I occasionally tread the boards. I enjoy rambling and taking photos. Since 2016, I've been part of the reviewing team at Whispering Stories.
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