Friday, 16 September 2011

The Grisedale Horseshoe - a story of underestimation

Thursday 15th Sept.
Why I thought this would be a steady walk I do not know.
The start: Patterdale Hotel (parking £4.50) -  I spent my honeymoon there in 1970, and  last year’s Lowestoft, to supposedly, St Bee's Head walk ended there when I hobbled from Nan Bield Pass after cutting a vein in my leg. Today, therefore, the scene was set with mixed emotions. 
The Wainwrights of Arnison Crag, Birk, and St Sunday Crag, were followed by descent to Grisedale Tarn from which rises alone the delightfully situated Seat Sandal. Descending from Seat Sandal I was tired, and both knees were moderately painful. The constructed stone stairway up Dollywagon Pike was sapping in warm sunshine. I abandoned the visit to Nethermost Pike and retraced steps, literally, down Dollywagon.
Nearing the tarn I suddenly experienced excruciating cramp up the inside of my left thigh.  I stopped in agony much to the concern of some passers-by, who I reckon were terrified at the prospect of rendering assistance, without, I suspect having requisite knowledge. One of them helpfully suggested  I was lacking salt, but was unhelpfully unable to provide that commodity, so I bravely assured them I would be alright, although I was not convinced of this in my own mind, and they hurriedly continued on their way, I guess with much relief.
I managed to restart, but cramp recurred several times, and now in both legs. I found that continuing to walk suppressed the pain, but it was like curing a wart with a blow lamp. It seemed a long long way down the rocky Grisedale path, but I arrived, for the second time in recent history at Patterdale Hotel as the wounded hero.
I Googled “cramp” to find it is  a mystery to the medical profession, as are most things I seem to consult them about, but it may be due to “over exercise of muscles”, “dehydration” (I rarely drink much on the hills), and then a list of more disquieting causes including “pregnancy” and “cirrhosis of the liver”, the former I was able to rule out, but the latter was more worrying.
A route plot on Memory Map revealed a distance of 11 miles, and 4156ft of ascent - that would put many Munro days to shame!
Ullswater from Arnison Crag

















Grisedale Tarn from St Sunday Crag with Seat Sandal above the tarn. The flanks of Dollywagon can be seen on the right


On Dollywagon - Striding Edge runs behind my back. Twenty minutes later I was in agony, but this pic indicates it had perhaps already started?






2 comments:

beatingthebounds said...

I am regularly plagued by cramp - even when I was young and almost fit I used to get crippling cramp. Cold is huge factor for me - winter walks, especially the first big walk of the winter are often the occasion of bad attacks. However, waking up with cramp in my calves after minimal exertion is not unheard of. If you can manage it, I find that a stiff massage of the effected muscle often improves things considerably.

Sir Hugh said...

beatingthebounds - I can hardly say I am glad to hear that others are similarly afflicted.

I have been recommended some medication available at pharmacies, but I'm not sure whether they would work on the spot in a satisfactory time scale. I will post some details when I learn more.