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Eine Polare Wiedersehen, Pet (A Polar Reunion, Pet)

By Phil on 2014.08.31 In Lake District

This weekend I had my 4th Fjällräven Polar reunion, when Melanie from Germany came to visit me here in the UK. We had planned on doing Ben Nevis in Scotland, but due to bad weather forecast which meant we would not be able to do it via my intended CMD route, we changed plans and headed to the Lake District to do Scafell Pike.

Melanie at me at the summit of Scafell Pike

Melanie at me at the summit of Scafell Pike

There were meant to be a few of us doing Ben Nevis, but due to changes in destination and other circumstances it ended up just being Melanie, Ian and myself who would be hiking.

I picked Melanie up from Newcastle airport on Friday lunchtime before heading over to Ambleside in the Lakes. Ian made his own way there with Andrea and Evan. En route to Ambleside we took a detour to Keswick to visit my mate Julian who is the manager at Nordic Outdoor shop so I could purchase a new long sleeve Aclima base layer for my Morocco trek in October.

We checked into our B&B in Ambleside before heading out to the pub for a few beers, food and live music. This made Melanie laugh, as “pub” in German means “fart”. While having dinner Melanie asked me if I had ever been to Germany hiking or at any other time. I told her I have never been to Germany and that the only things I do know about the country are from watching 80’s comedy-drama TV series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Which I explained was a about seven British migrant construction workers going to work on a building site in Düsseldorf. She had never heard of this classic TV series and made a note to check it out on YouTube when she got home. Incidentally the word Wiedersehen can be used in German for the word reunion.

After a great night sleep, which makes a change for me, I met Melanie at breakfast, where we were the first to arrive. After a bit of translating of our lovely Yorkshire hosts (they had a very strong Yorkshire accent!) to Melanie, she managed to get her first ever full English breakfast, as I order my usual porridge. She then told me that only sick and old people with no teeth eat porridge in Germany. Which made me feel great, as I sat and checked I still had real teeth while she laughed.

We then headed to Borrowdale to pick Ian up from the campsite where he was staying in his camper van with Andrea and Evan, before heading to Seathwaite Farm to start our hike to Scafell Pike. As we got ready at the car, Melanie was amazed at the amount of gear I take on my day hikes. Ian just laughed and told her this is normal for me, as he pointed out how many people had parked cars after us and already started to hike.

Finally we were ready and on our way. I had decided we would do the corridor route to Scafell Pike which I last did in May when my other fellow Polar team mate Manon came to visit from the Netherlands, along with my mate Jason. Though this time I would follow the recorded route on my iPhone in the opposite direction which was meant to have been the route we should have taken in May, but as usual we took the wrong turning back then. So by following the reverse recorded route on my iPhone surely nothing could go wrong!

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The day started slightly cloudy with the threat of rain, but we could see the occasional breaks in the cloud and some sunshine. Not long into the hike we arrived at the gate where we made the wrong turning in May, so was easy enough to head in opposite direction to ensure we were on the right path. Soon after I bumped into Nigel who used to be the manager at Nordic Outdoor shop in Keswick who was on his way back down, so we stopped for a chat as he told me about his new Bushcraft adventure and other activities he is now working on. Shortly after we met two girls from Birmingham who asked if we were doing the corridor route to Scafell Pike. Feeling pretty confident that we were and that I was following the reverse route on my iPhone, had two maps, a compass and a Garmin GPS device in my rucksack, as well as wearing my Suunto Ambit2 GPS watch, I replied: “Yes we are and you are more than welcome to join or follow us if you like.” Which they did and were grateful for my offer, as they didn’t have any map or compass. If only they knew my navigational history at this point.

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With our new friends Leanne and Kirsty on board, we headed towards Scafell Pike. As we got higher and closer to the summit, we saw three people appearing from the mist to our right holding map and compass and looking very lost. The guy with the map asked me where we were heading. With my new found navigational confidence I told him we were heading to Scafell Pike and pointed in the direction we were heading. This made him confused as by his bearings and that he had just come from Lingmell, he thought Scafell Pike was West of where I told him we were heading. Leanne told him: “We are following these guys, they have loads of gadgets.” To help correct the guy holding the map I showed him my Garmin GPS and our exact position and confirmed the direction we were heading was correct. He agreed with me and asked if they could tag along. Of course I said he could. After all I was feeling like a mountain leader at this point. There was now eight of us in our group.

After another 45 minutes we arrived at the summit of Scafell Pike, the highest point in England. This was now the fourth time I have done Scafell Pike and probably the quietest in terms of number of people at the summit. It was still busy and of course misty as usual, which makes seeing the stunning views very difficult. As we sat and ate lunch, the lost guy with map came over to thank us for leading them to the summit. If only they knew my past record of getting lost. Leanne and Kirsty had decided to stay and head back down with us.

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After a short lunch stop we started heading towards the route I had came up in May with Manon and Jason by following my iPhone. As it was so misty at the top, this was the best option as there were no clear views to get a point of reference to make sure we were on the correct path. It was a very steep descent as we scrambled down some loose rocks with Leanne and Kirsty constantly laughing and stumbling on the way down. After about 20 minutes into our descent the inevitable happened. We had veered off course from the route I intended on taking us down and we were now on the wrong side of a mountain. It was time to get the proper GPS and maps out as I let Ian take over. After a few minutes he found our bearings and said if we carried on we would pick up the route we had taken to get to up to the summit, so we did and sure enough we picked up the path and all was good again.

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As we headed back down towards Seathwaite Farm, the weather improved and the sun came out to give us some stunning views which we had missed on the way up. We were all feeling good and happy at this point as our thoughts turned to how good the beer and food will taste once we get back after a great hike. Leanne then said the words which I never thought I would hear: “Thanks for today Phil. We would have got lost without you today. You saved us!”. I had to ask her to repeat it and made sure Ian heard her saying such unfamiliar words. It seems my navigational skills have come on a long way since I started all this hiking in 2012. She will probably get a shock if she reads some of my older blog posts.

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After dropping Ian off at his campsite, Melanie and myself headed back to Ambleside for a quick change and back out for beer, food and more live music. Leanne and Kirsty were going to come to Ambleside and meet us, but by the time they got back to their campsite and arrange taxi it would have been too late. So Melanie and myself headed out for the best beer and best food ever!

Unlike with my Scandinavian Polar friends, it seems the Germans have picked up on a different Mackem word other than “me” instead of “my”. As Melanie thought it was funny how I say “lovely” and was constantly repeating it throughout the weekend. Which was really funny hearing her saying it in her new found Mackem accent.

Before Melanie headed back to her home in Germany I wanted to show her a bit of the North East where I live, so we left our B&B straight after breakfast and first headed to Durham. Seeing as she is a Harry Potter fan I thought she would be interested to see inside Durham Cathedral where they filmed some of the earlier Harry Potter movies. Following her first experience of a full English breakfast and seeing as it was a Sunday, I thought it only right that we go for a typical Sunday lunch, which she really enjoyed. Especially the Yorkshire puddings, which she had never seen or heard of before. Next stop was the beach at Seaburn/Whitburn before dropping her back off at Newcastle airport.

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Although it was a short weekend visit by Melanie, it was great to meet up with her again and so glad she came to visit. We had such a laugh and got to know each other a lot more. As I have said in some of my previous posts, it wasn’t easy to chat to my fellow 19 Polarists during the Polar due to the long and busy days we had. We only really got to talk to those in our immediate teams. However Melanie was one of the few of us who stayed on the boat in Stockholm after the Polar and we did get to chat a bit more then, so it was great to pick up from where we had left off in Stockholm. It was also great to find out more about Germany and the different places which I could visit to do hiking in the future, which I will certainly be looking into. Once again it was another awesome Polar reunion and can’t wait for my next one. There are 12 left out of the my fellow 19 Polarists I have yet to meet again. So who’s next I wonder?!?!

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. It was “lovely” to see you again and you are more than welcome again anytime. It was awesome!

You can watch Ian’s short video on our hike up Scafell Pike from his video of the whole weekend below which starts at around 1:32 of the video:

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Welcome

Welcome to my blog about hiking, trekking, Fjällräven Polar 2014, in fact anything where you require boots and the outdoors.

My name is Phil, and following my outdoor epiphany which started in the summer of 2012 I’m now hooked on everything outdoors. So far my biggest treks have included the 250km Cathar Way, the 170km Tour du Mont Blanc and best of all, winning 1st place to take part in the Fjällräven Polar in April 2014.

I plan to use this blog to write about all my adventures, which will include my personal goal of becoming a Munroist (completing all 282 Scottish Munro mountains), summer treks, weekends in the Lakes and many more.

I like to try and make my blog posts humorous so I hope you enjoy reading and that I can put a smile on people’s faces while showing you some amazing places.

If you have any questions about the blog or the places I'm writing about, don't hesitate to contact me on: phil@philyourboots.com

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