Weatherline Lake District Fell Top Conditions report Friday 28 December: Helvellyn summit at 12:05. Here we are, almost at the end of 2018, and still the Lakeland Fells are free from snow and ice. Other mountainous areas of the UK are not faring much better, with Snowdonia being as snow-free as the Lake District, and only a few parts of the Highlands having broken areas of snow…

Christmas has come and gone and, despite the frosty scenes on the cards I received over the past few weeks, there’s little sign of anything similar in the Lakes.

Like a long-awaited guest…

Please consider leaving a note of your route plans, in the event of an accident mountain rescue teams always check bothy books. Leaving a route plan can make the difference between being found and not found.

Well, that escalated quickly: a pleasant enough request about leaving a plan morphs, without much ado, into a life-or-death crisis worthy of Shakespeare himself.

To be found, or not to be found: that is the question.

Who’d have thought this small bothy book, resting out of sight on a window ledge next to a scattering of used matches, candles and clumps of dust, could…

The Scottish cold room

In the 18th century many believed that winter was a just punishment for man’s disobedience.

Man of faith and poet, William Cowper, was one such person.

In 1773, after a particularly grim dream in which his unexpected death was announced, he spent much of the rest of his life fretting about his predestined damnation.

Perhaps he had the UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, in mind?

In winter, this most lofty of Scottish mountains likes to punish many of those who venture onto its slopes. Time and again, mountaineers condemn themselves to suffer a Cowper-like perdition: a cold hell of blizzards…

Norway: where the landscape is so searingly beautiful it crashes your vocal cords. Usually, there’s enough time–just!–to let your jaw drop, but then scenery-induced laryngitis kicks in. You open your mouth to say ‘wow’ and nothing comes out. Nothing. Just the silence of awe.

The Nord-Lenangen fjord and Lyngen Alps near Tromsø © Paul Caddy

I always get a childlike frisson of excitement when the weather forecast shows tiny flakes of snow. Most broadcasters have dispensed of virtual clouds — they get in the way — so nowadays these flakes appear from nowhere and cascade onto the weather map like feathers falling to earth after a pillow fight.

Where I live, in the North of England, you need to look hard to find these animated snowflakes. If your eyes remain fixed on the British Isles, for most of the time you’ll have no luck. Drizzle, rain and fog: that’s your lot.

Instead you need to…

Paul Caddy

Travel writer (Outdoor Writers & Photographers Guild), copywriter and trainee mountain leader, specialising in adventure travel and outdoor pursuits

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