Farrington Junior School magazine interview.

A couple of weeks ago I was honoured to be asked to be interviewed by Class 5 students from Farrington Junior School in Leyland, Lancashire.

Class 5 are currently studying about the Lake District and will also be taking a school trip to the Lakeland in the next week. I only hope they enjoy the Lake District the way I do and by answering their questions I hope they might be able to see the Lakeland Fells through the same eyes as I do.

I want to say how much I have enjoyed answering all of your questions, so much so I even took a weekend off the fells to do so. My time spent behind my computer was more than worth it and I want to thank all of the children from Class 5 who took their time to e-mail me all of their questions. I hope you like my answers and I hope to see you one day on the fells!

Paul Sharkey July 2015


Class 5 Farrington Junior School Magazine Interview July 2015

Hello Mr Sharkey
We would like to ask you some questions about your death-defying adventures that you have experienced when you climbed.
We are excited to ask you these questions so here we go.

Rui ,Kishan and Isaac ask?

Question 1:

What kind of equipment do you take on your amazing adventures?

Hello Rui, Kishan and Isaac. That's a good question, all of my equipment is lightweight which makes it easy to carry on long walks and is durable during heavy rain or snow showers. Even during the summer months it's still a good idea to carry waterproof clothing as the mountain climate can change very quickly from bright sunshine to heavy rain in a matter of minutes. Having the right equipment is vital which usually comprises of a good waterproof lightweight jacket and walking trousers, the manufactures of outdoor clothing design their products for mountain use with the climate in mind which can be expensive to buy but usually last a good deal of time if you take care of it.

Having a good pair of walking boots is essential as the only contact between your feet and the uneven terrain besides your socks are your boots. Manufactures design all different types of boots depending on the terrain you are walking under. Therefore, walking boots have been categorised into three different Classes from B, C, and D.

A Class B walking boot can be used by beginners to fell walking and are usually lightweight but can lack in support around the ankle area. Class C walking boots are of more rugged construction which support the foot from the cap to the upper ankle, Class C walking boots are made from both fabric and leather and are my preferred choice for fell walking in the Lake District. A Class D walking boot are generally plastic coated and are made for extreme mountaineering, much like the climbers you would see climbing in the Alps during Winter.

Rucksacks are used to carry most of your smaller equipment and have special adapted waterproof compartments designed to keep items such as spare socks, gloves and most importantly your lunch dry when walking in bad weather. They are generally very lightweight too which keeps your overall weight to a minimum.

In winter what you carry changes radically from what you carry in summer, during the summer months your pack may comprise of mostly fluids, food and at all times your map and first aid kit, however in winter your pack becomes much heavier due to the extra layers you need to keep yourself warm, adding to this are items such as Ice Axes and Crampons for winter climbing making your pack feel much heavier than that of a summer pack.

Rucksacks come in all sizes which are generally measured by the 'litres' they hold - during summer my ruck sack is around 33 litres, however in winter this changes to around 45 litres to cope with the extra gear I have to carry.

Question 2:

Have you ever been close to death?
This is a tough question to which the my answer is initially no, however, on some of my traverses which entail walking along narrow edges with steep drops either side putting a foot wrong here could result in serious injury or death. Preparation before hand is key to keeping safe and is something that I take seriously before I walk on any dangerous terrain. Sadly though deaths do occur on the Lakeland fells and it's not always down to people who don't know what they are doing or are putting there lives in danger without knowing it, sometimes even the best of climbers make mistakes which is why I never leave anything to chance, if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.

Question 3:

Have you risked your life for another climber?

This type of thing has only happened to me once during the summer of 2010 when climbing a mountain named Pillar who's summit is at 892 metres. It was a scorching hot day and we had ascended Pillar by a route named the Shamrock Traverse which is a narrow and twisting path found just below the summit, ahead of me a walker had sat down on a rock after climbing the traverse which dislodged sending the rock crashing below onto the path narrowly missing other climbers, by this time the walker was only hanging on by his backpack which had somehow jammed in the ground leaving his body in a vertical position (his legs dangling over the edge) he screamed at me to grab him as I was the closest to him, but with the path so narrow I couldn't run, the next few moments flashed by as I unclipped my rucksack, threw it to the ground and grabbed the strap on his rucksack pulling him to safety at the same time.

It all happened very quickly, climbers down below and above us heard it all, we were both pleased it ended positively, however, afterwards, I gave him the yelling of a lifetime for putting himself, other walkers and most importantly, my own life in danger for his stunt, If I were to see him again, I still couldn't forgive him for being so disregardful to himself and other climbers that day.

Question 4:

What was your worst injury?

It's inevitable as a walker/climber you are going to pick up injuries. Common injuries can range from twisted ankles or scrapes after falling, however I did cause alot of ligament damage to my right knee whilst descending a fell named Blencathra via Halls Fell Ridge, which in places is tricky and steep, here my right knee "popped in and out" leaving some hefty swelling around the knee cap. On another occasion I bruised my ribs when climbing a fell named Pavey Ark, our ascent that day was by a route up the east face of the mountain named Jack's Rake. Jack's Rake is a steep narrow ledge like route which is often exposed and quite scary in places, close to the top I had to negotiate myself around a large boulder which kind of felt like trying to climb over a giant cricket ball which is where I bruised my ribs, not very macho but thankfully, my only narrow escape!

Question 5:

What was your dream fell to climb?

I guess I have climbed all my dream fells, although I would love to climb the Matterhorn in Switzerland.

Question 6:

Is there anywhere else you would like climb?

My love for the Lake District fells I guess will always overcome other places where I can climb mountains, In saying this should I ever win the lottery !! resulting in more free time on my hands I would love to spend more time climbing in Scotland or even further a field such as France or New Zealand.

Question 7:

What was your first mountain to climb?

The first mountain or fell that I climbed was named Helm Crag in November 2007 which has some strange and very interesting rock formations at the summit, one of which looks like a giant cannon or 'rock turret' named "The Howitzer" and the other looks like a Lion sitting next to a Lamb, it's very surreal how close the Lion and the Lamb actually live up to their names, after all, they are just rock formations.

Question 8:

Have you ever travelled with your family?

Yes I have travelled to the Lake District many times with my family including my Dad and my Brothers and their Dogs. When my son was just 6 years old he climbed his first Lakeland Fell named Hay Stacks, when I look back at the photos I find myself incredibly proud of him as he looked so tiny and very cute in all his walking gear.

He'll hate me for writing this as he's now 15!

Hello Paul,
Are names are Sami and Neve and we are students from Farrington Primary School. In our class we are finding out about Leyland and the Lake District and then we will compare them. We have heard that you have climbed up all the mountains in the Lake District and would like to ask you a few questions.

Sami and Neve ask?

Question 9:

When you are climbing up the mountains have you ever met anyone like you?
The Lakeland fells are full of people like me who just love to climb or are simply out for a one off hike on the fells. While climbing the Lakeland Fells I have met and forged great friendships with fellow walkers one of whom was a hero of mine back when I first started to walk, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would meet him let alone start a great friendship which to this day, we regularly walk together. Back in 2009 I also met my friend who's name is Tim Oxburgh, we instantly hit it off and exchanged e-mail addresses, we are like brothers now and can read each other like a book, had I of not been a fell walker I wouldn't of met these two very special people.

Question 10:

Do you have a favourite mountain and why?

I have many favorite mountains ranging from The Matterhorn in Switzerland, Cadair Idris in Wales or Schiehallion in Scotland, but most of my favorite mountains can be found in the Lake District starting with a mountain oddly named "High Street" which is a fell I've climbed over and over until I was "fell confident" during my early years as a fell walker. During those repeated visits to High Street I learned how to navigate myself around the mountains by using a map and compass. More favorite fells of mine include Angletarn Pikes, Bowfell Caw Fell and Helvellyn, but really it all depends on what time of year it is as all the Lakeland fells have different qualities that I like throughout the seasons, I tend to like the more remote fells where it's just myself and the mountain.

Question 11:

Have you ever gone up a mountain and had to come back down or have you succeeded?

There are many reasons which can stop you from reaching a summit ranging from a fall or sickness, however, the most common of all reasons is how quickly the weather can change more so when visibility drops to zero and you can't see whats around you for cloud or snow, these type of conditions I have learned to work with and I actually enjoy the challenges they bring, however, it all depends on the individual person and what they are prepared to put up with and when to call it a day. I have walked many times when the temperature is well below -10°C -17°C blown along by 50mph winds which I guess can sound a little frightening although this is something that I wouldn't intentionally set out to do, this type of weather normally catches you by surprise when fell walking within the depths of winter.

Having to turn around when you really looking forward, or determined to reach a summit is a very tough decision to make, thankfully I have only had to make the decision once in nearly ten years of climbing the Lakeland mountains when caught in a snow storm in the Grisedale Valley, I sulked like a two year old! but was thankful in the end, I had made the safest decision.

Question 12:

If you could would you live in the Lake District and why?

I would love to live in the Lake District and maybe one day I will, but my commitment is to my family and children who live in Wigan. Maybe one day when my children have grown up I will seriously consider moving to the Lake District, but for now I don't mind the travelling at all.

Question 13:

Which mountain has the most beautiful view in your opinion?

This is a very tough question as each and every mountain in Lakeland have their own qualities and views, but I guess if I really had to choose a handful of views mine would be the view from Bowfell looking towards the Scafells, also the view along the Rough Crag Ridge from High Street, and finally the view from Walla Crag over Keswick. I really could go on and on as I have hundreds of views that I like!

Question 14:

Which mountain took you the longest to climb?

Most Lakeland summits can be reached within three to fours hours of walking, some much sooner. When I walk I usually plan a route where I can summit between four and upto fifteen summits in one day depending on my fitness or how I am feeling, I generally spend between six to eight hours fell walking every weekend, in that time I may summit just one mountain of eight. Right now I am climbing all the Lakeland summits above two thousand feet which is a very demanding challenge when put together, most of these routes last up to ten hours each which leave me feeling very tired at the end of the walk.

Question 15:

Do you prefer steep mountains or flat mountain and why?

I prefer steep mountains because they are the most challenging, over the years climbing mountains "my mind set" has adapted to suit steep ascents rather than the less steeper routes, usually steep routes get you to the summit quicker and are usually more rewarding, this isn't to say that the lesser steep routes aren't as equally rewarding, it all depends on the person I guess, climbing steep routes week after week will soon take its toll on your body and muscles so I tend to mix my routes up a little as do most fell walkers.

As previously mentioned since the beginning of the 2015 most of my walks have been steep and very tough, but this isn't the usual case, I guess my body has just got used to climbing steep and long routes right now!

Question 16:

Do you ever take you family on trips to the marvellous mountains and if you do, do they enjoy it?

It's not very often I take my family with me due to the arduous routes or challenges that I find myself doing. This can be very tough to someone who isn't used to climbing for long hours, however I do take my family with me on some low level walks and stay over in Guest Houses or Hotels.

Question 17:

How many mountains have you climbed?

Wow great question! I've never really counted how many mountains I have climbed but I think the figure will be well into the hundreds or maybe thousands!

Question 18:

Do you ever stay in a hotel when you are in the Lake District?

Yes I have stayed in Hotels but only on special occasions. During the earlier years when I first started climbing the Lakeland fells I used to camp out a lot at Camp Sites or on the mountain itself which is called wild camping, but I haven't done any camping for a long time which is sad, although I do aim to do a wild camp with my son Owen this summer.

Question 19:

What is your most scariest experience?

I guess I'm quite used to climbing on traverses narrow aretes which can be scary, however my scariest memory was back in November 2012 when I was caught in a thunder storm on a summit named High Raise. The thunder was so loud it was deafening and it felt like I was in the clouds with the storm itself, being caught in a thunder storm so high up is extremely dangerous as you are more likely to be hit by lightening as there are no other high points for the lightening to strike other than yourself, this I knew as I ran my way off the mountain not looking back. Afterwards I found myself a gully which I descended down while watching the storm cross the sky - thankfully by now heading away from me, I think it was only then did I feel just how hard my heart had been beating in my chest! However, what the experts tell you to do is to stick your walking poles in the ground and lie around twenty feet away as close to the ground as possible, this way should the lightening strike hopefully it will strike your walking poles and not you.

Even so, I panicked and got myself off the mountain as fast as I could.

Question 20:

What type of food / drink do you take with you?

I tend to eat a lot of fruit for breakfast like maybe two or three bananas followed by cereal bars, this can set me up for a full day on the fells. When I'm walking feeling hungry never used to cross my mind but I always packed a lunch which would include chicken, tuna or even jam sandwiches, further into my career I have now started to eat flavoured rice which is light to carry and makes you feel full too.

As for liquids I always carry around two litres of Robinsons Fruit Juice with me which is held in what is called a bladder situated in my rucksack, to get the juice to me I suck on a rubber pipe attached to the outside of my rucksack in small sips. Should the weather be really hot in addition I will always double my intake of hydration to around four litres.

Question 21:

Have you ever had a near death experience, how, what happened to you and which mountain was it on?

Thankfully I have never had a near death experiences. I tend to plan way ahead so I know what I will be confronted with during my time on the fells, I never put myself in any unnecessary danger or exceed my expectations on what I know what I'm capable of climbing, this I find is the best way to keep safe on the Lakeland mountains.

Question 22:

Have you ever had frost bite?

I don't think I have ever had frost bite, however during January 2013 while descending a fell named Seatallan in -17°C winds the skin on my face became very painful first starting with pins and needles then feeling very raw and incredibly painful to touch, this only lasted around half an hour as I manage to cover my exposed skin once I had found shelter behind a large boulder, this didn't stop me climbing a further two more fells so I don't think it was frost bite, but maybe the start of it.

Question 23:

How many layers of clothes do you wear?

Even in winter I generally only have two layers of clothing under my jacket which are called mid-layers, these comprise of very thin layers designed to keep you warm and wick away sweat. When climbing your body temperature along with the specially designed clothing helps to keep you warm and can also protect you against the wind.

Our names are Bailey & Lewis. We would like to ask you a few questions about your expeditions in the Lake District if you wouldn't mind us asking.

Bailey and Lewis ask?

Question 24:

Have you ever had hyperthermia and how?

Hello Bailey and Lewis. Walking for long periods in cold and wet weather can make your body feel extremely cold but as long as you are able to keep walking/climbing your body will always keep you warm. Your body will automatically project vital organs such as your heart when walking in very cold conditions over long periods of time resulting in leaving your feet and hands feeling very cold even when wearing thick socks and gloves (which are usually wet by this time) During the winter after a long walk it can take my body up to 48hrs to return back to its normal temperature usually resulting in walking around my work days later, with a very cold bum!

Question 25:

Have you ever taken family and why?

Yes I do share my walks with my family but not very often as they can be demanding and tough, this summer however I plan to take my son Owen with me and introduce him to the fells, where hopefully, he will want to come with me again, however he is very busy with his exams right now, but watch this space.

Question 26:

What was the biggest cairn you've ever seen?

There are only a small number of large cairns found in Lakeland which are on the summits of Hallin Fell, Broom Fell, Dale Head and High Spy. These cairns are up to six feet in height and can be seen from miles away. However, the biggest cairns I have seen are found on the summit of a fell named "Nine Standards Rigg" where as you can guess, stand nine tall stone cairns in a row, they really are very beautiful to see.

Question 27:

Have you ever saved a life in the mountains?

Besides the incident that I mentioned ealier, away from the mountains I was part of three First Aiders who helped to restart the heart of a fellow work colleague who had collapsed and heart had stopped, it took forty five minutes using chest compressions and a heart defibrillator to restart his heart, we were all later commended personally by the head of North West Ambulance by letter, sadly our work colleague died one week later, but at least his family were able to see him alive for a short time thanks to our First Aid Skills, this was a very sad time for all involved as you can imagine.

Question 28:

What was your worst injury?

My worst injury happened when my right knee was injured descending a fell named Blencathra via Halls Fell Ridge. The descent was tough and rigorous which probably inflamed an old football injury on my right knee, during the descent I felt my right knee "pop out" then go back in again resulting in stretched ligaments which left the knee feeling very painful and causing me to limp all the way back to my car. The cure to fix this was to keep an ice pack on the knee (when possible) for up to two weeks. After which I completed a gruelling 16 mile walk which the knee coped with well, although at first, I really didn't feel very confident, since then my knee (s) have been okay although they do tend to slightly swell up after long days on the fells.

Question 29:

Do you take energy drinks to stabilize yourself and to stay awake?

During very long walks I may drink some type of energy drink but I am old fashioned! and prefer natural water or diluted fruit juice, some energy drinks leave me feeling bloated so I usually keep them to a minimum.

Question 30:

Have you ever fallen?

Yes, I have fallen many times but never in a way that I have put myself in danger. Usually when I fall or trip it's because of tiredness or my own clumsiness. After long days on the fells your legs and feet can become very tired after continuously lifting them over and over again which is when a trip or fall usually occurs, these are normally laughed off.

Question 31:

What was the most amazing fell view?

This is a very tough question as I have many favorite views, but if I had to choose my favorite view would be of my favorite mountain named "High Street" either seen from the valley of Mardale or from across the col named The Straights of Riggindale.

Hello Mr Sharkey
We are writing to you to ask you some questions about your exasperating journeys on the incredible Fells and how brave you are. I am amazed at how you are so passionate about your climbing you will be a great idol to the people who love to climb.
Here are our questions:

Natasha and Liam ask?

Question 32:

Why do you like climbing the fells?

Hello Natasha and Liam. There are many great reasons why I like to climb the fells, but the main ones are the views and the landscape followed by the solitude that the fells provide. Along with this, climbing the fells is also a great way of keeping fit and to see wild life that you wouldn't normally see. I don't think there will ever be a time when I won't enjoy being on the fells as they are such a part of me now.

Question 33:

Have you ever fallen off?

I have fallen many times but never in a way that I have put my life in danger. Normally when I trip it's usually down to how tired I am feeling.

Question 34:

How long have you been climbing the fells?

Close to ten years now, I first started visiting the Lake District around 2005 on camping trips, but it was around 2006/07 that I started to climb the fells seriously, by November 2011 I had completed all the Wainwright Fells and since then I have just been enjoying my walking and climbing ever since.

Question 35:

Is it fun to climb?

The answer to this is yes! Incredibly fun and relaxing too. My days can be spent walking long ridges or climbing up cascading waterfalls, the adrenaline that some of the walks and climbs generate is like continuing to ride the "Big One" at Blackpool Pleasure Beach over and over!

Question 36:

Do you find it hard?

Fell walking is generally a hard hobby to get into, much like running around on a football pitch for ninety minutes you need to be fit in order to enjoy your game without your muscles telling you how hard it is all the time.

During my walks I generally feel what I refer to as "fell fit" this means although the walk is steep and long my body has adapted to cope with this already, however it's not just the strength in my body that I rely upon it's mind strength, I like to think what gets me through a ten hour walk over fifteen summits is a seventy/thirty body split mind over matter.

However not all walks require such strength, there are hundreds of walks out there on the Lakeland Fells which don't require any fitness at all.

Dear Mr Sharkey
We are writing to you because we wanted to interview you about your walking and adventures you've done . We have seen your wonderful website; it is AMAZING! As we know you are related to Mrs Capstick. (Your sister in law)

Madison and Ali ask?

Question 37:

Do you use a rope/parachute? why?

Hello Madison and Ali. There are people who take what look like parachutes onto the summits then run and jump off, these are called Paragliders, I really wish I had the nerve to do the same! As for ropes again I don't use ropes but many climbers do when climbing vertical rock faces or gullies. There are many ways to the top of a mountain and although I have used some scrambling and climbing routes to reach the top, using ropes usually requires training to which I haven't had, so I think I'll leave that to the experts.

Question 38:

Have you ever got injured? how? what was your worst one?

I have picked up many injuries mainly on my knees as with most ascents and descent your knees generally take the shock out of the climb or descent, over years they pick up the odd injury over time, however, both my knees had already picked up serious injuries prior to me even starting my fell walking, so I guess I have to look after them and keep them happy at all times!

Question 39:

What is your most beautiful site? Where?

This is a difficult question because there are so many beautiful places to visit in the Lake District. But if you gave me a long grassy ridge to walk and some dancing sunshine whilst the wind blew at the wild grasses while sky larks tweet above this I would consider to be a beautiful site.

Question 40:

What is the highest mountain/fell you've climbed?

The highest mountain that I have climbed would be the UK's highest Mountain named Ben Nevis which is in Scotland which was at a height of 4;409 feet, however I regularly top this each weekend when collectively collecting five to eight summits together on the Lakeland Fells, this is called "total ascent" which means how many times you had to ascend then descend each time between summits.

Question 41:

Do you climb with anyone? E.G: family or friends?

I first started to climb the Lakeland Fells alone and I guess this is why I still prefer to walk alone to this day. Most people who climb the fells share this as walking alone for me is when I can absorb all what the fells have to offer. I have often wondered if people might think of me as a loner or even ignorant, but my personality is very chatty when I'm in a room full of people, however this all changes when I'm on the fells as I prefer my own company but, not all the time.

Over the last ten years I have met some very special people who I will always remain good friends with, at least once a month I usually get together with at least one of them if only to have a chat or catch up on recent event when fell walks, turns into bar talk.

Question 42:

How many layers of clothing do you wear?

I generally only wear a maximum of two to three layers which are designed to keep you warm and wick away sweat, the layers are very thin but when worn together perform a very effective layering system that keep you warm and dry.

Question 43:

How many rocks have you put on cairns?

Most of the cairns found on the mountain summits have been left there over years and years, some cairns are thought to be hundreds of years old and some are more recent. As a rule should I find myself the time to rebuild a cairn I will, however after many visits to the same summits I don't always leave a stone at a cairn anymore, should I want to leave my mark on special occasions I often scratch my wedding ring on the stone, this way I can look at my wedding ring in years to come and think (that scratch came from Pen or III Crag summit etc...)

Dear Mr Sharkey,
Hello this is Jessica and Keira from Farington Primary! In our classroom we have been learning about how passionate you are
about your dream on the hills! BTW: We like your website! So, as we have been so intrigued in your hobby we really wanted to
ask you a few questions about it:

Jessica and Keira ask?

Question 44:

Have you ever been SERIOUSLY injured?

Hello Jessica and Keira. No thankfully I haven't been seriously injured but I have picked up many smaller injuries such as swollen knee caps and some very sore feet after long days on the fells.

Question 45:

Have you ever fallen out with somebody you climb with?

Special bonds are forged when walking with friends who share the same passion as you when fell walking. I have often walked from morning to night on very long walks when during those times maybe an hour can go by without talking to your fellow fell walker, this isn't falling out just your own way of persevering your body through a long walk which usualy results in a few quiet times. If you are truly good friends these times are fully understood by both sides.

Question 46:

What was your hobby before walking?
My main hobby was watching Wigan Athletic who I had watched since being a small boy, during the weekdays I would play football for amateur leagues which is where I picked up my knee injuries and a broken leg which was the main reason why I had to stop playing football. I had a bit of quiet time for my broken leg to heal, thereafter, I picked up fell walking purely as a method of keeping fit, back then, I never realised how much fell walking would take over my life.

Question 47:

Have you ever got really lost?

This is a great question. Yes I have been lost on three occasions where I considered myself really lost, these are of course during the first year as a fell walker. On the first occasion I was with a friend who I initially started fell walking with, his name is Stephen Harrison, we had climbed High Street in snow when the weather turned on us, visibility dropped to just five or ten feet and everything just looked white, at first we weren't phased by this because we thought we knew how to get back down safely, however after a couple of hours walking we descended into a valley known as Kentmere which was completely the wrong valley we were looking for, we had to pay a local £40.00 to drive us to the correct valley when after reaching, we were both pretty shaken up, this was a lesson well learned.

On the second occasion I found myself lost I was on a mountain named Red Screes, again I found myself in a snow storm in the middle of winter, after making the summit I wandered off completely in the wrong direction only realising my mistake as I spotted a familiar landmark through a break in the clouds, after a phone call to a friend who guided me back to the correct pass I should have been on the cloud lifted and I was able to complete my walk safely.

On the third occasion I was climbing two fells named Cold Pike and Pike O'Blisco, it was winter time and the cloud was very low not enabling me to see ahead more than around thirty feet. After summiting both fells I found myself walking too far than I knew I should be, after stumbling across a fellow who angrily told me I should learn how to read a map properly! Without the guys help I found my own way off the fells and back to my car safely, now when fellow walkers ask me for advice no matter their circumstances I ALWAYS give my advice to help guide them on or off the fells.

I told myself that I would never talk to a fellow walker the way I had been spoken to at a time when I just needed a little guidance. Since those early days as a fell walker I have safely climbed hundreds and hundreds of fells, alot of which are partaken in very bad weather which I really enjoy and feel completely at one with now.

Question 48:

What got you interested to start climbing?
I first started visiting Lakeland wanting to spend nights out camping with friends only going off for short walks before returning to the camp site. It wasn't long before I started to climb the fells around the camp sites and that was it, I was well and truly gripped. After realising how many fells there were to climb I made them my goal which took me just over three years to climb all the fells commonly referred to as "The Wainwright Fells" or the Lakeland Fells.

Question 49:

Do companies pay to have their clothes put on your website?

Companies can pay you to advertise their products on your website but this isn't something that I would want to follow as often the companies would want you to review their clothing which I feel, would take away the real reason why I would find myself on a mountain in the first place. It's not that I don't agree with websites that advertise products, in fact I read the same reviews before purchasing my own outdoor clothing.

Question 50:

What was the best view?

This is a tough question because most views on and off the Lakeland Fells can be considered to be my best views, I prefer the views during winter time across the fells when shafts of sunlight flicker over the summits. At times I find myself walking towards a summit which has a huge black cloud hanging over it, although from my position I am walking under a strong winter sun, the transition of light is very dramatic to see.

Question 51:

Have you had to use tinfoil to keep you warm?

Thankfully I have never found myself in the sittuation that I couldn't walk myself of the mountain. Using tin-foil body sheets are a great way to retain body heat and I do carry a Body Thermal Bag which is designed to keep up to 90% of body heat when you wrap yourself in it. Hopefully though, I never wish I will have to use it as doing so will mean I'm in some pretty serious trouble.

Question 52:

What is the worst weather you have ever been in?

During my time as a fell walker I have walked in some very commanding conditions where visibility was down to almost zero. I thought I had experienced the weather phenomenon known as "total white out" during previous winter walking but all of this was made more realistic on a March day in 2013

That day I had planned to summit Skiddaw, a huge bulk of a mountain thought to be the oldest of all the Lakeland Fells. At 931 Metres gaining Skiddaw summit in good conditions can be a little trying as the route I had chosen this day was steep straight from the start. Around half way I reached the snow line and continued with my climb while up ahead I could see that visibility was drawing closer and closer. By the time I had reached one of Skiddaw's subsidiary summits named Skiddaw Little Man I was in a total white out within a snow storm my visibility cut to zero. The most frightening thing was that I was losing co-ordination between my eye sight and the direction I wanted my feet to walk in, it was no use, the white out was so severe I couldn't see my feet let alone point them in the right direction.

Relying upon my GPS I found my way off Skiddaw Little Man and continued towards Skiddaw summit, making it before turning heel ready for my descent. I started to pass walkers who appeared through the wind and snow, asking them were they OK and them returning the gesture.

I have never felt such camaraderie on and off the fells from complete strangers since that day on Skiddaw.

Question 53:

Have you ever climbed on the same mountain twice?

There are only a small number of Lakeland Mountains that I haven't climbed twice, most of the summits I have climbed over and over like my favorite fell of "High Street" which I have climbed sixteen times, this of course will continue to rise as with most other Lakeland summits.

Question 54:

Have you ever walked on your own?

Yes, I started my fell walking career by walking alone which is probably why I enjoy it so much all these years on. In saying this out of four or five visits to the Lake District a month, only one of these will be spent walking with a friend.

Question 55:

Have you ever had to turn around half way up a mountain?

There have been times when the thought of a "turn around" has certainly gone through my mind, however if you plan correctly and are prepared for what the weather might throw at you - a turn around is rare, although yes, it did happen to me once but I hadn't started my ascent on the mountain, the view (or lack of it) showed a wild storm on the high summits which confirmed my fears, making a turn around was the safest and best thing to do that day.

Question 56:

Do you think you will ever move to the Lake District?

I do hope that one day I will move to the Lake District, I'll certainly retire there, however due to my family having their own lives with work and schools the idea of moving to the Lake District is a long way away just yet.

Question 57:

Do you go to the same pub after a climb?

I used to have a celebratory pint after each walk but I seemed to stop this as I enjoyed spending extra time on the fells, rather than in the pub. Although after long walks and if I'm with a friend and a pub is close by, we might stop by to enjoy a pint.

Question 58:

Do you stay in a hotel or camp?

After a walk I always return home by car, the reason for this is usually I can be home within two hours of leaving Lakeland, this means I can spend more time at home with my family.

Question 59:

Are you considering climbing full-time?

Climbing or spending all of my working time on the fells would be considered to be a dream job of mine. Spending such time on the fells would require being a Park Ranger or a member of the Mountain Rescue Team which require members to live close, or within the Lake District National Park.

Question 60:

What is the longest walk you have ever been on?

I have spent many long days on the fells but my longest walk was on a route called "The Old Crown Round" which took nearly twelve and a half hours to complete covering a distance over 25.2 miles

Since then I have completed long day walks which I really enjoy, nothing can quite prepare you for spending such a time on the fells other than a solid mind to reach the end of the walk, this of course can be difficult when all your muscles are in pain but I find this only adds to the challenge . Much longer walks such as the Coast to Coast walk which involves walking from the west coast of Cumbria to the east coast of Yorkshire can take anything up to two weeks spending long days walking, this is something that I may look at completing in the coming years.

Question 61:

What is the most memorable walk you have ever been on?

Many walks stand out and each walk sometimes feels as if it was more memorable than the last, but if I had to choose one walk that particular stands out to me is this memory that will always stay with me whic involves the loss of my mother three years ago, My mum was diagnosed with a brain aneurism which was inoperable. During those early weeks of diagnosis between hospital visits I would often visit the Lakeland Fells if only to "let go" and maybe have a think about the future, on one occasion I was in a micro valley named Trusmador situated in the northern fells, it was right before a torrential rain shower was about to hit and I had spoken to mum in her hospital bed from my mobile phone, although she was gravely ill she reassured me that things would be ok, this lifted my worried spirits immensely and spurred me to keep walking that day.

Then I got a soaking from the torrential rain, but it didn't matter !!

On a lighter note, more positive memories were made when I met both Tim and David Hall who have grown into being life long friends on and off the fells, we regularly walk together and the time spent doing so will always turn into great memories.

Question 62:

Have you ever had an illness because of the temperature?

Yes both myself and Tim (my friend who I was walking with at the time) both suffered from de-hydration during a scorching hot day on a circular walk named the Mosedale Horseshoe. This particular walk is a demanding walk under good conditions but on this day we were walking from early morning to late afternoon in 28°C Heat. We of course thought we had packed sufficient fluids to help us cope with the heat (5 litres each) but this wasn't enough as we found ourselves out of hydration around four miles from the end of the walk, at which point, two summits still needed to be gained.

By the time we reached our last summit we were both suffering early stages of de-hydration, both our lips had completely dried up and had started to peel, at the time we never spoke of it but concentrating was very difficult and my vision inparticular started to go blurry, by the time we were off the fells we found ourselves close to Wast Water (Englands deepest lake) and proceeded to cup handfuls of water into our mouths to the bemusement of families picnicking near by.

Even though we thought we had packed enough water to keep us hydrated, the heat of the day, certainly got the better of us.

I would like to take this oppotunity to thank Ali, Bailey, Isaac, Jessica, Keira, Kishan, Lewis, Liam, Madison, Natasha, Neve, Rui, Sami and a special thanks to Mrs Capstick for putting all of this together and enabling me to bring my website and my fell walking into your classroom.

I really hope you have a great day when you visit the Lake District, when you do, say hello to the fells from me!

Paul Sharkey

Back to top