One of the great things about tackling established long distance routes, whether the Bob Graham or Cotswold Way - is that they take you to new places, even among hills you thought you knew well. On a recce of the Bob between Dunmail Raise and Rosset Pike, I visited five summits on which I have never stood before, and of all the miles I covered (excepting the road sections from Langdale back to Dunmail Raise) only a very short stretch was on paths I have run or walked previously.
A new perspective of familiar fells from unfamiliar paths - Harrison Stickle and Pike of Stickle the two obvious summits in the near distance, better seen from the Langdale valley perhaps when, especially if covered in snow, they are almost alpine in appearance.
Approaching the top of the steep climb from Dunmail Raise to Steel Fell. It is certainly a hands on knees affair, but by comparison to other notable climbs on the route, less prolonged than Clough Head and far easier than the flank of Yewbarrow.
Looking back on Helvellyn, while approaching Sergeant Man - this was the section, the bit in the very middle of the Bob when motivation is likely to be at its lowest, that I wanted to familiarise myself with most. From Calf Crag one must choose whether to head first for High Raise or Sergeant Man. On the map there is little in it - on the ground things are different. Good navigation will be essential if conditions are poor here. Today, visibility was excellent, but the snow was difficult, a tiring semi-frozen crust, too weak to support any weight and too deep to move with any speed, slowing things down considerably.
Approaching the Langdale Pikes and the weather is changing - for once it was welcome, heralding a drop in the severe winds and with less snow cover, progress was good.
Harrison Stickle on the left, Gimmer Crag to the right, with it's two classic rock climbs The Crack and Kipling's Groove both clearly visible. The Crack I remember finding relatively straightforward, Kipling's Groove requiring rather greater commitment - fond memories.
Pushing on to Rosset Pike I dropped quickly back to the valley floor via Rosset Gill - a fairly unpleasant descent but better than carrying a bike up it which is what I did the last time I was here.There followed a tiring slog back to Grasmere and eventually Dunmail Raise, the end of a fine day on the fells coinciding neatly with the first drops of rain.