5 Days in The Lakes Part 2

 

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This is the second and final part of my recent trip to the Lakes. First part is here

Friday 22nd August

Great Langdale – Cumbria Way -Angle Tarn- Martcrag Moor- Pike of Stickle – Harrison Stickle – Pavey Ark – High Raise – Low White Stones

Friday couldn’t have been a more different day. Gone was the monsoon and hello to bright sunshine and blue skies. I had a more leisurely start to the day and lay in my sleeping bag sipping my early morning tea as the sun started to dry the silnylon fly of my tent.

As I had changed my route yesterday I stayed there awhile cocooned in down with another cup of tea, map spread out in front of me, deciding which way I would go today. That’s the beauty of solo hiking you get to take charge, with freedom where to go, and how far you will wander that day. Not that I don’t enjoy the company of others, I do, but this is one of the benefits when you are alone you can decide.

So I had a plan, a late start, I was on holiday after all, walk up the Cumbria Way, and branch off to Angle Tarn and then almost cut back on myself to fell tops that I have never visited.  The one’s which seem to be out on a limb that I always bypass.  It would have been all too easy to go Angle Tarn, then Sprinkling Tarn, Sty Head, Great Gable etc, back to Keswick, but I did a good part of that route last time I was here in June.

The route would be more of a ramble and time spent on fell tops, admiring the views rather than a route march. I could please myself and go as far or as little as I wanted.

One other backpacker had camped near to my tent on the site, he had been up earlier than me and as I emerged from the tent, he was well on his way to filling his enormous back pack and then hung extra stuff off the ends. He was a big strong lad, I don’t know whether he was weaker when starting backpacking, but if he was, the weight he carried on regular basis must have helped him become much bigger!

I went to the smelly sock drying room and removed from the shelves my now perfectly dry and warm socks and trail shoes, before finishing my packing. On the way out I filled my water bottle and I was away.

Cumbria Way

Cumbria Way

The Cumbria Way is found at the back of the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel.  A foreign couple asked me where the Way started, as they were having difficulty relating it to their 1:100,000 map of the Lake District. I said I was going that way, and they joined me for a while. They were visiting from  Poland and were not used to the fact that we do not have signs and way marked trails with yellow arrows as they do in other countries. They told me that they were going to walk to Scafell Pike and the Sca fell and walk back to their starting point . I said fortunately, that although we don’t have way marked trails here, where you are going the paths are like super highways and there will be plenty of people to help you if you not sure.  It was a very pleasant day, what was I say, don’t go and find yourself a better map. We parted company after I said I wanted to stop to sort something out with my pack. I actually needed a pee, but that sounded better, than wait here while I urinate over these rocks.

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It was a stiff climb up to Angle Tarn, but with great views and glorious weather, it was not a chore in any way. At the top and as I came down the other side, some lads doing their D of E were struggling up the path weighed down by the expedition style kit list that they must carry. I don’t know who draws up these, but I always feel that if someone could spend some time looking at how they could lighten the loads of these poor unfortunate “mules”.  I am sure that they would be more likely to continue with backpacking in the future and perhaps ensure that more youngsters could enjoy the mountains and wild places without feeling that they were on an SAS training course.

They were a very pleasant bunch of lads and when I told them that they were only had an hour and half to their campsite, because I had just come from there, I could see the relief on their faces. One said that they shouldn’t arrive too early to the site as they had been told off about that before.  I suggested that perhaps they should go to the pub and sit in there at which point they smiled and chorused – we wish. I guess that the strict requirement of I.D. these days means that a sneaky pint is out of the question nowadays.

On leaving the mule train, I found a very comfortable rock, almost armchair like for lunch and basked in the sun for a while, that nagging northerly wind was still there but the sun was winning my attention.

Angle Tarn

Angle Tarn

From here I made my way to Stake Pass and then Martcrag Moor , my immediate destination was Pike Of Stickle, these fells I have never visited, as they seem to be out on a limb.

An easy climb to Pike of Stickle gave me a great view over Great Langdale where I camped the night before. Next fell to walk was only a short way, Harrison Stickle, the wind had got up by the time I reached its summit, I pulled on my wind shirt to shield me from the cold. It was a fine view from the top, I could see all the way to the familiar table top of Ingleborough some 35 miles to the south-east.

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From this vantage point I dropped down a little, probably no more than 100 feet or so northwards to Pavey Ark, the path distinct to start with and then it peters out.  After half a mile I had reached the crag of Pavey Ark, with excellent view of Stickle Tarn way below me.  From here I could see a few people dotted around, but they were few and far between compared to earlier in the day. I sat for a while and admired the view. The advantage of spending your nights up in the hills and mountains is that if you have arrived early to the vicinity of where you will camp for the night, you have the luxury of exploring those surroundings in more detail or just to sit for a while.  Generally the day walker does not have that luxury as they have to get back to their car or catch a bus. Suddenly you are aware that there is no-one about anymore and you have the place to yourself.

Stratospire near High Raise

The setting sun on my tent

I planned to camp on the slopes of High Raise just down from the summit, as I did  in June with Terry Abraham and Chris Townsend . However the northerly wind was strong and this side of the fell offered no shelter. I dropped down a bit further towards the eastern side and found a flat piece of ground which provided some reasonable shelter.

The tent was pitched quickly, and a nearby small tarn provided water for a hot drink and meal. After tightening the guys I settled down for the night. It was noticeably colder than previous nights with a chill in the air. Whist still the third week in August, autumn seemed to be knocking on the door saying summer was now over.  A couple of light showers and I drifted off to sleep.

Saturday 23rd August

Greenup Edge –  Greenup Gill – Cumbria Way – Rosthwaite

Saturday dawned rather misty with low cloud, but the weather forecast suggested a fine day to finish my trip and it was soon sunny.

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Looking down to Langstrath

Leading down to Langstrath

After a quick breakfast I was away walking down the slope towards Greenup Gill from Greenup Edge. There are a lot of streams running from the upper slopes of Ullscarf which made the walk down rather wet under foot. There is a small waterfall about half way down to Smithmire Island where the path meets the Cumbria Way coming from the left. The path around this waterfall is steep and slippery, so I took it very easy to make sure I didn’t slip and pitch headfirst down the path.

Greenup Gill

Greenup Gill

After a while the path levelled out, and after my concerns about the last section, I tripped over and fell flat on my face, I must have tripped over a daisy as there was nothing there but I laid there, with my rucksack pinning me to the ground and laughed out loud!  Picking myself up I continued down the path until I met the Cumbria Way. It was pleasant walk along Stonethwaite Beck in warm sunshine.

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I met several couples doing the Coast to Coast, but I was concerned that they didn’t seem to know where they were and they were relying not on a map but merely the same guide-book. I gave some directions as they were headed for Grasmere, but no map is not a great choice.

At Rosthwaite, I waited for the bus to Keswick, which came along after 15 minutes.  In Keswick I grabbed a sandwich at Booth’s and waited for the bus to Penrith.  Once I was on I dozed in the warm coach along the A66 until I reached the railway station.   A short wait and I was on the train back home after a great trip in the Lakes!

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5 Days in The Lakes Part 1

Stratospire near High Raise

Stratospire near High Raise

I wasn’t meant to be here, my original plan was to walk the Skye Trail over a 7 day period and with traveling to the island this would mean I would be away for ten days and with the sale of my house well underway I had to be back within a certain period.  The narrow window of opportunity was spoilt by Hurricane Bertha meaning that the start of the Skye Trail would be delayed.   Option two was go to the Lakes once the weather calmed down a bit.

The plan was to take public transport to Penrith, walk from east to west and then head north to Keswick and then by bus back to Penrith for the train back home.  There was a weather window that I took, the forecast suggesting cool northerly winds with sunshine and feeling rather like early October than late August, so a down jacket was packed along with a few extras that don’t normally make their way out of my kit box at this time of year. Tickets booked I found myself soon changing trains at Manchester Piccadilly on a Tuesday lunchtime with a 15 minute wait for the train to Penrith.

Once I arrived at Penrith, there was a ten minute taxi ride to Askham village below the Far Eastern fells of the Lake District arriving at around 2.30 in the afternoon.

Tuesday 19th August

Askham to Loadpot Hill to Wether Hill to Red Crag to Raven Howe to High Raise

A steady climb out of the village of Askham to attractive common land led up to Loadpot Hill.   On the map, it looks a very obvious route, but dozens of footpaths and sheep trods through waist high bracken weaved their way serpent like across the hillside.  Eventually after a few dead ends in the bracken I found the path that gradually climbed up to the trig point on top of Load pot Hill. The weather had been kind to me, a gentle breeze and the sun was out, but it was not really like August. As I walked southwards, the northerly wind increased with altitude and nipped at my back, feeling cold through my shirt.

Leaving Askham Village

Leaving Askham Village

Heather in bloom

Heather in bloom

On slopes of Load pot Hill

On slopes of Load pot Hill

Trig point at Load pot Hill

Trig point at Load pot Hill

After leaving the summit, I put on I my wind shirt walking on the Roman road of High Street, steadily climbing as I went over Wether Hill and Red Crag, where for the rest of the day’s journey I twisted and turned making my way through bogs on this watershed. Water runs a short journey from the bogs into the becks that led into either Ullswater on the right or the even shorter journey to Haweswater to my left.

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Shafts of light pour through the clouds

Shafts of light pour through the clouds

I rather like the look of this collapsed stone wall

I rather like the look of this collapsed stone wall

I reached the flat top of High Raise, which unlike many of the fell tops in the area has a good quantity of rock on the summit. The wind had picked up a bit and was blowing from the north west sometimes backing around to the north and as the sun would be setting soon it was now time to find a spot out of the wind for the night. It is always surprising to me how quickly the half past nine, quarter to ten sunsets  become a distant memory of an all too brief glorious midsummer period, even when viewed in mid- August. The balmy days of my last Lakes back pack with Chris Townsend and Terry Abraham in that short midsummer halcyon were already behind me.

Just down from the summit towards the direction of Haweswater, I found a sheltered spot nestled in the lee of the wind, a little shelf of reasonably flat grass. Water tend to be rather scarce on many of the Eastern fell tops, but a couple minutes’ walk down towards High Street, was a tiny tarn, really not much more that a puddle with thoughts of grandeur. I would fill my containers after setting up my camp.

I went through the ritual of setting my stuff out which all seasoned backpackers and wild campers must do each night, blow the mat up, pull out the down bag tightly secured in its small stuff sack, fluff it up and lay it out on the mat. Pull the little stuff sack with all the bits and bobs out of the pack. This goes here, that goes there and I will need that by my meths stove.  Must get my head torch ready so I know where it is when it gets dark – a wild camper’s ritual.

I walked the short way to the tarn and filled the platypus containers with tea coloured water and within minutes had the stove on; water boiling first for tea with the rest of the water for packet minestrone soup, always with croutons. I climbed into my sleeping bag looking out of the tent door at the setting sun, with knees drawn up and warmed by the down, I had my soup and gulps of tea. Soup finished, water is then on for the main meal, Vegetarian Thai Rice. The food may vary, but this part of the day never does. A comfort at the end of the day, a chance to relax and reflect on the day passed and to think about the next leg of one’s journey.

A day's end

A day’s end

Dinner is nearly ready!

Dinner is nearly ready!

Meal over, I took advantage of a 3G signal, next to no signal at home means that outside of work, this is a novelty for me. I took some photos and tweeted them, watched the news on my iphone and checked the weather forecast for tomorrow.

Wednesday 20th August

High Raise to High Street to Thornthwaite Crag to Threshthwaite Mouth to Stony Cove Pike to Caudale Moor to Kickstone Pass to Red Screes to Scandal Pass to Dove Crag to Hart Crag

Sunrise - it's going to be a nice day

Sunrise – it’s going to be a nice day

Riggindale Beck into Haweswater

Riggindale Beck into Haweswater

Approaching High Street

Approaching High Street

I was awake at six, brewed up and used the rest of the hot water for porridge. Packed up and away by eight, walking in brilliant sunshine. The first fell to tackle was High Street, this always looks better when approaching it, than when you arrive at the flat summit which is very un-mountain like. I decide this time to walk on the Hayeswater side rather than the main path and then cut across about 150 metres to the summit.

Blea Water

Hayeswater

Leaving the summit of High Street

Leaving the summit of High Street

A quick slug of water and a handful of trail mix and I was away. The path swings to the right, towards Stoney Cove Pike and I headed to the summit of Thornthwaite Crag with its stone built beacon sitting at the top. I dropped down to Threshthwaite Mouth and climbed steeply the 500 feet or so up to Caudale Moor. This ascent was rather tougher going than it looked on the map, with its steep and rocky slopes.  Pausing for a breather before making my way to Stony Cove Pike.

Looking down from Thornthwaite Crag

Looking down from Thornthwaite Crag

The path goes through a gap in a wall at the top and then drops gradually following the stone wall all the way down to Kirkstone Pass. The sun was out and the first batch of day hikers started to appear walking up hill towards me. I continued down, stopping on occasions to answer navigation questions from people walking up.  This is quite a regular occurrence and I guess my appearance as a backpacker rather than a day walker seems to prompt them to ask the way.  Backpackers generally are very few in number when walking any stretch of hills in the UK.

I stopped for a quick lunch break on St Raven’s Edge, whilst the sun was out; I needed to pull on my wind shirt to protect me from the chilly northerly wind. The last section to the road is a steep drop, before levelling out just before the Kirkstone Pass Inn.  Three small wind turbines turned slowly in the breeze guarded by CCTV and a stern yellow warning sign about tampering with these rotating spikes of metal. I assume that these were here to power the Inn by the roadside.

St Ravens's Edge with Lake Windermere in the far distant

St Ravens’s Edge with Lake Windermere in the far distant

Warning CCTV

Warning CCTV

Kirkstone Pass

Kirkstone Pass

I resisted the temptation to stop for a pint and carried on. Red Screes is a steep steep climb out of Kirkstone Pass, and after a lot of up and down already, left me a bit breathless at times, pausing several times before reaching the flat grassy plateau top with a huge mound of stones at one corner.  There was only one couple at the top and I stopped for a quick chat before moving on.

Scandale Pass

Scandale Pass

Another steep drop down to Scandale Pass, with some great views down to Brothers Water on reaching the pass.   Guess what? Another steep ascent the other side of the pass, passing Scandale tarn and close to Little Hart Crag, I made my way, slowing quite considerable by now, as the accumulated ascent and descents took their toll on my leg muscles. Finally the ground levelled out on the ridge up to Dove Crag. It was now late afternoon and time to scout out a camp spot. I needed water and a sheltered spot out of the nagging north wind.  I spied somewhere between Dow and Hart Crag and made for there, scrambling down amongst boulders and boggy ground causing Herdwicks to scatter all over the place.  On a little ledge I pitched my Stratospire, with a great view down the valley.

Seconds night's camp

Seconds night’s camp

Sleep came easy tonight, after a long day. Before I dropped off I listened to the weather forecast, tomorrow was going to be strong winds and heavy rain. I decided that I would change my route, being up on the top of the fells. I would walk along to Fairfield and drop down to Grasmere and decide my route from there.

Thursday 21st August

Hart Crag to Fairfield to Great Rigg to Stone Arthur to Grasmere to  Huntingstile to  Huntingstile Crag to Elterwater to Cumbria Way to Great Langdale National Trust Campsite

The sound of rain drumming on silnylon woke me up just before six. The clouds looked like they would be coming down soon, so I quickly had breakfast and got packed up and got away. Waterproof jacket and trousers on and off I went.

Looking down to Rydal Beck & Windermere in distant LHS & Thirmere RHS

Looking down to Rydal Beck & Windermere in distant LHS & Thirlmere RHS

Up on the ridge, the rain hit me straight in the face, as I staggered about in the high winds. I needed to get to Fairfield and then down to Grasmere. The wind slammed against my left side and then my right as I follow the ridge path as it curved around to Fairfield. I followed the ridge down to Great Rigg with the wind and rain pushing me southwards. At Great Rigg I took the right hand path to Stone Arthur and then the very steep path near to Grasmere.

Walking from Fairfield to Great  Rigg

Walking from Fairfield to Great Rigg

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A solitary tree gave me shelter as the heavy rain turned torrential.  Streams suddenly appeared running down any path or sheep trod on the hillside.  I trudged down in the pouring rain reaching the edge of town through a wooded section of path.

Grasmere is somewhere down in that cloud

Grasmere is somewhere down in that cloud

Looking back towards Stone Arthur

Looking back towards Stone Arthur

Grasmere’s streets were awash. I stopped at the Co-op to use the cash machine, dripping all over the ATM, before moving on to find somewhere suitable to stop for a bite to eat. A warm bakery smell wafted around me and I stepped inside  a small cafe and sat down with a hot pastie and a big mug of tea and took advantage of free Wi-Fi.

Refreshed and somewhat drier, I stepped out into the rain, which, I couldn’t believe was actually coming down harder than before. My destination for tonight was Great Langdale, I had decided to stay down in the valley rather than back on the fells, although I not sure it could be any wetter, but I guess the wind would be less. I crossed over the fells at the lowest point walking from Huntingstile Lodge into Elterwater. The rain kept falling harder and harder and I just carried on walking. It was a real test for my waterproof jacket and trousers, and they did just fine.

The track from Huntingstile

The track from Huntingstile

Huntingstile Crag

Huntingstile Crag

Looking down at Elterwater

Looking down at Elterwater

At Elterwater I joined the Cumbria Way and walked the remaining miles. Rain rain rain, it just kept coming without a let up, well maybe for a minute or two at a time. It had been raining stair-rods for 7 hours solid and with no let up, it was head down and march on.

Heading to Great Langdale along the Cumbria Way

Heading to Great Langdale along the Cumbria Way

The National Trust campsite was where I was heading. Eventually I saw the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and within 10 minutes I was booking in at the site. It was just after half past three and the rain was still coming down. Most of the field where the tents were, was under water, but I spotted a high spot which was also flat.  I quickly put up my tent, well as fast as I could given that the ground was full of stones and rocks, hammering in my Easton nails and Clam- cleats with a handy rock to secure the tent.

I sorted out my gear and found that there was a drying room. My socks and Salomon trail shoes which are unlined were saturated. As I opened the door,the smell of wet socks, and damp boots hit me along with probably 90 degree heat. Every shelf and hook seemed to be taken, but I found a small place for my socks and shoes. A nice hot shower followed. Back at the tent water was on for soup, tea and then for a Vegetarian Spaghetti Bologonese, which was very tasty.

There was no phone signal at all at the site, so I wasn’t distracted, by emails, texts or tweets. I listened to Radio 4 and read a few chapters of a novel on my Iphone before turning out the light. As I settled down for the night the last of the day’s rain finally petered out. It had been raining pretty much for 15 hours!

Part 2 soon

 

 

 

 

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Overview of Sawyer mini filter

A new water filter system which compares very favorably to other such systems in terms of cost, ease of use and weight. Filter weighs only 53g. Cleaning plunger 30g. Straw 3g. 0.5 litre pouch 23g. Total weight of system 109g  (All weights  are mine and not manufacturers weights). Sawyer mini comes with a 100,000 US gallon (378,540 litre) guarantee according to their website.

Please check the Sawyer website to see if your particular requirements for a water filter system is provided by this product, particularly if using outside of the UK. UPDATE – it was pointed out to me that to filter out viruses, which tend not to be a problem in developed countries, you need to use a filter size of 0.02 microns. A useful page is here

Sawyer Europe can be found here 

Here is my overview video

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Review of Montane Grand Tour 55

A comfortable backpack with many excellent features. Here is my video review.

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Lakeland Backpack – Part 2

Inversion seen from Great Gable

Inversion seen from Great Gable

Tuesday

Dawn comes early near to the solstice and when I am in a tent, I wake pretty early, so a little after 5.30 I was already to get up. I decided to avoid making tea early as Terry and Chris were still asleep as far as I could tell. My Primus Spider is a noisy stove. I laid back down and turned on the radio on my phone and listened to the news on Radio 4 and did a bit of reading until 7.

Chris and Terry were stirring by now, so I started up the stove and made my first brew of the day. The sun was bright and the breeze of yesterday had gone.

A late pack up on Bleaberry Fell ( Terry & Chris)

A late pack up on Bleaberry Fell ( Terry & Chris)

Terry was to do some filming of Chris this morning before we set off and our route would take us back along the ridge I came yesterday and then down to Blea Tarn, over Ullscaff and High Raise.  I have been on video shoots before, and there can be a lot of hanging about. The weather was so nice, it didn’t matter to me, when we set off, when we arrived at camp or how far we were going to walk today.  One of the most important aspects of backpacking is the wild camps and so hanging around watching Terry and Chris was no problem for me. After breakfast, I packed up as I had to get my gear out of shot, then Terry and Chris did their stuff and we left quite late in the morning, heading to High Seat, where more filming took place.  I was trying to stop people walking into shot while Terry filmed, but within a short space of time we counted 17 walkers arriving at our spot and I gave up.

We stop for a break prior to more filming ( High Seat)

We stop for a break prior to more filming ( High Seat)

Some people were good and kept quiet, others would say are you filming? – Yes and then stood behind Chris right in front of the camera. Others stood in the way – texting on the phone. What I always find is that if you have a large backpack on, as opposed to a day pack, people assume that you must know what you are doing, so I often find myself fielding questions, like where are we? what way is X? and with Terry filming, it seemed to magnify the questions. Eventually Terry got what him wanted and off we set into the boggy bit. Chris was sensible he had his sandals on, but Terry and I just slopped our way through it.  Fortunately I had bought  with me a pair of unlined Hi-Tec trail shoes, so I had wet feet but they dried quickly in the warm sun.

Eventually we arrived at Blea Tarn, Terry did some more filming, I think it is only right to be vague about what the filming was about, I don’t want to give anything away!

Blea Tarn

Blea Tarn

On the way to Blea Tarn

Filming at Blea Tarn

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We tackled Ullscarf, Terry was finding it a bit of a struggle at times, but his pack with all the camera gear weighed as much as Chris and mine put together. He is a pretty strong bloke, so he made it over the fells with a bit of puffing and panting.

It was a beautiful evening when we finally arrived at High Raise and we camped below the summit. Terry and Chris did some more filming and I went off to find some water. It was surprisingly dry around the camp but I eventually found a small spring and came back with enough water.

Filming near High Raise

Filming near High Raise

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The wind had dropped to flat calm and the evening was still and warm. I made my evening meal and stretched out and just admired the view. With warm weather, the view, the fantastic sunset and the peaceful surrounding – it just doesn’t get much better than this.  Chris spotted a lone female Red deer just below us, sort of strange to see one on its own like that, a stag maybe, but not a doe.

Sunset from High Raise

Sunset from High Raise

Herdwick sheep near our camp

Herdwick sheep near our camp

A bit later on Dan Richards, Mark Richards son (of the guide book fame) came to join us for the night. He had ridden up on his mountain bike from Stonethwaite.

It was hardly dark by 11 pm and eventually we went to bed around midnight.

Wednesday

The call of nature had me out of the tent by 5.30, I waved to Dan who was taking some photos of an inversion on Helvellyn in the distance. I crept back into my bag and slept for another hour.

The morning was beautiful and warm again, I took a stroll around and then made some breakfast.  It was so peaceful, one of the best wild camp spot for quite awhile.

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High Raise

High Raise

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Doors left overnight - it was warm

Doors left overnight – it was warm

Eventually Chris and Terry got up, I was nearly ready for my lunch by that time :) but I had enjoyed the morning, just staring at the surrounding fells.

After their breakfast more filming took place, while Dan and I chatted. It was warm in the morning sun and definitely shorts weather.

Once everyone was packed, we said goodbye to Dan as he headed down to Langstrath.  We proceeded to walk towards Stake Pass. Our plan then was Angle Tarn, Esk Hause, Sprinkling Tarn, Sty Head and onto Great Gable, where a little flat piece of ground Terry and I had camped on back in late November was our next overnight stop.

Walking down to Stake Pass

Walking down to Stakes Pass

By the time we arrived at Stake Pass via Terry’s short cut the sun was beating down. My wet trail shoes felt like they were boiling inside. Chris got out his Kestrel potable weather station and measured 26C air temperature and 42C in direct sunlight, no wonder we felt hot.

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Angle Tarn

Angle Tarn

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At Angle Tarn, some more shots were taken after waiting for a couple of walkers to move on and we then took the steep climb up to Esk Hause.

Terry coming up from Angle Tarn

Terry coming up from Angle Tarn

 

Esk Hause

Esk Hause

After pausing for a breather we moved onto Sprinkling Tarn and dropped down to Sty Head, where a lot of tents as usual were gathered around the tarn.  A ten minute walk saw us to our camp for the night.

Wild camp at Great Gable opposite the Scafells

Wild camp at Great Gable opposite the Scafells

Here we met Phil, one of Terry’s friends who had driven over from Hull and was going to spend the night with us.  The view to the Scafells from here is one of the best I know. Looking down to Wasdale Head,  I thought it might be ideal conditions for a temperature inversion, Phil said he had never seen one and literally within a few minutes we saw one form right in front of us. I have seen plenty that I have woken up to, but I have never actually seen one form in front of me.

The series of photos was taken over a two minute period and Phil was raving about what we could see. I don’t normally use the word, as it is overused, but it was awesome. We watched the inversion rise and fall several times that evening.

Start of inversion

Start of inversion

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At its maximum

After watching the Wasdale Head Inn disappear and re-appear several times, the wind direction did a complete about turn, strengthen and we decided to retire to our tents.

Thursday

By early morning, when I awoke, we were in dense cloud and the great view that I went to sleep to, had completley disappeared. Time to crawl back into my bag.

Cloud down on our wild camp

Cloud down on our wild camp

An hour later the cloud was lifting as I made early morning tea,

That's better !

That’s better !

Phil left straight after breakfast, to get back home and a little later we were joined by Richard Fox from Fix the Fells. Terry was doing a piece with him, using the backdrop of the Scafells. Richard is on the left of the photo.

...from Fix the Fells ( L)

Richard from Fix the Fells ( L)

Final filming with Wasdale in background

Final filming with Wasdale in background

One final bit of filming with Chris, before we said our good-byes to Terry. Chris and I made our way down to Seathwaite and then Seatoller to catch the bus back to Keswick.

One great thing about Chris is, you can ask him about anything to do with backpacking and his encyclopedic memory engages, you can learn a lot walking with him, even if you have been walking the hills and mountains for 40 years or more !

Nearing Seathwaite, I took my final photo of the trip, before we joined the lane down to Seatoller.

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As I said before, great weather, company, hills and wild camps – it doesn’t get much better!

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A Lakeland backpack – Part 1

It was a trip I couldn’t wait to start, five days in the Lakes, with 4 nights wild camping and meeting up with Terry Abraham and Chris Townsend for 3 nights. We were to meet up on Bleaberry Fell as last year . The weather was set fair and good company and fine walking was assured.

I stayed overnight on Saturday at Burns Farm, Thelkeld, so that I could leave my car safely until Thursday. The site charges £3 per day for parking your car which I thought was reasonable.

After a fairly disturbed night listening to a world-class snorer some 20 feet away from me, I awoke to find a dry, cloudy and pretty humid day, without a breathe of wind.

Sunday

Packing up after a hearty breakfast, I left the car safely opposite the owner’s house and made my way down the tiny country lanes towards the start of the Coach Road, a track which winds gradually around Clough Head. My route today was to climb to the top of Clough Head, up onto the ridge and walk over the Dodds, to Helvellyn and then camp up on Nethermost Pike for a spectacular sunset – more about that later.

Clough Head

Clough Head

 

Start of the Coach Road

Start of the Coach Road

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Old Shepherd’s hut

With 5 day’s worth of food, my pack was heavier than normally for a trip in the hills and with no breeze, it was a muggy start to the walk. As I didn’t need to get to Nethermost Pike at any particularly time,  I could take my time and saviour the landscape. Leaving the Coach road I headed up to Clough Head, along a stream with small waterfalls dotted along its length. With no breeze, humid conditions, midges, a heavier than normal pack, I can’t say that it was a pleasant climb.

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Once I was on the ridge, a breeze picked up, I cooled down a bit and the midges disappeared. Lunch was taken at Calfhow Pike before turning south to walk over the Dodds.  By now the cloud was coming down, obscuring the view from time to time.

Looking over to Bleaberry Fell. My next day's camp

Looking over to Bleaberry Fell. My next day’s camp

Walking towards Watson’s Dodd

By the time I had scaled Watson’s Dodd, the cloud was becoming thicker, fortunately the ridge was easy to follow even in dense cloud.  I took some photos of the summit cairns as I walked over them one by one, but they all looked the same.  I was now wondering whether I would see anything at my camp on Nethermost Pike.

I forget which Dodd this was!

I forget which Dodd this was!

Summit cairn on Raise

Summit cairn on Raise

By the time I got to the shelter on Helvellyn, I couldn’t see more than 10 metres in front of me.  There were four lads, who had walked up Striding Edge to get here, but no-one else other than us on a Sunday afternoon at 4 o’clock. How many times does that happen?

A lonely Helvelyn summit

A lonely Helvellyn summit

I needed water for the evening as there was is little to be had since Clough Head .  Terry had suggested in an email prior to the trip, that there was a spring about 500 metres from the summit. Fortunately I had put the grid reference into my Garmin and I walked off into the gloom, glad that I did  as I would have never found  it otherwise. Then a strange happened just as I reached the spring, the clouds parted and the sun come out strongly as if lighting up the way to the water source. I sat down in the sun and drank deeply the cool fresh water before filling up my Platypus and Water Sawyer pouches.

Brownrigg Well ( spring)

Brownrigg Well ( spring)

As I left this little oasis, the clouds came back down blanketed my way again.  I retraced my steps back to the summit and walked along the edge to Nethermost Pike, squinting to see any view that might be had- there was none!   I camped on an outcrop, looking at Striding Edge, not that I could see anything.

Pitching my Stratospire quickly, I settled down for the evening, not much to keep the doors open as the cloud now had blocked everything out.  As I got into my sleeping bag, I heard the pitter patter of light rain on the flysheet.

Monday

An early night, led me to wake early the next day, to a fantastic view, the view I was looking for the night before, but it was well worth the wait as the following photos show.

Wild camp on Nethermost Pike

Wild camp on Nethermost Pike

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Sunrise. Looking down Grisedale & Ullswater in far distance

Sunrise. Looking down Grisedale & Ullswater in far distance

Striding Edge & Helvellyn

Striding Edge & Helvellyn

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Looking down at Hard Tarn

Looking down at Hard Tarn

The weather forecast on Radio 4 promised a much better day with long sunny spells and I set off down the well-worn path leading from Helvellyn to Thirlmere. On the way down I stopped several times to speak to early walkers on their way up, and a chap from Fix the Fells who was carrying out work on the Bad Step on Striding Edge to stop path erosion.  There were some fine views along the length of Thirlmere reservoir.

Walking down from Helvellyn

Walking down from Helvellyn

Thirlmere Reservior

Thirlmere reservoir

Reaching the bottom of the path, I turned left to walk a short distance through woodland to arrive at the road at Wythburn.

Crossing the main road here I  walked along a narrow lane in lovely warm sunshine to a footpath climbing Birk Crag.  The path levels out at Harrop Tarn and by a ford there I had a long lunch sunning myself and taking in the views.

Lunch stop at Harrop Tarn

Lunch stop at Harrop Tarn

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The next stage was through the forest, following by a hot climb out of the valley and back onto the fells. It was really warm and the sweat poured off me, it was humid and no breeze was to be found.

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Eventually after stopping a number of times to drink, I made it out of the forest following the path towards Blea Tarn. Reaching the top of the ridge I turned right towards High Tove.

Towards High Tove

Towards High Tove

This area is more like the Pennines than the Lake District and it’s bogs remind me of the Peak District, particularly as I went up to my knees in the thick gloopy mess not long after starting along the ridge.  A text from Terry confirmed that he would be there around 3 pm. I estimated that I would have another couple of hours and Chris would arrive around 7-ish

As I trudged along,  following the fence line over these fells, I was reminded what Wainwright in his guide to the Central Fells says about one particular fell on this ridge. “Peak baggers and record chasers may have cause to visit the summit, but other walkers may justifiably consider its ascent a waste of precious time and energy when so many more rewarding climbs are available, for the flat desolate top is little better than a quagmire, a tangle of swamp and heather and mosses, as is much of the surrounding territory”. If the sun wasn’t shining so brightly, I may have agreed with him, but his criticism seemed harsh on a day like today.

Over the fells I walked, Armboth Fell, Middle Crag, High Tove, High Seat, (at least I was ticking off the Wainwrights) until I starting climbing the last fell of the day – Bleaberry Fell.

Bleaberry Fell

Bleaberry Fell

Nearing my destination, I saw Terry wandering around on the top, I waved a few times and eventually he saw me and we walked over to his chosen wild camp spot.  Terry decided quite rightly that we should camp on the lee-ward side of the hill as there was a strong North Easterly wind blowing and he had found a little sheltered spot.

He had set up his tarp already and we walked back down from where I came to collect water from a small nearby tarn.

I pitched my tent, brewed up, and caught up with what Terry had been doing in the last few weeks.

Putting some more water on for my evening meal I could relax after a hard day’s backpack.  Later on we walked over to the summit cairn to see if we could spy Chris coming up from Keswick.  Soon we saw a solitary backpacker climbing towards us. Chris, like me earlier on, was sweating profusely – the humid weather and steep climb out of Keswick via Cat Gill ensured that.

Wild camp on Bleaberry Fell

Wild camp on Bleaberry Fell

It was good to see Terry and Chris again and many stories were swapped,  and like the year before, we were treated to another excellent sunset, before retiring to our beds. I slept with the doors open, it was a warm evening and the forecast for next few days promised more of the same.

Sunset from Bleaberry Fell with Bassenthwaite Lake in the distance.

Sunset from Bleaberry Fell with Bassenthwaite Lake in the distance.

 

 

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A different landscape

This is different from my posts about mountains and wild places. This is  a post about gentle rolling hills and places in and around the Lincolnshire Wolds, where I live. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and far from the impression that many have of a flat, boring landscape. True certain parts of the county mainly in the south east can resemble a large cabbage field, but in the north of the county, rolling hills give way to wide open skies, pretty villages and a small rural population. Enough words and let the photos do the talking.

Looking across the Viking Way near Walesby

Looking across the Viking Way near Walesby

Our regular dog walk near our house.

Our regular dog walk near our house.

Looking across to the Bain Valley

Looking across to the Bain Valley

Sunrise from our bedroom window

Wild flowers bloom next to our beck at home

Wild flowers bloom next to our beck at home

Dawn breaks at -19C – the coldest it has ever been at home

Mid winter near Nettleton top

Mid winter near Nettleton top

Drought spring 2012 Walesby Woods

Drought spring 2012 Walesby Woods

 

Walesby Woods

Walesby Woods

Viking Way

Viking Way

 

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