Wednesday afternoon 15th May: Keswick – Cat Bells- Maiden Moor-High Spy – Lobstone Band ( 10.5 km or 6.5 miles)
Thursday 16th May: Dale Head-Rosthwaite-Berkett’s Leap-Watendlath-High Trove-High Seat-Bleaberry Fell ( 12 km or 7.5 miles)
Friday morning 17th May: Bleaberry Fell – Cat Gill – Keswick via path along Derwentwater. ( 5km or 3.25 miles)
I picked Terry Abraham up at Appleby Railway Station on a blustery cold Wednesday morning, the temperature in the car said just 3C degree. The weather forecast was not that great for the day, with possibly sleet or snow on the highest tops. The plan was to walk together for Wednesday and Thursday and for Chris Townsend to join us on Thursday evening and Friday morning prior to us attending Keswick Mountain Festival.
We parked up in a quiet street North of the town centre and set off along the Cumbria Way to the where the path climbs up past Skelgill Bank to the summit of Cats Bell.
Walking along the ridge, the wind really whipped up and and chilled us as we climbed to the summit. I wished I had put on my Cioch trousers rather than my Terra Pants, it was probably just above freezing and with strong winds quite a wind chill. Terry had ripped his over-trousers to shreds during filming of the Cairngorms in Winter, so when I stopped to put my Rab Drilliums, Terry had nothing to put on. The wind really got up and it lashed down with hail as we made our way along Maiden Moor.
As often the case when the weather is bad and you head into the wind, you just get on with it and spend little time taking photos. Eventually the hail abated so we paused to take a few shots of fells surrounding us. Reaching High Spy we searched for a suitable place to camp for the night. We thought about a pitch near Dale Tarn, but decided against it dropping down a bit to find a pitch a bit more sheltered.
A good spot was found with excellent views of the Scafell Massif, along with the neighbouring tops of Great End and Great Gable.
Once my tent was up, it was water on for a brew and an evening meal. Terry came over with his hydration bladder full of sherry! and I had a mug full of the sweet liquid not really my tipple but it was warming in the chilly brezze. It had been a long day and we both retired early. After falling asleep early I woke sometime in the night to the sound of a gas stove going full blast, thought nothing of it, turned over and went to back to sleep. Terry told me in the morning that his legs were cold in the night probably from them being wet during the day so he decided to boil the sherry in his hydration bladder so he could use it as a hot water bottle – Strange chap 🙂
I was woken by the warmth of the early morning sun coming through the tent fabric. I lay there for a few minutes and poked my head out of the door to look at the sunny morning. Immediately the sun was obscured by a large bank of cloud racing up from the valley floor, goodbye sunny and warm weather, hello shivery cold cloudy weather. I fired the stove up and slipped back into my sleeping bag to warm up.
By the time we packed up, the sun was back out and we made our way near to Dale Head Tarn and then descended to Borrowdale.
Stopping at the Scafell Hotel at Rosthwaite for a pint on the way through we then carried on climbing the other side of the valley making for Watendlath Tarn, where there were some boats out fishing.
After a few stops we reached High Tove, where turned left to walk along the top. This area is more like the Peak District rather than the Lake District and we were warned by Andy in George Fishers that it will be really boggy. Both Terry and I are quite frequent visitors to the Peaks and we thought that it was pretty tame in comparison. If you really want to see bogs go on Howden Edge!
Looking to the South we could see heavy rain moving towards us. I donned my waterproofs on as we walked the last few miles to Bleaberry Fell via High Seat.
Eventually we arrived at the summit cairn of Bleaberry Fell. I sat down and admired the view. I cannot think of many places where you can see so much from one vantage point. Below us Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite, out to the Galloway coast, in front of us Skidaw, Blencathra and the Dodds to the right. To left where we walked the day before and behind that the Scafell Massif and associated mountains. Just fantastic views!
Terry text Chris to see where he was and after pitching our tents we waited for him to appear at the summit cairn. We were looking through my binoculars for him when he crept up behind us and gave a start.
Chris went off to set up his tent while Terry and I went to find him some water. We spent awhile chatting away with a heavy shower of rain driving us into our tents.
After something to eat we emerged from our little shelters to a truly mavellous sunset.
More chatting for awhile and plenty of posing for photos with the sunset behind us and I was ready for bed. The wind was now blowing strongly from the North, never a warm direction, as I snuggled down into my sleeping bag. I was glad I packed my PHD winter bag.
Again the warmth of the sun woke me around six. The view this morning no less spectacular than the night A leisurely morning, eating breakfast drinking cups of tea and talking about the usual stuff when backpackers meet.
I took this opportunity to quiz Chris as the gear guru, on his recommendations and thoughts on some new gear that I was looking to buy to replace worn out stuff ( shhh…that’s what I am going to tell the wife anyway). The morning turned out to be sunny and warm. We took a leisurely pace down towards Cat Gill stopping on the way to remove outer garments because of the warmth of the sun.
The view from Cat Gill to Derwentwater is a very fine view, with pine trees lining the steep path down to the water’s edge. A pleasant stroll along the beach, found us back at Keswick, where we arrived early to pitch our tents at Crow Park, where the Mountain Festival was to be held.
As most of my walking is solo, it made a pleasant change to walk and camp with others, something that I look forward to again.