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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An hour later the cloud was lifting as I made early morning tea,
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.
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.
As I said before, great weather, company, hills and wild camps – it doesn’t get much better!
Media superstar 😉
What me!? I came along for the walking – I kept well away from Terry’s camera.
Excellent! I think it must be an inversion time of year 🙂
Thanks Chrissie. Yes there is a danger of all these photos of inversions being rather passe:)
is there anyway of posting a simple map of your route and approx camp positions? I’m working away and don’t have access to my maps. Excellent account and fab photo’s. You have been lucky with weather and finding water – do you treat it or just boil it? Can you cover the food you took/ate? many thanks
Hi Louise, thanks for your kind words. Weather as you can see has been pretty good this year so far. Hopefully you will get the tail end of it when you come over in September. Keeping busy at the moment shifting tonnes of firewood over to the new house and taking stuff to the dump/ recycling centre. Still keeps me fit ready for another backpack!
All the best to you and yours in Oz
Hi Sean. I will try and sort something out in the next day or so. I going to post up so stuff on gear review of the trip so I will try and include.
Thanks Mark for another amazing account of your adventures, love the photos, makes me feel like I am there!! That’s a compliment on your blogg.
Keep it flowing reminds me of English countryside.
We are in middle of winter here in Australia and finally getting the ‘good’ rain, much needed.
Looking forward to catching up soon and great news about your house selling and to a lovely family.
Excellent post and great photos, good to see the SS1 out in the elements it looks a bit breezy on the Thursday morning in the mist. Which remote canister stove are you using? I like the photo of the mist descending above Angle Tarn. As well I am always impressed by the amount of gear Terry carries, imagine how far he could walk in a day without camera gear.
Ha ha. Aye, I could walk and walk all day such is the strength and stamina I’ve built up. Alas I don’t at all. I tend to enjoy the fact I’m much lighter on my feet and not in pain etc. Consequently, I do about the same distances yet still stop and take in the views 🙂
Thanks Roger. The SS1 was good. The stove I used was a Primus Spider, great stove if rather noisy. It boils water so fast, that is not really a problem. Terry can really carry some weight. On one trip with him, he was carrying a 95 litre pack with all his camera kit. He said to me that he has problems finding many packs of that size as with the advent of lightweight gear and gear that packs down small, it is difficult to find really large packs as the demand for such packs is not really there now.
I’ve seen a number of inversions over the years but never one forming. In fact, it’s never occurrred to me before that they do actuallly “form”. Interesting that.
Hi Alen. Sorry this seems to have got lost in the system. Quite amazing to watch!
Nice reports Mark. Enjoyed reading them from camp! 😉 Makes a change seeing me in pics too. Nice one. Though I’m not sure about the bright white legs in the pic ascending from Angle Tarn!!! 😉
Ha Ha. First time my legs had seen the sun this year as well 🙂
The lakes in perfect weather. How good does it get. Good post and pics Mark.
Thanks Alan. Great weather and a great trip!
Grand trip and account. The inversion was interesting due to the time of year, I’ve seen quite a few good ones but always in spring or autumn, never in summer – I thought the temperature would never drop enough.
The mention of the mini-Butlins at Styhead was no surprise, I’m surprised Angle Tarn didn’t have a collection in the picture too – or maybe they were out of sight.
Thanks Geoff and good to hear from you again. As you say quite unusual this time of the year. Started right above the beck down in Wasdale. Our wild camp was a far nicer spot than Styhead Tarn!
Superb photos of what looked a cracking trip with superb wild sites, the one above Sty Head looks well worth a trip. I’ll have to try and find it next time I’m up that way 🙂
Thanks Andy, excellent trip.