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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35 Responses to 5 Days in The Lakes Part 2

  1. Some rather nice photos there, Mark, with beautiful blue skies!

  2. GeoffC says:

    Very fine pictures and a memorable expedition. Sometimes I think those DOE youngsters are being made to pay their dues as a sort of hard apprenticeship before they learn for themselves more sensible ways of tackling it.

    • How true Geoff. How true!

      • Sean says:

        My eldest has completed her Gold and my youngest is doing her bronze. They had immense advantage over friends with having a dad who learnt the hardway, could advise on choice of kit and practice – be that pitching tent in the rain, re-packing a sac or cooking food. Of course lightweight gear is more expensive, and many are doing this on a budget.

      • Hi Sean, Lightweight gear can be more expensive. As I said in my comments to AlanR, it would be interesting exercise to see if one could come up with a lighter list at a reasonable cost.

  3. Paul Byrne says:

    Nice follow up to part 1 Nice photos helped by the fine weather.

  4. AlanR says:

    Lightweight backpacking, although second nature to us seasoned backpackers is still not the norm with organisations and although they get lists of what to take the weight is not the most important thing, and as you are aware it takes time to achieve. As we all know Less weight = More money, generally. Parents cannot always afford to layout big sums to do the DofE. So they beg steal and borrow, well maybe not steal. They may never use the kit again.
    Anyway, it seems that you had a very chilling weekend on your route. Splendid.

    • Yes, I agree with you Alan on D of E. If I had the time I would sit down and come up with a list of equipment that was reasonable in cost but could lighten the load somewhat to see if it was possible. One for the odd spare moment that I have in my life 🙂

    • I agree with you Alan on Do E. Perhaps when I have a spare moment in my life I will sit down and look at a list of equipment that is reasonable cost & lighter than the norm to see if it is possible.

  5. Great write up Mark. Really good read. Belting photos too! Makes me want to get my rucksack out. I was up at ODG on Sunday, always good to read about it.

  6. AlanR says:

    I remember a while ago Andy Howell was going to do a list but i seems to have gone adrift. It does take a lot of time to put it together.

  7. Martin Rye says:

    A fine route mark and some nice photos. Always nice when the weather is decent. In the Lakes that is always a gamble when planning and booking time off work to go hike. Glad it worked out for you.

    • It has been difficult not to have good weather this year. Apart from that day of heavy rain I had it was good weather all the time and my trip with Terry & Chris,the weather was superb. Not many years like this one!

  8. Sean says:

    Mark – serious proposition – how about we sit down and draft a new DofE kit list? I’m finishing work 10th Oct and need to fill my time. In the meantime here is something to make you laugh: http://www.buzzfeed.com/robinedds/duke-of-edinburgh-problems#4b1y24l

  9. surfnslide says:

    Like you I always feel sorry for the kids that really don’t look like they are enjoying the experience which should of course be the point. Often the easiest way to avoid weight is hardship, less food etc. like you I think just a little more realistic guidance might improve the heavy sack without cost.

    Oh and really great photos, love that misty shot first thing on your last morning

  10. A good report Mark, I appreciated your comment on being able to make your own plans when hiking solo, that is something I still need to lear, all to often I plan a route and stick to it whereas in reality I could plan to visit an area and then go from there. Thos damm daisies, I have the same problem, I think in Scandinavia they have magical properties and just pop out of the ground to catch the unsuspecting walker before disappearing again. Or maybe its the trolls.
    I used to run DofE in my school in Australia and the restrictions on gear were less evident. However, I had the opposite problem of students not listening to advice, e.g. cotton clothing in wet weather etc. But overall we focussed on lightweight techniques and hopefully some are still using such approaches.

  11. akenfrith says:

    Mark, Enjoy your reports immensely keep up the good work!
    I am off up Langstrath tomorrow for an overnighter taking in Great End and High Raise on return. Just wanted to ask about B and Q Double Glazing Film which you use as a porch sheet. Put a search in their site and found nothing.
    Has it got another name?
    Mick Graham

  12. hollypyw says:

    Wherever you decide to go camping out, there are some basic rules to follow along with. Initially, depart as little affect on the land as possible. You should also process excellent fire safety when putting together your campfire and cooking food area. And you need to make sure your food doesn’t bring in bears along with other critters. Naturally, you have to select a campsite prior to some of these regulations utilize, so read on for the guide to making a good, comfy campsite where by you can get a very good night’s sleep

  13. PhilR says:

    A bit late but catching up on blogs. A great account and some very fine pictures indeed. Like you I do enjoy the company of others but equally sometimes you just can’t beat that feeling of solitude and freedom that comes when walking on your own. DofE! I was in my local Cotswold last week (spending my B’day money on a new rucksack) there was a young girl in there with her family buying the biggest rucksack imaginable, it was nearly as big as her, I dread to think what it would have weighed when full. btw good excuse for a pee stop will have to remember that one 🙂

    • Sorry Phil I didn’t reply until now. Moved house and lost track of time. Thanks for your kind remarks. Very few DoE’s have anything other than huge rucksacks – you can spot them a mile away on the horizon:)

  14. Angle Tarn, one of the best places for a wild camp, always enjoy one up there.
    Sounds like a great trip, nice photos.
    ~ Fozzie

  15. McEff says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed that, Mark. You can’t beat the Lakes for excellent walking and memorable days. And I just love lying in a sleeping bag supping tea while the sun dries the tent. That’s what camping is all about.
    Cheers, Alen

    • Sorry Alen I didn’t reply until now. Moved house and lost track of time. Thanks for your kind remarks. The walking is only part of the experience, those camping bits are an important part.

  16. Fellbound says:

    Ah. This takes me back to those lovely summer days we had this year. Lovely write up Mark. My first ever wild camp was at Angle Tarn above Great Langdale. But that was almost 40 years ago. The then path up along and sometimes in, Rossett Gill was at that time notorious for its horridness. The obvious path used today is rather better 🙂

  17. Ruth says:

    Great write up Mark! The pictures are beautiful (my favorite is the shot of your tent with the setting sun) and you’re descriptions are so vivid, almost like I’m walking there also. So very inspiring,thank you so much for sharing!

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