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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Hartsop & Glenridding Fells

This was a route I came up with to bag a few odd un-climbed Wainwrights I had in the area - High Hartsop Dodd,  Green side , Hartside , Sheffield Pike & Glenridding Dodd . The rest were 'familiar friends' whose summits I had crossed many times .

Parking in Hartsop I took the lane back to the A592 to pick up the shore path at the northern end of Brothers Water.

This provided a nice gentle warm up , before the next climb to High Hartsop Dodd. commencing the steep climb, I stopped regularly to both admire the views - Brothers water with Place Fell behind and views towards Hart Crag and Fairfield further up, and to catch my breath !

Soon I arrived at the summit of High Hartsop Dodd and the views opened up , Dove Crag & Hart Crag coming clearly into view .

Just before Little Hart Crag the showers started , the forecast was for odd light showers so I donned my wind shirt - usually enough to fend off light showers /rain . The odd 'light showers' turned to heavy persistent rain further up , and I begrudgingly donned full wet gear for the climb to Dove Crags. Another steep pull and I gained the summit , Hart Crags then came clearly into view.

Continuing on I arrived on Fairfield and Grisedale Tarn came into view , this is a nice vantage point for views towards Dollywagon Pike , down to Grisedale Forest and back to St Sunday Crag.

The rain stopped and intermittent sunlight lit up the landscape , everything seems fresh with vivid colours in conditions like these - light/ shade & mist/cloud all adding atmosphere to the land scape .

Continuing on I descended steeply towards Grisedale Tarn , meeting the 1st walkers of the day .

Part way up the direct route to Dollywagon Pike I took advantage of the stone wall , and stopped for a brew/lunch and to dry off my wind shirt at the same time .

I spent around 30 mins here , relaxing with a brew , taking in the scenery before continuing on . I changed back into my now dry windshirt - the rain had stopped but there was quite a stiff cool breeze which I was thankfull of as it kept me cool on the climb . Soon I reached the 'post' and the route levelled off as I strode along the ridge - a very easy airy walk form here . Along the way I visited a camp site I used during winter nearly 3 years ago , it is quite exposed , but offers a superb view point in calm conditions .

A little while later Striding Edge came into view with a few folk traversing it en-route to Helvellyn . With it being  the height of the holiday season I expected quite a few folk to be at the  summit , there were a few , but nowhere near the numbers I expected !

The last familiar summit was Stybarrow Dodd , then I headed east on to new ground . As I went I got a nice view of what would be the last unclimbed  Wainwright of the trip - Catstye Cam , but 1st there was new ground to explore and a camp for the night to be found !

Stybarrow Dodd was reached , then I headed east towards Green Side . There were some good looking sites here but nowhere offered any shelter so I continued to Hartside . Once there I scouted the area but couldn't find anywhere that was a: flat enough b: dry or  c: sheltered so I continued to Birkett fell - this turned out to be a good choice , and the views were amongst the best in Lakeland ! soon the Duomid was pitched and I headed NW to a stream shown on map to collect water.

The pitch was a very comfortable one , and I almost over slept and missed the sunrise! I awoke with the Duomid alight with bright orange / red light , and it was a made dash to get out and capture it .

A leisurely breakfast & a couple of brews were had whilst I soaked up the views before striking camp and moving on . 1st on todays agenda was Sheffield Pike & I enjoyed a lovely early morning walk around Glencoyne Head . The forecast was for more persistent rain to return in the afternoon / evening - I hoped it would hold of as long as possible . the summits of Sheffield Pike & Glenridding Dodd were soon reached ,but unfortunately it was already becoming overcast.

Descending to Glenridding , I crossed Glenridding Beck and joined the main path to Birkhouse Moor.
It had been around 3 years since I was last up here and on that occasion poor weather thwarted an ascent to Catstye Cam , I was hoping for better weather this time . As I gained height there were good views back to Glenridding and the surrounding Fells .

Hopes of good weather for my ascent to Catstye Cam were soon dashed , as I reached the summit of Birkhouse Moor the wind picked up and it started raining - forcing me to once again don waterproofs .History was repeating itself , I weighed up the options then decided to just go for it , even though the likelihood of views from the summit was very slim .
I reached the summit a little while later , but conditions meant I couldn't take any photo's or video , I did measure the wind speed and temperature with my Skywatch though - constant 35 mph , with a windchill of 0.5 deg c !
I descended west towards Red Tarn Beck so I could collect water for a summit camp on Birkhouse Moor . with 4 ltrs added to my pack I continued on - the rain getting heavier as I went .
Nearing Birkhouse Moor I had my doubts whether I would be able to find any where sheltered and dry enough - the ground was becoming very sarurated . My doubts were confirmed on reaching the summit again- everywhere was soaked with nowhere offering shelter from the strong winds and heavy rain ,I pondered the alternatives and decided to descend to see if I could find anywhere suitable for a comfy camp , if not I could continue back to hartsop - there was still enough daylight to allow me that choice .
Further down I spotted a likely looking flat spot , the wind was coming from the SW and the stout stone wall would provide shelter from the winds / rain .
It turned out to be a good spot -flat short dry heather , experience has taught me sites like this tend to be well drained , dry and very comfy  and I was soon under my Duomid wrapped up in my quilt with a brew -snug and content listening to the winds and sound of rain on the flysheet .
The rain continued through the night and early morning but shortly after breakfast it stopped and the sun came out providing good shots of camp , before striking and moving on .
I descended to Patterdale , then took the lane for a leisurely walk  back to Hartsop .
Till next time , happy wildcamping
Daron :-)
stats - 25.8 miles  8708 ft ascent 8763ft descent

Friday, 21 July 2017

Faulty Arc'teryx Alpha Ar - The response from Arc'teryx.

A few weeks ago I returned a faulty Arc'teryx alpha AR jkt. which was leaking through the front zip .The supplier -Snow and rock were very helpful keeping me informed of progress whilst Arc'teryx inspected it... their  response was less than helpful and quite honestly astounded me .

I tweeted my disappointment and had many messages of support , the restrictions in twitter meant that lengthy discussion's are impractical - hense this post .

A bit of background. I originally purchased an Arc'teryx alpha Lt back in 2012, I bought this in a sale although it was still expensive . I liked the fit , features and the weight and was very happy until it leaked through the front zip. It was returned to Snow and Rock who in turn sent it back to Arc'teryx to be assessed .A few weeks later I received a letter from Snow and Rock informing me Arc'teryx had found it to be faulty AND had refunded my money, with which I could choose another jacket . I could have chose another brand but was delighted with Arc'teryx's response so I chose to pay full price for the updated AR version ( the LT had been discontinued ).like most outdoor folk I have limited funds for outdoors gear and any purchase needs to be considered , usually involving a combination of saving , selling unused item's and family contributions for birthdays , Christmas ect.

I used this replacement for around 2 1/2 years until it too developed the same fault , I went through the return procedure but this time the outcome was not so satisfactory ! below are the responses I received from supplier and manufacturer.

To say I was astounded at Arc'teryx's reply would be an understatement ! They basically say the front main zip that we all rely on to keep us dry is infact NOT waterproof ! instead it relies on a flap behind the zip . Below are 2 pic's showing this flap.

Would you say that flap is a reliable way to keep water out ? I don't ! it's just not wide enough , and doesn't even have a 'rain drain' !
The overall quality of Arc'teyx  jackets is very good- so why do they compromise that with a sub standard zip/ method of keeping water out ? I know this has been discussed on social media , forums and blogs many times , and you are probably fed up with hearing the same old discussion over & over again , but until manufacturers take note what choice do we have ?

Needless to say , I'm in the process of sending another email to Arc'teryx but don't hold out much hope .. I'm just not important enough

Edit . 24/07/2017
Had an email response from  Arc'teryx today . I questioned their testing procedure- they replied saying they 'do not have sight of jackets sent to their repair facility through authorized retailers ' and are unable to see what 'tests' have been carried out to determine the jackets ability to withstand water .
They go onto say ' the retailer will have more info' on what tests have been carried out , they do ask for a RA number so they can see what tests have been done so they can  supply a ' detailed ' explanation of what tests have been done . I supplied the reference no. on the retailers letter from - snow and rock .
Am now in the process of sending snow and rock another email , detailing what Arc'teryx have said & to get the RA number .

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A windy night under cuben in the Eastern Fells

I didn't think I would be able to get out in july due to work & family commitments, so when my wife planned a night out with friends I jumped at the chance to get a night out in the hills .

A few messages were exchanged with lee taylor & Peter Dixon and we decided on a 2 day route in the Eastern Fells so I could tick off a few unclimbed Wainwright's in the area.

Mr Lake District a.k.a. Peter Dixon know's the Lakeland fell's & all its nook's and crannies far better than me , so I was more than happy for him to plan a route.

After a couple of day's he got back to me with a crackin route of just under 26 miles & we agreed to meet in Hartsop Saturday morning , the weather didn't look too good - 40 - 45 mph winds , gusts too 55 mph light rain showers before heavier rain moved in for the evening , they pretty much got this bang on !

An early start saw me parked up in hartsop at around 7.30. We had planned to meet around 8.30.but travelling from the midlands , along the M6 I knew I had to allow extra time for traffic ect.

Peter , Lee & Oscar ( Peter's faithful hill companion a 10 yr old chocolate Labrador ) pulled up around 45 min's later .We greeted each other then kitted up and headed out .

The tops were in clag , and it was raining lightly , but it didn't dampen our spirit's & soon we reached brock crags - a new wainwright for me.

From there we headed towards Angle Tarn Pike , passing Angle Tarn along the way .

Next target was Beda Fell where we decided we would take a break there before descending northwards towards Ullswater , then onto the Roman Road (high street ) that runs all the way to the summit .

Just before we got to Beda Fell  Oscar started limping badly he was obviously in dis-comfort as he kept stopping for a rest .

Concerned for Oscar's welfare peter decided it wasn't wise to continue on our intended route , being a dog lover myself I could fully understand his concern & we took a break at Beda Fell & weighed up the options .

Peter decided to head back the way we had come , and camp to allow Oscar to rest , leaving a short walk to his car the next day . lee and myself could have continued , but decided we would head back with Peter and camp with him .



It was getting quite windy now & we knew we would need to find somewhere sheltered to camp , Peter suggested a spot he and lee had camped at a few yrs previous just below Satura crag .

Soon 3 mountain laurel designs cuben duomids were fastened to the hillside & we retreated to our individual shelters for a brew , there was a brief lull around tea time & we took the opportunity to eat and chat behind a near by wall .

After around 30 mins we went back to the shelters for the night , I took a wind speed reading & it showed gusts too 50.6 mph ! they got stronger during the evening.

 This was the 1st real test for my Duomid  - I was really impressed with it as well , I did have 1 problem which I quickly sorted - I had used MLD'S  guyline on the 4 main corners , but had used thinner dyneema on mid panel guy points , this was a mistake as the constant buffeting caused them to slip - I solved this by tying them off & it stood rock solid for the rest of the night. I have changed back to the thicker guyline .

Morning came and we all still had cuben above our heads , the mountain laurel designs cuben duomids had took all mother nature threw at them during the night , no damage was suffered - testament to mld's superb build quality & materials.

Whilst eating breakfast we noticed signs of blue skies & a little while later we packed and set off to a much improved day .

We said our goodbyes to Peter & Oscar then myself and lee headed towards the Knott .

Around 15 mins later Peter & Oscar caught us up again - Oscar had started doing 'doughnut's ' shortly after leaving us , so he decided to catch us up . We then walked together to Thornthwaite crag from where we parted company again - Peter , Oscar & lee making their way back to the car park whilst I continued on to Stoney cove Pike / Cauldale moor , before bagging my final wainwright on that side - Hartsop Dodd .

It had been another fantastic trip & it was great to catch up with the lad's again.

Till next time .... happy wildcamping