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Saturday, 22 April 2017

Around Wastwater

stats. 25.2 miles- ascent 10152ft descent 10155ft.
This was a Backpack I've had on the back burner for around 2 years , every time I've planned to do it the forecast hasn't been good.
The week leading up to this backpack the weather was difficult to read , the MWIS & met office were at odds with each other in regards to wind speed, temperature and precipitation.
In the end I decided to go with the best forecast  which wasn't that great , and hope for the best.

I arrived in Nether Wasdale at around it was overcast with light rain. Pulling on my wet gear I set of along the lane to pick up the bridle way that runs from Ashness How to Greendale , the first summit of the day - middle fell clearly visible from here.

I arrived at the summit of Middle Fell to zero views-  the clag was down , a brief check of the map and I continued north. Whilst descending Greendale tarn appeared through the mist , and my next target - Seatallan came into view.

Crossing the boggy col. the sun came out intermittently lighting up the surrounding fell's & giving a good view over to Yewbarrow , where I planned to camp at the end of the day.


A steep pull and I gained the summit of Seatallan. I took a short bait stop whilst taking in the views ,then descended north to Pots of Ashness heading towards Haycock. Rather than take the direct route I decided to approach from the east , giving me chance to expore the rocky knolls on the way up - I often do this , both to escape crowds & get a different perspective.On the ascent there were good views back towards Seatallan & Middle Fell.

On the way up Scoat tarn came into view with red pike beyond and a short while later I gained the summit of Haycock from where I could see great scoat fell & steeple , 2 summits I visited 2 weeks ago on my ennerdale backpack.

The walk from Haycock to Great Scoat Fell was an enjoyable if a rather cold one , by now the winds had picked up , and it started to rain which at this level turned to sleet. The forecast had been for light rain - turning heavy for a time , before clearing late afternoon/evening so I continued to Red Pike , hoping it cleared in time for camp.The rain got heavier as I reached Red Pike , so I didn't hang around for long and descended to Dore Head where I planned to collect water from Over Beck  for a camp on yewbarrow.With 4 ltrs added to my pack I ascended via Stirrup Crag helping max up as I went.
Around half way up  Max went out of sight , I thought the going must be easier and he had continued to the summit ( he often races in front to get there before me ) I continued up and it didn't seem to be getting any easier so I wondered where max had gone , I stopped to call him but still couldn't see him - he always comes back to urge me on , I called him again - he still didn't come , I then glanced down  - He was back where we started at the foot of the crags ! I couldn't believe it , he must have somehow doubled back ! I called him hoping he would come back up the way he went down , but he was having none of it. After muttering a loud series of expletives I took of my pack & climbed back down to start the climb back again.

This time I made sure he sat and waited at every pitch and we gained the summit without any further hickup's shortly after.

It was still raining quite hard  with a gusty wind , so I started to look for a sheltered spot which I found quite quickly.
The Trailstar was soon pitched and we were under cover - glad to be out of the elements and very comfortable with a brew.

I was trying some new food from , on the menu for tonight was the Orzo pasta Bolgnese  now I know everyones tastes are different, but I found this to be very bland tasting , so the jury is out on these , I have a few more to try but will probably stick with my usaual one pot meals , usually made with a pasta n sauce as the base.

After Dinner and coffee , I poured my self a nice single malt , the rain was easing now with the clag swirling and parting to give very atmospheric views , it was very surreal. later there was some lovely light and I got out to take a few pics

Back in the trailstar I went over the next day's route on the map  whilst enjoying another single malt , I had mixed emotions about this next section , in particular Scafell pike.I was last on Englands highest around 5 years ago- one of max's early walks. I took a number of phone pics on that walk , which I lost when my phone started playing up and I reset without backing up photos! I was keen to get back up there but knew with it being easter it would be very busy , something I wasn't looking forward to as I tend to go backpacking to escape the crowds.

When I awoke the next morning it was still raining but it stopped whilst having my morning coffee and breakfast and I struck camp to descend back to Wastwater shortly after.

Walking alongside wastwater I headed towards Wasdale Head, Scaffell pike & scaffell were still covered in cloud  the rest were intermittently clear. Lingmell stood proud at the end of the valley and I could just make out my intended route along Brown tongue , And higher up Hollow Stones where the angle of ascent levels slightly before climbing steeply again to the summit.
A constant procession of cars passed me  and with the car park looking pretty full I knew it was going to be busy, but hopefully I could escape most of the crowds once I left the summit.
Joining the constant procession of walkers I made my way up. There were good views back towards Wastwater with Illgill head & the wastwater screes towering above on the left. Soon I reached Hollow Stones and found a large boulder to act as a wind break , shielding me from the strong cold breeze whilst I ate lunch. From here there are 3 routes - the main route which goes towards lingmell before turning right to climb to scaffell pike , another path heads north to Mickledore - a route I took some 5 yrs ago on my last visit , or branches right to ascend to scafell via lords rake.
I spent around 20 mins here having lunch and watching the ever changing light patterns on the surrounding peaks.

Continuing on I was soon at the summit I wanted to get a few pics of max at the summit , but with people queueing to get to the summit I didn't bother ,especially as the wind speed was around 28 mph, gusting to around 50 mph , with a windchill of around -6.2 deg c.

Descending towards Broad Stand there were still a quite a few folk coming up , with a few taking a break by the Stretcher Box. From there I descended the loose path to pick up the path which climbs a gully next to the outflow stream from foxes Tarn where the path climbs steeply to Symonds Knott.

After collecting water I continued to the summit , then continued to Scafell, the wind was really strong along this ridge and I decided to continue towards Slight Side and see if there were any sheltered spot's along the way.

Not long after I reached Slight Side, there was nowhere sheltered enough for a comfortable camp so I looked around for an alternative , I  considered continuing to Illgill Head , but was doubtful as to whether or not I could find shelter there.

I next thought of descending towards Burnmoor Tarn  but experience has taught me these areas are often boggy. I then spotted a rocky outcrop to the south west that looked like it could provide some shelter , a quick check of the map showed this was in fact a wainright - Great How so I decided to head there- passing a monument to 2 polish Airmen killed when their hurricane crashed into the hillside

Once there I found a promising spot that seemed to offer a bit of shelter, but had a look round to see if there was anywhere better - there wasn't, so I returned back to the first spot which was less sheltered than I thought it was quite windy and cold by now , and after a long day I was very tired.

Soon my trusty Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar was pitched  and I was in side out of the weather. At this point I felt very cold and was shivering - probably due to being tired, so I quicky got sorted and into my sleeping bag with a hot brew.

10 mins later and I felt fine, so I  relaxed for a few hours - eating dinner , more hot drinks and then whisky.

I had a very good nights sleep  the pitch was a comfortable one  and awoke just before dawn , unfortunately it was raining quite hard. A quick breakfast and coffee were had and then I struck camp. Return route was via Illgill head & whin rigg , descending via an extremely boggy Irton Fell. Due to the weather I was anable to take any pics , and was soon back at my car for the long return journey home. I have the bug again for a bit of wainwright bagging , so I'm already planning my next visit.

till next time
Happy wildcamping

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

3 days in the lakes , ennerdale & buttermere fells

The weather forecast for my 3 day backpack in the north western lakes suggested a wet start to the 1st day  improving for late afternoon/ early evening . Saturday was forecast shower's then improving in the afternoon  with Sunday the best day of the 3 - they got Sunday right .The other 2 days were quite different to the forecast .

Leaving the midlands at around 6am  I set off on the 3 1/2 hr drive up the M6 to the northern Lake's. I was hoping the M6 would be clear  allowing me to get to Honnister pass at around 9.30 , apart from the usual speed restricted sections it was !

Soon I was passing the Howgill's - some under cloud cover  I always love seeing these neatly Sculptured peaks .

Up until now there was no rain. Maybe I will get lucky and it will be dry I thought , however as I approached Threlkeld the rain started - heavy shower's then bright sunshine .

The showers and sun combined to produce a spectacular double rainbow over Blencathra  the colours were very vivid , but there was nowhere to pull over to get a good enough shot with good foreground interest to frame it .

Shortly after I reached the honnister pass I parked just down from the slate mine  .

Changing into trailshoes ( first time in these since October ) I put on my waterproof's , and loaded up my pack .

My first port of call was Fleetwith Pike ( a summit I've always missed out on previous visits) with it's top in cloud.The winds were quite fierce on the way up, which combined with the rain made for hard work .

Reaching the summit the mist cleared slightly allowing glancing view's of Dale Head opposite.

I measured the wind speed with my skywatch , 30 - 35mph with gust's to 45 mph - I didn't hang around for long !

Descending back towards the quarry I headed south along the path that flanks Grey Knott's & Brandreth .From There I joined Moses Trod heading towards Great Gable. The winds were quite fierce here as it was being funnelled towards me .

 Descending to Beckhead Tarn  I could see my next target- kirk Fell looming above me , it's summit in cloud .

The climb to the summit went quickly  the wind had increased to 40 - 45mph  with gust's to 60mph' and I began to think I might need to descend to find somewhere sheltered to camp .

Heading on a compass bearing north, I located the descent to Black Sail's Pass - via Kirk Fell Crag's .

Descending I could see Looking Stead with Pillar beyond looking very moody

Just before I reached Looking Stead I found a lovely sheltered spot and although it was only 3 pm  it was too good to pass on , especially as I doubted I would find any where sheltered once I reached the ridge above & pillar. It was a good choice as it started raining soon after pitching the trailstar, and continued into the morning .

Soon I was settled in the sleeping bag with a mug of coffee listening to the sound of rain on the flysheet, warm and contented. later I cooked dinner & enjoyed the rather nice single malt I had with me , followed by more coffee then later hot chocolate .

Around 10 pm I set my alarm for 6 am hoping for a good sunrise then drifted off to sleep.

I only woke once during the night , the pitch was a very comfortable one .

Morning came , and I could hear it was still raining quite heavily. Reaching for my meths bottle  I put it in the bag to warm , then snuggled back down for around an hour .

When I next awoke  the rain wasn't as heavy  so I  made myself a coffee & breakfast then got ready to move on .

Striking camp at around 8 am  the rain was now light showers and I set of on the climb to Pillar .

From Pillar the walk along the ridge to Little Scoat Fell was a delight , with good airy views of the Wastwater Fells .

The last summit on this side was Steeple. From where I intended to descend to Ennerdale Forest via Long Crag. After all the raIn  the path was very wet & boggy in places , despite this I was very comfortable in my trailshoes  and very glad to be in them .

Following the river side path east  I located the bridge where I crossed the river & headed back west to a clearing , where a path climbs alongside Gillflinter beck towards Red pike .

Following the stream up , I collected water as high as possible - which today was running almost at the top - unlike a few years ago , when I was heading for Great Bourne for a camp  where I descended quite a way without finding water. I had to drop down to Floutern Tarn on that occasion for a camp .

Water loaded I continued to red pike where I quickly located a pitch. Once again it rained as soon as I got the trailstar up , this time it was showers then sun giving a nice rainbow fron the pitch .

The pitch was a another very comfortable one  and I once again slept well .

The next morning  the day started a lot more promising , but the temp. had dropped during the night to around 0.5 c which when combined with the keen wind  gave a windchill over several degree's below ( forgot to measure exact windchill ) a few pics were taken , then coffee & breakfast , before striking camp and moving on . Despite the cold temps. and wet trailshoes my feet never felt too cold .

The walk along the ridge to High Stile & High Crag was just as scenic as I rembered , it was sunny now  and the views were spectacular .

All to soon I reached High Crag and the last summit of my trip came into view - Haystacks which already had a few folk either on it , or heading up to it .

I spent some time taking pics , looking back over my route , before finally tearing myself away and back to my car .

It had been a very enjoyable trip .

Till next time -
happy wildcamping :-)