Search This Blog

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Around Thirlmere

The plan was for a 3 day backpack starting  from Grasmere- Heading up over Helm Crag, then onto the Ullscarf ridge continuing to Bleaberry Fell - where I planned to camp before dropping down to St. johns in the vale. From there I would head onto Clough head and camp somewhere around the Dodd's. The next day I would return via Helvellyn to  Grasmere via Tongue Gill.

This was essentially a route I attempted some 3 yrs. ago , On that trip I ascended to ullscarf via Tarn Crag & codale Head to camp at low saddle - where I was to spend the next 36 hrs camped in my akto, unable to move on due to torrential rain combined with strong winds , before retreating back to Grasmere.

Arriving back at Grasmere at around 7.45 I loaded my pack and set off towards Helm crag for round two ! It was quite humid and warm, The climb to Helm Crag although a short one was a hot stickly affair , and I reached the summit and a breeze with much relief.

The views were quite hazy - not the best for photography , but I took a few pic's as a record of the day.

The forecast was for heavy torrential rain/ thunder from about mid day  onwards , so I was keen to make good progress in case I needed to descend during the storms , they were predicted to clear late afternoon / early evening.

Continuing on the summit of Gibson Knott is reached fairly quickly , with Calf Crag shortly after.

After I reached Brownrigg Moss I decided to ascend to the Ullscarf ridge via Birks Gill, as I needed water and decided to have lunch here before continuing on. There was a nice view over to the Helvellyn ridge , where I would be walking on day 3

After resting and soaking up the views I continued on over pathless terrain towards Greenup Edge , passing a good campsite on the way ( marked the position in viewranger as a possible for  future use ) . From there I joined the main path to Ullscarf.

Continuing onto High Saddle - Low Saddle came into view . I had thought of camping here again but it was very early , I revisited it though gaining the summit just as the thunder started , it is fairly exposed so I descended fairly quickly !

Descending towards Standing Crag I could see the storm clouds over Helvellyn - I hoped they would stay there !

Continuing on to the High Tove ridge I did the short detour from the main path to bag Bell Crags then continued to High Tove, thunder continuing to sound in the distance.

Whilst walking along the ridge I experienced a phenomenon I had heard about , but never experienced - one of my walking poles started buzzing - similar to the noise made by pylons in damp weather, then a spark shot between the pole and my wrist ! I tossed poles away to my side , called max in then crouched down low . Almost immediately there was a very loud thunder clap - the storm must have been very close , a few moments later there was another lightening flash and I started counting- Mississippi 1, Mississippi 2, Mississippi 3 , Mississippi - then another loud thunder clap followed by lightening moments later . I started counting again - this time I got to 4 , then 6 - phew ! it was passing over !

I waited a little while longer before continuing to High Seat , at Eddy Grave stake the heavy rain started - the kind that soaks you through before getting the water proofs on. I continued to Bleaberry Fell looking for a camp spot . By now it had been a long day and I was keen to get the duomid up , I eventually settled on a flat spot not far from the summit cairn.

The thunder rumbled away in the distance for a few hours after pitching , heavy rain & strong gusting winds continued into the night. I was impressed with the stability of the Cuben Duomid . Cuben has very little stretch so it didn't flap as much in the wind as a silnylon shelter would do , this lake of stretch meant it remained taught and didn't require any re-tightening of the guylines. This lack of stretch does mean that solid guy points are needed  as all the force is directed straight to the pegs , I had used 2 msr blizzard pegs on the windward side  with 9" Easton's on the other main guying points ,  it remained solid all night , despite some hefty gusts .

I spent a very comfortable evening , eating , drinking , and listening to the sound of rain on the flysheet before setting my alarm and drifting of to sleep.

The alarm woke me a 4 am the next morning. On un- zipping the door I was greeted by thick clag & zero views -little chance of a good sunrise this morning. I got out anyway, to stretch my legs & answer a call of nature before returning to the Duomid , Sliding back under my mld spirit quilt & lighting my meths stove for my morning coffee .

A 2nd coffee was made , breakfast was eaten , then I started to pack things away ready to strike camp .

From  the summit cairn I set a compass bearing to take me to Goat crag, from where I could descend to a shelf below it & pick up the wall which I could handrail down to Bracken Riggs. From there I headed to Snipeshow Tarn - very dry today , little more than a puddle .

Soon I was at Dale Bottom where I followed the lane to Naddle  , then skirting around High Rigg to arrive in st john's in the vale . The weather had turned quite sunny and warm by now , giving good  views to my next destination - clough head .

Ascending the path to Hausewell Brow there were good views across the valley to Blencathra & Skiddaw , so I stopped for lunch at the top of some old quarry workings .

Taking the steep direct route to Clough head I found out there was a fell race on today. I had thought of camping around its summit  but decided against it as it would be quite busy there was still plenty of  time  so I continued  on , eventually descending east from Great Dodd to camp at Randerside .

I had high hopes for a good sunset, and relaxed laying in the duomid - doors wide open in the late afternoon sun, enjoying the views with a nice single malt .

Later that evening I could see the mist rolling in , I waited as long as possible before reluctantly closing the outer doors .

I managed to get an updated weather forecast  it didn't look good , thunder , heavy rain & gusts to 40 mph were forecast for next morning ! I hoped it was wrong & enjoyed the rest of the evening before setting the alarm & turning in

The next morning I again woke to thick clag -but no rain / thunder  so a quick coffee & breakfast were had before striking camp hoping to get down before the rain .

As per my wastwater trip I made my way along the ridge with zero views , the rain started at around 11.00 am - I was back down into Grasmere at around 12.30 pm so not so bad , no pics though due to conditions .

Heres a map of the route I followed .

till next time , happy wildcamping :-)


stats 31.4 miles height gain 8772 ft. height loss 8775

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. Nice pics too. Looks a pleasant route. I was descending pasture beck on Saturday when the heavens opened, like you said, no time to get waterproofs on!