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Friday, 1 December 2017

A cold night on Cold Pike & A meeting of 2 outdoor bloggers.

The Langdale Valley in the Lake District is an area I've walked several times. It is also very popular, but by carefull route selection it is still possible to miss the crowds- especially so in winter which is one of the many reasons It's my favourite backpacking season. The weather was looking good- cold with heavy snow showers- in my opinion the Lake District Fells are at their most spectacular in winter- snow covered peaks combined with cold air often brings very clear views, on a good day it's like viewing the fells through High Defination glasses!

I initially planned a circuit from lower Eskdale , a few messages between myself and Peter Dixon (@munro277 on Twitter) were exchanged during the week,  Peter had work on the Friday so we agreed he would meet me on Saturday for a walk and overnight camp and then walk sunday taking in a few fells on the way back to our cars.

A few days before the planned trip Peter messaged me to advise my route choice could be very wet going Due to the near constant rain over the previous days. A change of route was required and after a telephone call on Wednesday evening a rough route was planned in the Langdale Fells.

I intended to be away early Friday Morning to get there for sunrise. All was going to plan until I loaded my pack in the car. shutting the hatch I heard a cracking sound, on investigation I had snapped one of the clips on a compression strap, I needed to use it so I spent the next 3/4 hr. searching my bits boxes for a replacement. With a replacement found I was soon on my way again.

Around 3 hours later I pulled into Chapel Stile and got my kit sorted, then I headed off in the direction of Lingmoor Fell. The forecast had predicted strong winds but there was hardly a breath of it in the valley, and it was a pleasant warm walk through the woods, passing a quarry before emerging on the open fellside.

Welcoming committee

On a previous visit to this area I took the wrong path and passed some old quarry workings before ascending over pathless terrain to the intake wall. This time I took the same path to see if it was as I remembered - it was and I spent some time wandering around the various ruined buildings. It's an area seldom visited by other walkers and one I was lucky to find by mistake.Soon after I reached the stone wall and its a very straight forward walk following it to Lingmoor summit.

View NW along Lingmoor Fell.

The views along this modest fell are spectacular, the Coniston Fells on one side , Langdale Pikes on the other, With the upper langdale Fells straight a head.

Crinkle Crags from Lingmoor.

View ahead to the Langdale pikes from Lingmoor Fell.

Side pike and the Langdale Pikes from Lingmoor.

I descended towards Side Pike and from there to the valley road which I followed NW for a short while before heading up the grassy slopes towards Pike o Blisco. Part way up I spotted an idyllic looking spot by a stream with a superb view towards the Langdale Pikes. I decided to stop for lunch here - another aspect I like when backpacking, having everything needed for an extended time in the fells contained in my rucksack- free to wander, eat , sleep wherever I want it gives me a great sense of freedom.

The smile says it all.. Taking a break on ascent to Pike o Blisco.

Afternoon light on Side Pike.

Continuing up I was soon at the summit. Light snow showers came and went casting some lovely light on the surrounding Fell's. The wind was getting stronger - I recorded a wind speed of around 23 mph, with a wind chill of -4.7 c. After admiring the view and taking a few pics my attention turned to finding a pitch for the night. Originally I planned to camp on Little Stand - a spot I have camped at a few times, good pitch sites are limited there however and none would offer shelter from the strong North- North Westerly winds/heavy snow showers that were forecast over night. After surveying the area ahead I decided to head for Cold Pike. Dropping down towards Red Tarn I passed a photographer out capturing the evening light, and after a short chat I left him and continued on my way.

After passing Red Tarn I took the main path which leads to Crinkle Crags', before collecting water then heading over pathless slopes towards the summit of Cold Pike. Time was getting on now and the sun was getting lower in the sky, I took 1 last  photo of  late light on the Langdale Pikes  before hurrying to the summit to find a pitch for the night.

Langdale Pikes from flanks of Pike o Blisco.

Light near Pike o Blisco summit

Late afternoon light on the Langdale Pikes.

Nearing the summit I could see the signs of the weather closing in, the skies above the crinkles looking grey and menacing, seconds later I was engulfed in blizzard conditions with a strong biting wind - time to get the tent up! After scouring the area I found a spot on a shelf just off the summit, soon the Hilleberg Soulo was pitched and I was inside sheltered from the elements. I changed into my dry sleeping clothes before putting on my down jkt/pants, then I blew up the mat and got in the inner tent before sliding into my down bag and getting my cook gear out for a brew.

Outside I could hear the wind raging, blowing heavy snow/hail against the flysheet. I was warm, secure and content. I lay back for a while listening to the sound of the weather outside.

Shortly after, I followed my usual routine- 2 cuppa soups before opening the whisky and relaxing for an hour or two- I usually have dinner shortly after, but in winter I often eat it shortly before going to sleep- I find I sleep better/warmer that way.

Due to weather conditions at the time of pitching I couldn't get any camp pics, but I managed to get 1 night shot before turning in for the night.

stars and another incoming blizzard form camp on Cold Pike.

I awoke the next morning about 3/4 of an hour before sunrise. Un-zipping the outer tent door a little I surveyed the scene, there were signs of some good pre dawn light so I made a brew before getting out for a few pics. A good covering of snow had fell in the night, and I was excited to see what sunrise would bring.

early morning light from Cold Pike.

Hilleberg Soulo on Cold Pike.

I had planned to meet peter today, I'd messaged him the night before to let him know where I was camped, he sent me a message back saying he would aim to get to me around 9 and asked if I wanted anything bringing ( I did consider asking for some cans of real ale but didn't want to push my luck ) I messaged back to say a bacon & egg sandwich with brown sauce would go down well - the reply came back- Don't take the P*** Daron !! :-)).

I packed most of the kit away- expect the tent and stove, then went to the summit to see  if I could spot Peter- we got to there at the same time! Back at the tent I made him a brew before striking camp and moving on.

We continued on towards Crinkle crags, frequent snow showers combined with a strong wind blew a lot of spindrift around, Peter got some great footage of it he posted it on his blog.

Nearing 3 tarns Peter suggested we find a sheltered spot for lunch - finding 1 amongst the boulders strewn over the area. He gave me the Bacon and Chicken sandwich he'd got for me then, as I was about to tuck in, he produced a sachet of brown sauce - a true friend indeed :-).

cloud and incoming blizzard from near Crinkle Crags.

Peter capturing a winter scene.

Bow Fell and Esk pike from near Three Tarns.

Scafells from near Three Tarns.

The Langdale Valley from Crinkle Crags.

After lunch we continued to Bow fell to zero views, before heading to Ore Gap then Descending towards Angle Tarn. Approaching the Tarn we discussed pitch spots, eventually we decided to find a spot on Rossett Pike and set off towards the summit. Once there were scoured potential spots before finding a lovely spot high above the langdale valley. Shelters pitched, we set of to source water- the first site, despite the water line  showing a steep fall on the map  was dry , even though there had been very heavy rain on the previous days- it obviously drains quick ! we tried another site on the opposite side of the ridge, this time finding good running water.

Back at our shelters we retired to rest, eat and drink we hoped we might get some clear skies for some good night shots - It was not to be, constant strong winds with gusts to 40 - 50mph combined with snow/hail put paid to that !

Camp on Rossett Pike.

It was a very windy but comfortable night , I had slept well in the soulo - It had passed another test with flying colours. Peters Trailstar had also shed the weather with ease - no surprise here... I have owned 1 for the last 4 yrs, and know it well.

There were signs of good pre dawn colour showing through , so I made my morning coffee before getting ready to capture it... it wasn't to be, the  showers continued for a while, but stopped to allow some good shots of early morning light.

Pre Dawn light from Rossett Pike.

Peter and his Yellow Mountain Laurlel Designs Trailstar.

Langdale light.

Hilleberg Soulo on Rossett Pike.

Camp on Rossett Pike.

Light in the Langdale valley.

After breakfast we discussed the days route. I had intended to go onto the langdale's then down Blea Rigg back to chapel stile. In the end we decided to descend to langdale over a few 'bumps' before taking the Stake Pass Path/ Cumbria Way back to langdale. Before descending Peter took a wind speed / temperature reading - 54mph gusts, with a wind chill of around -14 deg. c !

Soon we reached the valley and a while later we arrived at Peters car. He then gave me a lift back to my car which I'd left at chapel stile. Another splendid winter backpack done with top company....cheers Peter!

As usual.. till next time
Happy Wildcamping
Daron :-))

Map of route :


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