The twisted boughs above were beaded with moisture and excitable streams rushed below my feet as I paced along the trail. The night’s rain was being channeled around me; drips, rivulets, forces, becks and rivers all on a downward course to Ullswater.
The previous night had indeed been wild. I’d slept in a pod, one of those parabolic sheds that find favour with holiday parks and holidaymakers these days. The shelter’s idiosyncratic profile would have made a half-decent boat if upturned – a mini ark for hill lovers should the rain have become really bad.
Maybe it’s my age, but I was glad of my wooden home as it shuddered in the wind. I was grateful too of the wool wadding insulating its walls and keeping the night’s chill at bay. The snap decision to leave the tent at home had been a wise one.
I was in Lakeland to walk and early morning prospects were grim. The rain continued and heavy gusts of wind promised a thorough bludgeoning on the fell. However, after exhausting the delaying tactic of making yet another cup of tea, the skies began to clear. A pasty-shaped hole opened in the clouds and the rain became a mist haze. When the sun appeared, so did the rainbows.
I hastily put on my boots and waterproofs and headed out.
The path was wonderful – a section of the Ullswater Way following a balcony well above the shore. It skirted plantation and much more gnarly woodland, trees with sodden branches just showing the buds of new growth. Spring, tantalisingly close thank goodness.
It felt good to be out. The difficulties of the last few months that still weighed so heavily fell away, if only for a short while. I felt invigorated, optimistic even. More important, though, was a rekindled enthusiasm for these fells.
Later, back at the hut and armed with a warming dram, I pored over maps and made plans.
It’s been over a year since I’ve visited the Cumbrian fells. My last trip – for the other half’s 40th birthday – was a wonderful week of friends, campfires, canoes, great food and liberal imbibing.
During that trip I managed to squeeze in a couple of classic Lakeland walks – the Coldedale Round and Blencathra via Sharp Edge – although the card on my camera corrupted so those excursions didn’t make the pages of this blog sadly.
Last week we returned. A number of motivational factors aligned: we needed an escape, we had a new tent to ‘test’ and the forecast looked OK. I booked the Friday off work and we trundled up the M6 amid seemingly endless road works to Keswick. Continue reading →
Here are some shots of my two night backpack over the Bank Holiday weekend. ‘Twas freakishly warm yet damp and muggy… not the best conditions for walking in some ways but grand all the same. Click on the thumbnails to view larger images.
Route: Ambleside – Loughrigg Tarn – Lingmoor Fell – Pike o Blisco – Camp – Crinkle Crags – Bowfell – Esk Pike – Great Gable – Green Gable – Brandreth – Grey Knotts – Honister – Dale Head – Dale Head Tarn (Camp) – Tongue Gill – Allerdale Ramble.
Bridleway leaving Elterwater
Langdale Pikes from Lingmoor Fell
Dropping down to Blea Tan
Camp near Pike o Blisco
No, it’s not the pee bottle
Camp near Pike o Blisco
Sunset over Bowfell
Path to the Crinkles
Path cairn to Crinke Crags
For the front cover of Trail… probably (not)
Bowfell appears out of the cloud
Looking to Scafells
Cloud clearing over the Scafells
Great Gable appears out of the cloud
Great Gable Summit
Looking to Ennerdale
Honister Slate emporium
Looking to the Newlands Valley
Camp Dale Head Tarn… hardly original, but dry spots are hard to find
Kicking back at Dalehead Tarn
Morning, path to Tongue Gill
Tongue Gill at the end of a lovely Lake District backpack
Regular visitors to this site will know my other half is no walker. While she loves Scotland and other outdoor destinations, she likes to admire them from the comfort of a tent or cottage.
However, once or twice a year, I manage to ‘encourage’ her to venture out on the fell. Previous tramps include the grueling slog up Ben Nevis and the equally dispiriting trudge up Snowdon alongside the railway. She wanted to climb them because ‘they were the biggest’, having little interest in the aesthetics of route choice. If we ever get around to Scafell Pike, we’ll follow Wainwright’s round!
A few weeks back, we celebrated our anniversary in the Lakes and stayed at the quite lovely, if pricey, Overwater Hall. En route, I couldn’t resist a clamber up a hill and plotted a short circular route up Ullock Pike from Longside Wood.
The round made it an easy ‘sell’ for my other half, while the promise of a hotel and hot bath sealed the deal: Pain, then pleasure.
The day was mercifully clear, although a determined wind from the north blunted the appeal of lengthy snack stops. Views opened out across Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwent Water, and the fells remained quiet on this Friday afternoon.
Our descent on Carl Side behind Dodd was steep and madam soon had ‘jelly legs’. Within the hour, she was in bath soothing those aches and pains and pretty happy… I think (!)
I’ve been trying to scratch an itch for a while now, to spend a night in the hills alone. An opportunity presented itself as the working week came to a close and I hastily made plans and gathered some kit.
I jumped on a train on Saturday morning and headed to Staveley. I planned to explore the other half of the Kentmere valley after last year’s partially successful trip, but more pressing was to tread the lonely fells of Longsleddale.
These soggy hummocks barely feature on the horizons of ardent fellbaggers, but I fancied avoiding the weekend crowds. My route would plot a course over Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell where I planned to pitch for the night before heading to the unfamiliar uplands of Longsleddale.
It has the most heavenly loos and showers, too, eagerly used by folk keen to wash off the effort of climbing the fine, neighbouring fells. The heating is so effective in the shower block that my better half was convinced the loo seats had heating elements of their own.
Recovery from back pain takes time. I know this all too well, but my current and seemingly minor symptoms have been hanging around for seven months and progress has been snail-like.
Recently, things have been bit better and I thought it high time to give my geriatric muscles a bit of a work out. This was going to be a pretty minor excursion, but I was keen to sleep out again: somewhere high, somewhere quiet and with a view.
The royal wedding helped my cause. While most people’s attention was focussed on the happy couple, I hoped that Lakeland would be relatively quiet. Staveley, sleepy at the best of times, was a ghost town when I left the train late afternoon.