Off the train at Windermere on Saturday morning and it’s straight on with the waterproofs.
I haven’t worn the full Montaine/Mountain Hardware ensemble for a few trips now and, after a quick detour to the Outdoor Warehouse, was pleased how this kit handled the rain.
I ‘walked in’ to Ambleside untroubled by the downpour.
A long stream of traffic headed out of the District and I received some curious looks from car occupants peering through steamy windows. Were these folk trying to tell me something… had the Lakes flooded for the weekend and was effectively closed? I went to find out.
Upon reaching Ambleside, the rain still lashing down, I looked at the hills to see which were clearer… none. I stuck to my original plan to clamber over the low hills around Grasmere with a possible wild camp near Easdale or Codale tarn.
I headed off on a familiar route over Loughrigg Fell and got lost in its labyrinth of routes. Pushing my way through indistinct trails bisecting lush bracken, I eventually found Loughrigg Terrace and dropped down to Grasmere.
I pootled around the lake and watched some anglers cast aimlessly for pike in the rain. Wandering to the village, I stopped for a brew (make that two) and the muddy grey skies lifted. Sunshine… marvellous.
I headed along Easdale Lane and onto the footpath. This was badly flooded, Easedale Beck having burst its banks. The water glistened in the afternoon sun.
I pressed on the path, passing a group toasting some occasion with Champagne.
Sourmilk Gill was a raging torrent, another sign of the volume of water that had fallen on the hills. I ignored it and carried on, enjoying the warmth and long light of early evening.
I reached Easdale and was confronted with a stiff wind. I found a sheltered spot and studied the scene. It was too early to camp and the tarn felt a little too obvious and not at all wild. Should I try Codale or head up the left and find a spot on Great Castle How.
I opted for the latter. This was unfamiliar ground, but the map offered good prospects of a pitch near some water hidden away from the path.
I reached the ridge and was greeted with more wind… another obstacle to manage. I started to scout for a site… that one not flat enough… this one too boggy… another waterlogged… the search went on.
At last, I found a reasonably dry spot suitably sheltered and pitched. Typically, today I was suffering from Akto erectile dysfucntion. For those of you not in the know, the Akto requires a certain routine to get it nice and taught and today I couldn’t summon the skills. No amount of guyrope fiddling could cure the floppy side.
More tweaking and I was happy-ish. I clambered and got comfortable only for the wind to engage top gear and the end guy ropes ripped out of the sodden ground. I lay with tent fabric on my face and cursed.
This is meant to be fun?
I tried again with the pitch but not joy. The wind grew ever stronger and I considered my options. It was 8pm and I could be at the Langdale site in an hour, tops.
I bundled the tent in my pack, found a steep track descending the hillside and headed off for ‘civilisation’.
I walked and hoped… hoped for some room. Fortunately, there were some dry pitches left and up went the Akto again: perfectly, first time… typical.
A chap wandered by and said: ‘Interesting little tent’ as I puffed air into my Prolite4. Red faced, I nodded in acknowledgement and blurted some nonsense in reply.
Further commentary came from a family who couldn’t believe I could fit in such a small tent… I told them my physio agreed.
Pitched I had some dinner and then popped over the road for a pint.
Back on site, and now tired, I dozed listening to two Scousers drone on about losing their virginity and other choice topics while farting in chorus.
Their discourse sent me on my way.
First light and rain on the fly… lots of it too. That wind as well, shaking my temporary home. Once more, the wind gained some gravy and I could hear it racing from Mickleden. It hit the trees around the site and their leaves hissed. I heard tents rattle around me and then, ‘crack!,’ as one of the poles of an elaborate and expensive looking tarp set up came crashing to the ground. The pole had snapped at the spigot.
I had a lie in.
Breakfasting in a leisurely fashion, I got out of my interesting little tent and couldn’t straighten for about 20 mins – a sign, if needed, that my geriatric back is not suited to the Akto any more.
I left at 10am and headed up with the Sunday masses to Stickle Tarn. Here, I left the crowds and regained my original route. I followed the path over Blea Rigg and Swinescar Pike back to Grasmere.