Skiddaw 290810

It was raining hard when I woke up, so anorak on and a smart walk to the “old loos, no queuing!” Back for breakfast of muesli and yoghurt, ok I very rarely eat anything else. Put all my clothes on as it was quite nippy and packed up the tent fast, by now it had stopped raining. I managed to strike camp in half an hour, considering that making camp takes me about 20 minutes, the main difference is that trying to squash things down requires me to lie full length and weight on them in a vain hope that they won’t pop up again the minute I let go. Oh this is starting to sound mucky…
I drove to the foot of Skiddaw to a free car park near Latrigg. The walk is a long old slog up a broad path that crosses grassy slopes. I’m starting to see what Wainwright meant about grassy slopes, they’re not that interesting in the scheme of things. There weren’t a lot of people around as it was still fairly early. I had believed the MWIS forecasts of -6 in the wind chill and whilst it was windy and chilly, I probably didn’t need all my layers to go uphill. AW mentioned that someone had “driven a motor car” up Skiddaw and for most of the way I could believe this, just one or two places where I would not have taken my car for sure, where it is less than a single track road in width and drops away steeply, also where tyres would be ripped to shreds by jagged rocks. (Blondie)
My feet were still very warm and I developed a blister so a short rest to apply Compeed. Then a final burst to get to the top, the views are magnificent and you really get the 360 degree feeling. It was bitterly cold in the wind so I stopped to join the only 2 other occupants of the wind break at midday, just over 2 hours to get there. One of these was a young teenager to whom I dispensed a further Compeed. Why can’t people learn to look after themselves, or perhaps his father could have taken some responsibility and carried a first aid kit? Rant over!
I quickly ate my lunch of bean tortilla. Suddenly the whole place seemed to be overrun with people, I don’t really know where they all came from! Time to move off. I set off for Skiddaw Little Man. The main track was now full of tourist walkers mostly looking like they wished they were doing anything else. Some were clearly very cold and suffering. Going up was a woman in a low slung wheelchair being hauled up by 6 men by rope and pushed up by 2 men. They looked like they could have done with chest and/or waist harnesses to do this job rather than just a loop of rope which would cut into whichever shoulder it was on.
I carried on up Little Man, AW recommends doing this on the way down so you don’t have to do so much climbing. Then it was down all the way and I was back at the car by 2.30. All in all I don’t think I’ll bother with Skiddaw again, the views are fab but it will always be windy and cold up there as there is no shelter from any land mass. There are plenty of other big fells that aren’t so full of day trippers too.

The zig zag path
Getting nearer
Bassenthwaite Lake
Skiddaw Little Man and Derwent Water
Funny little dog got in my photo

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Bleaberry Fell 280810

I’d prepped everything in advance with one of my packing lists so relaxed late departure from home. Stopped at Marks and Spencer, Lancaster which was heaving and bought an instant tuna salad lunch, and a 3 bean tortilla wrap for Sunday and 3 x 1.5 litre bottles of water, which despite packing list I had somehow managed to forget. Actually I was feeling a bit dozy and had even driven off down the wrong road in the village and had to turn back but at least that woke me up and told me I was not quite with it.
I found the turning to Burns’ Farm Camp Site very easily and it is just a mile off the A66. Linda was running around and decided she could fit me in but would have to charge me the full rate of £12 as I was only staying one night. As I had no idea what any other rate was this was fine. The field was very soggy and very full but I got a pitch that was flat if muddy. I put the tent up and made my bed, then ate my tuna lunch in the car.
I then drove down the back roads, didn’t stop at Castlerigg stone circle as it looked mega busy, and cut across the bottom end of Keswick to get onto the Borrowdale Road. Just a very short ride and I was at a National Trust car park on the left. Now that I’ve joined the Nat Trust, all my car parking in their parks is free, so far I have recouped nearly 1/3 of the membership fee by parking just 3 times. Well worth it just for this, as have only an occasional desire to be patronised by well meaning volunteers. OK, this is a bit harsh but I’ll definitely get the use by parking whereas I can’t guarantee to spend the year wandering around stately homos.
I walked up Cat Gill which was very pretty, it opens out above the woods and here I met a man with a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog. A very handsome beast and extremely well behaved. He was a nice man and told me his wife had died and he had got the dog for company. He was staying in a camper van at Castlerigg Hall camp site and had walked across. This is the camp site next to Castlerigg Farm camp site where I stayed last year.
I’m just relishing my flagrant use of Wikipedia links, which I have to spend all my time pooh poohing when I’m marking my students’ work, ha bloody ha!
Then I steered right across the bracken and crossed at the head of some falls, then over a stream and across to the head of Cat Gill. At this point, the map and the ground do not quite agree so I took a bearing and marched across the moor to meet the path. The path winds round a nice looking mound, then past a very well maintained sheep fold and bears left to ascend Bleaberry Fell. I mused as to what a bleaberry was but there was no berry of any description in sight.
I got to the top very quickly as the path is good, I wandered around a bit on the top to see how far the next fell was but decided not to try it as it was still threatening to rain a lot even though I managed to stay dry all through the walk.
I whizzed back down, this was a good warm up walk at around 500m of climbing. Drove back to the camp site, cooked up my dinner in the porch as it was starting to rain – bean and chorizo soup, pasta and tomato sauce. I washed up and then settled down in the tent. I was feeling a bit cold so got into my merino wool outfit and put all my other layers on and got into the sleeping bag. Before long, everything had to come off. Once I was comfy, I drank 2 cans of Greene King IPA and a miniature bottle of whisky whilst reading my book. Still on Daughters of Britannia, which I’ve been dipping into for ages.
My fellow campers were a bit noisy but everything stopped at 10.00, guess the rain helped here. I didn’t sleep very well, it was wet and windy all night.

Burns Farm camp site looking to Blencathra
Spooky bit in Cat Gill
Head of Cat Gill, not a cat to be seen either
Hole in my sky (I don’t even much like the Indigo Girls!)

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iPhone and 10 things to do when wild camping

  1. On the motorway, we used Traffic Info to find out if there were any jams on our route.
  2. The spirit level was useful, not to find a level spot for the tent (impossible) but to make sure that the stone coasters were level for our cups of tea and the stove.
  3. Weather info, of course, but only when I had a signal.
  4. I read a bit of an ibook in the dark.
  5. The Dictionary helped us with the crossword or more precisely it helped me to spell daiquiri correctly!
  6. I took a few photos but my proper camera is better.
  7. I attempted to amuse C with the SAS Survival Guide (dismal failure!)
  8. Used the alarm clock to wake us up (not entirely necessary)
  9. Sent a text message.
  10. Used the stop watch to do some navigation timing.
What we did not use it for:
  1. Navigation – map and compass were all we needed. GPS just a backup for the real thing.
  2. Making a phone call!

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Hot camping

Saturday 7th August
Carol and I set off from home at 8.30 and drove to Lancaster services. We stocked up on supplies at M&S and had a caffeine hit.
Some time later we arrived at Ennerdale Water, having eaten a picnic just after Kirkland. With the benefit of hindsight from my previous trip in May with Chris, we parked up on the roadside next to the footpath, thus cutting out a slog up the road with heavy rucksacks. We set off promptly along the footpath which seemed even more overgrown just 3 months later. Thanks to my email to the council, the bush that had blocked the path entirely had been removed, entirely. However a bit further along, a huge branch had come down but it was easy to get past it so not sure another email is required, there are probably more important things that need sorting out.
C had not got the gaiters on and it was damp underfoot, so I went back to the car and all was fine. These were very necessary as what had been desperately dry in May was now quite the reverse. We plodded slowly and steadily and took about 2 hours to reach the tarn. It is such a beautiful spot and so easy to reach. We’d both been worried that someone else would have got a pitch there before us but we were in luck and we saw no-one after a small group right at the start of the walk.
First job was to dig the latrines, job done efficiently with the iPood trowel, only 99g. We got the tent up very quickly, and made it nice and cosy, this time karrimats, then self inflating mattresses then sleeping bags. C located various stones which we used for the stove, our cups etc. We had a cup of tea and a look at our surroundings. Floutern Tarn is such a good spot for doing the wild camping. We pretty much camped in the same spot that CH and I had done in May, we couldn’t find anything flatter so there was a small slope.
I started to cook the dinner, and the minute I did we were subject to a very heavy shower so I heated up the Bombay potatoes (starter) in the rain while C languished in the tent. I didn’t actually mind at all being ensconsed in my waterproofs. For the main course, I served chilli con carne with lime and coriander rice. This was great too and C provided some buttered bread. The rain had stopped so we sat out on the rocks to eat our dinner and admire the view.
After washing up, we looked at the view again and then got in the tent as we were getting bitten although the insect repelling fabric did work fairly well. I tied mine round my neck and the wee beasties stayed away from my head at least. We did some crosswords by headlamp and drank whisky and sherry. It was remarkably warm in the tent. When we did eventually go to bed, I found I was very hot and threw everything off, such a contrast with my previous experience in this same place. We slept quite well although the next mission is to find a way to stop the sleeping bags slipping off the blow up mats. We did also slide down the tent as we hadn’t found a totally flat spot. I don’t think there was one to find.

Loaded up
Just before the cloud burst
Floutern Tarn and tent

Sunday 8th August
We woke up about 7ish, having slept surprisingly well. Looking out of the tent, I couldn’t see anything at all as we were in such thick mist. It had started to lift a bit by the first cup of tea/coffee. We breakfasted, C on Weetabix and me on muesli and yoghurt. Then to pack up. This does seem to take a long time and we didn’t get walking until 11.00 despite being a smoothly oiled machine.
We got back to the car quite quickly as our packs were much lighter and it’s down all the way. We then drove round to a car park near the western shore of Ennerdale Water and walked with our lunches to the beach to eat. This was very private but as the water was a lot higher, there was a lot less beach.
We strolled around a bit of the lake and then did a small diversion to get back to the car park. C was all for swimming in the lake and I was all for climbing up to the Pinnacles. We agreed to come back and do these things although these would be separate activities as there is no way I am swimming in the lake. Wild camping fine, wild swimming is not for me!
We got back in the car, drove up and around the top of the area along the A66 and then dropped down to Patterdale. Our B&B was Deepdale Hall and was set off the road. It’s a nice old farmhouse but we weren’t sure in the long run whether it really deserved its 4 stars. 3 stars yes. We got in and I had first dibs in the shower, lovely to get clean as I had managed to get really grubby! We both got ourselves presentable. I had to go and ask a man downstairs not to play his music as it was disturbing us. C had a good go on this one! He stopped immediately although he did seem a bit on the surly side. I worked out later he was the son of the household which consisted of father Chris aged 58, son Jimmy about 30 with wife Robyn and the twin girls. The man playing the music turned out to be Jimmy.
Time for dinner so we drove to the White Lion in Patterdale. We sat next to a couple from Nuneaton who entertained us whilst we waited for dinner. The man was an inveterate liar but this wasn’t totally terrible as he kept digging himself in. They’d both done the C2C several times. Pub grub, C had steak pie and chips and I had vegetable risotto and salad. Not much rice in the risotto and very greasy but quite filling.
Back to Deepdale and we settled in with some very strong wine that just appeared magically out of my suitcase. Nice to have a book to read, I managed to find where I’d stopped in Sarah Waters’ Little Stranger. Harder than it sounds, I’d got the book free as a download but it came in 2 x 3 or 4 hour files, so every time I  did anything else with the iPod like change a playlist, it meant I had to start again at the beginning. This was so annoying I’m surprised I managed to get through having half the book read to me. A treat then to have a real book to hold and turn the pages, also much quicker than being read to.

Bowness Knot
Ennerdale Water
Hot camp site

Monday 9th August
Got up at 7.15, had another lovely shower. Breakfast at 8.30, we both had the full English. Not bad and generous but a bit on the greasy side and I wasn’t over fussed on the sausages but admit I am very fussy about sausages and not even sure why I ordered it as don’t usually eat a huge breakfast. I also had melon and cereal and yoghurt. The coffee although real was too weak for me. I paid up and Mr Grumpy Bum still looked surly so we decided we wouldn’t be going back there. Shame, as the location is excellent.
We drove down the Kirkstone Pass to Ambleside, it was incredibly misty so didn’t see a lot. Parked up and went straight to a cafe for me to have my caffeine fix. Then into one or two outdoor gear shops. C bought postcards and stamps. I left my broken watchstrap at a jewellers to be replaced and Nigel said it would be half an hour. He lied and it was nearly an hour which meant we were late back for the car park but lucky as the car parking police were not around. I bought a present for a friend who has a birthday later in the month. C got a pasty for lunch from Greggs. It rained all the time we shopped and then stopped as we drove out to the Wrynose Pass. We tackled the Hard Knott pass too with a few intakes of breath from the passenger seat and my foot down on the very steep bits. Stopped at little car park and walked up to Hard Knott Roman Fort, we lunched on the north wall near the corner lookout. The fort is excellent but we missed the bath house as I’d forgotten to check in Wainwright who mentions it, before walking up. Our original plan had been to climb Hard Knott itself but although we stayed dry there was still a lot of mist coming and going.
We returned back up Hard Knott pass, seems a lot easier going West to East. There was a very irritating gold coloured open top Merc driven by a child with an older male passenger, blasting out loud music and who then got stuck going up Hard Knott so I waited until he had managed to get going again. Then he had stopped for no reason so we passed them and they were behind us. Then they turned round to go the other way. Then they came up behind us again so I pulled in for them to pass and that was the last of them. With luck they had a flat tyre some time soon as they were driving me nuts.
We got back to Ambleside at about 4.30 and then headed for home. Short stop at Lancaster services and home at 6.30. Great break.

Hard Knott Pass
View towards Boot
Hard Knott
Hard Knott Roman Fort

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Stoodley Pike 01 August 2010

Finally I did a walk I’ve had dreams of doing for years. Namely to walk along the ridge from the Pike to Chris’s house. I parked in the spot just below her house and took the path that goes up behind it and goes through Knowle Farm with its cattery, hens and peacocks. Continued to cross the Pennine Bridleway and then 400m further on took a very indistinct left fork to take me to the far corner of Gaddings Reservoir. I duly climbed the steps to check on the water level and it was not too bad, nothing like some of the reservoirs I’ve seen of late. Walked along the top parapet to the small beach at the corner and then along the wall of what looks like an ex reservoir. This then follows a drain along the edge of the cliff and basically wiggles around with the contour. The path eventually joins the Pennine Way on which it remains until Stoodley Pike. I could see over to Withens Clough reservoir which looked nearly empty.
I hardly saw anyone apart from a few people around the Pike. It took me just over 2 hours to reach the pike. I had a drink and then set off straight back as I was hungry and had weirdly forgotten to bring anything at all to eat. I made a good fast pace back. I had a small chat with a bloke just near Gaddings and then found he was behind me and there was no-one else in sight and this gave me the willies. I suppose it’s because it’s quite a lonely area. I set off across the indistinct path again and saw the man was still behind me. However he did have quite a big belly and so I increased my speed and managed to lose him. I fairly raced back through Knowle Farm and down back to Lumbutts Road. The return trip took just over and hour and a half. I did think about whether it would be possible to do it by bike but reckon it would be pretty uncomfortable let alone getting the ruddy thing up the Pike in the first place.

Withens Clough


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Todmorden Moor 27th July 2010

The tenth anniversary of my mum’s death. Anita and I resumed our evening walks, this time parking at Sourhall up above the station and the sports centre. We parked next to the pub which is now defunct and walked onto Tod moor. Lots of notices saying “no tipping” and for most of the walk it was pretty clear until we got to where the old mine had been and then there was a bit of tipping.
Some knackered looking 4x4s passed us and then went off to play on the slag heaps. Well I guess it’s their business what they do to their suspensions but I think they’ve been watching too many movies.
Nice short walk that was good to get A and me back into the swing of it.

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.