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I sat in the shade of a boulder at the Fairfield col, supping tea, assessing the conditions and pondering the map. Well, the Xda Orbit to be precise - the more I use it (with MemoryMap loaded), the more I like it. It's not just that it uses the GPS to mark my position on the map, I like the way it tells me the direction of travel from that position as soon as I move away from it. And there's the huge amount of map data that can be fitted onto the tiny transflash/microSD card. And the internet access, which, signal permitting, can pull up Google Maps and the like. And...
Anyway, back to the assessing...
The thermometer was chucking out big numbers... up to 35C in the shade, and the lack of breeze wasn't helping matters. I took in 2 pints of fluids in preparation for the slog to the next known water-supply. Before getting there, there was the rather inconvenient matter of a fair bit of backtracking - a direct slog back up the grassy slope to Swirl How and a return down the Prison Band to get to a footing on Wetherlam...
Skiddaw and The Langdale Pikes from Swirl How.
Yet again I was surprised to have the summit of Swirl How to myself. By now I could see a small party of folk on the top of Great Carrs, but other than that the place was strangely devoid of people. Anyway, I pushed on back down the Prison Band, back to Swirl Hawse and started the pull up the slopes of Wetherlam, where the sun and lack of breeze dictated another stop as planned at the next watering-hole (NY 27995 00855, another possible wildcamping spot?):
Swirl How and the Prison Band from the Wetherlam path
With body, Platy and Aquagear bottle rehydrated from the peaty puddle, the walk up to the top of Wetherlam was a doddle. Compared to earlier, the summit was as busy as a supermarket car-park - at least fifty folk were resting their weary bodies up there. I waited a respectable distance away from the cairn, and made another brew and a meal while the summit cleared and the skies clouded over a little, offering some protection from the sun. Eventually I'd had enough, and after taking a few pics from the top...
Windermere from Wetherlam
Blea Tarn from Wetherlam
I made my way down the steep shoulder of Wetherlam Edge:
Looking down Wetherlam Edge to Little Langdale
to the neat little top of Birk Fell Man...
Birk Fell Man
before stopping for another photo-opportunity:
Looking back up Wetherlam Edge
The Langdale Pikes from Birk Fell Man
Taking the path off to the right, there was a steepish descent to a strange tree-guarded grassy platform which had great views over Dry Cove Bottom. If it wasn't for the lack of readily-available water, this would have made an impressive, if exposed, wildcamp pitch:
Trees guarding the platform
Another view of the platform
Dry Cove from the platform
The original plan was to overnight in Dry Cove Bottom near to Henfoot Beck, but it was only mid-afternoon - far too early to settle down, and I was in no mood to stop walking. Besides, any heavy overnight rain would probably result in a washout, so I changed the plan on-the-fly and decided to carry on and do part of the route that I'd planned for Sunday.
I followed the path along the side of the Tilberthwaite Gill gorge and reached the road from behind the cottages of Low Tilberthwaite:
Low Tilberthwaite cottages
Although the sky was now completely clouded over, the air was still hot and still, so I had a five-minute breather next to Yewdale Beck while trying to figure where the RoWs (RsoW?) were on the ground. I decided that the path lay across fields from High Tilberthwaite to Holme Ground...
and then up through gated woodland...
So, has anybody ever seen the fabled "Straying Please"?
to the two disused quarry reservoirs to the north of Holme Fell:
The larger quarry reservoir
Ivy Crag and Holme Fell
Although it was still only early evening, I pitched in the trees next to a swathe of Juniper bushes which gave off a most wonderful aroma. After roaming around for while I settled down to a meal and a brew just as the clouds gathered and the wind and rain started:
The pitch in the woods
Knowing that I was in a good place for an early-morning saunter up to Holme Fell, I hunkered down for the night before darkness fell, safe in the assumption that there would be no NT wardens about in such conditions. The rain during the night was constant, and driven hard by the wind, but the tent held firm and performed admirably. I had no trouble sleeping.
To be continued.