Posts tagged 'High Street'

More Far Eastern Fells Wildcamping

Posted by on October 15th 2011 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, Testing for review, Wildcamping

After the Friday drag up the M6 and the traditional fill-up at the Ings Little Chef we nabbed a roadside car-parking space at Church Bridge, Troutbeck. Having changed into our scruffs we hoisted our packs and set off past the church and along field-paths past High Green and Town Head, using Ing Lane to access the fells via Hagg Gill.


Church Bridge church.

On the field-path heading towards High Green.

Ing Lane with the lowering Sun lighting up the tops of the Ill Bell Ridge.

As before.

The view from Ing Bridge.

The white sheep of the family.

Looking back down the Troutbeck Valley from Hall Hill.

We had intended to nip up to the top of Troutbeck Tongue and to walk off the ridge northwards to find a suitable pitch near the sheepfold. Unfortunately we were losing the light and Chris wanted to get settled for the night, so we continued up along Hagg Gill and found a nice place to set up camp. While setting up we noticed that we weren't alone - there was a small tent set up a bit further up the Gill, so I went off to ask if the owner minded if we set up where we had chosen. The owner was Linda, she said that she didn't mind where we pitched and we had a fine chat about fellwalking and other stuff. After a while I returned to finish setting up camp while Chris went off for a chinwag with Linda.

After dark we stood outside watching the sky before turning in for some sleep - although there were a few small clouds about, there were prolonged clear spells during which the stars were amazingly bright. We could see fantastic detail in the Milky Way, much better than we can see at home in the light-polluted Midlands.

The night was quiet and uneventful but the first light of dawn was heralded by the echoing roars of rutting deer - we couldn't see them but we were fairly certain that the commotion was coming from high on the slopes of Ill Bell, directly East of us.

After breakfast we headed off packless to bag Troutbeck Tongue before sun-up.

Looking towards Threshthwaite Mouth from the low ridge along Troutbeck Tongue.
Mouseover the pic if you want to see where our highly-conspicuous bright orange landscape-defiling tent was pitched.

Some way along the ridge Nature called so we ducked away from the track for some privacy. Attending to one of the most basic human needs, Muggins here made a stupid mistake that was to cause intense pain for quite a while, and ongoing stinging and regret for the rest of the day - I decided that, in the interests of good hygiene, it would be a good idea to use the water-free hand-cleaning gel on my arse. Trouble was, it wasn't the alcohol-free sort that I usually carry, it was the heavy-duty solvent-laced stuff that I use at work. Of course, by the time I found out, it was too late - by then I was jumping around the fellside like a madman, trousers and kegs around ankles, shouting expletives that echoed around the hills and imploring the powers above to make the burning stop! I don't know if Linda heard the commotion, but if she did I've no idea what she would have thought was going on.

Eventually I could walk again (albeit like John Wayne) and we reached the top after a few more minutes:

Chris on Troutbeck Tongue, mist in the valleys.

At the the top of Troutbeck Tongue, Chris was still giggling at the hand-gel incident.

We strolled back down to the tent to start packing up. Linda was up and about, she struck her camp and was away up Scot Rake well before we set out.

Lone tree on the slopes back down to the tent.

Striking camp next to Hagg Gill.
A bit further up is Linda at her pitch.

Nearing the top of the harder-work-than-expected Scot Rake we paused for a snack-break where there was a fine view of Froswick.

Froswick from the Scot Rake path.

Although we would be going that way later, we were going to Thornthwaite Crag first. As the weather improved the crowds grew - at one point I counted 56 people around the summit. We settled behind a wall a short distance from the crowds and had our main meals.

Buff-adjustment, Thornthwaite Crag

The Sun lighting up the beacon atop Thornthwaite Crag.

A busy place.

Easy slopes heading towards High Street (L) and Mardale Ill Bell (R).

Suitably fed and watered, we set off along the Ill Bell Ridge in increasingly-good weather.

The Kentmere Valley, Froswick and Ill Bell.


Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke.

Muggins atop Froswick, with Thornthwaite Crag in the background.

Ill Bell from Froswick.

A closer look at the path up Ill Bell.

Ill Bell's North Cairn.

Ill Bell's Main and South Cairns.

Having a breather at the Main Cairn.

The Main Cairn.

From Ill Bell we could see one of the options for our next tent pitch - the tarn on Rainsborrow Crag, the western spur of Yoke.

Rainsborrow Crag and Yoke.
Mouseover the pic if you want to see the location of the tarn.

At Yoke's summit-cairn we paused for a while to consider our options. We could carry on down the ridge to the Garburn Road, reach the car by twilight, find a mild-camping site and walk more fells in the morning, or we could pitch early at Rainsborrow Tarn, have a leisurely evening and, if the night was clear, maybe see the Aurora Borealis that was tentatively forecast to be on show in the small hours. We took the lazy option and headed for the Tarn.

Chris heading towards Rainsborrow Tarn.

The tarn is a jewel in the hills - surrounded on three sides by long steep drops, it sits in a rut almost at the end of Rainsborrow Crag. The views from there are immense and there's a real feel of wilderness about the place. Needless to say, we saw nobody else there - it was our own little bit of Lakeland. After pitching I went walkabouts with the camera:

Looking southwards.


Looking north towards Harter Fell.

Looking east towards Kentmere Pike and Shipman Knotts.

From Ill Bell to Shipman Knotts, with a view of Kentmere Reservoir.

After a leisurely evening meal we sat up waiting for the sky to put on a display but late on it clouded over and started drizzling. Even so, it was warm and calm, and we slept well.

On Sunday I woke just before dawn and ventured outside. The drizzle had stopped and the valleys were full of clouds being driven up and over the ridges and cols by the light breeze. It was utterly silent for an hour or so while I sat there watching in wonder and taking pics that don't do the scenes any justice whatsoever. It's times like that when I pity the folk at home in their beds:

Ill Bell, Mardale Ill Bell and the Nan Bield Pass wreathed in cloud.

Cloud being driven up and over the eastern arm of the Kentmere Round.

Breakfasted, we shook the dew from the tent and packed it away with the rest of our kit. After trudging back up the damp grassy slope to reach Yoke's cairn again we were overheating in the still, warm air so we stopped for a breather:

The summit of Yoke, with Ill Bell in the background.

A few pics later we headed down the newly-repaired path that leads to the Garburn Road. From there it was an easy downhill stroll all the way back to the car, followed by retail therapy at Windermere's Lakeland shop, another Little Chef at Ings and a manic drive back down the M6 and A5.

Looking back towards Yoke from the gate at Garburn Nook.



Distance: 13.9 miles
Total ascent/descent: 3879 ft
Wainwright tops reached: Troutbeck Tongue (1191 ft), Thornthwaite Crag (2569 ft), Froswick (2359 ft), Ill Bell (2476 ft), Yoke (2309 ft) twice. Those in bold were first-ascents for me.
Number of Wainwrights still to do: 12

Yes, I know that this was a walk that many folk would easily do in a day, but I'm happy that we took our time about it. I'll never forget the overnight at Rainsborrow Tarn, it's a place that few one-dayers bother to visit and I'd have regretted omitting it during a walk against the clock. Indeed, it was Wainwright himself that said "Time is intended to be spent, not saved".

Regarding gear taken for test-and-review... I took two items supplied by Adam Smith representing Go Outdoors. While the Lifeventure Downlight 900 sleeping bag didn't have to contend with low temperatures, the mild nights meant that it had to put up with a fair degree of condensation and sweat. I'm happy to report that it fared well, at no point did it feel clammy or damp. As for the windproof, I still maintain that the mere act of carrying that Montane Lite-Speed H2O jacket is enough to deter inclement weather! I'm sorry, Adam, yet again I took it and never got the opportunity to wear it!

The Keeltappers and Grunters Social Club 2011 Wildcamp Weekend – Part 2 – Saturday

Posted by on July 13th 2011 in Great Escapes, Testing for review, Wildcamping

Friday night was uneventful - some light breeze and some occasional drizzle but not enough to warrant closing the flysheet. I'd been snug as a bug, the Lifeventure Downlight 900 bag on test being on the warm side of comfy. Mike said that he'd been a bit cold and was regretting having left his down bag in Wales the previous weekend. Nothing that a good breakfast couldn't cure, though.


Drying the gear in the morning sunshine


Looking back at Brownthwaite Crag and Pikeawassa from the overnight pitch


By the time we'd packed up and checked that we'd left no lasting trace the morning was heating up nicely and it was only a matter of time before the sun would break through the clouds. We wanted to be on the High Street before it got too hot so we crossed the shoulder of Gowk Hill to intercept the track to the Keasgill Groove, scattering many moths and Small Heath butterflies from the grass as we went:


Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)


On the track to the Groove we stopped for a breather and were rewarded with great views behind and below us:


The Gowk Hill - Steel Knotts ridge, our first-night pitch is in the dip below centre


Looking down on The Bungalow that was built for Kaiser Wilhelm


After reaching the ridge we headed southwards and after drawing water at Redcrag Tarn we sat in the sunshine in the lee of the deer-wall. Snacks and tea were consumed while I strapped my heels. Refuelled, we struck out for High Raise to find some rocks for Mike to walk on:


Mike strides out towards Redcrag Tarn


High Raise summit


A mushroomy thing


Snapping him snapping me


We considered a detour to Kidsty Pike but opted for the direct track to Rampsgill Head instead. After that we headed for the Straits of Riggindale and after a good look down the valley we made our way to the easy summit of The Knott:


Mike contemplates the scenery


The summit of The Knott


We made our way down to the wall near Sulphury Gill where Mike had a doze while I nipped up to the top of Rest Dodd:


The three cairns on Rest Dodd


Rampsgill Head crags from Rest Dodd


A glimpse of Angle Tarn


I had intended to bag The Nab from there but I wasn't sure that I had enough water or energy for the return trudge. The day was hot and I didn't want to get Mike worried if I got myself into hassle, so I retraced my steps back down. The Hayeswater valley looked particularly good in the dappled sunlight:


Thornthwaite Crag, Gray Crag and Hayeswater


Another Small Heath


R & R


From the wall we made our way down the track towards Angle Tarn:


Mike crossing Cheesygrin Beck


From the track there were fine views back towards High Street:


Hayeswater and surrounding fells


We paused for a while on Satura Crag, and even contemplated overnighting there. It's a curious place with good views, small tarns, outcrops with interesting geology and quite a few secluded places to pitch small tents:


Bannerdale from Satura Crag


Gray Crag from Satura Crag




Small tarns on Satura Crag


From there it was a simple stroll down to Angle Tarn. We could see two other tents set up there but it's a big enough place for pitching without encroaching on anybody else's privacy. On the way down I took a small detour for a look down into Bannerdale:




Down by the tarn we were soon set up for our second night. Before long we were fed and watered, the rest of the evening was devoted to sitting in the sunshine, shooting the breeze and a little exploring with the camera:


Pitched at Angle Tarn


Towards Angletarn Pikes


A big cloud with fuzzy little cloud on top - quite an odd thing. A pileus cloud, perhaps?


Camo bird


Down by the waterside




Moon over Tracy Island


To be continued...

Far Eastern Fells Wildcamping – Day 2 – Ups and downs

Posted by on June 3rd 2008 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, Wildcamping

We woke at 04:30 but it wasn't fully light so we decided to have a lie-in. Well, why not? It was the weekend!

At 05:30 the sun was about to rise above the bank of low cloud far away in the North-East, so we went walkabout among the crags, peering down gullies and taking more pics. The views into and across Riggindale were immense, with the bonus of this being one of the best points of vantage for seeing the shy hanging valley of Sale Pot just beyond Short Stile. Riggindale Beck's twists and meanders glistened in the early light, being visible all the way from the source to the mouth at Haweswater. I could have spent another hour or so at this place, but we needed to be away.


Riggindale from Caspel Gate


Breakfast was a lengthy and leisurely affair - the day promised to be hot and sunny, so we wanted to take in a lot of fluids to cut down on the amount we would need to carry up, knowing that the flat top of High Street would be dry. We managed to cut the carry-up water to 1l each.

We struck camp and finished packing by 09:00 then started up Long Stile towards High Street, pausing now and again to take more pics. We made the summit at 09:40 just as the sun started to make itself felt.


Looking back down Long Stile


Muggins on the High Street plateau


After a few minutes at the top, we headed off towards Mardale Ill Bell, a gentle stroll that took all of 35 minutes, during which time we met a few folk walking up to the High Street plateau. We found a tadpole-infested small pond about 20 yards from the summit of the Bell, it was full of peat-stained water but we trusted our filter-bottles and processed enough for a quick brew. The Jetboil was eyed jealously by the few folk that passed the summit outcrop, comments like "I see you've got the kettle on" were met with offers of a free cuppa but there were no takers. Oh, well, it was their loss, it tasted good!


The Ill Bell Ridge from Mardale Ill Bell summit

Next on the list of objectives was Harter Fell. We were unsure of water availability at the Nan Bield Pass, so we made our stock back up to 2l and made our way down to the shelter in the pass. After a short breather, we carried on up the slope to Harter Fell, partly in shade but mostly in sunshine. Predictably, the small ponds at the top were dry, thus justifying the carrying up of those 2 litres.


The top of Harter Fell


At this point we had to make a decision. We had planned for the option of nipping down to Kentmere Pike and Shipman Knotts before carrying on around the head of Mardale. The sun was now really strong, so we elected to play safe and just go down to the Pike for lunch, and make another decision about the Knotts later, depending on water availability. The walk down to Kentmere Pike was soon done, and the Jetboil was soon steaming away boiling up for food and another brew. I wandered off packless to get a view of the Knotts but decided to leave them for another day.


Kentmere Pike trigpoint


We spent some time sitting in the sun but it was soon time to move on. We trudged back up to Harter Fell, pausing there only for a photo-opportunity, and strode around the Mardale edge of the wide curving ridge to Little Harter Fell before descending to the top of the Gatescarth Pass.

At the pass we were down to 0.5l each, so we had to scout around to find more before going on. With water we would carry on to Branstree, without it we would retire back to the valley. Eventually I found the spring that is the source of Gatescarth Beck, it was a cold and crystal-clear pond, no more than 3ft x 2ft and home to at least one splendid newt. We refilled and started up the dull, steep, straight grassy track next to the boundary fence, knowing that it led directly to the top of the fell. This was the third significant ascent of the day and our legs were really feeling the strain, but we made the top in good time - indeed, we stayed only for some pics, then carried on to the magnificent cairns on Artle Crag, situated in a strange area of naturally-standing rocks.


Cairns on Artle Crag


From there we could see our next pitch - the two tarns (one full, the other dry) just beyond the Manchester Corporation Water Works survey post, which we reached at about 17:00. I toyed with the idea of nipping off packless to nab Tarn Crag and Grey Crag but decided that the more-or-less pathless 6km there and back would be too much, so we pitched early so that Chris could get some rest. We spent a leisurely evening waiting for the sun to set the skies alight, but it turned out to be a bit of a let-down - nice, but nothing spectacular.


M.C.W.W. Survey Post






After a hearty meal and a well-deserved wash, it was time for some shuteye. It had been a tiring day, but well worth the effort.

To be continued...

Far Eastern Fells Wildcamping – Day 1 – Hold-ups and detours

Posted by on June 2nd 2008 in Annual Wildie, Great Escapes, Wildcamping

We had a hassle-free drive up the A5 and the M6 to Junction 39, there were none of the usual roadworks to hold us up, so we made good time to Shap. Then it was time to crank up the satnav and head off for the pre-programmed lat/long for Mardale Head. After a few miles we ended up at the end of the road into Swindale, with CoPilot telling us to "take the local road" directly to the head of Haweswater. Well, the only "local road" that goes the right way is the "Old Corpse Road", and that's hardly fit for MTBs, let alone cars, so we ditched the satnav and rerouted using the OS map. The nav error wasn't a complete waste of time, though, as Swindale is a nice place (we'll come back for a proper visit another time) and we saw some wildlife on the way out, including one of the biggest hares I've ever seen. Sadly, it was off before I could get the camera out, so I've no pics of the beast.

Anyway, we were soon belting down the road to Mardale Head but after a mile or so we were halted by a resurfacing crew who told us that we couldn't go further as they had the road blocked between the Haweswater Hotel and the road-end car-park. "Typical", I thought, "we've picked the only week for years when the head of the valley is off-limits", but a friendly chat with their gaffer revealed that they had just run out of tar and so would be going home soon. About 20 minutes later all their plant came back, followed by a string of cars full of disgruntled families.

We soon hauled up in the car-park and, after changing into our walking gear, donned our packs and made for Blea Water, which was our second-choice of pitch for the first night.


Blea Water panorama, Mardale Ill Bell (l) and High Street (r)


It was an easy walk up and we made it to the dam much sooner than we had anticipated, so after a snack-break we decided to head off up the easy grass slope on the right to our first-choice site, Caspel Gate Tarn on the ridge of Long Stile. This turned out to be an excellent place to overnight, there being plenty of level pitches and exhilarating views down each side of the ridge into the adjoining valleys. We would have had plenty of time to get up onto High Street to the third-choice site before dark, but that would have involved carrying up 5 litres of water for a night on the dry top, and neither of us was enthralled at that idea. Besides, I wanted to be at Caspel Gate at dawn to get some photos of the crags in the morning light. High Street could wait until the next day, we were in no rush.


High Street and Long Stile from the Caspel Gate pitch


As we pitched, the broken clouds, which had been just grazing the tops, lifted and thickened a little, which ensured that we would have a mild night. We had the place to ourselves, having seen nobody else at all since leaving the car-park. There was no running water, so we filtered from the tarn, brewed up, had some food then settled in for the night after taking a few photos.


Rough Crag from the Caspel Gate pitch


To be continued...

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