Category Archives: pictures & trips

Compare and contrast

A long, long time ago, when I was doing my A-levels, I seem to remember many essay questions asked us to “compare and contrast” various phenomena. Two recent posts by other bloggers have prompted me to do a bit of compare and contrast. James Boulter’s recent trek across the wilderness of Sarek in Sweden has an interesting counterpoint with Alan Sloman’s efforts to plan a wind farm free crossing for his 20th TGO Challenge.

 If you haven’t read James’ blog already, I recommend you make a cup of tea (or coffee), sit down and glory in the wonderful landscapes of northern Sweden.  You can find part one here and part two here. Here’s one of James’ photos to give you a taste:

Courtesy of James Boulter

Sarek National Park has been described as the last wilderness in Europe. Apart from a few paths, it is virtually untouched by man, even to the extent that there is no hunting.

Now, Sweden is a big country. It’s 449,964 sq. km with a population of 9,658,301, giving a population density of 21.5 people per sq km. Scotland is quite a lot smaller at 78,387 sq.km, with a population of 5,327,700 and a popualtion density of 67.5 persons per sq. km. Although the Scottish population density is over three times that of Sweden, it is still relatively sparsely populated in a global context (140th in the world compared with 194th for Sweden).

Perhaps it is slightly unfair to compare Scotland with Sweden, but the landscapes do have a similar feel to them. Obviously, few, if any areas of Scotland are true wilderness like Sarek. Nonetheless, it feels right to look after whatever we have.

Now have a look at this map. It’s the Map of the Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV) of just the existing wind farms in Scotland taken from Alan’s blog. If you are standing in any of the blue areas, you will, theoretically, be able to see wind turbines.  The red area is the visual impact of the proposed Talladh-a-Bheithe wind farm.

visual impactCourtesy of Alan Sloman

Dispiriting isn’t it? It’s not surprising that Alan is having trouble plotting a wind farm free course across Scotland for the TGO Challenge. Is it any wonder that serious backpackers are beginning to consider whether Scotland is such an attractive destination after all? Backpackers like Alan and James are looking further afield to places like Sweden and the Pyrenees, places which are largely free of the curse of wind farms (although there is a massive wind farm planned in Sweden, not Sarek!).

Many businesses in the Highlands of Scotland lead a hand to mouth existence and are highly sensitive to small changes in revenue. Many tourists, not just backpackers, go to the Highlands for the views and feeling of wilderness. Will they continue to go if the land is being despoiled to this extent by wind farms?

I suspect that backpackers will still go, but less often and do shorter trips in the diminishing, unaffected areas. Longer treks like the Challenge are more beneficial to the Highland economy as more money is spent on accomodation and re-supply at shops. Shorter treks, may mean less revenue for small businesses.

 Returning to the map, the red area shows why the Talladh-a-Bheithe wind farm is such an important test for the remaining area of wild land. If it goes ahead, then it’s a dagger in the heart of an already ailing Highlands.

 I only started to visit the Highlands in 2007 and I’ve barely scratched the surface with my visits. I feel cheated. I will never be able to see the true, unspoilt Scotland in many areas. Sure there are still wonderful places to see, but instead of the feeling of freedom, there will be the constrained feeling of a theme park. Go beyond the boundaries and the senses will be assailed by the industrialisation of the landscape. For the real feeling of wilderness and freedom, increasingly, backpackers will have to go abroad.

Deepdale daunder part 2

DSC02087Morning in Deepdale

Apart from being woken up in the middle of the night by a helicopter, I slept well. There was quite a lot of dew on the Trailstar although the night had been quite mild.  It was a pretty amazing place to camp, so I didn’t hurry breakfast and packing.

DSC02094Drumlins and erratics

Eventually I had to pack and go, but I think I’ll be back again. The next hour or so was retracing my steps back to Bridgend.

DSC02099Deepdale looking to Angletarn Pikes

For some strange reason, it seemed a lot easier walking along Deepdale than the previous evening.

DSC02104Wall End

 From Bridgend, it was a quick hop across a field of sheep to the track that led up to Boredale Hause. While it’s a well graded track, it was a sweaty pull. In compensation, there were increasingly attractive views of Glenridding and Ullswater.

DSC02119Glenridding and Ullswater

From Boredale Hause the path turned back on itself towards Angletarn Pikes and Angle Tarn on a high level traverse along Patterdale, with attractive, if hazy views towards Brothers Water and Kirkstone Pass.

 DSC02124Brothers Water

Instead of following the path all the way, I cut up to a higher path under Angletarn Pikes. Conveniently, as Angle Tarn came into a view, there was a large boulder by the side of the path, which I decided would make a good lunch spot.

DSC02125Angle Tarn

Whilst it was very pleasant in the sun, I couldn’t dally for too long as I still had some distance to go to my intended camp spot at Measand Beck.

DSC02127Angle Tarn

The path from here to High Raise was relatively busy with walkers and one lady asked me to take a picture of her with her iPhone.

 DSC02133The Knott and Hayeswater

The path to Satura Crag and The Knott affords some good views on either side of the ridge. The climb up The Knott was rather hot. Half way up, I met a German damsel in distress who was not sure of her navigation. Being the English gentlemen, I showed her the way to Patterdale on her map.

DSC02138High Raise from Rampsgill Head

From just below The Knott, it was a simple left turn and short climb up to Rampsgill Head. It’s a fine view down the valley. I believe the red roofed bungalow was built for the last German Kaiser.

DSC02139Shelter on High Raise

Next stop was High Raise, where I stopped at the shelter. I had a good phone signal so I texted my wife and checked my emails. My original route was to Red Crag and Wether Hill and then down to Measand Beck. However, I spied a quad bike track leading to Low Raise. I reasoned that this must lead to Measand End, so I followed it.

DSC02141Track to Low Raise

The track provided a wonderful contrast to the hard tracks around Angle Tarn and The Knott. Low Raise itself is marked by a cairn and a stone shelter. I made fast progress, homing in on a strange shape on the horizon. This turned out the be a a solitary peat hag, possibly man made.

DSC02145The peat hag

From here, the path started to drop down sharply towards Measand End, giving fine views of the Haweswater Dam. The water levels were the lowest that I’ve seen them.

DSC02148Haweswater Dam

The track down to Measand Beck became increasingly steep and must be quite scary on a quad bike.

DSC02150Measand Beck

I was tempted to find a camping spot in the valley, but there weren’t any suitable spots other than on the path by the bridge. I knew I could camp near the water slide a little way up the valley.

DSC02156Water slide and sheep folds

It didn’t take long to get to the sheep folds near the water slide. Next to the beck, there is an area of rough pasture that is suitable for camping. It seems this patch is getting rougher and rougher with thistles and mole hills over the years.

DSC02158Camp at Measand Beck

Fortunately there is still an area which is flat enough to pitch on. Although not as wild as Deepdale, Measand Beck still has a feeling of remoteness, despite being only a mile from Haweswater.

DSC02166View towards Haweswater

The night was very mild and I woke to clouds. This meant there was very little dew on the Trailstar and it was easier to pack. By 8:30, I was on my way.

DSC02175Waterfall at Measand End

I love the walk down the waterfalls at Measand. Very picturesque. By the time I reached the main path along Haweswater that leads to The Rigg and the car park, there was dampness in the air and a few stray spots of rain.

DSC02178Haweswater looking towards Mardale Head

There was hardly any breeze and the muggy weather bought out the insects. It was fine while I was walking, but every time I stopped, they gathered.

DSC02184The Rigg and Branstree

As I neared the end of Haweswater, the weather changed to a light drizzle.

DSC02189Murky weather!

Whenever I leave the car for a few nights in a public car park, I always have a bit of apprehension returning in case something has happened. However, from some way off I spotted that the car was still there. Just before the car park, I had to to negotiate a field full of sheep.

DSC02194Lots of sheep

Back at the car, it was a quick change of clothes and then off home. All in all, it had been a nice little trip with good weather and a stunning camp at Deepdale.

Deepdale daunder part 1

The side trip to deliver our daughter to Manchester University meant that I didn’t arrive at the car park at the end of Haweswater until early evening. The car park was virtually empty. After changing my clothes, I locked the car and walked the short distance to The Rigg.

I’ve camped here several times before, both in the wood and and a couple of places just outside the wood. The weather was quite still and muggy, which meant there were a few insects about. With this in mind, I decided to camp in a more exposed spot to catch what little breeze there was, to combat the flying beasties.

At the junction of the path which leads over Long Stile, there’s a patch of relatively level ground with close cropped grass. It was then I discovered that I’d packed the wrong inner tent. However, I managed to rig the Duomid inner under the Trailstar.

DSC01997Camp at The Rigg

I had to walk down to Riggindale Beck to get some water. As a consequence, it was quite late before I was able to eat dinner. As it got dark, I climbed into my sleeping bag. Despite the drooping fabric of the inner compromising my sleeping space, I managed to get a reasonable night’s sleep.

DSC02002Kidsty Howes and Kidsty Pike

It was a very mild night and the day dawned fair. There was some cloud and hazy sunshine with a bit of a breeze. It looked good for walking. In my mind, I had several options for getting to Deepdale. I decided to take a relatively easy option and head over Kidsty Pike, and then to Deepdale. This would give me a bit of time to to play about with the Duomid inner, to give it a better pitch.

DSC02014Haweswater and Riggindale

I wandered down to Riggindale and crossed the bridge over Riggindale Beck. Then I started the climb up to Kidsty Howes. The weather was quite warm, making it sweaty work. Fortunately, higher up, there was a pleasant breeze. The sunshine was hazy, making it poor for photography.

DSC02017Route up Kidsty Pike

My lack of fitness made for slow progress, but it was a pleasant climb with good views back to Haweswater.  At the summit of Kidsty Pike, I was joined by a Raven grubbing around for morsels.

DSC02023The raven

On the way down to the Straights of Riggindale, I met a couple who were doing the C2C. We had a little chat and I recommended they take a small detour to see the waterfalls at Measand End.

DSC02027Path between The Knott and Rest Dodd

Over the next mile or so, I met a lot of walkers, many of whom appeared to be doing the C2C. Instead of carrying on to Angle Tarn Pikes, I decided to seek out a bit of solitude and descend to Hayeswater.

DSC02028Hayeswater

As I descended the slope, I was surprised to see that the small dam and footbridge had been demolished.

DSC02030No dam or footbridge

P3160097March 2008, the dam and footbridge

 I didn’t mind the dam being demolished but I can’t see the reason for the footbridge being removed. I decided that this would be a pleasant spot for lunch. It was pleasantly warm in the sunshine, with a light breeze to keep the insects at bay. After lunch I found a place to cross the gill using some rocks as stepping stones.

DSC02037Hayeswater Gill

I followed the track down to below Prison Crag. I then crossed Hayeswater Gill for a second time and took the high level traverse above Hartsop. This was a delightful walk, particularly through the woodland just beyond Hartsop.

DSC02047Woodland walk

Passing a waterfall, I reached the lane that leads to Bridgend. I ambled along in the warm sunshine.

DSC02053 Waterfall below Lingy Crag

Just before I turned off to Bridgend I met a group of walkers sitting down for a rest. After a short walk through a field of sheep, I crossed the A592 and then up the lane to Lane Head.

DSC02055Across Patterdale to Deepdale

Turning south, I followed the track to Wall End and then into Deepdale proper.

DSC02060Wall End and Deepdale

DSC02061Deepdale with Fairfield in the distance

 Although Deepdale is not a very long valley, it does have a quality of wildness that it shares with upper Eskdale and Langstrath. Once out of site of Wall End, it feels very remote.

DSC02064Deepdale and Greenhow End

In the distance was the impressive bulk of Greenhow End and the scooped out out cirque of Link Cove. I was aiming for a loop in the the beck amongst the drumlins before the waterfalls near the end of Deepdale. I’d seen this site four years ago and it looked a good place to camp. In fact, it’s about the only decent place to camp in Deepdale.

DSC02065Camping  spot below Link Cove

I was beginning to get a bit nervous that my memory was at fault, but, at last I spotted a patch of green in the bend of the beck. I bushwhacked through some ferns and then a steep slope before reaching my target.

DSC02075An almost perfect spot

As usual, the ground was not as flat as it appeared from a distance. There were also some thistles that needed to be removed before I could pitch. However, it was a beautiful and impressive spot. It had been well worth the effort.

DSC02078Arcadia

All around were reminders of the last glaciation. Humpbacked drumlins, large boulder erratics, exposed glacial till and above me the lip of the cirque that is Link Cove. In spite of only being two miles from the A592 in Patterdale, I could have been in the middle of nowhere.

DSC02082Amongst the drumlins

Although weather was still mild and there was only a gentle breeze, there weren’t many insects to bother me. All in all, it was a lovely place to camp.

Operation Deepdale

P1010535Next week I have to drive up to Manchester to take our daughter to University. This gives me an opportunity to snatch a couple of days in the Lake District. With limited time, I’ve decided to base my trip on camping at a beautiful place I found in Deepdale on a trip in 2010.

After a difficult summer, I’m looking forward to a stroll in the hills. I’ve got some new(ish) bits and pieces to try out as well. It’s too early to tell what the weather will be like. I’m not intending to have very long days, but it would be nice if it stays fine :-)