Patterdale Potter Feb 2018

I had been trying to get up to the Lake District for a while this year but every time I got near to going, the weather forecast turned bad. However, at the last weekend of February showed some promise: settled sunny weather but cold. Fortunately having a camper van makes cold weather less testing than camping. Originally I was going to stay at Braithwaite but the site was full for the first two days so I went to Sykeside Campsite in Patterdale instead. I was actually rather lucky as nearly all the pitches were taken.

There was quite a lot of snow high up on the fells and the subzero temperatures suggested it would be pretty icy, so I decided to keep below the snow line if possible, although that limited my options. I decided to visit Place Fell on the first day, as I’ve never been up there and it had the attraction of the return walk along south-eastern shore of Ullswater. For Sunday, I thought it might be pleasant to have Sunday lunch in Deepdale.

I was going to stay for Monday too but the weather forecast wasn’t too good and there was snow forecast for the Tuesday when I had planned to go home. So I decided discretion was the better part of valour and so went home on Monday. In the event, that proved to be a very wise decision!

Here’s some pictures and a short commentary on the two walks:

Saturday: Place Fell (19.4km)

A nice sunny start. Place Fell appears to have very little snow.

Pleasant walk along the track skirting Brothers Water and on to Bridgend.

Above Bridgend and looking towards Fairfield, there’s plenty of snow on the tops.

The path up to Boredale was pretty easy but there were a few snow and ice patches on the way up to Place Fell. Looking across to the Helvellyn ridge, again there was a fair amount of snow on the tops. Given I didn’t have crampons or an ice axe, staying below the snow was a good decision.

There were a few snow patches to cross to the top.

The small tarns were iced over.

At the top the views were extensive but perhaps not as clear as they might have been.Below the summit, I stopped for a bit of lunch, but it was too cold to sit for too long. I descended via Mortar Crag and Scalehow Beck. Parts of the path were sheet ice so I had to walk to one side on frozen grass for some sections.

Just before I reached the lake side path, I slipped on the icy grass. Fortunately I didn’t hurt myself.

The walk along Ullswater towards Patterdale was delightful, although I spent a fair amount of time overtaking groups of people out for a stroll

From Ullswater I walked along the eastern side of Patterdale through the woods and past the waterfall that comes down from Angle Tarn.

From there I walked to Hartsop and on to the campsite just as the shadows were lengthening. It was a fine walk in lovely weather despite the cold.

Sunday: Deepdale (13.2km)

It was seriously cold overnight. The temperature in my camper van was 1C in the early morning so it must have been very cold outside.

Like the previous day, once the sun was up, it was pleasant walking weather. I repeated the previous day’s route to Bridgend, then turned west into Deepdale. The frozen ground made the path a lot easier as it’s normally quite boggy in places.

The crags below Fairfield wer covered in snow. Indeed the path up and over to Grisedale Tarn looked pretty challenging.

Before I reached the shadow at the end of the valley, I sat down in the lee of a hummock to have some lunch. By this time, there was a gusty and chilly breeze, so I was grateful for some shelter.

Although I was tempted to laze around for a while, even in the sun, it was quite cold, so I packed up a walked back to Bridgend.

Crossing over to the sunny eastern side of Patterdale, I repeated the previous day’s walk back to the campsite and into the warmth of my camper van.


Alpkit Morphosis Jacket

A few weeks ago I took delivery of an Alpkit Morphosis jacket. Do I really need another jacket? Probably not! However, the Morphosis looked an attractive hybrid between a windproof and a light soft-shell jacket. While the main body has a grid fleece backing, the sides are unlined. I thought this looked an interesting way of regulating body heat. I’m a great fan of grid fleece, which I find more comfortable than conventional fleeces. I’ll have to wait until warmer weather to see how this works.

The jacket fit is just right to layer over either a base layer or a base layer and another top/fleece, yet trim enough to layer under a waterproof. The arms are reasonably long and terminated in a part elasticated cuff. There are two hand pockets and a chest pocket. The hood is quite generous and is part elasticated but has a drawstring at the rear. It is too big for me, so I’ve made a couple of tucks, which you can see in the lower picture, to make it fit round my face more effectively. The weight for a medium is spot on at 325g. More details on the Alpkit website.

They don’t make them like they used to

My cupboard clearing exercise a few weeks ago unearthed another gem: the Montane Superfly jacket. Back in the good old days, front zips were protected by storm flaps. Nowadays, it’s increasingly rare to find jackets with proper storm flaps. The vast majority have water “resistant” zips, most of which are prone to leakage. The Superfly takes no chances with a double flap secured by Velcro.

It’s not SUL, but not too heavy at 429g (L). I’m a bit disillusioned with very lightweight waterproofs. I had a look at my OMM Cypher eVent smock the other day and noted that it is delaminating in a couple of places. The Superfly seems to be in perfect condition and the material is noticeably more robust. Outside of summer, I think I’ll be using it again.

Out of interest, I thought I’d look for other jackets with front zips protected by storm flaps. There are the ME Kongur and Rab Bergen jackets, but both are a bit on the heavy side and more mountaineering jackets than walking jackets. The Marmot Precip jacket has one and is decently light, but I’m not a huge fan of Marmot hoods.

The other jacket that looks interesting is the Berghaus Lite Trek Hydroshell. At around 430g, it’s a similar weight to the Superfly. It has four pockets (a bit overkill) and unusually for a European jacket, it has body venting zips. It also has reinforced shoulders and hips, so should wear well. The breathability specs for Hydroshell are similar to eVent. It looks like Berghaus are discontinuing it, so it is being discounted and looks good value. I’m tempted to get one as pretty soon it will be impossible to get a jacket with proper waterproof zip protection.

2017 wild camps

Here’s a summary in pictures of my wild camps this year:



Rigg Beck





Gleann Gniomhaidh

Loch Affric

Corrie Dho

Chalybeate Spring

Allt Mor

Glen Feshie

Linn of Dee


Hill of Roughbank


Wiley Gill


Taw Marsh

South Teign Head

Taw Marsh (again)

Treasure in the wardrobe

I was clearing out one of our wardrobes yesterday and I came across some treasure: a Paramo Viento jacket, Cascada trousers and some Rohan Superstrider trousers. I knew I had them somewhere!

I had forgotten what an excellent jacket the Viento is, especially for colder weather. With arm vents, waist vents and huge chest pockets, it has great venting. The roll away hood is excellent. A deep collar means you can tuck your chin out of a cold wind. It’s long enough to cover your backside and go well below your waist. The sleeves are long and the overall cut is a touch baggy, great for layering. I’ll give it a good wash and proof and it will be like new in no time.

Looking at the current range of Paramo jackets, personally, I think I prefer their older jackets. The Viento is an excellent design. My favourite is the Vasco, which has a slimmer and shorter cut with a floating yoke on the back for venting. I like the old style Velez too, with a detachable hood. We mustn’t forget the weird and wonderful 3rd Element jacket either.

That’s not to say the new jackets are bad. The Quito is pretty good (although there are some tweaks I’d make if I was being critical). One area where the old jackets win hands down is colours. The old cobalt blue is my favourite (Vasco and Velez). The Viento is a rather attractive Smoke Blue, while I’ve got the 3rd Element in a nice Red and Grey. The modern jackets have a very strange mix of colours and I wouldn’t be seen dead in most of them.

I had completely forgotten about the Rohan Superstriders. These are serious winter trousers, if a bit over stuffed with pockets. Nonetheless, I’ll probably take them on my next trip. I was hoping to go to the Lakes this week but weather and a leak in the roof meant I’ve postponed until January.

rescueME PLB1 Personal Locator Beacon

After a lot of thought, I’ve bought a Personal Locator Beacon. PLB’s are simple devices which alert the rescue services if you need rescue and evacuation. There are no bells and whistles. It simply sends a signal to the relevant SAR centre and they alert rescue teams. There’s a short explanation here.

The rescueME PLB1 is probably the smallest and lightest PLB on the market, weighing 113g on my scales. Battery life is seven years. It has self test functions to make sure it’s working without alerting SAR. To call help, it simply requires extending the aerial and  pressing one button. It sends a signal for about 24hrs and SAR can home in on it. There’s a sturdy flap to prevent you pressing the help button accidentally. More details can be found here.

The beauty of a PLB is that it has no subscription, although it is a one shot use and you have to send it back to the manufacturer for a new battery after use. I looked at SPOT and Delorme, but decided that they were too sophisticated for my purposes. I’m not bothered about tracking and communication when I’m out in the wilds, but like the idea of a safety net if I break a leg and there’s no mobile signal. A PLB is ideal for Scotland, for instance.

The PLB1 comes with a soft case, a lanyard and a clip housing. I’ll probably just put it in a rucksack pocket and hope I never have to use it. If you’re a kayaker, the PLB1 doesn’t float so you’d probably want to consider some alternatives. For backpackers it looks an ideal unit, compact and lightweight.

In the UK, you are obliged to register your beacon with the Epirb Registry, which you can do either on the paper form provided or, as I did, online. It’s a simple and painless process that took a couple of minutes. If you backpack on your own in remote areas with no phone coverage, it’s a no brainer. Mine cost £179.

Tread Lite Gear Cuben Roll Top Dry Bag Camera Strap Pocket

I twisted Paul’s arm to make me a shoulder strap roll top camera pocket in cuben fibre hybrid fabric. I’ve been using a bulky Berghaus camera pocket on my Lightwave Ultrahike for a while (the Lightwave won’t accept hip belt pockets). It worked ok but was a bit awkward. This is much more slimline and elegant.

My Sony RX100 fits perfectly into it. It is secured by two elastic straps and a slik clip. I’ve had to sew a grosgrain loop onto the Lightwave shoulder strap as there’s no daisy chain. I’m really pleased with it. It doesn’t swing around like the old Berghaus one and access is easier as it has no padding and liner. It is fully taped so should be pretty waterproof although not immersion proof.

Paul has made eight for sale on his eBay shop. They are a bit fiddly to make, so they are unlikely to be a regular item. If you’re looking for a rucksack strap camera bag, it’s well worth considering.

Disclaimer: I have no financial relationship with TLG and bought this item with my own money.

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