Charlie, you’re the man

I was doing some decorating yesterday, listening to Charlie Musselwhite. What a blues harpist!

If you like the blues, listen to this live version of Christo Redemptor (mispelt Redentor on YouTube). Smooth or what!


Food Doctor pitta bread

Regular readers will know that I switched to pitta (or pita) bread sandwiches from normal bread a while ago. I transitioned from oval to Waitrose round wholemeal pitta bread but then found Food Doctor pitta bread. They are a bit more expensive at £1.05 for 6 compared with 79p. However they keep a lot longer and they have a variety of cereals and seeds. They have more taste and are a good source of fibre. I like them with a slice of Jaarlsberg cheese. They are very filling and I find that two (with cheese) can keep me going all day. The beauty of pitta over normal bread is that it is more compact and crush resistant.


iPhone glitch

One thing I forgot to mention after my latest trip was that the GPS function on my iPhone had a seizure. Previously I had been very impressed with its accuracy. However, on the way down to Moor Divock, I was trying to find where I was in relation to a branch in the path and it was very badly out. First of all it positioned me in the Midlands somewhere. Then it told me twice that I was in Penrith. At the fourth time of asking, it showed me reasonably accurately where I was. I experimented a few more times and found myself located in Penrith a couple of times before I got an accurate fix. Very strange. It could be that I was quite low on battery and the GPS system couldn’t draw enough power. Anyway, I pass it on as a warning to be careful about believing a GPS fixing. I’ve always used a GPS as a secondary tool rather than a primary route finding tool. I will be more wary in future. I’m glad it wasn’t misty.

Biased reviewing

I was interested in one of the links coming to my blog that was from the LFTO forum. Mutterings about biased reviewing are nothing new. If you think about it, all reviews are biased. What I like may not be what you like or suitable for you. “Hike your own hike” as a certain John Manning says.

I want to make it clear that apart from two items (a pair of HiTec boots and a Stickpic), I have not received any free gear. I have also only received one piece of discounted gear (a pair of Salomon Quest boots). Everything else has been paid for by my own hard-earned pennies.

You could argue that this introduces bias as, perhaps, I don’t want to admit that I’ve bought a lemon. Also my gear choices are selective rather than covering the market. However, I always endeavour to give an honest opinion in an effort to help others. Sometimes that opinion will change over time as I use a piece of gear and I find limitations or problems.

All I can say is that I am beholden to no manufacturer or retailer as I carry no advertising, neither do I receive any freebies (with the exceptions I’ve mentioned). The other thing I’d like to say is that, in theory, I don’t owe readers anything. Unlike a magazine or OM, I receive no financial rewards for doing this.

I do this for my own pleasure, but also have an altruistic motive in wanting to share my experiences so others can benefit from them. The Ultrahike reviews are a good example of this. This is a product that I purchased because it fitted a niche I wanted to fill. There is very little information elsewhere on it, so I thought an in-depth look at it was worthwhile and would interest others.

This is the way I want to do my blog. Others do it differently and that doesn’t invalidate them or make them worse. One of the good things about blogdom is the variety. Enjoy it. Remember it’s free!


Lakeland wander part 3

I woke before dawn as the stags started bellowing again. The temperature dropped markedly according to my thermometer, so I donned my down jacket inside my sleeping bag. About 7.30 I got out of the tent. Hayeswater was almost still and the first rays of sun were hitting the hills. The sky was completely clear.


It was a bit chilly and I was glad of my Minimus jacket. I was surprised (again) at how little condensation there was inside the fly of the Scarp. The disadvantage of my pitch was that it would be in shadow for some time as the sun started to warm the far end of the reservoir. I had breakfast and packed and was away by about 9.30.

As I walked from shadow to sun, the temperature suddenly rose and I stopped to readjust my clothes. I saw a couple of other walkers before heading up the Knott. The first part of the climb is a bit of a puff, but at least height is gained quickly. There was hardly a breeze and I was sweating profusely. As I hit the ridge and the path from Angletarn Pikes, there was a welcome breeze. Then I spotted the second stag of the trip, some way away on the slopes of Rampsgill Head. This time I was far enough away not to disturb it. Using the zoom on the camera I managed to take a couple of photos.

The path from The Knott to the Straights of Riggindale is a bit of a motorway. I remember sheltering from a snow shower behind the wall a couple of years ago. Today it was beautiful, a warm, sunny autumn morning. On reaching the Straights I turned left for the gentle climb up Rampsgill Head. Although Rampsgill Head is unimpressive as a summit, it is a fine viewpoint. To the north, you can look straight down Martindale to Hallin Fell. To the east, you can look across the Eden Valley to Cross Fell and the Dun Fells. To the south are the Howgill Fells. To the east and the south, the hills appeared to holding back the clouds, leaving Lakeland in glorious sunshine.

From Rampsgill Head, my route was a straightforward ridge walk with glorious views all around. The low angle of the sun was casting shadows I the cwms of the Hellvellyn range and Blencathra and Skiddaw were clearly visible to the north. The haze and lingering mist in the valleys (not a perfect inversion unfortunately) were not ideal for photography, but the panorama was a feast for the eyes.

High Raise with its cairn and shelter was the high point of the ridge and I stopped for a snack and some photos. From here the path became a bit boggy in parts, though not as bad as Wainwright makes out. It is easy walking over Raven Howe, Red Crag to Whether Hill. At Wether Hill, I stopped for lunch sitting on the stones surrounding the modest standing stone. Again the views all round were impressive.

The ascent to Loadpot Hill was the last bit of climbing. Just before the trig point, there are some ruins (Lowther House). There is also another standing stone, which according to Wainwright is a parish boundary marker. I was to see several more on the way down to Moor Divock. On the descent, I met a couple of dog walkers.

I decided to follow the main path rather than go via Bonscale Pike, which was probably a mistake as Bonscale and Arthur’s Pike would have been a more interesting walk. The path down to Moor Divock is a bit boring and the surrounding landscape a bit dreary. After crossing a couple of becks, I turned left along a track, following a tractor with a trailer loaded with rolls of bracken.

Passing a house (Roehead), the track becomes a road leading to Pooley Bridge. After turning left again, it was then a short walk back to Park Foot camp site. I was relieved to find that the noisy party of Geordies were no longer there. Apart from my tent there were only two other tents on the site.

The next morning I woke to thick mist. If I had been up in the fells, I would have seen an inversion. It meant packing a wet tent, but it was better than rain! Remarkably, I had had no rain for the entire trip. It certainly was a good walk, with wonderful views and variations, together with two great wild camps.

Full set of photos

Lakeland wander part 2

I woke part way through the night and just couldn’t get comfortable again. My neck was really sore. As it got light, I saw the reason: my pillow had slipped off the sleeping mat. After a more comfortable hour in my sleeping bag, I decided to get up. The morning air was cool rather than cold, but I was grateful for my PHD Minimus down jacket.

Initially the sky was clear, but it quickly started to cloud over, which was disappointing. I adopted a relatively leisurely approach to breakfast and as a result I wasn’t away until 10 o’clock. The clouds were now quite thick overhead.

Just after Ruthwaite Lodge a startled stag appeared out of nowhere about 20 metres in front of me, leapt gracefully over the path and charged up the hill swerving around a sheep and disappeared over the crest of the ridge. It all happened so quickly, that I didn’t have time for a photo.

Although the path up Grisedale is a bit of a trudge, the compensation is the scenery, particularly towards Dollywagon Pike. When I reached Grisedale Tarn I decided to fill my water bottle. As I bent down I saw in the distance a man in a bright green Paramo Velez followed by a woman and a dog. Surely this couldn’t be the Sloman and Peewiglet! Nope, it was another beardy bloke in shorts and the lady had a Jack Russell terrier on a lead.


Ascending Grisedale Hause, the sun decided to make a welcome appearance. From the Hause to the top of Fairfield was a bit of a slog, with plenty of loose rock on the path. On the summit there was a surprisingly strong, biting wind. After a wander around, I decided to change my route. Originally I had planned to go to Dove Crag and then descend Dovedale. Instead I decided to go over Cofa Pike and down Deepdale, to avoid the wind.

Even though I had been to Deepdale Hause via Cofa Pike recently, I had forgotten how steep and awkward the path was. On the way down I met numerous walkers on their way up. At Deepdale Hause I turned east and descended the steep path down to the head of Deepdale. On reaching some large boulders I decided it was time to have some lunch. As I unpacked, I was passed by another walker, the only one I was to see in Deepdale.

As I ate lunch I admired the crags to the south. I didn’t hang around too long and was soon descending to a small ravine. It has been a long time since I had walked in Deepdale and it was a lot wilder than I had remembered. There were several waterfalls in the ravine, although mainly out of sight of the path.

Further down the valley, there was abundant evidence of glaciations with numerous drumlins. Amongst these and the meandering beck, I spied a flat stretch of grass, which appeared to be the only feasible place to camp in Deepdale. I shall return one day to explore, but it was too early in the afternoon to stop.

All too soon I reached Wall End and civilisation. I crossed over the main road and through some fields to the eastern side of Patterdale before turning south towards Hartsop. I’ve down this path several times recently, so I motored on, pausing only briefly to take a photo of the waterfall below Lingy Crag.

On reaching Hartsop, I turned left through the village and then up the reservoir track. In retrospect I should have taken the path on the southern side of the beck, but I continued to the Water Board building and then crossed the beck via the wooden footbridge. From here it was a short sharp climb to regain the main path.

On reaching Hayeswater, the breeze stiffened considerably. I contoured around the northern shore to a flattish piece of land caused by a debris slide (probably post glaciations). Although not completely flat it was feasible as a camp site. I hurriedly pitched the tent, collected some water and dived inside to get out of the wind. Once inside it was obvious that I had underestimated the slope, which was more across the slope than end to end. After dinner, I decide than I wouldn’t be able to sleep without rolling off my sleeping mat, so I packed everything into the rucksack and then turned the tent so it was sloping head to toe, which was much more comfortable.

As I settled down to sleep, I could hear three stags bellowing like sick sheep. A couple of hours after dusk, the wind subsided and the stags became quiet so I could drift off into sleep.

Lakeland wander part 1

Family health issues almost prevented me from doing this trip. The day’s delay, however, worked in my favour as you’ll see. Now that I’m “economically inactive”, I’m getting used to driving up to the Lake District, this being my fourth visit this year. I decided to revisit the Eastern Lakes, partly because it is easier to reach from the motorway and partly because I wanted to wild camp in Grisedale and at Hayeswater again.

I decided to make Park Foot at Pooley Bridge my base camp. Established camp sites are the best place to leave the car for a few days without worrying whether something might happen to it. They also give a bail out option and have the lure of a hot shower at the end of a trip.

I’m fairly sure that I camped at Park Foot thirty-odd years ago, not that I can remember much about it. When I arrived, there were only about four tents on the whole camp site. I selected a pitch well away from anyone else and settled down to dinner with a very excellent Coq au Vin from Fuizion Foods.

Just as I finished two cars arrived and parked about twenty metres away. There was a lot of door slamming and shouting. Oh dear! This seemed to be a group of Geordies intent on having a weekend on the lash. Up went two large tents, a gazebo and an unfeasibly long beach wind break. The wind break gave it away. Whenever parties try to wall themselves off on a camp site, you know you’re in for trouble.

After a little deliberation, I decided to repack all my gear into my bags, pick up my tent (one advantage of a geodesic) and move well away from them. Later in the evening, after dark, this proved to be a very wise move as they were indeed intent on a huge drinking and shouting session replete with arc lights, which lasted until about one in the morning. Fortunately I was far enough away for the revelries to be hardly audible. I know they went on beyond one o’clock because I had to pay a visit to the toilet block in the night.

The next day dawned dry but quite cloudy and murky. After a leisurely breakfast, I packed and was away by ten o’clock. The objective of the day’s walk was to walk the length of Ullswater along its southern shore and then part way up Grisedale and wild camp in the woods. Unfortunately, the road hugs the shore until Howtown, so I walked to just beyond Cross Dormont before taking the parallel path above the road but below Arthur’s Pike.

The initial path to Crook-a-Dyke was through fields, but beyond it was a muddy maze through gorse bushes. After about half a mile it became quite a pleasant track with intermittent views of Ullswater through the trees. The clouds were low, making for a murky light, not very good for photography, but pleasantly moody on the eye. Nearing Howtown, Hallin Fell came to dominate the view. The descent into Howtown passes several whitewashed buildings. After the hotel, a path branches off to follow the lake shore.

This next section is quite delightful, passing through woods and initially giving a splendid view north east up the lake. Being a Saturday, there were quite a number of casual day walkers and I had to dodge in and out of them to overtake. Despite taking a lot of pictures and having a heavier pack, I was still a lot faster!

Rounding the point and entering another wooded stretch, I was starting to feel hungry. However, there was no obvious place to have lunch, so I continued to Sandwick. At the end of the woods there is an attractive little beach, which was tempting as a lunch spot, but there was a family and a dog playing so I pushed on. Sandwick is just a row of cottages and a farm house, but utterly charming, although the occupants must get fed up with the pedestrian traffic and cars parked on the verge.

I followed the path a bit further and a grassy bank presented itself as a pleasant lunch spot with a decent view. I had already completed about half my intended walk, so there was no hurry. A number of walkers and mountain bikers passed by as I munched through some cheese pita bread sandwiches. The cold breeze prevented me from dawdling too long.

Rounding Long Crag, the weather started to brighten. By the time I reached Silver Point, shafts of sun had penetrated the clouds. There’s a lovely little beach east of Silver Point where two tents were pitched. I hope the occupants left no trace as it is a beautiful spot to pitch. Instead of following the path I walked out to the point to explore and take a few photos. You could possibly pitch on the point as well as there a few flat patches of grass.

After a short climb up Silver Crag, the path turns into a farm track, passing a derelict building with an impressively sagging roof. After passing the farm, I crossed the bridge and walked a short way along the main road. Beyond the church, I turned up the lane leading to Grisedale.

A short climb took me out of the woods and gave me the first proper view of Grisedale. The leaves on the trees were turning brown and provided a photo opportunity. Another climb brought me on to the path on the northern side of Grisedale. By this time the sun had broken through, lighting up the valley. As I came level with the woods, I passed two oriental lads who were rushing down the valley. My greeting was not returned. They didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves!

I decided to walk in the woods to see whether there was a better pitch than the one I had used last year. Where the floor of the wood was flat, it had been churned up by cattle. Where it wasn’t churned up, the ground was sloping. It transpired that my pitch of last year was the best spot. It was reasonably flat, sheltered and secluded, so I put up the tent in almost exactly the same place. There are some other potential pitches at the south eastern end of the woods, but they suffer from being more open and from noise from the beck.

After pitching the tent, I made the most of the sunshine and had a wander around. Dinner was Savoury Minced Beef, which was delicious. The sun was soon behind the hills and the temperature started to drop. As darkness fell, I experimented with a few photos of the tent with a light in it. I then repaired to my sleeping bag for an early night.