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.