Last week I got a bit sidetracked, so this is a bit later than I anticipated. I’m going to spin it out a bit. It wasn’t an epic trip, but it was quite interesting in a beautiful part of the country. The quality of the photography is a bit variable as I took my Olympus Mju camera rather than my normal Lumix TZ5. While the Mju was useful in the bad weather on the middle day, this was offset by the variable level of exposures. I’ll do a specific post on this, but, in the meantime, apologies.
The heavy rain started at Manchester but, fortunately petered out at about Newby Bridge. I then got stuck behind a slow-moving articulated lorry, so instead of going round the coast road I diverted to Ulpha and across Birker Fell. It was no surprise when I arrived at Hollins camp site to find the ground waterlogged.
On checking in, the lady at the desk claimed that she recognised me from earlier in the year. As I had a small tent (F10 Vortex 200), I was able to pitch on a slightly sloping patch of ground near some trees. While it was very wet, at least there was no standing water.
Hollins camp site
After organising the tent, I had a shower, which was a wise decision as it started to rain when I returned. There was nothing for it, but to “cook” some food and have an early dinner. The Chicken Chasseur (Fuizion Foods) was excellent and revived my spirits.
The rain meant I had an early night, which was no bad thing given that I would raid my “sleep bank” later in the trip. In the morning, I noticed a strange trail over my sleeping bag, which looked like a slug had crawled over it. I wiped the bag down, but I couldn’t see a slug. Then I lifted up my sleeping mat and there it was. Yuck!! I’ve no idea how it got in.
Fields near Esk View Farm
At least the morning was bright. It took rather longer than strictly necessary to sort out my gear, mainly because most of the stuff I needed was in a plastic crate rather than packed in my rucksack. I had to double-check that I had all I needed and then I was off. The plan was to camp near Sampson’s Stones beneath Scafell, then climb Scafell Pike via Little Narrowcove the next day.
From the camp site, I walked back a short distance towards Dalegarth, before turning down the track that leads to Esk View Farm and to the River Esk. On reaching the Esk, I decided to take the path on the North bank, rather than the southern side, which I have done twice before.
Path along the Esk
It was a very pleasant stroll through copses and alleys of gorse, although the path was quite muddy in places, a testament to the heavy rain of the previous day. The River Esk itself, was only occasionally in view until Doctor’s Bridge. Here I crossed the bridge and went up the lane to Penny Hill Farm. Some dogs barked as I went through the farm yard.
Esk at Doctor’s Bridge
From Penny Hill Farm, it was another pleasant stroll through fields, although at some distance from the river. After a couple of minor stream crossings, the path heads down hill through some woods towards Wha House Bridge. In the field before the bridge were some rather fat rams.
From the bridge, I decided to follow the road for a short distance to Brotherikeld. So far the weather had been pleasant and mainly sunny. Turning north into the more open upper Esk valley, the strength of the wind became more apparent. After a couple of fields full of sheep, it was on to more broken ground.
View from Brotherikeld
After crossing a number of side streams the waterfall above Lingcove Bridge came into view. I could see a long line of sheep descending Throstle Garth to the left of the waterfall. I decide it would be a good idea to have an early lunch and allow the sheep to pass rather than fighting my way through them.
Upper Esk looking towards the Scafells
Soon the vanguard of sheep arrived. I was seated on a boulder a few yards above the path, but the sheep seemed confused and stopped and stared at me. Eventually, they plucked up enough courage to pass me. Probably three or four hundred sheep passed me before the shepherds swung into view. Hellos were exchanged and they were on their way. The wind was quite chilly, so I didn’t hang around too long.
After crossing the picturesque Lingcove Bridge, I huffed up Throstle Garth. At the top of the rise, Scar Lathing and the Scafells came into view. This is one of the most exciting and magical parts of Lakeland.. Further on I met a couple with two dogs. One was a cute Jack Russell shivering either from excitement or from the cold.
Rounding Scar Lathing, my proposed camp site came into view. Although it was only 2:30, I couldn’t see the point in passing up one of the finest camping spots in England. After pitching, I collected some water and had a well-earned cup of tea.
Camp below Scafell
It was good timing as I was treated to a short rain shower. The weather was clearly deteriorating from the fine start to the day, although the tops had been under hill fog all day. After a bit of a laze around, I had dinner. The cold wind didn’t invite wandering around outside so it was an early night.