“No plan survives contact with the enemy” Helmuth von Moltke
Well my plan didn’t even survive getting my rucksack into the car. As I reached over to shift it on the back seat, I felt a an ominous twinge in my back. The subsequent 300 mile drive didn’t really do me any favours, but I was determined not to let a crocked back defeat me. When I arrived at the camp site, my back felt stiff and sore but I wasn’t incapacitated. I took care not to aggravate it as I pitched the bomb shelter (F10 Vortex 200). I like to have a “base camp” partly to have a bail out option, but mainly so I know the car is safe.
Scotgate camp site
After securing base camp, I was off to Stoneycroft Gill for my first wild camp. It’s only about an hour’s walk along minor roads and then a track. On previous visits, the bracken has been quite low, but this time, it was quite extensive, which meant pitching options were slightly more limited. I was glad that I had selected the F10 Nitro Lite 200 rather than the MLD Trailstar as the more compact footprint of the Nitro made selecting a flattish pitch easier.
The weather forecast was for high winds, but my pitch was quite sheltered, nestling in the shadow of Causey Pike. About an hour after I’d pitched it was getting dark, so I ate some dinner and turned in for the night. One advantage of camping in autumn is that the longer nights mean you really do get a decent night’s sleep before being woken by the morning light.
Dawn looking east from Stoneycroft Gill
The golden glow outside suggested a photo opportunity and I was lucky enough to see the sun rising from behind a low bank of cloud. While there was a breeze, it wasn’t too strong.
Onwards and upwards towards Outerside
As I hadn’t planned huge mileage, I had a relatively leisurely breakfast and was away by 9:30. As I climbed the track, the breeze became stronger. The track and path to the col between Sail and Scar Crags is very pleasant walking. Just beyond Outerside the views open out to the head of Coledale.
Coledale Hause in the distance
If you ignore the mine workings, it’s all rather spectacular. In particular, I’m always impressed by the precipitous flank of Grisedale Pike and the ruggedness of Force Crag. The track that leads to the col gives a feeling of exposure as you look into the valley. A few hundred metres below the track, there’s a sheepfold with some flat ground. I wondered whether it would make a good high level, but sheltered pitch.
Track to the col (sheepfold just visible on right near bottom of slope)
At the col, the ambience is somewhat spoilt by the controversial restored path to the summit of Sail. I’m not going to post a picture, as it looks horrible. Instead of going up Sail (which I’ve done several times), I descended into the upper reaches of Rigg Beck and then crossed the watershed to Sail Beck. This is fine, but seemingly little used track.
Track down to Sail Beck
Many years ago, I walked over Ard Crags and spotted this track. I’ve fancied walking along this secluded track for some time. By now the wind was a lot stronger and the sky had clouded over. My back wasn’t too bad. It was sore but I wasn’t in pain.
Looking back up Sail Beck
It really is a lovely walk along Sail Beck. The enclosed valley makes it feel remote and the flank of Wandope is suitably wild and rugged.
Eventually the Buttermere valley came into view. At Gyhll Wood I took the path through the wood rather than carrying straight on. It’s a delightful sylvan walk in small gorge. All too soon, the path ended just outside the Bridge Hotel at Buttermere.
Bridge over the river between Buttermere and Crummock Water
Inevitably, the track across the valley was busy with sightseers. After the bridge over the river that drains Buttermere into Crummock Water, I found a suitable place out of the wind to have lunch.
While it doesn’t look it from the photo above, the weather brightened up a bit after lunch. However, there was a strong wind whistling down the valley.
Looking back towards Robinson
At Scale Beck, I decided to cross to the northern side via a bridge to the obvious track below Scale Knott. When I saw Scale Force in the distance, I regretted my choice as I would have liked a closer view of this impressive waterfall.
Scale beck with Scale Force in the distance
Soon the desolation of Mosedale opened up before my eyes. It’s an impressive wilderness. My one concern was that I couldn’t see anywhere obvious to camp. I followed the track on the northern side of the beck until it descended into a bog. Taking stock, I retraced my steps and crossed to the southern side, where there appeared to be a better track.
A panorama of Mosedale
I was still concerned that I couldn’t see where to pitch. However, to my relief, I came upon a sheepfold with some reasonably flat ground inside. The next concern was a water source. Fortunately, about a hundred metres further on was a small stream with clean water.
Sheepfold with Hen Comb in the background
Although it was only mid afternoon, I was not inclined to pass by such a good pitch in the hope of finding another in this wilderness. My back seemed OK and I didn’t want to aggravate it any further. Also, I was ideally positioned to do the High Stile ridge via Starling Dodd if the weather and my back was alright. That decision would have to wait until the next day.
View towards Floutern Tarn