Although it was a clear night, the temperature, according my thermometer didn’t get below 9c in the tent. An early start was demanded by Obergruppenführer Sloman, so just to be sure that I would be ready by eight o’clock, I was up by 5.45. There were no clouds in the sky and it looked like it was going to be another glorious day.
Amazingly, we were all ready almost on time. We climbed Water Crag, a mighty 305m high, although it felt rather more. Yet again we were greeted by glorious views all around. After a short wait to allow everyone to catch up, it was on to Rough Crag and a group photo opportunity.
From here it was downhill all the way for our proposed lunch stop at the Woolpack Inn. We ambled down some country lanes and then diverted to have a look at Stanley Force. What an amazing hidden gem! From the top there’s a spectacular sheer cliff from which to view the waterfall. Then there’s a wonderful path down into a ravine, very reminiscent of a Chinese landscape with rhododendrons and wooden bridges. I’m afraid my photos don’t do justice (partly because the camera was on the wrong setting, whoops!).
Alan was the only member of our party who had decided not to visit the waterfall and we were supposed to meet him at the car park. However, the path had changed and we ended up on the north bank of the Esk. In true Daunder spirit, we decided to carry on without him.
It was a lovely walk along the Esk, some of which I’d done before. We arrived at the Woolpack for lunch just before it got busy. Who should be standing on the doorstep but Alan holding a pint of beer. Over lunch, four of us decided to revive another Daunder tradition: the schism. I suggested that the original route looked a bit dull and the camp spot at Sampson’s Stones might be a bit iffy. The alternative was to walk up the Esk via Throstle Garth and Scar Lathing to a lovely spot to camp in the bend of the Esk opposite Sampson’s Stones. This was enthusiastically embraced by some, so I explained to our leader, Phil, that we were ditching his lovingly planned route. Phil, Alan and Any decided they would stick to the original plan.
It’s impossible to capture in words what a wonderful walk this is, so I’ll just give you a load of pictures. If you’ve never done it, you really must. It’s one of the best walks in the Lakes.
By the time we reached Throstle Garth, there were some high clouds forming, suggesting the weather was on the change. We eschewed a lovely place to camp below Scar Lathing, and pushed on to the spot where I had camped before.
It is a spectacular place to camp. For some reason, I didn’t take many photos. About half an hour after we arrived, our schism started to be healed. First Andy appeared with tales of how rough and pathless his route had been. Then Phil and Alan were spotted picking their way down the slope. Soon our happy(!) band were reunited. All the time the cloud was thickening. Just after I turned in for the night, the thunder and lightning started. Fortunately, it skirted our camp spot but not before there was a very heavy rain/hail shower. There were a few rumbles of thunder during the rest of the night, but nothing serious.
The next day, amazingly, we were all packed in good time. The weather looked threatening, but stayed dry as we walked up the Esk towards Esk Hause. There were some remarkable ripples in the clouds.
Ascending the slope to the gully, Andy decided to veer off left to climb the evocatively named Knotts of Tongue. While Andy took a direct route that involved some scrambling, I branched left to avoid the rocks, then spotted David behind me and decided to wait for him. As we ascended the weather deteriorated and the rain and mist came in. We knew Judith was behind us so, like the gentlemen we are, we waited for her.
At the top there was a strong wind and driving rain, but when we rounded Great End it abated somewhat. I managed to take a couple of pictures at Sprinkling Tarn, but from there on my camera stayed in its plastic bag. It was windy and wet as we picked our way down to Sty Head and then into Wasdale. By this time Judith was some way behind, but she’s an experience backpacker so we weren’t worried. Carefully we wended our way down to the Wasdale Head Inn, where Andy was waiting for us. Judith followed a little later.
After about half an hour the rest of the pack arrived. After some food and liquid refreshment, it was time for me to go back to my camper van and for the rest to drive home. Judith saved me a little walk by kindly giving me a lift back to the campsite. A great time was had by all (I think). Thanks to Phil for organising a great weekend.