Photos from “Deepdale and back” click here
I knew from the forecast that the weather would turn nasty overnight and into the morning. At about two o’clock in the morning it started to rain. Fairly soon it turned into “hose pipe” rain, heavy and concentrated. The wind appeared to have flipped round from coming up the valley to down the valley.
Despite the conditions, the Tramplite shelter seemed to be coping well. The A frame made it very solid and the valances at the front meant there was no problem with water being blown under the flysheet.
As it got light I considered my options. My original plan had been to go over Place Fell then to Howtown, up Fusedale and over Wether Hill to Measand Beck. With the weather forecast, I adjusted this to a walk along Ullswater to Howtown and then Measand Beck.
If the morning was a washout, then I would have to take a different route. The easiest option was to walk back to Hartsop then up over the Knott to Kidsty Pike and down to Riggindale to camp, which would be a reasonable afternoon’s walk. So I waited to see how the morning would pan out.
At about ten o’clock, the rain stopped. I started to think about packing but half an hour later it absolutely chucked it down. Not only that the wind picked up and swirled around. It was some of the worst weather I’d ever camped in. Fortunately, the Tramplite held firm. I was also lucky that I’d camped on a slight rise as the ground outside the porch started to get waterlogged.
At midday, the storm blew itself out and I was able to start packing. Deepdale Beck had been transformed into a raging torrent and the waterfalls from Link Cove were white ribbons on the hillside.
There was still a bit of drizzle in the air, so I packed away my camera and used my iPhone to take pictures. Not surprisingly the path back down Deepdale was sodden.
Yet again I encountered the cows and calves and had to make a detour around them. By the time I reached the end of Deepdale, the weather had brightened a bit. I retraced my steps back towards Hartsop but at the waterfall below Lingy Crag, I took the path that contours above Hartsop through some woods.
This is a really good path to Hayeswater Gill, giving some pleasant views of Brothers Water and Pasture Beck. As I approached the Waterworks hut at the end of the path, it started to rain, so I stopped to put on my waterproofs.
The slog up The Knott was a bit sweaty in full waterproofs. As I climbed higher I left the shelter of the valley and the wind reasserted itself. Contouring around The Knott to the Straights of Riggindale, there was a good view with the lush green of Patterdale contrasting with the sombre colours of the hillsides and the glowering sky.
The path to Kidsty Pike was easy. I could see some sunny patches near Haweswater, but Riggindale and Long Stile were dark and gloomy.
The path down from Kidsty Pike over Kidsty Howes is very eroded in places. I guess this is from the many people following Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk. I took special care descending some of the slippery rocky sections. By now, the eastern end of Riggindale was bathed in pleasant sunshine.
Once down to Riggindale Beck, I filled my Platypus water containers. My original intention had been to camp next to the wood on The Rigg, but the wind had dropped and I was concerned that there might be midges about. So I decided to camp in the open space near the hut.
Overnight there were a few rain showers. Fortunately, none were extended and in the morning I could pack outside the tent. All that remained was a short walk back to the car and to drive home. All in all a nice little trip, even if the weather wasn’t as good as last year.
It’s been a very frustrating summer. My wife’s poor health has meant no opportunities to get out. However, I had to take out daughter back to university last week, so that opened up the chance to make a little side trip to the Lake District.
Because of uncertainties over timing, I decided to return to the eastern fells as it was easy to park the car safely and concoct a two-day/three-night trip. I wanted to return to Deepdale, so I planned to camp at the same places as September last year, but link them with a different route.
I arrived at Haweswater late afternoon and the sun was shining. After parking the car, I hefted my pack and went to find a spot on the The Rigg to camp.
I decided that it was such a nice evening that I’d camp in the same spot as last year.
It was a very fine evening, with a fresh breeze to keep the insects at bay. After walking down to Riggindale Beck to collect some water, I rehydrated a meal. By the time I’d finished it was dusk, so I climbed into my sleeping bag and dozed off.
I woke at first light. The day dawned reasonably clear, although I knew the forecast was for a generally cloudy day with strong winds. I just failed to get a really good picture of the bright pink clouds over Riggindale illuminated by the rising sun :-( .
After breakfast I set off back down towards the car park and dumped a couple of things in the car before taking the Gatescarth Pass path. For some reason, I’ve never used this path before, so it was nice to use a new route.
It’s a pretty easy path up to the pass. By now the sky had clouded over and the wind strengthened appreciably as I climbed higher.
At the top of the pass, I spied a tent in the distance. It was one of the worst pitched Laser Comps I’ve ever seen! Shocking!
From Gatesgarth Pass, the path turns westwards up the flank of Harter Fell. By this time the weather was brightening a bit, although the wind was still strong. There were some good views northwards to High Street and Haweswater.
From Harter Fell I descended to Nan Bield Pass and up to Mardale Ill Bell. Skirting the flank of High Street, I made a short cut across some moorland to the path that leads to Thornthwaite Beacon.
Sheltering behind the Beacon was another walker. We had a quick chat, mainly about the weather. He said that the forecast was for heavy rain and high winds tomorrow but that it should clear by lunchtime.
The descent from Thornthwaite to Threshthwaite Mouth was a lot rougher than I remembered. There were several walkers coming the other way, huffing and puffing up the steep path. At Thresthwaite Mouth the wind was being funnelled through the col and was ferocious.
Some walkers were sheltering behind the dry stone wall where the path turns down to Pasture Beck. The way down Threshthwaite Cove was uneven and a bit slippery. I managed to stumble an graze a finger. A plaster stanched the trickle of blood. A little further down I took shelter behind a boulder to have a bite of lunch.
Pasture Beck is a lovely walk. The top section is quite steep, giving way to some glacial humps (drumlins). The lower section opens out into a gentler valley with a good path. There are also a couple of good places to camp, which I filed away in the memory banks for future trips.
At Hartsop, I took the track to Bridgend and crossed over the A592. I followed the lane to Deepdale Hall into Deepdale itself. I really like Deepdale. It’s not a very long valley but in the upper reaches it does have a feeling of remoteness amongst the crags of Hart Crag and Fairfield.
One unwelcome new feature of Deepdale, however, was a small herd of cows with calves. They were walking towards me on the path. Mindful of recent trampling incidents, I tracked up the slope away from the path through some bracken. Even so, they decided that I was interesting and started towards me. After I skirted round them they seemed to lose interest. Nonetheless, I wasn’t very impressed that cows and calves had been let loose on a well used path.
After a kilometer or so, I left the track to find the spot where I had camped last year in one of the bends of Deepdale Beck. To my dismay, the idyllic spot of last year had been churned up by cattle and there was a profusion of cow pats. Fortunately, there was a small area clear of devastation and I pitched my Tramplite, tail into the strong and gusting wind.
I knew the weather forecast was poor for the next morning, so I made sure all the pegging points were secure. As it turned out, it was a wise thing to do. More about the ferocious weather in part 2.
I’ve updated my trip diaries page to include this year’s TGO Challenge and Daunder. It has links to thirty-six trip reports and photos since I started blogging, together with a couple of series.
Recently I had to fetch our daughter from Manchester Uni. Rather than go there and back in a day, I decided to visit my beloved Maeneira to spend a lazy day. Ultra slackpack? Well it’s only fifteen minutes from the car park and I spent a whole day lazing around in the sunshine. I even had a visitation from some friendly Carneddau horses who let me stroke their noses. Here’s some pictures.
I’ve added an album on my Picasa account for my TGO Challenge 2015. You can find it by clicking here
I found this year’s TGO Challenge tougher than last year’s. Part of the reason was the route involved a bit less track walking and a bit more off piste. However, I think the main reason was the weather. We had a lot more rain than last year. While the air temperature wasn’t that cold, during most of the Challenge, there was a bitingly cold wind. After a while, it becomes energy (and heat) sapping.
The poor weather had an impact on clothing and washing. The logistics of getting clean socks began to dominate my thinking. The wet weather meant socks had little or no opportunity to dry out either in my boots or on my pack. Being able to launder them at hotels and B&Bs became a must. Hence, at Aviemore, I stayed at the Cairngorm Hotel rather than the camp site, so I could do some laundry. In future, I’d be tempted to take an extra pair (or two) of socks.
The perishing wind also meant fewer opportunities to wash properly, so it was a bit more smelly than last year. I did have a small collapsible bowl to wash in the shelter of my tent, but often I just made do with a quick flannel rinse of my face and used some hand sanitising gel to get rid of body odour. I also used some lavender linen spray to mask the smell of my base layer and fleece.
Despite the more adverse conditions, I didn’t have any excessively long days and I was always finished before six o’clock. On no day did I feel shattered, so I think I paced myself well. Unfortunately, the snow conditions and weather meant I used my FWAs and stayed low, but that seemed sensible in the circumstances. Overall, I was pleased with my route, which had some outstanding walking and good camping spots.
It’s difficult to pick out highlights, but I think the Falls of Glomach, Glen Markie, the Dulnain, the Water of Caiplich and Glen Tanar/Water of Allachy were scenic highlights. Seeing the eagles along the Dulnain was a thrill as well. In some ways, the changeable weather actually enhanced the majesty of the landscape. It’s difficult to capture in photos just how wonderful the landscape looks in rain and low cloud.
This year felt an even more social experience than last year. This is strange because I reckon I spent around half the time walking on my own (more than last year). I think this is down to knowing more people and more time spent walking in groups (perhaps also the Cheese & Wine party).
I was particularly fortunate to walk with Emma for the first two days, who was good company. On several occasions I walked in groups with Lynsey, Carl, Andy, Gordon, Mick, Louise, John and Norma (not necessarily all at the same time). I walked with Dave and Graham a couple of times and the Rev. David. I also accompanied Bob and Rose and Martin and Keith briefly.
I think at the heart of the appeal of the Challenge is the opportunity to meet and walk with like-minded folk from all walks of life. For a solo walker like me, the ability to pick up with walking partners and swap and change as well as going solo is a great attraction. It’s not something that is achievable outside the Challenge.
I think this answers the question “why do the Challenge when you could walk across Scotland at any time?”. There seems to be a special bond between Challengers. Talk to almost anyone during the Challenge and after five minutes, it’s like you’ve been friends all your life. The best example is the night I spent in the bothy on the Dulnain with Paul and Wayne. Although we’d met very briefly, we’d hardly talked before. Yet within a few minutes we were having a laugh and a joke like we’d been friends all our lives. It was a brilliant and memorable evening.
The other incident that sticks in my mind was when Louise fell over and injured her knee on the way to Ballater. Everyone rallied around to make sure she was ok and that she could continue. Carl patched her up and we redistributed some of her pack amongst us. Later that evening, everyone checked what her route would be the next day so she wouldn’t be walking alone.
The phrase “the Challenge family” is much used and here it was in action. I’m sure that most Challengers will have similar examples, even on this year’s Challenge. In a generally selfish world, the Challenge exhibits a different and uplifting ethos. In my view, its espoused aim of “fostering fellowship among walkers” was amply demonstrated this year (and on previous Challenges). I hope this defining characteristic of the Challenge continues for as long as the event exists.
Will I do the Challenge next year? You’d better ask my wife that question! The deal this year is that she gets the veto for future Challenges. For her, me being away for over two weeks is arguably a bigger challenge than me walking across Scotland, given her health. It may be that I have to wait three years until our daughter has finished university and is back home. We’ll see.
I definitely hope I can do it again. I shall miss all the people I’ve met on my Challenges, but look forward to seeing them again in the not too distant future. If you’re wondering whether to do the Challenge, if you can afford the time, you should give it a go. Only by participating will you understand its magic.