At the beginning of June I had to go to Manchester to pick up our daughter’s gear from university, so I combined it with a quick backpacking trip in the Lake District. Originally I was going to do a three day trip around the Northern Fells, but the weather forecast for the third day was for heavy rain, so I decided to walk from Braithwaite to the sheepfold at Wiley Gill and back. The weather was lovely and apart from my encounter with a fun sponge, it was a nice little trip. Here’s some photos.
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 Threshthwaite 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 uploaded the photos for my Deeepdale Daunder to my Picasa account. Click here.
Apart from being woken up in the middle of the night by a helicopter, I slept well. There was quite a lot of dew on the Trailstar although the night had been quite mild. It was a pretty amazing place to camp, so I didn’t hurry breakfast and packing.
Eventually I had to pack and go, but I think I’ll be back again. The next hour or so was retracing my steps back to Bridgend.
For some strange reason, it seemed a lot easier walking along Deepdale than the previous evening.
From Bridgend, it was a quick hop across a field of sheep to the track that led up to Boredale Hause. While it’s a well graded track, it was a sweaty pull. In compensation, there were increasingly attractive views of Glenridding and Ullswater.
From Boredale Hause the path turned back on itself towards Angletarn Pikes and Angle Tarn on a high level traverse along Patterdale, with attractive, if hazy views towards Brothers Water and Kirkstone Pass.
Instead of following the path all the way, I cut up to a higher path under Angletarn Pikes. Conveniently, as Angle Tarn came into a view, there was a large boulder by the side of the path, which I decided would make a good lunch spot.
Whilst it was very pleasant in the sun, I couldn’t dally for too long as I still had some distance to go to my intended camp spot at Measand Beck.
The path from here to High Raise was relatively busy with walkers and one lady asked me to take a picture of her with her iPhone.
The path to Satura Crag and The Knott affords some good views on either side of the ridge. The climb up The Knott was rather hot. Half way up, I met a German damsel in distress who was not sure of her navigation. Being the English gentlemen, I showed her the way to Patterdale on her map.
From just below The Knott, it was a simple left turn and short climb up to Rampsgill Head. It’s a fine view down the valley. I believe the red roofed bungalow was built for the last German Kaiser.
Next stop was High Raise, where I stopped at the shelter. I had a good phone signal so I texted my wife and checked my emails. My original route was to Red Crag and Wether Hill and then down to Measand Beck. However, I spied a quad bike track leading to Low Raise. I reasoned that this must lead to Measand End, so I followed it.
The track provided a wonderful contrast to the hard tracks around Angle Tarn and The Knott. Low Raise itself is marked by a cairn and a stone shelter. I made fast progress, homing in on a strange shape on the horizon. This turned out the be a a solitary peat hag, possibly man made.
From here, the path started to drop down sharply towards Measand End, giving fine views of the Haweswater Dam. The water levels were the lowest that I’ve seen them.
The track down to Measand Beck became increasingly steep and must be quite scary on a quad bike.
I was tempted to find a camping spot in the valley, but there weren’t any suitable spots other than on the path by the bridge. I knew I could camp near the water slide a little way up the valley.
It didn’t take long to get to the sheep folds near the water slide. Next to the beck, there is an area of rough pasture that is suitable for camping. It seems this patch is getting rougher and rougher with thistles and mole hills over the years.
Fortunately there is still an area which is flat enough to pitch on. Although not as wild as Deepdale, Measand Beck still has a feeling of remoteness, despite being only a mile from Haweswater.
The night was very mild and I woke to clouds. This meant there was very little dew on the Trailstar and it was easier to pack. By 8:30, I was on my way.
I love the walk down the waterfalls at Measand. Very picturesque. By the time I reached the main path along Haweswater that leads to The Rigg and the car park, there was dampness in the air and a few stray spots of rain.
There was hardly any breeze and the muggy weather bought out the insects. It was fine while I was walking, but every time I stopped, they gathered.
As I neared the end of Haweswater, the weather changed to a light drizzle.
Whenever I leave the car for a few nights in a public car park, I always have a bit of apprehension returning in case something has happened. However, from some way off I spotted that the car was still there. Just before the car park, I had to to negotiate a field full of sheep.
Back at the car, it was a quick change of clothes and then off home. All in all, it had been a nice little trip with good weather and a stunning camp at Deepdale.
The side trip to deliver our daughter to Manchester University meant that I didn’t arrive at the car park at the end of Haweswater until early evening. The car park was virtually empty. After changing my clothes, I locked the car and walked the short distance to The Rigg.
I’ve camped here several times before, both in the wood and and a couple of places just outside the wood. The weather was quite still and muggy, which meant there were a few insects about. With this in mind, I decided to camp in a more exposed spot to catch what little breeze there was, to combat the flying beasties.
At the junction of the path which leads over Long Stile, there’s a patch of relatively level ground with close cropped grass. It was then I discovered that I’d packed the wrong inner tent. However, I managed to rig the Duomid inner under the Trailstar.
I had to walk down to Riggindale Beck to get some water. As a consequence, it was quite late before I was able to eat dinner. As it got dark, I climbed into my sleeping bag. Despite the drooping fabric of the inner compromising my sleeping space, I managed to get a reasonable night’s sleep.
It was a very mild night and the day dawned fair. There was some cloud and hazy sunshine with a bit of a breeze. It looked good for walking. In my mind, I had several options for getting to Deepdale. I decided to take a relatively easy option and head over Kidsty Pike, and then to Deepdale. This would give me a bit of time to to play about with the Duomid inner, to give it a better pitch.
I wandered down to Riggindale and crossed the bridge over Riggindale Beck. Then I started the climb up to Kidsty Howes. The weather was quite warm, making it sweaty work. Fortunately, higher up, there was a pleasant breeze. The sunshine was hazy, making it poor for photography.
My lack of fitness made for slow progress, but it was a pleasant climb with good views back to Haweswater. At the summit of Kidsty Pike, I was joined by a Raven grubbing around for morsels.
On the way down to the Straights of Riggindale, I met a couple who were doing the C2C. We had a little chat and I recommended they take a small detour to see the waterfalls at Measand End.
Over the next mile or so, I met a lot of walkers, many of whom appeared to be doing the C2C. Instead of carrying on to Angle Tarn Pikes, I decided to seek out a bit of solitude and descend to Hayeswater.
As I descended the slope, I was surprised to see that the small dam and footbridge had been demolished.
I didn’t mind the dam being demolished but I can’t see the reason for the footbridge being removed. I decided that this would be a pleasant spot for lunch. It was pleasantly warm in the sunshine, with a light breeze to keep the insects at bay. After lunch I found a place to cross the gill using some rocks as stepping stones.
I followed the track down to below Prison Crag. I then crossed Hayeswater Gill for a second time and took the high level traverse above Hartsop. This was a delightful walk, particularly through the woodland just beyond Hartsop.
Passing a waterfall, I reached the lane that leads to Bridgend. I ambled along in the warm sunshine.
Just before I turned off to Bridgend I met a group of walkers sitting down for a rest. After a short walk through a field of sheep, I crossed the A592 and then up the lane to Lane Head.
Turning south, I followed the track to Wall End and then into Deepdale proper.
Although Deepdale is not a very long valley, it does have a quality of wildness that it shares with upper Eskdale and Langstrath. Once out of site of Wall End, it feels very remote.
In the distance was the impressive bulk of Greenhow End and the scooped out out cirque of Link Cove. I was aiming for a loop in the the beck amongst the drumlins before the waterfalls near the end of Deepdale. I’d seen this site four years ago and it looked a good place to camp. In fact, it’s about the only decent place to camp in Deepdale.
I was beginning to get a bit nervous that my memory was at fault, but, at last I spotted a patch of green in the bend of the beck. I bushwhacked through some ferns and then a steep slope before reaching my target.
As usual, the ground was not as flat as it appeared from a distance. There were also some thistles that needed to be removed before I could pitch. However, it was a beautiful and impressive spot. It had been well worth the effort.
All around were reminders of the last glaciation. Humpbacked drumlins, large boulder erratics, exposed glacial till and above me the lip of the cirque that is Link Cove. In spite of only being two miles from the A592 in Patterdale, I could have been in the middle of nowhere.
Although weather was still mild and there was only a gentle breeze, there weren’t many insects to bother me. All in all, it was a lovely place to camp.
As 2013 draws to a close, I thought I’d do a quick review of my backpacking year. While it’s not been a mega year, I’ve managed to get out for five trips, two to the Lake District, two to Dartmoor and one to North Wales, totalling sixteen nights wild camping (plus five at camp sites).
Disappointingly, I missed out on the TGO Challenge. However, family health problems meant it might have been difficult to do anyway. I had intended to do a short trip to Scotland, but various obstacles meant it didn’t happen.
Lake District, March
In March, I had a lovely trip around the less frequented fells of Caldbeck and Uldale. The Northern Fells have a unique character and are well worth a visit. The weather was good for the first day, but not so good for the next couple of days. Stupidly, I left my compass behind, but survived to tell the tale. You can read a full account here.
My next trip was around the north moor on Dartmoor. I love pottering around Dartmoor. It may not have the grandeur of the Lakes, Snowdonia or, indeed, the Scottish Highlands, but the terrain means it’s relatively easy to wander wherever the fancy takes you.
Although the tors are relatively low in height, the moors have a feeling of space and freedom. I’ve been surprised at how few people seem to go much further than a few hundred yards beyond the car park. Once you get on to the moors proper, there’s a real feeling of loneliness and isolation, which I love.
I’ve found a number of superb places to wild camp. On this trip I discovered the Arcadia of South Teign Head, which is one of the best places I’ve camped. The walk up the East Dart onto the moor below Cut Hill is one of the finest walks I’ve done anywhere. I split the trip report into two parts: one and two.
Another under-appreciated area that I love is the Carneddau. The crowds head to Snowdon and the Glyderau, but those seeking solitude head for the Carneddau. I had unusually fine weather for this trip and loved every minute of it.
Maeneira is another favourite camping spot and I camped there two nights but in different places. I was able to take a look at the quarry in Cwm Eigiau for the first time. Despite going over familiar ground like Llyn Cowlyd, it was still a lovely walk. Read the trip report here.
In August, I returned to Dartmoor, but this time I was not alone. Veteran ( 😉 ) TGO Challenger, Andy Walker accompanied me. We had a fine walk from Ivybridge to Okehampton and were blessed with generally good weather.
I had wanted to camp at Piles Copse for some time and wasn’t disappointed. The walk up Erme Head to Princetown and then Great Mis Tor was new territory for me. The walk east to Bellever Tor was notable for Andy’s encounter with “The Bog of Doom”.
From Bellever, most of the territory was familiar, but no less enjoyable for that. We were very fortunate that the only rain we had was overnight and that the walk from the East Dart to Taw Marsh was in mainly fine weather. Rounding off the trip with a visit to the cafe at Okehampton station was a fine way to end the trip.
Lake District, September
My last trip of the year was a return to the Lake District, but with the objective of exploring some ground that I’d not been over before. Mosedale near Buttemere is a place I’ve wanted to visit for some time. I did a relatively low level walk from Braithwaite to Buttemere and then to Mosedale.
My original plan had been to walk the High Stile ridge with a possible camp at Blackbeck Tarn. However, the weather was poor, so I decided to stay low and walk back the way I’d come. I diverted to a lovely camping spot at Rigg Beck for my final wild camp of the year. You can read about it here: part 1 and part 2.
So that was my backpacking year. It’s a shame I didn’t make it to Scotland. However, in 2014, I have the TGO Challenge to look forward to. The prospect of doing two whole weeks of backpacking in one go is exciting. Before then, I hope to do two or three trips, depending on the weather and circumstances. Hopefully, you will have a good backpacking 2014 as well.