Friday 30th and Saturday 31st October
I got up at around six to answer a call of nature and decided it was a bit late for a lie in. Although it was mild, it still quite windy and the tops towards the end of Grisedale were under cloud. However, towards the east it was a bit clearer.
Morning looking towards Nethermost Pike
My original route was to go over Angletarn Pikes and down to Haweswater. My ankle didn’t feel too bad but it was quite sore if I rotated it. I decided that I would walk to just beyond Beckstones where I would make a decision in the light of my ankle and the weather conditions.
I had a leisurely breakfast and did a bit of exploration. I was packed by around 9.30. I shortened the back length of my pack, making the hip belt ride slightly higher, making it more comfortable as my hip was slightly bruised from the day before.
Just as I was leaving, I spotted two groups of school children wandering disconsolately down the path to Patterdale. I took one last look around what had turned out to be an excellent, secluded and sheltered pitch. I’m always a bit concerned camping near fields and this was nicely hidden away.
I soon caught up with and overtook the school kids, one of whom had a white bin liner dangling from his pack. None of them looked very happy. I wondered whether they had camped at Grisedale Tarn and suffered a windy and sleepless night.
At Grassthwaite Howe Kennels the path descended a steep grassy slope. I took care to mind my step, using my trekking poles to ensure I didn’t turn my ankle again. Along the way I passed numerous other walkers out for the day and one particularly boisterous Cocker Spaniel.
As I wandered down Grisedale, I was struck by the golden browns of the leaves on the trees. It wouldn’t be long before those trees were bare, so I savoured the sights.
Autumn trees by Grisedale Beck
After a few hundred yards on the tarmac road to Patterdale, I spotted a footpath sign to the right. A quick check of the map showed that this was a potential shortcut to the Patterdale Hotel. After short climb I was rewarded with some lovely views of Ullswater. I think Ullswater is the loveliest of all the lakes in Lakeland. It has an air of mystery as it is impossible to see end to end, bending around Place Fell. It also has variety with one end in the mountains, the other in meadows.
Just before the Patterdale Hotel, I took a wrong turn and had to retrace my steps a few hundred metres. As I passed the hotel, there were pleasant smells of food, but it was far too early for lunch. I crossed the Goldrill Bridge and took the footpath on the eastern side of Patterdale southward.
This is a lovely footpath that I used last year. It passes thorough woods and pasture, with constantly changing views. Looking across to the western side of the valley, clouds were beginning to kiss the tops. The wind seemed to be getting stronger. It felt as though the weather was changing with the sun becoming hazier and clouds gathering to the south. Just before Beckstones, I encountered a horse on the path sheltering behind the wall. I stroked its nose and carried on.
Path near Crookabeck
I reached the junction of the path just beyond Beckstones, where the left hand fork doubled back leading up to Boredale Hause and Angletarn Pikes. A decision could no longer be deferred. Although my ankle was OK, I was concerned that a strenuous trek over the tops in high winds might be too much. I also ruled out the option of camping at Hayeswater as I didn’t fancy camping in high winds in an exposed site. If I had the Scarp 1, I might have been more tempted, but the thought of a disturbed night’s sleep was not appealing. So I decided to return to Sykeside.
Looking up Deepdale towards Fairfield
I had lunch a few hundred metres further on, below Lingy Crag with its attractive waterfall. Not so attractive was the oik who, as I was approaching, nonchalantly threw a banana skin into the bracken. I guess I should have said something. Fortunately he wandered off before I sat down.
It was a nice spot for lunch but the wind made it quite chilly so I didn’t hang around too long. After a few photos, it was back on with the pack. The clouds were darkening to the south as I walked towards Hartsop. I toyed with the idea of carrying on to Dovedale for a wild camp.
Waterfalls below Lingy Crag
After Hartsop, I crossed the road and followed the path along side Brothers Water back to the camp site. In the open field, I could feel that the wind was now quite strong. I sorted out my gear, leaving some of the stuff I didn’t need and put the rest in the tent. After a restorative cup of tea, I had a quick snooze.
By about four o’clock, the sky started to look threatening, so abandoned the idea of a wild camp and headed to the shower block for a hot shower. As I returned it started to spot with rain. About half an hour later it absolutely heaved down.
I felt I had made the right decision to stay put. I “cooked” an evening meal of Real Turmat beef and potato casserole. This reminded me of how superior Real Turmat food is compared with Mountain House. From now on, it’s going to be Real Turmat all the time!
Mid-evening, the weather started to get seriously bad with the wind whistling through the guy lines of the tent and very heavy rain. I enjoyed listening to the weather thrashing the tent, luxuriating in the knowledge that the Marmot Thor could survive anything short of a nuclear war. My original plan was to go home on the Sunday but the weather and my ankle made me feel that it would probably be better to return on Saturday.
The rain finally gave up lashing the tent by early morning, which was a relief as I had visions of the camp site flooding! About an hour after first light I got up. On the way back from the shower block I had a conversation with the camp warden. He said the weather forecast was “horrendous”, which confirmed that it would be a good idea to return home that day. He added that it had been exceptionally wet this year. They had been unable to use half the site and that it had rained every day in August.
After a quick snack and cup of tea for breakfast, I packed the contents of the tent. It started spitting with rain as I put the stuff in the car. Carefully, I took down the tent avoiding getting too much mud on it. On the way out I took one last picture, looking back at Dovedale. One of these days I really will camp there!
One last look back towards Dovedale
I love the drive along Ullswater, so I decided to go north rather than south. Heading towards the northern end, the clouds started to disperse and the sun broke through. I wondered whether I had been too hasty in deciding to go home. However, the weather was filthy as I went over Shap Fell. I stopped at Tebay Motorway services for a well deserved cooked breakfast.
The weather was pretty miserable most of the way until Manchester, which made me feel a bit better about leaving a day earlier than I had originally intended. So that’s the backpacking over for this year. I’m hatching some plans for some longer walks in the Lakes next year, possibly involving a trip on a steamer on Ullswater.