Wild Boar Fell to Borrowdale, Far Eastern Lake District
16 miles and 2600 feet approx
Temperatures dropped to around -7 degrees celcius during the night on our camp on Wild Boar Fell. It made for a chilly night’s kip – especially in my Rab top bag which is rated to 0 degrees comfort limit.
All said and done, a Platypus with some boiling water made up for some warmth in my sleeping bag and so I slept well.
I woke at around 5am wanting to nip out and relieve my bladder and noticed the early light in the sky from the sunrise. So, I decided to get dressed proper and take a wander without disturbing Eion and Yuri who I could hear snoring nearby.
The air was still and clear and valleys below were filled with mist. It had the makings of a brilliant day ahead weather-wise.
I didn’t venture too far but chose to take a walk around Sandy Tarn taking in the fine views and noting the ice that had formed on the water. Quite bizarre really considering it’s the month of May – just goes to show how unpredictable the climate can be here in the UK.
I contemplated the days that had gone by and the miles walked as my left knee began to ache again and also put some thought into the journey ahead. We were treating this day as a “rest” on our C2C, a short walk of 7 miles for a pitch on The Calf in the Howgill Fells.
But at this point despite some route alterations, me and Eion decided to plough on and make up some 7 or so miles lost from my unfortunate incident with my knee the other day at Richmond.
It was only fair to do so and moreover it would personally bug me out of principle.
Eion and Yuri woke at about 7.30am by which time the environs had warmed up considerably and they needed some convincing from myself about how cold it had got in the night. Eion had an unsettled sleep due to the cold despite his -3 rated down bag.
We enjoyed the warming sun and scenery having breakfast and eventually packed up raring to go by 9am. We skirted the flanks of Wild Boar Fell where upon we made our farewell to Yuri and then descended towards Ravenstonedale Common.
From a quaint collection of farms and rough tracks we intended to ascend The Calf via Cautley Spout.
As we approached from a slight detour (not paying attention to the map) Cautley Crags loomed ever larger in front of us. It felt quite intimidating actually. Probably due to our weary bodies and minds if anything – but the sight of the waterfall that is Cautley Spout was impressive if not a little disconcerting.
Namely because it looked such a steep walk upwards! And we had to drop down the otherside of the Howgills before heading up the Lune Valley for our intended target of Borrowdale.
The sun was high and very warm, suncream was daubed on – Eion fell in a river while crossing – but on we went dragging our hot and sweating bodies up and up to the tops.
It seemed to go on forever the climb but we did it in reasonable time to be honest. And once we hit the highest peak in the Howgill’s – The Calf – as usual, all was forgiven.
The panorama was astounding and particularly in the direction of the Lake District. We stood still for some minutes taking in the horizon as I reeled off the names of various mountains to Eion with my walking pole as a pointer.
We checked for messages on our mobile phones managing to receive a signal up there and I tried to check the weather forecast online.
It didn’t look good. Thick cloud, heavy rain and gale force winds were in order over the next 36 hours. And we believed it as we moved our eyes towards Scotland. Sure as anything there were thick clouds rolling our way.
So, after that brief rest we then descended to the Lune Valley. No easy task I have to say as the Howgills are little visited. Paths are at a premium and treading down steep sided fells on grass with aching knees and tired limbs was painful and slow.
We began to daydream of walking in the Lake District on well worn paths! Heck! We couldn’t wait to hit the old Roman road at the valley bottom.
Alas, when we finally hit rock then tarmac we came to regret that wish. It was bone jarring!
However, despite the agony we had picturesque rural views around including the peculiar Lune Valley.
I say peculiar because this one valley neatly squeezes through some high ground. On one side the Lake District – all rocks and crags – and the other the Howgill’s – all steep, rounded and combed smooth with long grasses.
And in between was the M6 motorway, the Great Western railway, the River Lune and an old Roman road!
We never bothered to seek out the old roman fort in the valley, preferring to plod on for our next night’s pitch.
It was some time ago pouring over maps that I noted of another Borrowdale valley in the Lake District. It’s clearly not as well known as the “other” one by Derwentwater – and I say Lake District lightly because it’s not actually within the National Park’s boundary.
It looked on paper to be a remote and potentially scenic place to visit. And upon reaching this valley it did not disappoint.
There’s two small farms in the valley and they’re connected by an old rough track. The sort of roads you imagine from times gone by. The whole valley’s atmosphere felt like a forgotten world actually.
Sure there were some small tracts of Forestry Commission woodland but there was also plenty of native natural woodland.
Me and Eion live close to Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire.
So, we recognise ancient Oak trees and forests when we see them.
And the natural woodland in Borrowdale reminded us of that small famous forest of home.
Not as old looking admittedly but still very pretty and atmospheric nonetheless.
We found a dry flat area of land out of sight of the valley bottom on the edge of one of these woods with an open view from our tent doors up the Borrowdale Valley.
The air was calm but for a slight cool breeze (which kept the bugs at bay) and it was all very relaxing. We needed it after this days hard walk. By now our bodies were really beginning to feel the strain of walking for hours on end over all sorts of terrain. As Eion so eloquently put it “I reckon my foot looks like John Merrick’s face!”
We were mindful of the impending weather but as it happens it never came to as forecast. Our night’s pitch was calm and dry. Again, we were lucky. We slept and ate well as a result and felt healed and energetic the following morning.
The next leg was to take us over yet more open country but the last of such for our C2C. Plus, we had the anticipation of spending the night in a bothy – Mosedale Cottage.
It wasn’t on our route per se but we figured the extra miles would do no harm – for now at least.
Before signing off on this post, I have to mention one problem I had with some gear on this trip.
I purchased some Source hydration bottles. Just to store water at camp and also to maybe use as a hot water bottle on colder nights.
Decant boiling water into a Source bottle and somehow it warps the thread for the bottle top. The top will screw on but it then tends to over screw and click. Thus leak water!! I had this happen on three different Source bottles of which I’m not too pleased. One night I thought I had some fever – I woke to some damp patches (I thought sweat) but was cold.
But we live and learn eh? And up until this point I have to add the Rab top bag sleeping bag had lived upto expectations. It proved comfortable and warm enough given the circumstances. I’m surprised on reflection that top bags are not more popular. In future they are definitely the sort of sleeping bags I’ll be seeking to purchase. At the end of the day, you do waste down insulation on the underside from compression. So, in effect it’s dead weight in your pack.
Furthermore, when sleeping you can twist and move without contorting the sleeping bag around your body.
Eion had decided to bring along his Bush Cooker Stove. It packs small and light and you piece it together to create a small cooker.
You can use wood as fuel (if there is any available) or Esbit fuel tablets.
It made for a nice wee camp fire when we did come across any dry dead wood.
So, for now that’s it for this post.
The next leg involves us heading into the Lake District proper.
The weather forecasts didn’t look good at all and to a degree we weren’t surprised given how volatile this part of the world’s climate can be.
But as it turned out our luck carried on!
Some of the best weather we had was to come in this most scenic and picture perfect of landscapes.
It maybe a cliche to say this but there were still some surprises to come on our C2C. Thankfully not of the “injury” kind.