A good friend is about to move over the Irish Sea very soon and being a man with a love for the outdoors – myself and some other friends arranged a weekends wild camping trip in the English Lake District to give him a fond farewell.
The weather forecast had been looking ominous for several days but I was confident things would turn out reasonably well. This comes from a geeky understanding of weather systems but also a thorough knowledge borne out of experience of the area we planned to explore.
Fortunately, the weather decided to play ball and as a consequence supplemented a wonderful and memorable trip away – great company in a fantastic setting.
The Lake District landscape never fails to impress with it’s diversity and sublime beauty – and even though some complain it receives to many (deserved) visitors from all corners of the UK and world – there are as a matter of fact places aplenty to get away from any crowds or upward plodding queues on the fells.
Saying that within minutes of me and my friends arrival in Glenridding – it absolutely chucked it down! We were mindful (and at times praying) conditions would improve but as always the weather Gods decided to play with us a little – tease us even!
I’ll never forget heading up Grizedale, head down, boots sploshing and marching along rock – how the rain was so heavy and coming down fast that it felt like it was hail stones and not water! Then within minutes it would abruptly stop and the clouds would part with a ray of heavenly sunshine onto the lush green valleys below. Nevertheless, on we went with a pre-planned redez-vous with another two friends at Hard Tarn just below Nethermost Pike.
Eventually, me and Eion (my good friend who did the Coast to Coast Walk with me some months ago) reached Ruthwaite Lodge which sits at the foot of a large hanging valley. We commented on all the folk we saw heading down – warning us winds were terrible up on the tops – and on the murky conditions higher up.
So, with that in mind we decided to head to Ruthwaite Cove and make a camp there – keeping an eye out on our other friends who would be walking up behind us.
We wandered around for ages amongst crag and water logged ground seeking a reasonably well drained and sheltered pitch – but in the end we just made do with what we could find.
In the end it did not matter too much – not long after we pitched, our two other base camp members arrived with lifted spirits upon seeing our smiling faces – and the weather slowly but surely improved.
Apart from feeling a little damp and chilly we made ourselves comfortable by a large boulder and took in a fine view to a distant Place Fell and lake Ullswater. Some jovial chatting and drinking soon followed and a nice evening was had by all – surprising given how we all felt earlier on in the horrendous rain and winds.
I woke the following morning before the others thanks to a call of nature and took in a gentle sunrise over the distant hills and mountains. It made for a comforting distraction from my painful hangover and soon put out any other ideas of attempted youthful drunken sheenanigans – this was going to be a fine day out on the hills and one to be savoured.
Being as we were in a secluded place with no other soul about we didn’t rush to pack up – instead we relaxed enjoying coffee’s and breakfast and noting our route ahead for the day.
We planned to head on to Hard Tarn and then take a gentle scramble from there to the summit of Nethermost Pike. From there to Helvellyn and back and onwards to Fairfield, Hart Crag and finally Dove Crag – where we planned to view the Priest Hole Cave and maybe spend the night.
As it turned out the “gentle” scramble from Hard Tarn up onto Nethermost Pike was anything but gentle! It was quite hairy in places but we took our time and ensured we picked a safe route up onto the summit.
There’s not alot to say about our walk from that point on – except the odd remark about “that bloody scramble” – we took on a leisurely pace watching the cloud come and go and enjoyed the scenery all around.
Sure enough at times we bumped into the crowds that were out for the weekend but it was a very pleasant day given original weather forecasts were promising gale force winds, low cloud and heavy rain.
And apart from a hard and sweaty climb up onto Fairfield from Grizedale Tarn – we reached our end destination many hours later. There was no rush – we just wanted to relax and take in all of natures wonders. For me and the others this is the best way to enjoy the outdoors.
I can see merit in ticking off summits and rushing onto the next one – but only on a fitness level/challenge. It’s not a way to appreciate and learn about the landscape. You should take your time and savour it. Observe it’s nuances and more.
We took in some geology, flora and fauna – viewed distant U-shaped glacial valleys and more.
It was early evening when we reached the foot of Dove Crag and after some discussion we chose to camp and not spend the night in the cave. We were simply too tired to be bothered about any more exploring.
For the next couple of hours or so we all made our own space and relaxed by or around our tents. No chatting, just contemplative thoughts, taking some photo’s, having a kip and so on.
Well, except for one point where I noticed up above a group of four lads lost on Dove Crag in precipitous postions!! They were seeking the Priest Hole Cave and struggling to locate it never mind accessing it.
After some helpful shouts and a guided tour by myself – I then managed to take in some solo time wandering around our camp. Of which you can see a little below in some video I recorded using my mobile phone:
Wish you were here?
Not long before the sun decided to turn in for the night -another good friend joined us for company – Moonlightshadow.
I knew he was in the area walking that weekend enjoying some time off work and so we arranged to meet up on the Saturday evening and perhaps reminisce about our recent videos – but instead as a group we all had small drink and whiled away the time taking in the mountains as they faded away into the creeping darkness before heading off to bed for the night.
Though the winds and rain returned with aplomb in the dark hours we woke to a fantastic sunny day out on the tops. Absolutely splendid it was – it proved to be the icing on the cake for a memorable farewell meeting of friends.
And it has to be said – on reflection – though I’m more inclined to wild camp solo, I find I really do enjoy trips like this out and about with friends who are of the same thinking. The fact we spent most of our Saturday evening at camp each left to their own devices, happy in each others company and not saying a word is testament to how being part of a group doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t enjoy peace and solitude.
As friends you just instinctively know when to talk or tag along – there is a common respect and consensus as to why we are there and why we enjoy doing it.
We had the social elements of course – but couple that with the sights, sounds and weather – it proved to be a fitting and memorable farewell to a good friend.
So, thanks to the weather Gods, thanks to Mother Nature and thanks to my friends to another cracking weekend out on the hills.
You can see more photo’s I captured from this trip by clicking on the following link: