|Distant Central Lakeland Fells tower over Buttermere|
Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!
2011 began with a relaxing weekend spent in the Lake District for me and the wife – something we planned many months ago to avoid the maddening crowds. Not that I’m a party pooper or owt – just fancied some time away relaxing without a care in the world.
I didn’t really get up to much up in Cumbria – time was spent in the hotel, pub or on a fell.
On New Years Day, I took myself for a wander on the Loweswater Fells near Buttermere thinking it would be quite, scenic and with a fantastic view up the mouth of the valley in the south. It transpired I wasn’t the only one in the end.
But it was peaceful, the weather was fine if a little chilly and everyone I passed was friendly – “Hello. Happy New Year….”
|There’s a scramble up there|
Looking across the valley to Grassmoor as the sun began to sink on the horizon – it dawned on me ‘How on earth can you scramble up that?’.
Though the fell looks near vertical when looking from the west – there is indeed a very fine and easy enough scramble up to the summit. A dramatic one, too. But I took to reminiscing about completing that ascent and headed on towards the Kirkstile Inn – one of THE BEST pubs in all of Lakeland.
Sat at the foot of Mellbreak with a wonderful beer garden, this ancient inn is a pure delight once you ignore it’s somewhat unassuming exterior. Food is locally sourced and cooked fresh on the day, there are hand pulled real ales on tap from the pub’s very own micro-brewery – but it can get very busy and space inside under the old oak beams and roaring log fire can be at a premium.
And on this visit – it was heaving. Nevertheless, I found a nice spot by the window and enjoyed a couple of delicious pints of Loweswater Gold while awaiting the presence of my wife (I headed off solo onto the fells).
On the last day, paid a visit to Keswick so I can have a look round as to what bargains could be had on gear in the January sales – there were some bloody good deals to be had. But none of which that appealed to me – though in all honesty, products that I needed.
Even so, I was interested in purchasing a new sleeping mattress for my trips in the colder months.
I usually get by with a foam mat and 3/4 length self-inflating mattress – but with multi-day hikes out filming, the comfort that can be had is not satisfactory for me. I’m so damn used to the Thermarest NeoAir, you see.
It packs as small as my 3/4 length self-inflating mattress, is 860g’s and covers me from head to toe. The R-Value is 4.9 and you can inflate it in next to no time with the integrated pump.
For a little more weight and money I could’ve got the ‘down’ version but learnt the feathers can move about and create inadvertent cold spots in use – the down is held in place by small mesh panels inside. The synthetic fill is held in place by being laminated to the interior fabric inside the mattress – and of course, it’s not so prone to damp. Similar to the Pacific Outdoors mattresses as it happens (tried them, too and very good they are!).
But this was about comfort and warmth on a budget for me – so, the Synmat 7 won the argument. The foam mat will be collecting dust now along with my self-inflating mattress. Saved myself almost 300g’s by this move and with more comfort.
We’ll see how it performs later this week and next.
So, on that note – I’ll log off and get sorting my kit out for the next hiking trip and bid you all Happy New Year!
|En route to the Kirkstile Inn, Loweswater|
|One of Lakelands best pubs – make no doubt.|
|Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!|