A night on Souther Fell filming ‘Life of a Mountain: Blencathra’

Clough Head from Blencathra Lake District wild camping
Clough Head from Souther Fell.

I’m sat here with a cup of tea relaxing in a holiday cottage in Wasdale contemplating where I shall take an easy wander today in the area. Temperatures have dropped, the winds have eased markedly and there’s fresh snow on the fells. Perfect hillwalking conditions.

I’m also reflecting on the past week’s shoots for ‘Life of a Mountain: Blencathra’. Since announcing I’ve begun filming the documentary my phone and email inbox has been red hot with interest from both the media and public alike. I’ll admit it’s taken me by surprise. I had no idea to the huge amount of affection people hold what many consider to be the best mountain in the Lake District National Park. No pressure there then!

Earlier in the week, the weather looked less than ideal as I made my way from Scales to Souther Fell for a couple of nights filming. Skies were overcast and grey but as I slowly made my way higher up onto the tops seeking vantage points for my cameras, the clouds began to break with delightful beams of light reaching out to the valley bottoms from the sun. Purely magical!

However, once pitched it became apparent a camp on Souther Fell may not have been a wise decision. Strong winds were forecast on the day I intended on heading down and returning to Wasdale. Alas, they forced their way through the valleys and over the summits earlier than expected. Thankfully I brought snow pegs with me which helped keep my tent steady and fixed on soft boggy ground.

Excited as I was about the ever increasing spectacular views surrounding my pitch, it proved rather difficult filming and taking pictures – I was constantly fighting the winds trying to keep the cameras steady. At one point I noted average wind speeds of 45mph then some time later 55mph. After that, I gave up taking readings on my Kestrel 3000 as it was pretty clear a rough night was now well and truly on the cards.

All said and done, I got some shots I hoped to capture of the area and slept like a log though I was reluctant to pack early the following day – I was toasty and warm in my tent which was being severely battered by the elements.

There was no point in being out in such conditions so eventually I packed up and made my way back down to Scales and then Threlkeld for the night. By the time I reached the village I was astonished to discover there was nothing much more than a stiff breeze down in the valley! I also learnt the following day many of the mountain rescue teams had been out on Helvellyn in the strong winds seeking a missing mountaineer describing the conditions as “atrocious”. Sadly they located the missing person on the headwall of Helvellyn near Red Tarn but he later died in hospital. Very sad.

Hearing the story of their rescue made me thankful I retreated off the fells sooner rather than later.

It was nice to be out on the tops though and I’m really looking forward to heading back to Blencathra soon to capture more scenes in the area along with interviewing interesting and engaging locals. For now though, I’ll go back to my cup of tea and decide where in Wasdale I shall take a stroll today….

wild camping lake district force ten nitro lite 200
Tent? F10 Nitro Lite 200. View to Great Mell Fell from camp on Souther Fell.
Souther Fell lake district
View west from camp. The clouds began to break!
clough head from souther fell
Magical moments like this make all the waiting worthwhile.
Sharp Edge Blencathra Lake District
The fearsome Sharp Edge on Blencathra.
shooting star blencathra lake district
Shooting star over Blencathra. I managed to capture two night timelapse sequences.
great mell fell dawn lake district
Dawn from camp. Despite how pretty it looks, the winds were horrendous!
The sun begins to rise over Great Mell Fell.
Dawn light on Blencathra and Sharp Edge
Dawn light on Blencathra and Sharp Edge.
wild camping souther fell lake district f10 nitro lite 200
Not a bad spot for a camp eh? Bit exposed mind. Water can be found nearby too. Some small tarns.
Even on gloomy days, some ace scenes can be enjoyed eh?

Looking to Skiddaw from Threlkeld Knotts.
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