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Sunday, 24 September 2017

Lake District Wild Camp 9/8/17

The long car journey back gave me time to think. 12 hours travel time for one night out was ridiculous. I would be passing the Lake District half way through my journey and this triggered memories of a past camp on Bannerdale Crags. Looking up at Blencathra under a clear night sky was utterly magical and quite possibly my most peaceful camp ever.
I didn't have a map with me so checked out some routes online, Scales seemed an ideal place to start from.
I followed a footpath sign to an unknown beck and hoped for the best. After a steep slog Sharp Edge came into view and I recognised Souther Fell to my right from a previous visit.

Sharp Edge looking as great as ever!
The path gradient eased and it was pleasant strolling till I reached the Tarn outflow.


I noted a possible camp spot next to the footpath and continued around the Tarn to a nice pebbled beach where I wouldn't be disturbed.
A couple of people made their way up onto Sharp Edge and a wild swim popped into my thoughts. It was mid afternoon as I stripped off and got in. The shoreline dropped off steeply and I was soon swimming in the freezing water. After 5 minutes I felt suitably refreshed and slightly numb!

Wild swim in Scales Tarn.
I felt great as I dried off, skin tingling in the light breeze.
The Jetboil was freed from my pack and I was soon filling the pouch with boiling water, it smelt damn good as I sealed the pack and left it to hydrate. Ten minutes later and I was eating one of the best freeze dried meals I'd ever tasted, it was truly scrumptious!


It got chilly when the sun went in and I was soon donning my down jacket and hat. Hard to believe it was August!


Time was getting on so I wandered over to the potential camp spot and surveyed the area, it was just big enough for the Hubba.
Shortly after staking my claim I heard voices and a guy appeared and introduced himself as Marcin, his father in law; Geoff, appeared shortly after and we were soon chatting about all things camping.
The wine, beer and rum was soon flowing as well as an amazing spread for tea!


After last night's failure I was determined to catch sunset so grabbed my camera bag, tripod and torch and set off up the ridge leaving my new buddies behind.


The path up was short and steep, the tents were soon reduced to two tiny specks. I always appreciate the lack of weight on packless ascents.


Looking down on camp.
I was at the Blencathra's summit 25 minutes later and quite surprised to see more mountain bikers than walkers venturing up to the summit.




As the last of the mountain bikers left I stuck my headphones in and listened to some music whilst dashing around and setting up the tripod.

Looking to Helvellyn just before sunset.

Cloud on the horizon killed a proper sunset, but it was pretty damn good until then.

Skiddaw from Blencathra.
Light soon faded after sunset and the torch was needed to safely tackle the steep scree at the start of the descent.


Camp was silent when I got back and I relaxed and ate whilst waiting for the stars to appear. I strolled over to the Tarn with the remains of the wine.
It was so unbelievably peaceful as I sat on a rock sipping away, a complete contrast to the night before.
A bat flew low overhead and a couple of mice came out of the darkness to within a foot or so, it was like some sort of fairytale.

Stars above Sharp Edge.
I faffed around camp taking some night shots trying to be as quiet as possible. The Moon lit up Sharp Edge nicely and I retired to my sleeping bag feeling very content shortly after midnight.



My alarm woke me at 04:45 and I quietly got dressed, left camp and headed up the hillside.


A surprising amount of ascent was needed to lift me above Bannerdale Crags so I could capture sunrise in the distance.



Morning light soon became too bright to shoot head on but gently warmed the surrounding Fellside nicely.



Descending back to camp I was glad to see my fellow campers up and about, it was too stunning a morning to miss.



A sociable breakfast was had and then I began to pack away in between midge attacks.


We said our goodbyes as Marcin and Geoff set off up Sharp Edge. I dismantled the tent and set off back the way I'd came.

No Trace of where my tent was.
I followed the route back down the way I'd came, it was a gorgeous still morning and puffy vapour trails hung in a beautiful blue sky.

 

The day slowly began to heat up and I passed the first of the mornings walkers.

Looking to Great Dodd and Clough Head.

The final stretch back down to the car was a delight and I felt well and truly satisfied. There's something so relaxing about Blencathra and it turned out to be the perfect tonic to a potential disaster of a trip ;)