Monday, 26 May 2014

Lake District Wild Camp 23-24/5/14

The plan was to crack seven Wainrights in a day, in order of ascent they consisted of: Loft Crag, Pike of Stickle, Harrison Stickle, Thunacar Knott, High Raise, Sergeant Man and finally Pavey Ark.
I didn't really have a plan for the second day aside from checking out Easedale and Codale Tarns.
The weather forecast looked pretty grim at best!
I arrived just after midday and in a strange moment of wisdom I decided I'd tackle White Crag instead of the Cumbria Way/Mark Gate route.

Pretty soon I was in a situation where it was very dangerous to descend and my only option was to carry on upwards.
I was tested with steep sided gullies, thin ledges and loose rock.
I arrived at one particular gully and tried numerous times to climb up, I was held back by wet slippy rocks one side and a surface too vertical to get any purchase on the other, I took a few sips of water and considered my options.
My only idea was to place some rocks down in order to gain a bit of height but as soon as I put some weight on them they collapsed.
I tried again doing my best to lock them in place, this time they stood firm, using this increased height I managed to wedge my knee on the rock and somehow pull myself up, as I stood up my face was inches away from sheep remains, I didn't care as I was desperate to get out of this hellish place.
As I neared the top, the rocky gullies changed to slippery grass and loose piles of rock, it was getting easier but not by much!
Many of the loose rock piles gave way sending bits of rocks clattering down the hillside and giving me a constant reminder of how close I was to falling.
Reaching the top seemed to take forever, I needed frequent breaks as my arms and legs were exhausted.

When I reached the top, I stumbled away from my nightmare covered in cuts, grazes and bruises.
I was mentally and physically drained before I'd even touched my first Wainright, certainly not what I'd planned.
After a quick rest and a few nibbles of a flapjack I continued upwards towards Loft Crag, it was slow going and the wind was starting to pick up.

As luck would have it, Loft Crag was the smallest of the seven and didn't take too much effort to climb, from here I had a cracking view of the Pike of Stickle and the valley below.

Within minutes I was perched on the peak of the Pike of Stickle, with my second Wainright ticked my mood was much improved and my energy was coming back.

Harrison Stickle was a bit more of a slog but once up there I had great views of neighbouring Pavey Ark, Stickle Tarn and the peaks to the North.

I descended Harrison and dodged the various boggy areas on the slight uphill journey over to Thunacar Knott.
My fourth Wainright had been ticked in no time at all, the day was finally beginning to right itself!
From here I could see High Raise and I made a steady plod over the 1.5km distance, I hadn't encountered a single person since leaving the Pike of Stickle.

As I reached my fifth Wainright I had a nice but cloudy panaorama, I took my pack off to give my shoulders a rest and checked the map.
I set off Southeast on my short journey towards Sergeant Man.

The weather was closing in and I felt a few spots of rain when clambering up the rocky slope of Sergeant Man as it was starting to get late I decided to abandon Pavey Ark and instead search for a place to pitch.
I descended to the south facing slopes as it was sheltered from the wind, I found a nice well drained level ledge and pitched the tent outer, putting my gear inside while I went to collect water from a stream I'd passed.
On returning I attached the tent inner and arranged all of my kit inside, the wind and rain were getting noticeably heavier.
I inflated my sleeping mat and rested while sorting out my stuff and choosing what to have for tea.
After tea and a coffee I turned in, the wind and rain pelted the tent for a while and then settled to a quiet calm, despite this it took me ages to get to sleep.

I woke up to a sunny morning with a few clouds dotted about, thankfully the rain had dispersed during the night.

I had breakfast and packed up, making my way down towards Stickle Tarn.

After a few pics I went the scenic route towards Easedale Tarn.

It was still very quiet with only sheep and their young keeping me company along my way.

I had a little rest at Blea Rigg while overlooking Easedale Tarn and carried on towards Codale Tarn.

I found a nice little spot overlooking Codale Tarn, deciding to keep away from the noisy group way below I had a quick lunch as red ants were beginning to invade!
I'd planned to pitch up somewhere near but it was far too exposed with no flat areas so I headed off back towards Stickle Tarn, this time taking most direct path.

It was many times quicker than my scenic route and I found a nice little hollow to pitch my tent, the weather had begun to look gloomy again so I rested while listening to music.
About an hour or so later the rain started to come down lightly.
I was awoken at around 3am to torrential rain, thankful to be nice and warm inside my sleeping bag.

I peered outside to a fairly bright but cloudy sky, I ate a chocolate bar and drank the last of my milk for breakfast, opting for a quick departure.
I headed off towards Pavey Ark as I couldn't go home without cracking this one!
It was tougher than I'd imagined with the bottom half of the path requiring hands to assist in the rocky scramble, the gradient eased towards the top and the view over Stickle Tarn and beyond was fantastic.

I carried on towards Harrison Stickle passing a few people on route, it starting to rain very lightly but stopped soon after.

I made the long rocky stepped descent down Mark Gate, chatting to a couple along the way and passing the crags that had tested me on my first day.
I joined the Cumbria Way and after a quick photo stop, headed East towards where I'd parked.

Back at the car I thought about this trip and the lessons it had taught me, it was without a doubt my biggest physical and mental test so far and I'd not only faced my fear of vertigo but completely beaten it, with this in mind I had to more careful in future :)

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Kinder Scout Wild Camp 17/5/14

After a crappy week I decided that a visit to Kinder was in order, not only that but it felt like ages since I was last there..

I had the usual struggle through Ashbourne and arrived in Hayfield just after mid-day, it was quieter than expected so parking was a cinch.

On the walk up to the reservoir my eyes were bombarded by the vivid dazzling colours, greens, yellows, blues all making the most of the bright sunshine.

I headed on up William Clough, the sun was beating down but a decent breeze and careful footing kept my mind off the heat.
The higher I got the vibrant colours slowly got left behind, replaced by colours dulled by constantly fighting the elements.

I sat down at the top of William Clough and took a while deciding where I would head next, it was either a stroll down towards Burnt Hill or follow the Pennine Way towards Featherbed Top, I eventually decided against Burnt Hill as it was heading back towards civilisation.
I joined the Pennine Way and headed Northeast towards Featherbed Top.

It was very quiet, only the odd person and aircraft descending towards Manchester broke the silence.
Some time later I'd had enough, I needed water and the Snake Pass was looming into view, I left the Pennine Way and headed straight through the bogs towards the Northern Edge of Kinder, it was just as expected, thick foliage in places and bogs keen to devour my boots!
I breathed a sigh of relief when I came across a decent sized stream, I ditched the heavy pack, collected water and ate a hearty lunch.

I decided to follow this stream down to the River Ashop, thankfully the going got a little easier and I was able to criss cross the stream whenever obsticles appeared.
I took care when approaching lambs, as their parents were always keeping a watchful eye..

After a short search I found a secluded spot overlooking the path beside the River Ashop, I had a cracking view of the two Red Brooks on Kinder's Northern edge.
It was still mid afternoon so I set up the camera for some timelapse and lazed in the sun while listening to some music.
As time was now getting on I pitched the tent, the increasing breeze testing my patience at times!

I hit the sack shortly after sunset with the pleasant calls of Lambs and Grouse keeping me awake and smiling.

I slept soundly for a good 10 hours and awoke in a great mood, feeling lucky to be in such amazing surroundings.
After a black coffee and quick breakfast I packed up my stuff.
I followed the River Ashop back towards Ashop Head, passing yet more inquisitive lambs giving them a wide berth so as not to concern their parents.

On the nice stroll back down William Clough I took pictures of the many waterfalls I'd spotted on the way up.

On the previous days ascent up William Clough I saw loads of these beautiful metallic green beetles, thankfully after a bit of a chase this one stayed put long enough for a photo!

This nice little natural bridge caught my eye on the way down, thankfully I managed to get a decent photo of it without taking a dip in the stream!

I couldn't resist taking some flower shots on the way back to the car, glad I did as I'm happy with how they turned out.

My visit to Kinder was just what I needed and if the Lakes are on a par with this trip I'll be a very happy man ;)