Monday, 27 April 2015

Brecon Beacons 'Mini' Wild Camp 17/4/15

Unfortunately I arrived late and left early next morning for this trip so I decided just to add the photographs that I took instead of blog about it.
Enjoy :-)

Pen y Fan and Corn Du.

Vango Tornado 200, brilliant tent design.

Pen y Fan.

Sunrise from Pen y Fan.

Bitterly cold up Pen y Fan.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Lake District Wild Camp 3-4/4/15

Route: Braithwaite-Grisedale Pike-Hopegill Head-Whiteside-Whinlatter-Braithwaite.

The preparation for this trip had been a nightmare, I'd been frantically checking various forecasts and lots of maps due to predicted heavy fog.
There's really no point in driving a fair distance to not see much at all and it wouldn't make great blog material either!
In the end I settled for my original plan as the fog was due to lift on the second day.
After a long drive through Bank Holiday traffic and miserable conditions I eventually parked up just after 3pm.

A quick stroll through the damp but sweet smelling woods and I was soon out in the open.
I joined the path that led Southwest up to Grisedale Pike, progress was fairly swift as I'd arrived much later than planned.

The plan was to fill up my water from Lanty Well but alas, I missed the little path that would have taken me right by it. I had a feeling that this may cause problems later.

Outerside and Causey Pike.
As I reached the 600 metre mark things turned decidedly grim, to add to my misery the pea soup was accompanied by an increasingly strong wind. Thankfully the path was very easy to follow.

To my surprise there was still a fair bit of snow around as I neared the summit and I took the opportunity to pack a dry bag full of it, just in case I couldn't find any other source of water before I made camp.

My hands were numb from the wind and snow collecting so I put my gloves on and continued to the summit, my hands slowly and painfully defrosting on the way.

The view was abysmal from the summit and I began my descent immediately.
After a small amount of searching I found an even bit of ground and set about pitching my shelter. It was windier than I'd hoped and my mood was miserable.
I set about the painstaking process of melting and boiling the snow for a hot drink and evening meal.
It began to rain lightly so I bedded down for the night hoping the shelter was sturdy enough for such conditions.

The morning brought the occasional parting of the clouds which prompted me to spring out of my shelter to take some photo's before the views disappeared.
The day was looking promising and this instantly lifted my morale.

After breakfast and coffee I shook the dew from the shelter and packed it away.
I made my way towards Hopegill Head. The mist was in retreat and the sun kept making brief appearances. I had a brief pause in progress as I resigned my fleece to my pack. A couple of runners jogged past with a cheery "hello".

Hopegill Head and Hobgarton Crag.

It was still quite early as I reached the summit of Hopegill Head and was already getting quite busy.
I decided to head away from the crowds along the daunting looking ridge that would lead me to Whiteside.

Looking Back to Hopegill Head.

Gasgale Gill.
I had flashbacks to my nightmare struggle on one of Snowdon's ridges but thankfully it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I first thought, in fact it was a damn fine route!

Along the ridge to Whiteside.
Patches of blue sky were visible and mist constantly swept over the open fells.

I reached Whiteside about lunch time and set my pack down while I walked about taking photo's. Crummock Water looked like a mirror in places but despite wanting to take a closer look I headed off piste in the direction of Dodd.

Crummock Water with Melbreak behind.
As I made my way downhill I noticed someone behind me which I thought was quite odd. A few minutes later I glanced behind again, this time the person called out, saying that he was lost and wanted to get back to Whinlatter Pass without any more ascent. I pointed him in the rough direction and followed behind him for some time. I couldn't help thinking that a fell runner without any food, water or a map was a bit of a recipe for disaster.

As I made the steep descent towards Dodd the fell runner was no longer in sight, I hoped he had gone the correct way.
I skirted around Dodd heading for some springs that were shown on the map. I found them easily and took off my pack. Something dark caught my eye in the straw coloured vegetation, it was a caterpillar and the area turned out to be home to many of them.
The sun was now beating down so I filled up my reservoir, took a long, cold drink from it and then refilled it, as finding water might be tricky later on.

Drinker Moth Caterpillar.

I had a quick photo stop at Hope Beck and then continued North towards Scales which would lead me to Kirk Fell where I would camp.

Hope Beck.

The path I took was very quiet and despite a deep muddy crossing which coated my boots entirely, all was well.

After looking at the map in more detail I decided against Kirk Fell and headed for Whinlatter instead.
As the pleasant grassy path ended I walked through a gate and joined a narrow lane which soon tested me with an uphill gradient. After a while of plodding I found shade beneath some trees and sat down for a quick rest while drinking some of the spring water I'd collected earlier.
I continued up the lane, the mid afternoon sun making me wish I'd brought some shorts with me.

I eventually reached the Whinlatter Pass and decided to have a late lunch once I'd found a place to stop. A quick boil in the bag meal later and I set off towards the forest. I was having doubts: should I have stayed up high? Was I staying out tonight just for the sake of it? I did actually stop a couple of times and very nearly turned around to walk back to the car.

Once I was off the beaten track it was a steep route up onto Whinlatter with the occasional stop accompanied by a mop of the brow.
Upon reaching some level ground I lay down in the evening sun with my pack acting as a makeshift backrest.
I could finally relax. I also started to think it wasn't just for the sake of it, I'd not seen a soul and the views back towards Grisedale Pike were impressive.

Looking South from Whinlatter.
Whilst waiting for the sunset I decided to crack on with some hot food and as I rolled my pack over I noticed something on the dry bag attached to it.
It looked spider-like but moved differently, urgh! a bloody tick!!
My initial thought was to burn the blood sucking little git but rational thought soon followed and I walked some distance away and gently shook it off the bag. After all, what right did I have to kill it? It had enough right to be there as me.
I tucked my trouser bottoms into my socks as a precaution and devoured my Chilli con carne!

I set up my tripod and camera ready for the sunset and faffed about on my phone as I had very good signal for a change.
After waiting what seemed like an eternity the valley below was finally bathed in the most gorgeous golden light, the fact I'd nearly turned back earlier made the moment even more special.
My camera shutter didn't stop for a good half hour!

Glorious golden sunset from Whinlatter.

It was well and truly dusk when I began pitching the shelter and to my delight I noticed the sky was clear too!
After a few shots I headed back indoors for my last meal of the day.

Some of Orion visible.
I popped back outside some time later to find that cloud had taken over the clear sky but it also created some interesting scenes when it momentarily cleared to reveal a full moon.

Full Moon from camp.
The next morning was bright and clear and I was in no rush to finish my coffee. I noticed an inversion over to the West, it was a shame I wasn't closer but I couldn't really complain given last nights fantastic display.

An inversion over to the West.
Grisedale Pike.
I headed East from my camping spot encountering the first people I'd seen since early yesterday afternoon.

Skiddaw in the distance.
A pleasant stroll was had through Whinlatter Forest Park and I rejoined Whinlatter Pass and made the couple of kilometres back to the car.

All in all it was one of my most varied trips yet, with all kinds of weather conditions and emotions thrown into the mix.
As much as I love the winter and cold, I do miss the creatures that disappear with it. Bring on the summer! :)