Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A (Short) Long Weekend In the Lakes.

Our trip to the Lakes had been planned for months and finally the time had come to load up the car and head off West!
The journey was suitably uneventful and we found the Castlerigg Farm Campsite without too much hassle. It was dull and gloomy, the mountains hiding in the mist.
We got our tent pitched in double quick time and got into the on-site café for a pre-walk bacon buttie just before they closed. Once we'd eaten, we got our rucksacks on and headed up the lane towards the fells. We picked up Brockle Beck which is the 'direct route' up to Bleaberry Fell, our first objective of the day. The going was on long tussocky grass, interspersed with wet boggy bits, but navigation was a breeze as we simply followed the beck. At the remains of a gamekeepers cottage, the beck swung left and so did we. Bleaberry Fell was hiding in the mist, playfully teasing us with glimpses of it's slopes.
The climb began in earnest, and the beck petered out into wet ground. We swung around to the right and eventually joined up with the main track for the final stony push to the summit.
Our first Wainwright of the trip and after a few minutes search, our first Geocache too.
The breeze up here was a little more brisk and the mist billowed in and out, but it wasn't too bad and more importantly it wasn't raining.
It was considerably wetter under foot however, at times the peaty mush going over the tops of our boots, the dog disappearing up to her belly from time to time! Some of it was avoidable, but not all.
The path was straight forward despite the bogs and mist and we soon clambered up on to the rocky outcrop topped with a stone trig point which marked the summit of High Seat and Wainwright number two. We'd passed a Geocache along the way and weren't about to back track for it.
At that moment, the fog closed in and it was like we were stood on an island! We decided not to continue along the ridge to High Tove and instead make our way down before we got lost. A compass check confirmed the way down and soon we were on good track. Annoyingly about 10 minutes after leaving the summit, the fog lifted and started to clear.
We stopped part way along the track for a bite to eat and we could see the Catbells Ridge across the Lake.
After about a kilometre of good track, we began the descent of a rocky outthrust called Dodd. One of many, many Dodd's in the Lakes. We picked our way down, til we got to a rock ledge that required careful negotiation. Paul went first and found the rocks to be slick with water. The dog had some difficulty gripping and Paul had to lift her down, but she didn't want to cooperate and wouldn't let go. From my vantage point above, this was quite entertaining. Til it was my turn. The rocks were indeed very slippy and I ended up with sodden hands and bottom from levering myself down.
The rest of the track was steep and rocky, but not as bad as that bit. We crossed onto grass above Ashness Gill, but it remained steep all the way down to the road at Ashness Bridge.
We followed the road down to join the Borrowdale Road. We followed this for a while before crossing into the area surrounding the lake and had an altogether more pleasant, traffic free walk along the Lakeside and eventually into town.
The mist had lifted completely, and although the sun wasn't quite out, it had turned into a nice afternoon and all the fells were now on display.
We ducked into the Dog and Gun for a pint, but decided to stay for tea. I had chillie, Paul had steak and kidney pudding.
After tea and several beers, we meandered our way out of town and up Springs Road and along a woodland path which took us back to the campsite. We now had magnificent views from our pitch.
After a refreshing shower and several cups of tea, we spent the evening in the Crag Bar just down the lane from the campsite.

Saturday morning we were greeted with drizzle. The plan for today was to have a wander in town, visit the nearby stone circle and generally relax a bit. So after breakfast, we set off to Castlerigg Stone Circle. It's only about a mile away over wet fields. It drizzled on and off throughout the walk but wasn't too bad. We called back at the tent before heading into Keswick. Back down the woodland path, then taking a detour up to the viewpoint at Castlehead which over looks the lake. The view was quite spectacular, despite the rain which was getting heavier now.
We carried on into town and had a good look (and a spend!) in the various walking shops. Tammy was allowed into the shops too, although it took her a while to figure out how to walk on the smooth laminate floors!
We had a couple of pints in the Dog and Gun before getting fish and chips for lunch and the long uphill home.
It continued to rain all afternoon. I think we'd come away from town a bit early and I confess I had a little snooze! Tammy spent the whole time fast asleep, wrapped up in our sleeping bags. We wondered if the planned route for tomorrow was going to be too much for her? (The plan was at least 14miles over and around Skiddaw) so we discussed our options. We thought maybe we'd do the Catbells ridge instead which was shorter and with less ascent. We could 'bag' Walla Crag on Monday before we left. That decided, we got on with making tea in the tent before heading off to the Crag Bar for a few jars.
We got back to find puddles of water in the tent vestibule. The inside was wet through, with drips coming from various places. Worst of all, my sleeping bag was wet through. Unfortunately, both of us were drunk, so there was no option but to bed down and try to sleep. Thankfully, my body heat dried my sleeping bag fairly quickly so I didn't spend the night wet, but I could hear dripping in the tent and hear the wind and rain raging outside.

In the cold light of Sunday morning, we could see just how much water was in the tent. Too much. During the night, it must have been windy as at least one corner of the tent had come unpegged. It was still raining now. We debated what to do over porridge and tea.
We made the decision to get packed up, as our indoor pool was only going to get bigger as the rain continued but to go and climb Catbells before we left. We maintained that idea until we came to collapsing the tent... Both of us already wet through and now filthy from folding a muddy wet tent, we called it quits and got in the car.

Disappointed and pissed off we came home. We wont get another chance to come to the Lakes or camp until September now as my job doesn't allow any time off over summer, I don't even get so much as a full weekend, as I work Monday - Saturday. Camping out of season is proving frustrating at best.
Upon getting home and reading about other peoples trips to the Lakes this weekend, I didn't feel so bad about coming home. The weather on the tops was even worse than we'd experienced and we wouldn't have got very far with our walk, potentially just getting more pissed off!!
Also, I think the problem with the tent was our own fault. We've camped in bad weather before with the thing and not had quite so much water on the inside. We'd pitched in a hurry and on taking down the tent, I found at least one peg-point which had been missed, and we hadn't put out all the guys as wasn't windy when we first arrived. A little lesson to be learnt there I feel...

Oh well, just 5 months to plan the next trip then.

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