After an absence of around a year it was high time that a trip to the Lake District was planned, thankfully my mate Stevo had a few days off so we decided to head to Cumbria for a wander. The weather wasn’t looking too great when I checked earlier in the week, thankfully the outlook improved slightly as the date approached and the forecast said it would be better in the western Lakes. With that in mind I thought a trip to Wasdale would be a great idea and we could tick off a few Wainwrights that I had yet to summit.
We set off from home at 8am and my first stop was to meet up with Martin Rye (@Rye1966) from http://www.summitandvalley.com who had very kindly loaned me some lightweight gear to test. He handed me a great rucksack which I used on this trip and also a Caldera Keg stove which I’ll also play with very soon.
We arrived in Wasdale and managed to grab a parking spot outside the Wasdale Head Inn, the weather was overcast but it looked very promising. The planned route was for us to head straight up Kirk Fell, there is no easy way of doing it other than just cracking on… So on we cracked 🙂
I think from memory it took us over and hour to get to the top with numerous stops to catch our breath and take in the views. We were treated to an awesome fly past by a very low jet that came down the valley from Sty Head, looped the loop above wast water, it then came up Mosedale and went upside down over Pillar before flying off down Ennerdale.
Once we reached the summit if Kirk Fell we unanimously decided that we would camp just below the summit off to the south. We had fantastic views back down in to Wasdale and quite fancied that as an evening view from camp. Sod’s law… The cloud descended as we were pitching Stevo’s tent and we never saw a single view all evening 🙂 haha.
After pitching we left our gear and made our way over to the tarn off the northeastern side of Kirk Fell’s summit. As always I had my Sawyer Squeeze with me to keep us fully stocked with safe drinking water. We refilled all our hydration bladders, refilled a couple of bottles, then my Sawyer pouch, before heading back to camp.
We had a great evening laughing and joking in the party tent (Vango Spectre 200) while enjoying extremely strong coffee (we forgot beer) before I retired to my Bivy (Terra Nova Discovery) and settled down for a great nights sleep. I woke up a few times through the night as I always do when camping, the wind was moderate most of the night but died off completely just before sunrise. I unzipped the zip on my Bivy and peared out, expecting to see nothing but cloud… What I did see was a bright halo of clouds skipping over the summit of Great Gable that made it look as if the summit was on fire… I jumped out my Bivy, in probably the most unflattering slip trip thud fashion that would probably have looked hilarious to an onlooker. I shouted Stevo as I was scrambling to pick up my camera and put on my boots at the same time as putting the GoPro on my head.
After I had calmed down a little and taken in the stunning views I got back to the job of packing away my gear while also recording a small piece for a review I planned to do of the Bivy (You can find that review here -> Terra Nova – Discovery Bivi (Bivvy) – Review & Comparison). We had breakfast quickly and were packed away before 8:30.
We headed back to the summit before making our way over and down to Black Sail Pass. It was a great scramble down and it certainly got the muscles and brain working. We then made our way over Looking Stead before beginning the excellent ascent up on to Pillar. I must admit I do like a good bit of ascent, there is something quite therapeutic about heading up a steep gradient. After a while my mind and body relax in to it and I feel almost like my legs are on auto pilot. It’s a strange feeling. I remember experiencing something similar a few years ago while climbing up great gable from Sty Head… It may sound stupid but After a while it stops feeling like a controlled movement, my mind seems to switch off and it almost feels like I’m in some sort of meditative state… It’s a great feeling… Anyway back to reality…..
We made it to the summit of Pillar in what felt like no time at all, we chatted our way up to the top in what seemed like 5 minutes but it was more like 35. The views were breathtaking, the sun had showed its face again after the brief sunrise show and it was now doing us proud.
We headed over from Pillar towards Scoat Fell via Wind Gap and decided to leave our bags to make the short journey over to Steeple. While on we were on the top of Steeple we paused for a while to watch a farmer in the valley below attempting to round up some sheep who had strayed on to the crags of Scout Fell.
Back to the job in hand after a short rest on Steeple… We made our way back over to our bags on Scoat Fell and then decided it was lunch time, we were running low on water but thankfully we very close to the streams running down to Scoat Tarn. We only had to venture down hill ever so slightly inbetween Scoat Fell and Red Pike to find some running water, I grabbed my Sawyer Squeeze and filled up all our hydration bladders with ease. I don’t quite know what I would do without my Sawyer Filter now days, Its a great bit of kit and it has come in very handy on more than one occasion in the 8 months I have had it.
As we now had plenty of water it was only right that we had another strong coffee to keep us going, I grabbed my stove and fired it up while we gazed of towards the coast. We kept hearing very loud bangs every now and then, We assumed it must be from a quarry or something similar in the distance. We were hoping that was the case anyway as the only other place we could see that might make a loud bang was Sellafield 🙂
After the brew stop our next port of call was Red Pike, It was only a short walk from where we had stopped but we were just down off the main path, I took a bearing from our location to the summit and we just headed off piste straight for it. The crags off the edge of Red Pike down in to Mosedale are very impressive, you certainly wouldn’t want to stray too close to the edge if the winds were blowing 🙂
We didn’t stay too long at the summit cairn on Red Pike as we decided to keep going onwards towards the descent down to Dore Head. I must admit that I did begin to feel the strain on my knees during the descent from Red Pike, Its quite a long winding journey down and I was ready for another quick rest while stretching my legs out by the time we made it to Dore Head. I made the error of sitting down on the grass here….. While I was relaxing minding my own business I noticed something out of the corner of my eye… Something was crawling up my arm, It was a tick making its way up towards my elbow. Thankfully it wasn’t attempting to burrow in to me so my instant reaction was to flick the bloody thing off while swearing at it 🙂
I’ve been very weary of ticks over the last few years, I made a point of learning about them when we first started walking in Scotland but i’d never even seen one before today. This last summer in particular I’ve been very paranoid about them while walking as i’d heard reports of a Mountain Rescue team member contracting Limes Disease in the Peak District. Needless to say after spotting the tick today I didn’t sit back down on the grass again.
Before the ascent up Yew Barrow we decided to take stock of our food supplies, sadly we had totally run out so we made the choice to leave it for another time. I think I could have quite happily have made it up to the top but my knees would probably have been shaking due to the lack of energy on the descent. We made our way from Dore Head following Over Beck all the way down to the banks of Wast Water. We passed a heard of cattle while we were on our way down who just didn’t want to move out of the way for us to pass… we had to give them a wide birth so as not to heard them all the way down with us 🙂
We then followed the road along the side of Wast Water as we made our way back to Wasdale Head, I could almost taste that celebratory pint of ale as the pub came in to view. I was getting rather hungry too just imagining the food that would be awaiting us there, thankfully there were plenty of Blackberries along the edge of the road which I couldn’t resist feasting on. I can imagine that the Wasdale Head Inn has been a welcome sight to many a weary traveller over the years.
We found a table, ordered some food, grabbed a pint and sat back to toast another great adventure. The Wasdale Head Inn holds some great memories for me so it’s always nice to be here. My girlfriend and I have spent some great nights in the hotel, I also have great memories of summer nights at the pub and campsite from back in the early days of my walking adventures with friends. I know it can get rather busy here but obviously Wasdale’s beauty and the fact England’s highest mountain is here is a huge draw. I was amazed how few people we actually saw on our walk around Mosedale, I can imagine there were 100 times more people climbing up Scafell Pike just because it’s the highest summit.
I couldn’t resist it… not a single person can. The obligatory shot up towards Wasdale Head from the banks of Wast Water, I think I have that same shot from every trip I have done here :-).
Once again it was another memorable trip to the Lake District, It had been too long and I’m so glad that Stevo was available to go with me. I really must make a point of getting up there more often but due to family commitments, work, etc, it’s becoming harder and harder for my friends and I to get trips planned together. I don’t mind walking alone but it’s always great to have friends to share the experience with.
I must admit, this is the first blog post i’ve actually sat in wrote in a long while. I’ve had writers block it seems over this last 5-6 months so have just stuck with creating videos instead. Thanks for taking the time to have a read, hopefully it wasn’t all complete gibberish 🙂