Sunday, 28 June 2009

Lake District: A wild camp with Will4Adventure

Tent set up for wild camp near Angletarn Gill
Wild camp near Angletarn Gill
A very tiring weekend in the Lakes from start to finish! Jim and I headed off about 2pm on the Friday, and I had a reminder of why I've only been up there once before; the M42 and M6! SEVEN hours later, we rolled into Stonethwaite to what resembled a pikey campsite. It's a pleasant enough valley but it is littered with unorganised collections of tents beside badly parked cars that had the appearance of being abandoned. Add to that, scruffy kids, rave music banging into the night and stray dogs wandering around sniffing through rubbish bags, this is a place to avoid!

To top it off, once my poor automatic had coped admirably with the "off-roading" onto the site, as soon as we set foot out of the car, we were mugged by a crack legion of killer midges!

We hurriedly rushed to put up the tent, cooked our food, which turned out to be midge and mushroom tortellini, and retreated to the Langstrath Inn for a beer and shelter from the onslaught.

Inevitably, after a sleepless night, I can't say I was particularly motivated for the day ahead; A spot of wild camping with the added bonus of sitting on the top of England at Scafell Pike for the sunset. How different the day panned out.

We met up with the rest of the Will4Adventure group; Richard, Jon, Jackie, Jason and Matt. We had a gear check, shared around the food we'd be carrying and were on the trail by 11:30am. We headed up Langstrath, following the beck, progress was slow and we were all feeling the rising temperatures.

Quick break in the heat after walking up Langstrath Beck
A break in the heat
We took a break just as we were about to leave Langstrath Beck and turn up to follow Allencrags Gill. Oppressive heat and the heavier packs hindered and it was obvious the plan had to change.

Richard took the right decision to set up camp well short of our intended target of Ling Mell, opting instead for a spot beside the junction where Angletarn Gill meets Allencrags Gill, just before the first major ascent.

Wild Camp near Angletarn Gill
Wild camp  near Angletarn Gill

The ploy now was to go for Scafell Pike light, then return to put the dinner on. Matt was knackered so stayed behind at the camp, while the rest of us carried on. It wasn't long before I called it a day. I lasted another couple of hundred metres ascent, to Angle Tarn. The humidity was just too unbearable, I had already drunk a couple of litres of water, and with the prospect of another 300 metres still to climb over rough terrain, this was no longer fun. I returned to camp, rather than risk having to be accompanied back at a later stage, or stopping the others on this organised trip from continuing.

As I made my descent, I walked into rain! Back at camp, I spent the late afternoon rehydrating and sheltering from a pretty impressive downpour, wondering if my tent could take it! The rest of the gang returned around 8pm, having reached the top, albeit in cloud. Dinner was had and we all retired about 11pm.

Sunday morning, I was up before the rest, likely because I hadn't opted to climb Scafell Pike the day before! I wandered quietly about camp, exploring Allencrags Gill and admiring the views.

Allencrags Gill
Allencrags Gill
Allencrags Gill
Allencrags Gill
When everyone else had finally stirred, we packed up and began the journey back down to Stonethwaite, returning to the Langstrath Inn just after midday, for a quick drink before another marathon drive back home.

Stonethwaite Fell and Langstrath Beck
Stonethwaite Fell (left) and Langstrath Beck
My second trip to the Lake District, and once again I returned home disappointed with the weekend. It certainly wasn't winning me over.