Nether Wasdale – May Day Weekend 2011   2 comments

For as long as I can remember all my old university friends have got together for a camping and walking weekend on the first of the May bank holidays. Over the past 10 years as our respective families have grown so have the numbers and now it’s quite a major gathering. This year, thanks to Will and Kate we got an extra day although it made it hard to find a campsite with space. Fortunately The Yorkshire Gardener (TYG) and EWO rang around and got us all into the Church Stile campsite at Nether Wasdale, an inspired choice as it turns out. The weather has been pretty poor the last few years so we were hoping for something better this time around.

My lot arrived first on the Thursday evening and after a warm welcome from the owners found a perfect spot to accommodate all the tents.

The Jones family home at Church Stile

By late evening most of the party had arrived and all the kids were playing on the park and building dens in the woods while the adults put tents up and had a few beers. The site is superb with nice well laid out camping pitches, superb views and excellent facilities.

Buckbarrow from the campsite

EWO promised a decent day on Friday and wall to wall sunshine for the rest of weekend. If you read my blog you’ll know he always says this. Would he be right for once? Read on.

Friday – Middle Fell and Seatallan

The day was lovely and sunny although with a cool wind. We agreed that J would look after the kids and I’d head off for a walk so a few us headed for Middle Fell across the fields. It was warm but a strong wind was blowing that was to become a feature of the weekend.

GM and EWO, Buckbarrow behind

After climbing halfway up Middle Fell we decided it was time for a break. GM and Hard Man (HM) had found a quality spot complete with back-rests so this turned into a very lengthy stop to allow a snooze in the sun and in the case of HM and UF some loud snoring. It tried to rain and looked very threatening towards Scafell but it soon faded

"I wasn't asleep!" - could have fooled me

Galvanised by the rest we plodded a further 30 minutes to the top of Middle Fell.

Approaching Middle Fell summit

EWO with Scafell range behind

After all that effort we decided that another lengthy stop was in order once we found a sunny spot out of the wind.

Time for lunch -again

HM needed another sleep (he’s getting on poor fella) while the rest of us watched three people acting rather strangely down by the Lake. Opinions ranged from dubious terrorist related activity to the making of a porn movie (prompting many smutty remarks). Most of decided we needed some more exercise and pushed on to Seatallan while UF and S went back to the campsite.

Middle Fell

Seatallan is a nice grassy hill with some interesting views over the little-visited far western fells. The Isle of Man was clearly visible and the first signs of much clearer weather were appearing. It was a pleasant easy stroll across the grassy slopes of Buckbarrow and back to the campsite. 7.7 miles and 2500 feet of ascent completed at a very leisurely pace

GM, HM, EWO heading home

A BBQ in the fading sunshine seemed in order and while the kids built their den in the woods the adults sat round in the late evening sun and then cold wind, chatting until we all agreed it was far too stupid to sit outside any longer

The gangs all here

Women cook, men BBQ

Saturday – Whin Rigg

Before we move on to the days activities I must point out the disturbing attire that J now chooses to wear in bed when its cold. I’m not sure which kind of “special” retailer one visits in order to acquire an adult sized baby-grow but I doubyou find them in the high street.

Words fail me....

For once EWO was right! The clear skies that he +promised were here although the wind was now pretty strong. My turn to look after the kids so J and the ladies headed off to repeat our walk of yesterday while me ED and few others took the kids off to climb Whin Rigg, the southern summit of the long ridge of the famous Wasdale screes.

Wasdale Screes, Whin Rigg summit to the left

Wasdale Screes, Whin Rigg summit to the left

The wind was incredibly strong so we didn’t think the kids would like it on the top so we headed down to find some shelter by the river. After a bit of searching we found a lovely spot in the trees for a picnic and the kids got chance to play by the river, chucking stones and the like

Little rogues gallery

Picnic by the River Irt


We decided to give Whin Rigg a go although ED didn’t feel his youngest (he’s only 3 bless him) would make it so he took his lot off for a lovely stroll by the Lake and we headed up the steep slopes towards the top.

The start of the climb

The wind wasn’t as strong as earlier and I have to say that all the kids (age range 4 to 11) did really well and all made it to the top. There were some low points but that was easily fixed by a plentiful supply of biscuits for that sugar hit.

Biscuit time!

Victorious on the summit

The views were sensational with a deep blue sky set off by the green hills and dark inky blue of Wast Water.

Wast Water and the Wasdale Head Mountains

They all seemed pretty pleased with themselves for getting to the top but the cold wind and late hour meant we couldn’t linger so we headed back along the ridge and down towards the campsite

Homeward Bound

The valley bottom just before we hit the road has one of the most beautiful open pastures I’ve ever seen that was just sensational in the evening light. It only took about 10 minutes to cross but it was one of the most memorable 10 minutes walking I’ve ever had. Hope these photographs do it justice.

Despite a pretty long day, 6.4 miles and 1800 feet of ascent, the kids all seemed to have energy to spare for yet more play and the usual tactics to avoid going to bed. Have to admit that I was pretty jaded as well. Back at the campsite we had a belated celebration for GM’s birthday with lighted balloons, cake and chocolates and of course a few beers.

"Happy Birthday to you"

The wind really picked up through the night but the tent seemed ok so I pretty much slept through.

Sunday – Red Pike, Scoat Fell, Steeple

It was a double-take look as I emerged into the daylight to see that well over half the tents had gone. Several had blown down in the night and several more people had bailed out early morning and gone home. “My camping days are over” seemed to be a common theme. The rubbish bins were full of discarded tents and MM had a jolly time scavenging the ground for lost pegs to call his own. Apart from a few loosened pegs all our tents seemed fine

Time for another proper walk. The weather if anything was even clearer and even windier than before. MM drove us halfway up the Lake and we set off for Red Pike hoping to meet ED who had set off earlier and was also traversing Yewbarrow.

GM at Over Beck bridge

Wasdale Screes

Another couple of very lengthy stops in the sun, by Over Beck and Low Tarn, put pay to that plan.

Lunch by Over Beck

We eventually got moving and reached the summit of Red Pike in a ferocious wind but with a sky as clear as I’ve seen in the UK for many a year. It’s been several years since I’ve been up here and I’d forgotten just what an awe inspiring valley Mosedale and the crags of Red Pike are.

Scafell & Scafell Pike

The walking on the grassy ridge was just sensational and one of those days when you just don’t want to go down.

Red Pike

Mind you let’s keep it real here, we did plan on doing Pillar but it looked a long way off so we settled on the much nearer and easier Scoat Fell and its excellent views to the north over Ennerdale and the Solway Firth.

The Buttermere fells from Scoat Fell

Ennerdale Water from Steeple

We did manage to pick off the small rocky outlier of Steeple but then it really was time to head back. We descended by Scoat Tarn and Nether Beck, a superb Lakeland valley with endless places for wild camping.

Nether Beck below Scoat Tarn

Another cracking day on the hills, and another 7.8 miles and 3,300 feet of ascent.

The balloons from the previus night had popped but the lights were still working. GM and EWO displayed a childlike wonder at the effects of a small light when placed behind a finger, in the mouth, up the nose and in the ear. Must have been the tiredness but I haven’t laughed that much in ages. Nice finish to a grand day.

GM discovers "Light"

Monday – Buckbarrow

Yet another day of cloudless skies and wind and a morning spent taking the tent down and packing – much easier when it’s not raining. Quite a few of the posse headed off to other commitments but my lot together with TYG/EHO and kids plus MM and F headed for Buckbarrow, the small rocky hill that overlooks the campsite.

L, Z, D and J striding out

The walk over the fields was lovely but as soon as we started the climb it was clear the kids needed feeding so we found a quality sheltered lunch spot by the stream.

Lunch by stream for kids and responsible adults

We all need our beauty sleep

Fully fuelled the kids made great time to the top, enjoying scrambling on the summit rocks.

Scrambling on the summit rocks, Scafell behind

TYG, E and D reaching the top

Z & L practicing their new climbing skills

The wind was fierce but we did manage to find a sheltered spot for another stop to allow L and Z to throw sheep s**t and moss at us. The way down was steep but the final walk across the fields and through the flowering gorse was a fitting finish to a cracking weekend.

The gorse in full flower

D & EWO discuss maths

A shorter walk today a mere 5.5 miles and 1,500 feet of ascent but an ideal little mountain for the kids to enjoy.

Buckbarrow - our mountain for the day

A lovely meal in the local pub with MM and F finished things off nicely and we headed home. These smaller fells away from the magnets of Scafell and Great Gable are cracking hills. Considering the weather and the fact it was a holiday weekend we saw only a handful of people on each of the days we were out. Flickr photos here and compilation on YouTube is below:

I’ve nearly run out of superlatives so I’ll finish with my favourite one – AWESOME!

2 responses to “Nether Wasdale – May Day Weekend 2011

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  1. Great to see the youngsters exploring and enjoying the country walks.


  2. All of our group are very keen walkers so we are all trying to “encourage” our kids to follow in our footsteps. They all seemed to really enjoy the day and challenge of scaling some proper mountains. Mind you some high quality weather helps alot!

    Next step is take my eldest out on an overnight backpacking trip


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