Annual May Day Gathering – Nether Wasdale 2013   9 comments

Let me take you back to May Day Bank Holiday – yes the first one, still a long way behind with posts :). The annual gathering of my old university friends and their kids at our now spiritual home at Church Stile campsite in Nether Wasdale. We’ve been here for the last couple of years and had a right royal time. There was a change of owner over the new year so there is always a worry that things may change but the new owners proved to be extremely welcoming and friendly. They have kept the site just as it was, not too crowded with immaculate facilities and fantastic location with it’s own play area and footy pitch for the kids. Being away from the main walking hotspots it retains a very quiet family orientated atmosphere. In short, everything I want from a campsite. I’d like to think we can continue coming here for many years to come. We had our own little corner of the campsite near the football pitch and the woods, just perfect. We’ve already booked for next year.

Church Stile Campsite, Buckbarrow

Church Stile Campsite & Buckbarrow

The weather wasn’t very spring-like and I had to put the tent up in the pouring rain on the Friday night. The next day was bright and cloudy and Mrs Hardman very kindly offered to escort the kids to the May Day fair in the village so the rest of the adults went for a walk. I’ve often been told how wonderful Mitredale is so we fashioned a plan to take in Irton Fell and Mitredale and then back over Illgill Head

10.3 Miles,

10.3 Miles,

On the way through the splendid pastureland that holds Flass Tarn we came across this tree that looks like it had been torn asunder in a storm leaving a great view of its innards

Flass tarn

Storm damaged tree near Flass Tarn

After a short steep climb over Irton Fell we dropped down the other side to pick up Mitredale. Never one to turn down some R&R, I enjoyed a short rest and first lunch on this handy bench with fine views across to the Black Combe above Barrow

Irton Fell

Old Timers on Irton Fell

Irton Fell

View south-west from Irton Fell

We entered Mitredale and I have to say my first impressions were not favourable. It was heavily farmed with a succession of untidy fields, reclaimed forests and soggy, muddy paths. I wasn’t all that impressed.

Mitredale

Entering Mitredale

Then we passed through a gate and suddenly the real Mitredale was revealed. A narrow twisting valley with a small stream, absolutely stunning and a pleasure to amble into it’s hidden confines. It gave the impression of being little walked, unsurprising as it’s not an obvious route to a well know summits which is where most visitors to the Lake District head.

Mitredale

Uncle Fester in Mitredale

Mitredale

Upper Mitredale

It saved the best till last. The valley ends abruptly in a small rocky cwm with several tumbling waterfalls. The sun came out and the spot was magical. A lengthy stop was in order to take in the scene. It would make a cracking campsite if you could find a dry spot – t was a little soggy underfoot!

Mitredale

Lunch!

Mitredale

Head of Mitredale

We headed off towards Illgill Head, scrambling past the waterfalls onto the open fellside above

Mitredale

Waterfalls

Mitredale

GM atop the waterfalls

The views across Esdale Moor, Burnmoor Tarn and to the Scafell range were superb but it was clear the cloud was bubbling again

Scafell, Burnmoor Tarn, Eskdale Moor

Scafell, Burnmoor Tarn and Eskdale Moor

Harter Fell

Harter Fell

It was a long climb to the summit over the tussocky grass, always tough without a path. By the time we had all reached the summit it was cloudy and cold and I was starting to regret the optimism that had driven me to wear shorts for the day. Time to press on along the edge of the cliffs that tumble into Wast Water leaving the famous Wasdale Screes behind them

Whin Rigg, Illgill Head

Whin Rigg from Illgill Head

The path along the edge gives some sensational views and several eyries perched out above the cliffs and ridges. Most people seem to wander the lower path across the screes. I’ve been up here a couple of times now and it’s always deserted. It a superb route and one I urge you to try when in the area. Preferable to sharing your day with the massed hordes on Scafell Pike

Whin Rigg, Illgill Head, Wast Water

Illgill Head & Wast Water

We took our time sticking to the edge and peering down into all the gullies and admiring the rocky ridges. One ridge looked especially tantalising, like an alpine ridge but getting to the bottom of it would be another matter entirely

Whin Rigg, Illgill Head, Wast Water

Illgill Head & Wast Water

Whin Rigg, Illgill Head, Wast Water

Hardman looking hard

We didn’t linger on the second summit of Whin Rigg too long, partly because it was flippin cold and partly as time was pressing on and we all had hungry kids to feed. We strolled briskly back to the campsite and took part in that quintessentially British activity of having a BBQ when it’s really far too cold to do so 🙂

Church Stile Campsite

BBQ Time!

Seriously it wasn’t too bad, it stayed dry and there is nothing I like more than eating outside (and playing with fire). It was a very sociable evening and we were up until it got dark which coincided nicely with the time when it really was too cold to sit outside

Church Stile Campsite

Too cold to eat outside?

The Sunday was a pretty miserable and cold day interspersed with numerous showers. We made the most of things by loads of high quality football games full of keen tackling, one-touch passing and incidents (I was never offside!). Those kids not interested in such madness were given the treat of feeding the lambs on the farms – huge than-you to the campsite owners for inviting the kids – they absolutely loved it

Church Stile Campsite

Feeding the lambs

P1180632

TJF and her new family

The rest of the day was taken with a stroll by the cold and windy shores of Wast Water but it was pretty grim so no photos I’m afraid. The Monday looked set for much of the same with a dark grey sky and the threat of rain in the air. I played the usual game of trying to time the taking down of my big family tent before it got wet – it’s a bugger to dry out at home. Then around midday and out of nowhere the sun broke through and within the hour we had a clear blue sky above us. We decided to take the kids on a stroll through the fields and woods that mark the ground between Nether Wasdale and the lake

Greendale Gill

3.7 Miles

It’s another joy of this spot that the local walks are just as stunning as the tops. These paths around the fields are marvellous for a quiet ramble with the kids. Plenty of stiles, streams and bridges and the views along Wasdale and of the local hills are enchanting. Sometimes when you’re on a big walk you become too focused in clocking the miles, bagging the next peak to really enjoy your surroundings. A walk like this gives time to enjoy the company, look at the wildflowers, enjoy looking up at mountains rather than down from them. Sometimes a walk just needs to be a walk

Nether Wasdale, Mill Place

Nether Wasdale, Mill Place

Nether Wasdale, Scale Bridge

Nether Wasdale near Scale Bridge

Whin Rigg, Illgill Head

Whin Rigg & Illgill Head

Ashness How

Rogues Gallery

Whin Rigg, Illgill Head

Whin Rigg & Illgill Head

Wasdale

Wasdale

We stopped at Greendale Gill and under the now warm sunshine it was magnificent. The kids took their shoes and socks off and scrambled about in the stream while the adults relaxed in the sun. It was the highlight of the weekend for me, as you know I’m a big fan of mountain streams and waterfalls

Greendale Gill

Greendale Gill

EWO and OGS

Greendale Gill

Taking things easy while the kids get wet

It was a shame the afternoon was already slipping away and we all had long drives home. We reluctantly packed up and headed back towards the campsite after an hour of happy play and chilling out.

Greendale Gill

Fun in the sun

Greendale Gill

Young Indiana Jones

Greendale Gill

TJF

The fields between the Gill and the Campsite were equally enchanting. Bright green fields under a deep blue sky is an alluring combination.

Nether Wasdale

Over the green fields

Wasdale

Looking back to Wasdale

It was just a delight strolling across the grass and looking up at Buckbarrow. This is one of my favourite views anywhere

Buckbarrow

Buckbarrow

Buckbarrow really seems to hold my attention when we’re hear. It’s crags always look ready for some scrambling and it’s summit rocks and hollows are a delight. Proof that mountains don’t need to be high to be big.

All too soon we were on the final leg and heading back to the campsite. After some pretty unsettled weather, we finished on a real high.

Buckbarrow

Howeward Bound

All that remained was to say some goodbyes but on a whim, rather than a soul-less meal on the Motorway we went to The Strands pub for a mighty fine meal in their sunny beer garden. A fitting end to another cracking weekend. If Carlsberg did Lake District weekends……

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9 responses to “Annual May Day Gathering – Nether Wasdale 2013

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  1. Fabulous. Feeling nostalgic already. Glad to see you got around to posting about this weekend before next year’s happens!

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    beatingthebounds
  2. That Mitredale looks rather nice. Never been up there myself, but you’ve obviously found a quieter side of the Lakes over there! It’s an awful long time since I’ve been to Wasdale, but like many places I suppose, once you get off the busy main paths solitude is often very easy to find.

    Fantastic looking weather you had for the rest of the weekend too. I can’t even remember the names of people I was at uni with, so we obviously never meet up – wish we did, looking at the fun you lot always seem to have!

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    • Well worth a trip is Miterdale as is the hill above the screes. Also some cracking backpacking out to the west away from the Great Gable’s and Scafells.

      Not entirely sure why we all ended up still being friends after 30 years but it is rather special that we all still get along, and the kids are all great friends as well now

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  3. I love the waterfalls. Great views of the lake as well!

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  4. Thank you for bringing back pleasant memories from over 55 years ago. Although my specific memories are feint the pictures of Mitredale, Illgill Head and Wast Water are particularly familiar. My mother died when I was 6 (1956) and following he death my father took my grandmother and me to the Wasdale area for a holiday. At the time I was unaware of the significance (which I am unable to completely confirm) but I believe my grandmother and her husband may have lived in Nether Wasdale before my parents married. I have had in my possession for some time now, some contact prints of my mother addressed to her, in her maiden name at Nether Wasdale Vicarage (Gesfourth, Cumberland) from a London photo studio. This, together with my wife’s stepfather coincidentally having done architectural restoration work throughout Cumberland in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s has sparked my interest in researching family ties. Hence, in looking for Nether Wasdale on the net I came across your blog. We emigrated to Australia in 1959 and I have lived here ever since.
    Once again thank you for your inspiring photos.
    Regards
    Paul Reader

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    • Hi Paul. So pleased that my blog has rekindled some great memories for you. Reaching out across the world and giving someone a brief moment of pleasure is what makes writing my blog so much worthwhile. Glad you enjoyed it.
      Cheers, Andy

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