Memories are made of this   10 comments

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May Day Weekend. Nether Wasdale. Camping. Cold. Snow. Rain That’s how things have worked the past few years. Most people would get the message and stay home. Me? I took a day off work and drove 6 hours to spend a late evening setting up the camper on my own until darkness fell and it was bed time. This did give a bonus day’s walking by myself. Skies looked gloomy but with some promise. I headed to Wasdale before the weekend crowds with a route to rekindle some old memories

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I took the same route as last year when had a fantastic day on Scafell Pike with the kids. Following the path along Lingmell Beck was as good as last time if not better. As I climbed the sun came out and abundant patches of blue sky appeared

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Its an easy grassy path to Sty Head and a sheer delight to climb with the spectacular view back to Wasdale

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Arriving at Styhead Tarn I drifted back in time to my very first wild camp here in – I think – 1987. It was another May Day weekend and there was snow on the ground. Me and ED pitched up on rather stony ground, with a rather smug looking EWO claiming his pitch was better with the immortal phrase “the pegs go in nice an easy here”. Me and ED wandered over jumped on the ground round his tent and watched it roll like a wave on the sea. He moved. Any campsite we stay on generates a “pegs go in easy” remark to remind him. Happy days

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I pushed on to reach Sprinkling Tarn, one of the finest anywhere in the UK. I’ve never camped here but I really should do. Stunning spot

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Up past the Ruddy Gill ravine to Esk Hause. Another memory of when me and ED (he features heavily in these memories) sheltered here on a foul day and decided that was enough of summits and headed down the Esk valley. It was our first view of this magnificent valley and its deep pools and waterfalls and would become a favourite spot for wild camping and swimming over the years

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I lunched on top of Great End with superb view down Borrowdale to Derwent Water, Skiddaw and Blencathra. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.

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Then a few wisps of cloud drifted down that became a blanket within minutes. It was a gloomy procession across Broad Crag and Ill Crag to Scafell Pike summit. To cheer myself up I took my mind back through the dark ages again to a time me and ED snoozed up here on a glorious summer morning back in the late 80’s. We’d been camping in Eskdale and swimming in the river but it was way too hot so decided a summit bivvy was called for. We spent a wonderful if uncomfortable and sleepless night right next to the summit cairn on Bowfell watching the thunderstorms over the Pennines. We had the whole walk along to Scafell Pike to ourselves the next morning and celebrated with a snooze at the top. Still one of the very best weekends in the mountains I’ve ever had. Happy days.

No such sunshine this day and I headed down. My plan had been to relive one final memory by climbing Lingmell and visiting the spot where I’d camped on the summit with my dog Harry. The fog was so dense and cold that it seemed pointless so I just plodded down, my afternoon further spoiled by finding a pile of human excrement and accompanying toilet paper right on the path. I despair of the people who frequent the hills some times.

I only emerged from the cloud at around 1500 feet but at least the final views across Wast Water were good

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The Gorse was also in full boom and scent

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A decent day of 9 miles and 3,500 feet of ascent

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Back at the camp site (the ever wonderful Church Stile), all thoughts of cloud and damp were dissipated as the sun came out and I sat outside the tent with my shades on. I was joined by some of the gang and retired to the equally wonderful Strands Inn, a place of wonderful beer brewed on site and excellent food. With good company, good food and a pint (or several) of their Mild (still a Midlands boy at heart) I was very much in the holiday spirit and looking forward to the inevitable rain with a much happier frame of mind

 

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10 responses to “Memories are made of this

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  1. As you say – Happy Days! And for that area there are so many more you could add. Certain parts of those long gone days still seem fresh like there were only yesterday, whilst others are lost completely. That time we bivvied on Bowfell – and all the swimming (well sitting in streams) also did that weekend spring to mind in particular. Good to have all of these happy recollections to fall back on – after all, how many backpacking trips do we have left in us? 🙂

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    beatingthebounds
    • Memories will be all we’ll have soon – so very sad 🙂
      Apparently EWO is “mortified” that we took his comments the wrong way and more importantly that every conversation with him will now end in “I don’t know how many (insert appropriate wording) I have left in me”!

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  2. Mild, eh? Straight glass?

    There was a time when I could tell the difference between Banks’s and Hanson’s mild, but that was a long time ago. When it was good, it was good (Banks’s) but it always seemed to make me fancy a chicken pathia come 11-o-clock. Strange…

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    • I’d completely forgotten about Hansons – in a straight glass of course but bitter was always from a jug. Some memories there although not all good – I still remember Brew XI 🙂

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  3. Such sweeping views! Lovely!

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    • They were fine views for at least half of the day. Second half was a little damp and drizzly in the cloud. The view down the length of Wasdale is a UK classic

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  4. Nice to look back at earlier times and I think one of the reasons most people enjoy nostalgic memories so much is the nature of youth itself and the feelings that come when everything is new, fresh and exciting. Had some cracking trips around there in the 1980s exploring Wasdale for the first time and being very impressed.

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    Blue Sky Scotland
    • That was my thinking for taking on the walk. Much of my formative hiking and adventures were centred on this part of the Lakes. The weekend of swimming and summit bivvys still remains as one of my all time favourite adventures even though it was 25 years ago. As I said in my post, they were happy days 🙂

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