Archive for the ‘church stile campsite’ Tag

The Shorter Side of Wasdale   6 comments

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Last day always involves a good deal of packing. My trailer despite flipping open/closed quickly still takes a couple of hours to unpack and stow everything, empty water containers and the like. The windy weather helped out by taking my awning down for me the previous morning and bending my poles into interesting new shapes which was nice

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It was after lunch before all was done, leaving time for a short leisurely stroll to Wast Water. The kids decided to stay back and play footy. Like the day before there was plenty of blue sky and sunshine and it was nice to catch up with everyone without worrying about covering long distances or the kids happiness

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The lake-shore path at the SW end is the best way to experience the classic Wasdale view of Wast Water, Yewbarrow, Great Gable and Lingmell

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As well as the Wasdale Screes on the opposite shore (great to look at, awful to walk over)

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We sat on the grassy bank and chatted for a while, even daring to paddle in the chilly lake waters

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Alas we all had very long drives home so the walk was short yet perfectly formed. In fact a decent day until EWO drew a dark cloud over us all during a discussion about backpacking next Easter. I have no idea where this wording came from or what he was thinking but he said, and I quote ” how many more backpacking trips have you got left in you?” Both me and ED were stunned and momentarily lost for words until we told him we had a limitless supply. I intend to live forever for no other reason that to be an annoyance to every one who knows me for an eternity. Needless to say once we recovered our composure we saw the funny side and began what is likely to be an endless mickey take. Every conversation we ever have now, about anything will conclude with a “I don’t know how many (insert wording as needed) I have left”. Me and ED have a already started and it will probably appear as a regular guest phrase in most of my blog posts

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An entire weekend up here without significant rain is almost unheard of. Probably just as well we were there for this one because……

I don’t know how many more of these weekends I have left in me 🙂

The past 4 post photos all collected into a single slideshow with an awesome, Brian Cox endorsed tune for your pleasure

The Smaller Side of Wasdale   6 comments

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I’ve often looked across the Church Stile campsite and thought that I ought to climb Irton Pike as it looked a suitably rocky and a well positioned view point. Well at least I would have thought that had it actually been Irton Pike I was looking at and not Latterbarrow that sits in front. Still the idea was sound and after another endless faff trying to get everyone together we set off

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Through woods and fields filled with bluebells

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And through the pastures below the wooded peak of Latterbarrow. There was some vague navigational muppetry and everyone seemed convinced there would be no path around the base of Irton Pike and we’d have walk down to the road at Santon Bridge and back up. I had faith and indeed there was a splendid path that traversed around the slopes to the very steep path to the summit

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And a very fine and extremely windy summit it was. Expansive if hazy views and after a bit of searching we found a sheltered spot for a lazy lunch. Another chapter for the “Small Hills with Disproportionately Good Views” book I’m writing – well sort of writing.

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On the way down, ED and TBH played the ” just looking at some art in the village hall” card. We introduced the kids to the delights of a pub drink (just lemonade!) while we waited. And waited. And waited. Seems they had no idea we were outside the pub they walked right past and were trying to catch us up. Yeah, right! Choosing to spend some quality time together by dumping their kids on us more like

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Luckily all the kids were in fine form, cheerful and enjoying the walk, a pleasure to be with in fact and we had a laugh as we enjoyed the long riverside stroll by the Irt back to the campsite, all taking a chance to poke fun at ED and TBH in their absence. That’ll teach ’em

Irton Pike

Cracking walk, nothing serious but almost 8 miles and good company equals good memories

Three Seasons in One Weekend   11 comments

The usual annual trip to the Lake District and our good friends at Church Stile Campsite. I drove up a day early through some pretty nasty weather but I still received something of a shock after I crested the hill on M6 near Lancaster. The Lake District was white. Plastered white. I heard it may be a little chilly with a chance of snow but this was full on winter. In late April.

I had planned a walk on the Friday afternoon but the weather was pretty miserable so I settled for a leisurely set up of base camp and an early pub meal in the mighty fine Strands Inn with UF and OGS, washed down by 3 pints of Porter, my favourite beer. Who needs to tick off summits and meaningless lumps on ridges when you can tick off local craft beers.

Saturday was forecast to be pretty good so plans were made for an ascent of Scafell Pike. TJS has been looking longingly at England’s highest summit for several years so I though it was time to fulfil my promise to climb it. It seems like all the adults felt an easier day was called for so I was accompanied by a gaggle of kids. TBF obviously took pity on – the kids – surprisingly, feeling they were not really equipped and experienced enough to deal with a full day barrage of sarcastic and pedantic remarks from the pack leader, and accompanied us

Despite the good forecast it was a showery morning and indeed to reinforce that message we were battered by a heavy hailstorm as we finished our faffing in the NT car park. The forecast was for a steadily improving day and in fact this was the last of the precipitation.

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Scafell Pike would be my last choice of mountain on a Bank Holiday Weekend, its popular and very busy at the best of times. However it does have the advantage of the Corridor Route from Styhead Tarn, one of Britains finest mountaineering walks and one which I hoped the kids would really enjoy.

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Its quite a long walk to Styhead, passing through Wasdale Head and its patchwork of fields before the climb to the tarn. All the kids were busy chatting about exams, computer games and the like and leaving me to my own thoughts. There was much laughter so I assumed they were enjoying themselves. The mountains were heavily clouded but there was enough visible to realise there was a good deal of snow up there. The Corridor route is wild and rocky and under winter conditions has real big mountain feel. I hoped the kids were up to the task.

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I find the walk up the main path to Styhead Tarn a bit of long drag. On  a whim I took the lower path for a change and it was inspired. Its a superb walk along the stream and away from the crowds. it climbs pleasantly and steadily with fine views opening up all around. Its mostly grassy and therefore much easier for older walkers with dodgy knees and feet.

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As we crested the rise we were suddenly seeing the first of the snow. Almost before we knew it we were in deep, wet continuous cover. A late start meant lunch was in order and I picked a pretty cold and wet spot to eat. Still the kids were loving the deep snow and were in high spirits.

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After sustenance gave us all a burst of energy it also seemed to perk up the weather. The sun started to come out and summits revealed themselves from the clouds.

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The corridor route was busy and populated with a mix of serious walkers and some seriously under equipped tourists. One party of Oriental people were dressed in high street clothes and wellies and one of them had a sound system in his backpack blaring out music. The Far East has given us many great things but high quality popular music isn’t one of them. We put on a burst of speed and left them behind

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Well, the Corridor Route was simply superb. It twists and trust over rocky slopes and buttresses and above several of the dramatic ravines that slice into the Scafell range. There was even some exposed scrambling that I don’t remember from previous visits but the kids weren’t phased. In fact they loved it, enjoying the sensational winter mountain views and messing about in the deep snow in equal measure. The snow and winter conditions gave it an air of seriousness although in truth it is just a path. I quite enjoyed it as well.

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The view across to the coast and the Isle of Man was marvellous. I recounted a very old tale when on a miserable day in the Lakes, the weather suddenly cleared to an expansive blue to reveal the IoM. EWO fervently disagreed and uttered the words he has regretted for 30 years, “That’s not the IoM, if they were mountains they’d 30,000 feet high”. He was wrong of course and ever since as soon as anyone sees a distant mountain on the horizon they immediately state with a grin “If they were mountains……..”. Well it always makes us laugh anyway

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Its a long route especially after the long approach walk. As we approached the summit the kids flagged a little, but the weather was improving by the minute and the closeness of the summit and clear blue skies spurred them on.

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The summit was crowded as expected but not as bad as I thought. I imagine the deep snow had held many people back. We found a quiet spot for some more food and then headed down.

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There really was a quite extraordinary depth of snow, waist deep in places. Scafell summit is rocky and awkward to walk on so we followed the snow. The kids had an absolute ball running and rolling about in it and it gave me enormous pleasure to see them having such fun.

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This photo below of TJS seemed to provide enormous amusement to everyone

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This one I call “LAC Scissor-Hands”

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It would have put a spring in my step to watch the kids in full flight but my springs have long since sprung and rusted up like one of those old bed frames you see in some bothies. Still I metaphorically sprang.

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We paused at Mickledore to look at Scafell and Broad Stand, well out of my league in summer conditions and definitely for another day in winter garb

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The start of the descent from there is down a steep and slippery gully that paused the smiles for a few minutes. It was soon over and we continued to walk, run and roll our way down the snow

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As we descended the views over Wast Water to the coast were breathtaking and near the bottom the yellow of the gorse gave a final flourish to what had been a sensational day. To capture England’s highest point via a classic mountain route, in winter conditions under a sunny blue sky is rare treat and one I think and hope will live with kids for a very long time

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We finished the day off in fine style with a BBQ in front of an open fire. Chilly but convivial and we chatted until the lateness of the hour and the cold air forced us to bed. A classic day

And the rest of the weekend and the three seasons I mentioned in the title? We’d had winter. The less said about the Sunday the better. It was wet Spring. It rained for 28 hours straight although we enlivened proceedings with what seems to have become our annual Sunday trip to Mawsons Ice Cream Parlour in Seascale. It always rains on the Sunday but the welcome and the food always lifts the spirits. I came out stuffed and didn’t eat for the rest of the day. Monday? After it finally stopped raining we were treated to warm sunny Spring. The shorts were on and we took a stroll around the fields in the sunshine. Hard to believe I’d been wading in deep snow 48 hours earlier. Only in the UK.

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The weekend was finished off with the usual epic football match played with a mixture of skill, determination, family scores settled and for my part some inspirational goal-keeping.

A long time to wait to do it all again next year

Nether Wasdale Meet Up May 2015   13 comments

When we first visited this fine and quiet corner of the Lake District in 2011 we had 4 of the sunniest, bluest days in memory. I thought then that we’d probably pay for that good fortune and so, in a way we have. We’ve had a few good days in the past few years but mostly the weather has been disappointing. This year was no exception

We’d decided to head up a day early to make the best of things and the Friday was a pretty nice day. A long drive followed by pitching the camper at Church Stile Campsite (now with added shop full of local produce) left us time for an afternoon stroll up Buckbarrow.

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buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

A fine rocky hill and one small enough for a worthy place in my guide book. Short on distance and height but big on views over the South West fells and coastline.

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buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

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buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

The bright skies with dark broody clouds made a very fine backdrop.

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buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

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Even TJF seemed to enjoy the walk

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buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

The day finished off with a grand meal in The Strands pub and beers in the campsite with the gang as they arrived

The forecast for Saturday and Sunday was dire and it was raining by the time we set off on Saturday morning. Enthusiasm was low as we trooped across the fields but it was at least good to catch up with friends and be out and about. The rain seemed to be increasing as forecast so we abandoned the plan to climb Middle Fell instead plumping for an amble to Greendale Tarn to fill the day.

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In fact the weather didn’t deteriorate as badly as we thought and after a lunch by the stream decided to climb Middle Fell anyway

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

Whilst not exactly balmy summer weather it wasn’t as bad or as wet as we’d feared and in the end we made quite a good day of it. By the time we’d reached the campsite the rain had set in and the wind was blasting the campsite. It pretty much wiped out evening frivolities and the planned BBQ as everyone  went to bed to listen to the rain. It was a wild night with roaring winds that rocked the camper from side to side and was still raining in the morning. It did stop but it was grim and dreary. Luckily we now have a wet weather plan – Seascale, its beach and the fabulous Mawsons Ice Cream Parlour. We dined like kings and ate like gluttons, the ice cream here is to die for. After a stroll on the beach we went back to the site and, as you’d expect began eating again. Despite still being grey, it was at least dry and therefore a BBQ was feasible. Who says you need warm sunshine to eat outdoors. Most people actually but that’s not the point. It was a fine evening with everyone in much improved spirits after a pretty dismal 36 hours.

Monday was much better. Sunshine warmed the camper as we breakfasted and encouraged the kids out on another walk.

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buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

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buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

Buckbarrow is such a good hill that its worth doing twice in the same weekend!

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

It’s perfect for the kids as after a steep start it’s an easy walk and we enjoyed a long leisurely lunch (part 1) by the stream.

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

The top is littered with crags giving everyone a chance to practice their scrambling skills. Little DB Junior had to be encouraged not to try the E-Grade rock climbs solo!

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buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

Another lunch on the top and we all wandered down in slightly different routes.

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

I paused at Greendale Gill, camera in hand hoping someone would provide some entertainment and fall in. Despite a procession of unwilling stooges no-one did. Some people have no sense of theatre

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

buckbarrow, camping, church stile campsite, middle fell, mountains, nether wasdale,  walk, wasdale, wast water, greendale tarn, greendale gill, seascale, mawsons ice cream parlour

Despite almost 2 days of rain in the middle it was a pretty damn fine weekend, good company made up for a lack of warm sunshine and let’s face that’s the most important thing

Nether Wasdale Gathering 2014   9 comments

I like my routine and I like a certain degree of constancy in my life. This is particularly true when taking the family camping. I’ve been to too many poor quality sites, places that charge the earth for less than impressive facilities (Sykeside near Brothers Water you have been shamed). However some places roll out the red groundsheet and the Church Stile campsite is the best. Always welcoming, spotless facilities, reasonable (by Lakes standards), never too crowded and with stunning views. A bit of a drive if you want to tackle the big mountains but well worth it when you have such a lovely temporary home to return to. We’ve been here 4 years on the spin now at May Day weekend and I don’t see that trend changing. Our home from home when the first family camping weekend of the year arrives.

 

Taking the kids out of school is a bit of no-no for a weekend so this year I took the day off as the advance party to get the tent set up while the rest of the family came up late Friday. This gave me a chance to get a day of solo walking in on the Friday. I had thought of a car camp on the road over from Broughton near the Black Combe but in the end I thought “what the hell” and booked into a Travel Inn, followed by a hearty breakfast at Booths in Ulverston (a fine supermarket chain if ever there was one with outstanding cafes attached). I was up at the top of the pass by 10 and wasn’t sure how to fill a whole day. In the end I decided on a double out and back. In the morning I’d wander out to Whitfell and back and in the afternoon do the same to take in Black Combe, a long admired mountain that I wanted to climb

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Despite the promise of sunshine it was really rather cold and windy when I stepped from the car. Within a few minutes I was rooting around in the pack for some warmer headwear. There was sunshine temptingly close but grey and gloomy was my companion for now

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Buck Barrow – and the wonderfully named – Great and Little Paddy Crags were marvellous with some scrambling to keep me entertained.

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I strolled with purpose out towards Whitfell and suddenly, almost unnoticed the sun came out and there was blue sky everywhere.

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black combe, buck barrow, charity chair, church stile campsite, great paddy crags, kinmont buck barrow, Lake District, little paddy crags, nether wasdale, stoneside hill, whitcombe head, whitecombe screes, whitfell

black combe, buck barrow, charity chair, church stile campsite, great paddy crags, kinmont buck barrow, Lake District, little paddy crags, nether wasdale, stoneside hill, whitcombe head, whitecombe screes, whitfell

The walk to the summit was magnificent and the views from the top inspiring although still cold. From here you have the coast on one side and the full Lakeland panorama of peaks in the other. It looks like fine backpacking country on these smaller lesser known hills but as I was to find out not everywhere is quite as dry as it seems.

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It would have been a fine spot and time for some lunch but I was still full of Booths best so returned towards the car. I thought Kinmont Buck Barrow looked worth a trek (and it was) so I headed off across the col. I should have packed a pack-raft for this. Just a hidden lake with grass in it. Mountains can be sneaky buggers sometimes.

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black combe, buck barrow, charity chair, church stile campsite, great paddy crags, kinmont buck barrow, Lake District, little paddy crags, nether wasdale, stoneside hill, whitcombe head, whitecombe screes, whitfell

I’d thought about lunch at the car but I thought that was a bit sad and I was still digesting breakfast so I pushed on towards Black Combe, over Stoneside Hill and past the charity chair. It looked like another easy stroll up to the edge but there was more hidden water to get past first (this area really has some astounding amounts of water in it’s soil).

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I managed to find a thin path that took me to the edge and then along the top of Whitecombe Head and Whitecombe Screes all the way to the summit of Black Combe. The cloud had filled in again but the views were still fine especially down towards Barrow in Furness and Walney Island.

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black combe, buck barrow, charity chair, church stile campsite, great paddy crags, kinmont buck barrow, Lake District, little paddy crags, nether wasdale, stoneside hill, whitcombe head, whitecombe screes, whitfell

Now I was hungry and settled down on the grass for a luxury lunch of crusty bread and Morecambe Bay potted shrimps – and very fine they were too. A cold beer would have been a fine addition if only I brought one but a cuppa made an adequate replacement.

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As I sat there looking out at the Sellafield plant I recalled that back in the 80’s the owners were a tad careless with their safety protocols and had a habit of creating large amounts of toxic waste that they weren’t terribly sure what to do with (well who hasn’t created a batch of the worlds most lethal substance and then wondered where to stash it). I seem to remember that their answer to this taxing question was to dig a big hole on Black Combe and then bury it hoping no-one would notice. Not sure if that’s true but it was an intriguing thought as I counted my fingers to make sure I still had just the ten. I still have ten so perhaps it’s all nonsense.

black combe, buck barrow, charity chair, church stile campsite, great paddy crags, kinmont buck barrow, Lake District, little paddy crags, nether wasdale, stoneside hill, whitcombe head, whitecombe screes, whitfell

black combe, buck barrow, charity chair, church stile campsite, great paddy crags, kinmont buck barrow, Lake District, little paddy crags, nether wasdale, stoneside hill, whitcombe head, whitecombe screes, whitfell

I collected my stuff and wandered off on however many legs I now had back to the car with the skies clearing again as I reached it. A pretty damn fine day.

black combe, buck barrow, charity chair, church stile campsite, great paddy crags, kinmont buck barrow, Lake District, little paddy crags, nether wasdale, stoneside hill, whitcombe head, whitecombe screes, whitfell

black combe, buck barrow, charity chair, church stile campsite, great paddy crags, kinmont buck barrow, Lake District, little paddy crags, nether wasdale, stoneside hill, whitcombe head, whitecombe screes, whitfell

12 Miles, 20,00 feet of ascent

12 Miles, 20,00 feet of ascent

Putting the tent up was almost a pleasure in the warm sunshine – almost. I was joined by Uncle Fester for a few pints of outstanding Mild and some equally fine food in the The Strands pub – well worth a detour if you’re in the area. It was a chilly evening back on the camp site and I took some more night shots of stars and illuminated tents.

Nether Wasdale

Nether Wasdale

Alas that was as good as things got from a weather perspective. The Saturday was grey and gloomy despite a good forecast. We did a fine walk up Nether Beck to Scoat Tarn and Fell and back over Red Screes, Dore Head and Over Beck. I took only a couple of photos as the day just gloomier and colder as it wore on

Nether Beck, Over Beck, Scoat Tarn, Scoat Fell, Red Screes

Nether Beck, Over Beck, Scoat Tarn, Scoat Fell, Red Screes

8 Miles, 2,600 feet of ascent

8 Miles, 2,600 feet of ascent

The evening descended into the quintessential British pastime of a BBQ in the rain. The rain continued all night and hadn’t stopped by lunchtime the next day. What to do in this corner of the Lake District with a bunch of restless bored kids = Seascale

Seascale

And what a fine choice it was. It had pretty much stopped raining by the time we got there and the kids had a whale of time messing about on the beach and on the astonishingly slippery pier with the waves bouncing over and through it. Lunch was provided by the absolutely delightful Mawsons Ice Cream Parlour. They managed to find space for pretty much 20 of us in it’s tiny interior and looked after us magnificently despite the obvious confusions of many hungry and fussy kids. The food was outstanding but the real treat is their ice cream which is to die for. Apparently the market for full cream has declined in these healthy times so they were left with waste that they didn’t know what to do with. Answer, Ice Cream and I’m glad they did. I think a trip to Seascale is now an essential part of any trip this way

Seascale

Seascale

Seascale

It was still deeply gloomy but at least dry when we emerged 2 hours later. We wandered up the beach and passed another happy couple of hours. Kids love a beach and they forgot about what a dull and damp day it was. Happy kids = happy parents

Seascale

seascale

seascale

Out of the depths of a very dismal Lake District morning sprang a pretty damn fine day in the end.

Seascale

The Monday was a day for taking tents down and some epic football matches where I played a blinder in goal, though I say it myself, and several old family scores were settled in some brutal midfield battles. Football was the winner.

nether wasdale, church stile campsite

nether wasdale, church stile campsite

Back to the Strands for tea before the long drive home. Another weekend to add to the archives with the usual batch of great memories to fall back on when winter comes. Looking forward to 2015 🙂

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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