Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Last Practise

This was to be our last practise trip ahead of the TGO Challenge in a couple of weeks time, a last chance to fine tune some kit and get the legs ready for some ascents. We headed for a favourite area of the Lake District which we’ve visited many times before, in various states of fitness. We’d get a good idea as to how fit we now were and it was also a chance to get the camp routine polished and good to go.

Friday 20th April

I’d arranged to pick Mick up at 08:00 but I was sat on the M62 for half an hour which meant I was running late, a quick coffee at his and we were away. We made our usual stop at Maccy D’s drive-thru and topped up the carbs and protein on double sausage and egg McMuffins and hash browns with another large pot of coffee for the road.

I’d gradually busted the zip lock seal on my large aLoksak bag on the past few trips so we called off at Castlebergs on the way through Settle and I treated myself to a nice new orange Haglofs map case, it goes well with the new shoes, honest.

A couple of hours later we were parked up at Haweswater and getting our packs sorted, poles out and stuffing our faces with last minute junk food.

And we’re off, the sun is shining and the we’re feeling good, looking back to the car

Our route up towards Harter Fell via Gatesgarth Pass

A quick rise in elevation really got the legs warmed up

Blea Water to our right as we climb towards High Street

A glimpse down into Kentmere, our planned stop for Saturday night

And the route we’ll be taking to get there tomorrow

Weather closing in from the north, it turned out to be hail which was painful but not soggy

We reached our camp site at Angle Tarn around four hours after we left the car, at this point it was chucking it down.

I quickly got the Trailstar up so we could shelter from the rain, ten seconds later it stopped and the sun was back out

Drying the wet shells 

Some pics around camp

A nice sunset to finish a great day

Saturday 21st April

It was a fairly chilly night and I’d woken a few times to cold shoulders when my doss bag had slipped down, I thought Mick would’ve struggled in his Softie bag and I awoke to hearing effin’ and blindin’ coming from his direction. Let’s just say he’s not too impressed with the Snugpak rating on his bag, fine for most of the year but when the temps are in the low single figures it’s just not enough. All good experience though and it’s useful to know these things before we head off to Scotland for the biggy.
As Mick was awake and not too happy we decided to get up and get warm, a few coffees and some snacks and we were sorted, there’d been some rain overnight but it was a lovely morning, cold but clear. We packed up in good time and were on the trail before 08:00.

Looking back to camp, just behind the knobbly bit, top right of piccy

Our route retraced part of yesterday back up onto High Street and round to the Beacon near Thornthwaite Crag, by the time we reached here the weather had turned and we tried to shelter behind the high wall but the rain was coming straight down in stair rods. The clouds dropped right on top of us and we couldn’t see much further than 50 yards, after we’d had soup and a rest the cloud lifted and we were on our way again.

Finally able to see the first section of our route 

Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke

Windermere to our south west

The ridge route was fairly steady, the climb up to Ill Bell in the driving hail was hard work though, the path coming within a few feet of a 450m drop to the left, Mick looking cold on top of Ill Bell 

Great views though

After dodging a couple more wintery showers we dropped down off the summit and into the sunshine once again, our next hill, Yoke

Looking down into Kentmere, looking for a suitable camp site in the process

The last section along the valley bottom turned out to be more of a slog than we first thought, the first place we thought about stopping wasn’t great so we pushed on up towards the dam. Turning a corner we came across a perfect pitch, four inches of soft moss on top of well drained slate, that’ll do nicely.
The evening was pretty wet and miserable, we huddled under the Trailstar for most of it, drinking coffee and working our way through the remaining food we had left. 
A bit of a schoolboy error on my part on Thursday when I packed, I’d forgotten to pack my Sealskinz socks so had no means of getting my feet warm and dry unless I stopped in the shelter for the night. After we’d setup camp and had some food I took off the wet shoes and socks and gave my feet some TLC, lots of foot powder applied and then into my HeatHolders then into my doss bag. Ten minutes later my feet were toasty, by the time I had to go out later to water the plants my socks and shoes had more or less dried out, cracking.
After a long day with lots of ascent we called it a night around 21:30, the rain had stopped briefly so Mick went to sort his tent out and retire for the night. 

Sunday 22nd April

It was much warmer on Saturday night, it was a combination of a drop in altitude and also there was plenty of cloud cover, we’d both slept much better getting a good ten hours in. I was up around 08:00 as I had to drop the kids off at the pool, as we didn’t have to rush to be away I left Mick to sleep in while I took some pics around camp.

After we’d both packed up at a leisurely pace we headed off up the trail and bound for the car and home, looking back to camp

Up the hill

We missed our next path so ended up doing a bit of heather bashing/bog jumping, hard work on tired legs, yours truly looking whacked

Our route up, heading for the dip on the right at Nan Bield Pass

Great view back down

Reaching Small Water we stopped for a brew, just an excuse not to go home really

Over the last wee hill and we get a glimpse of the car, happy days


  1. Great gear testing adventure. The tent socks are good choice I've got a pair on now. Was the snug pack sleeping bag a kestrel ?

  2. Hi mate

    I think Mick's Snugpak is the Softie 3 Merlin at about a kilo? I've lent him a MH Ultralamina 0 so he'll be toasty on the crossing