Lake District – Borrowdale – 3 Days Walking & Wild Camping

I really enjoy getting out for the day for a big walk, its great to get up early and stretch the legs from sunrise to sunset. day walks always leave me with the same feeling though, sadness that its over so quickly and the need to get back out again as soon as possible. As daylight hours are now increasing the weather seems to be gradually improving from week to week, I though it was high time I dusted off the camping gear and headed out for a multi wander.

I was sitting at home and looking at books on our bookshelf, a particular set of books caught my eye. I have a set of Wainwright Guides to the Lake District Fells and I randomly selected one then begun reading. Then it dawned on me, Why not head off for a few days and go for a spot of Wild Camping and Walking while continuing my quest to tick off all the Wainwright Fells. I took a quick picture of my Wainwright Guides along with some Ordnance Survey maps then posted it on Twitter, “hhmmmm… Where to go walking in the Lake District this weekend??”. Within around 4 or 5 minutes i’d had an invite from a couple of my twitter friends Alex and Chris who were heading out for a 3 day / 2 night wildcamping adventure. They forwarded me a GPX file detailing the route they planned to take and I decided It would have been rude to say no given how perfectly things were taking shape. The plan was set, the times were arranged and my camping gear was being unearthed from the garage. Off to the Lake District I go.

I set off from home at around 09:00 and headed straight for the M1, I had been and picked up plenty of supplies the day before which allowed me to get on the way relatively early. The plan was to meet Alex & Chris at Seathwaite in Borrowdale at 14:00 and we would then set off on our little wander. One thing led to another and Chris was subjected to a series of unfortunate disasters so it meant that he would meet up with us later that evening. I drove up the M1, M18, A1 and then took the A66 west from Scotch Corner all the way to Keswick. I was running pretty early so after a very brief stop (toilet break) I decided that I would head for Ashness Bridge and enjoy the sunshine before making my way down to Seathwaite.

Ashness Bridge

Ashness Bridge is one of those places that is burned in the mind from my childhood. We spent a lot of time in the Lakes when we were younger and my grandmother made a Patchwork recreation of Ashness Bridge that she has hung in her home. I had never been to Ashness before so it was really great to finally stand and look at a view that has always been so familiar to me. As I sat there at the side of the river taking in the views I gave my grandmother a ring and said “You’ll never guess where I am” πŸ™‚

After a very relaxing half an hour or so by the stream I decided that it was about time I got to my final destination so I could park the car. I made it down into Seathwaite for around 13:15, I parked up and then begun to get my kit ready and double check that I’d remembered to bring everything. I couldn’t resist making an AudioBoo as I arrived which is embedded below.

While I was relaxing in the sun waiting for the arrival of Alex a familiar looking gentleman walked along the road towards me, “Are you Dean Read” he said. It was Gary, another one of my twitter friends who had decided to join us at the last moment. I had not really had a great deal of signal most of the morning so it was a nice surprise to have more company for the next few days. Alex arrived at 14:00 and it wasn’t long at all before we were walking back up the road towards Seatoller, after a quick walk across a field we then began the accent up to Rosthwaite Fell. The weather today was absolutely stunning, just the right temperature and the haze that had blighted the landscape in recent weeks had all but vanished from the atmosphere.

Borrowdale towards Skiddaw

The accent up towards Tarn at Leaves was rather sharp in places but over relatively quick, we chatted pretty much all the way up so before we knew it we were there. We stashed our bags near the tarn and then headed for the summit of Rosthwaite Fell. a quick scramble up to the cairn and that was Wainwright number 1 of the weekend safely in the bag. Back down to the tarn we went, picked up the bags and begun the undulating attack on Glaramara.

Rosthwaite Fell

Rosthwaite Fell

The path from Rosthwaite to Glaramara is rather rough at times. we crossed a few boggy patches of moorland and then had a great little scramble up on to the very top. The views were just getting better and better today.

Glaramara

After Glaramara we headed due south straight past high house tarn for Allen Crags. The light was slowly fading as we spotted a figure that was moving up along the path from Sprinkling Tarn. It was Chris, we rendezvoused at Esk Hause where we decided would be a perfect place to pitch up for the night.

Great Gable under cloud

The cloud was rolling up the valley from Eskdale which was starting to look like the beginnings of an inversion. we looked towards the east and the sun was setting over the top of Great End. We decided that a quick jaunt up Esk Pike would be a good idea and a great opportunity to get some nice images.

Chris & Gary on Esk Pike

From the summit of Esk Pike the inversion looked stunning. The cloud was like a sea of white and the peaks down the valley were just popping through as the sun set to the west. Over towards Great Gable the cloud had begun spilling over the top and rushing down the sides to Sty Head. Down Borrowdale I could see the twinkling lights of Keswick in the distance and the majestic heights of Skiddaw standing guard behind. We spent a good half an hour or so up there soaking in the panoramas before deciding to retire back to the tents for some food. It wasn’t long before we all called it a day, I lay in my new Terra Nova Wild Country Zephyros 1 pondering what a great day it had been and feeling great satisfaction about being back up in the LakeLand fells once more.

Esk Hause Wildcamping spot

I had rather a restless sleep if I’m completely honest, I wasn’t too cold, The weather had been rather still. Sadly it was my sleeping mats constant need to deflate that made it a rather long night. I have an old Alpkit Wee Airic, when I say old I mean around 6 years old but sadly it is now past its best. It began to let me down last time I used it which was on the West Highland Way last year. I totally forgot about replacing it so its my own fault really, I have had many nights of comfortable use out of it so I feel I’ve had my pennies worth.

Esk Pike

We awoke around 07:00 and I begun to make my breakfast. I am still using my trusty old Coleman Stove with what my friends and I have affectionately named the Jiminy Cricket. I’m not quite sure why we decided to call it that but it’s basically the tiniest little attachment made by Coleman to fit atop one of their gas canisters. Both Gary and Alex had come equipped with JetBoil stoves which I was really impressed by. I have been making do with my old gear for years now so it is definitely time to upgrade in some areas I feel. The piece of Kit that surprised me the most was Chris’ stove, I’m not overly sure exactly what model it was as I’m not fully educated on these things but… basically, it boiled water within literally 20 seconds from cold. how is that possible? not just technically possible but physically πŸ™‚ top marks to Chris for that life changing demo.

Looking down from Esk Hause towards Boot & Eskdale

The light was stunning this morning once the cloud had cleared a little, the views down towards Eskdale where the cloud inversion had been last night were particularly impressive. We packed all our gear away and headed off for Great End just before 09:00.

Great End

The summit of Great End arrived rather quickly as its only a short walk up from Esk Hause, that’s what I love about wild camping in the hills. when you pitch high the hard work is already done so you can just concentrate on enjoying the views.

Keswick from Great End

I am resisting the want to type out many superlative words, phrases and jargon here. I will just say that the views from Great End this morning were amazing in the fresh early light of a new day.

Ill Crag, Broad Crag and Scafell Pike in the background

The next Wainwright of the day after Great End was Lingmell, we had to cross Ill Crag, Broad Crag, then descend between there and Scafell Pike.

Scafell Pike Summit

Great Gable

The descent down this little section was pretty steep and a spot of Scree Skiing fun was had by all. We made a quick stop just at the top of Piers Gill to refill our water supplies before heading up towards Lingmell which was to be Wainwright number 6 of the trip.

Descending towards Lingmell

Lingmell

We had expected to see another one of our Twitter friends Peter and his trusty sidekick Oscar the dog on the summit, little did we know he was laying down basking in the sun just off down the slope towards Wast Water. We had planned to meet Peter and Oscar on Lingmell but as the signal was iffy we fired off a few tweets with details of our plans and headed back down off the summit.

Scafell

Sellafield Power Station & the Isle of Man on the horizon

Back down at the top of Piers Gill we picked up the Corridor Route, we passed many groups of people who must have been heading up to bag Scafell Pike today. Sadly for them the cloud had begun to roll in from the west and it had begun to drop below the heights of the surrounding summits, no views from the top for them today.

Piers Gill

Gary scrambling on the corridor route

We arrived at Sty Head Tarn and decided it would be a perfect moment to break out the food. We chatted and ate as the cloud thankfully began to lift ever so slightly. We then noticed a figure running down the Corridor Route towards us that was being shadowed by a hound. It was Peter and Oscar catching up with us after enjoying the sun on the opposite side of Lingmell.

Great Gable

We all chatted for a good 45 minutes or so before we packed away and begun the accent up Great Gable. I’ve done this route up the mighty Gable from Sty Head before when I came for a solo wildcamp a few years ago, I knew it was going to be steep and unrelenting. Gary and I decided that the best plan of attack was to put our heads down and just go for it, that’s what we did. We powered on up higher and higher. I resisted the need to look around and I also put my GPS away so I didn’t give in to the temptation to check our altitude. My calf muscles and energy levels felt invincible so In what seemed like no time at all we were on the summit. It felt great to once again be admiring the 360 degree views on what is my favorite Lakeland Fell. To be honest I think I had built the climb up in my mind a little, last time I was here my pack weight was a lot heavier so today it was a breeze.

Alex & Oscar the wonder dog on Great Gable

Esk Hause from Great Gable

I think we must have spent around 45 minutes up there today, I took plenty of pictures, sent out a couple of tweets and recorded a 360 Degree video on my iPhone.

Oscar & Peter descending to Windy Gap

We headed off the summit of Great Gable down towards the next Wainwright of the day which was Green Gable. the slippery and rock descent down to Windy Gap was over quickly and then all that was left was a quick accent up on to the summit.

Windy Gap & Green Gable

Green Gable stands side by side with Great Gable at the head of Ennerdale, it’s a place I have visited in my childhood many times. I have also walked here with my friend Stevo in recent years, memories of that 2 Day Wildcamping Adventure came flooding back as I stood gazing towards Haystacks and down to the Black Sail Youth Hostel.

Ennerdale & Buttermere from Green Gable

Base Brown was to be our last fell of the day, Side by side we walked and talked across the moor and then up on to the grassy summit. It was here where we decided that the lure of the pub down in the valley was too great, instead of pitching up early on Base Brown we chose to head down to the campsite at Seathwaite.

Base Brown

Seathwaite

We pitched up at the campsite and quickly got ourselves ready for a few drinks to celebrate a great couple of days. we chose to head around the valley to The Langstrath Country Inn. I think we had half expected it to be empty but we were surprised to find it heaving with people. We took up the last remaining seats at the bar and toasted a job well done.

Seathwaite Fell

The next day Alex and I decided that it would be rude not to tick off the last remaining fell in the area which was Seathwaite Fell. We had walked in the hills surrounding it for 2 days so it would have been a shame to leave it unclimbed.

Sty Head Tarn

Lingmell

The weather was perfect this morning, glorious sunshine with just a slight cold bite in the air. We headed up towards Sty Head tarn where we had had lunch the day before and then swung east towards Sprinkling Tarn.

Wildcampers and Sprinklng Tarn

We spotted a few Wild Campers who had pitched up by the banks of Sprinkling tarn. They had a few rather large tents with them and it was now 09:45. The unwritten rule or generally accepted code when wild camping is to pitch late then leave early, this group of people obviously had other ideas.

Seathwaite Fell

In no time at all we were stood on the summit of Seathwaite Fell ticking off the final remaining Wainwright in this area. We stayed for a very short while before heading straight off the summit via the most direct route down towards the path at Styhead Gill. We chatted all the way down and before I knew it we were back at the cars and this adventure had drawn to a close.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Alex and Chris for the invite to join them this weekend. I’d also like to say what a pleasure it was to finally meet up with them and also with Gary, Peter and Oscar. The power of twitter made this weekend possible and I’m sure it wont be long before our paths cross again. We had climbed a total of 10 Wainwright Fells, of which 9 were all new ones for me. I have currently only climbed 45 of the Wainwrights but this weekend has renewed my need to complete them.

8 thoughts on “Lake District – Borrowdale – 3 Days Walking & Wild Camping

  1. Good blog and photos,the route Plan involved you all dropping from Lingmell to wasdale then ascending Kirkfell.Thats why I waited on lower slopes of lingmell as I could see no sense in me climbing it just to descend to valley floor again.nice bit of weather you got too …maybe next time Peter and Oscar

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  2. Great report Dean! Lovely pics too. It was a great couple of days, well worth all the ascent and decent. Looking forward to the next trip!

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  3. This sounds and looks fantastic! I’m fairly new to rambling; as and when I can I get out into the countryside for walks, the smallest spanning around 1hr 40mins and the longest around 4-5hrs. I’ve not experienced the peak or lake district as of yet. I’m wondering what your recommendations would be for tackling this sort of walk and camp? What sort of fitness level I’d require? Whether it might be a bit much for a beginner perhaps? I’m 25 and in good health…any advice truly appreciated!

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    1. I’d say that you would be ok to tackle this kind of route in summer if you are a beginner. Providing you have a map and compass etc and know how to use it πŸ™‚

      Lake District is beautiful and there are plenty of routes to choose from. The Peak District is equally as stunning but not as steep and “Mountainous”.

      If you were looking to tackle something similar to this you could park in Borrowdale and then wild camp next to Sty Head Tarn. Perfect spot and not too tough to get to.

      Hope this helps πŸ™‚

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