Expeditions, Navigation, Guided Walks and Trekking
It started of with 9 of us from our trekking group; although Bill wasn’t fit after his operations and Dick was out of the country again in his luxury mobile home.
Then Chris couldn’t make the date, but we were firm with 8. Of course, trip organisers expects a couple of drop-outs and leaves final food shopping until last-minute. Just as well, as Andre came a cropper off his bike on Saturday. So on Sunday I filled the trolley with enough noodles, snacks and breakfast bars for 6 and half, Mike had to dash back to have dinner with his future in-laws on Saturday night.
Our planned route for the expedition was somewhat of a compromise; Steve just wanted to park somewhere and head of into the mountains; I always try for a walk with a purpose. Wasdale was finally chosen as a part of the Lakes most of us had not been to before. But rather than head off to Styhead Tarn like most backpackers, I wanted somewhere truly wild. So a four-day route linking Waswater, Ennerdale Water and Crummock Water, was our final plan, which makes this the Three Waters route, (plus Buttermere of course). I’ll post the full route in a subsequent blog, along with recommendations for others to follow our carefully crafted expedition.
So after a busy week, all was set for an early start on Thursday morning. The Kent group started at 5:30am, the Milton Keynes contingent had a bit of a lie-in and the northern team had a leisurely breakfast. Unfortunately Mike was now on a three-line whip to finish a bid pricing and didn’t want to upset his boss! He arrived at my door, only twenty minutes late, threw his contribution to the camping gear into my car and dashed off back to work.
So Andy and I belted up the M6, trying to make up time to catch up with the southern team. It’s a long way to Wasdale Head whichever you go. The final approach is always slow whether one takes the tourist route over Hardknott pass or the more direct and quieter road over Ulpha Fell. But I pulled into the Hotel car park just 27 minutes behind schedule and there was Rob trying to park in the residents car park. A quick dash to the hotel door meant I was first there, yipee!
Greetings all round, I’d not seen most of these guys since my operations, so it was good to be with my pals again.
Saving on weight in our packs was the reason we gave ourselves for a pub lunch, but the delicious pie and mash didn’t really need a reason, neither did the couple of pints.
Then it was time to load up, share out the food, check the gas cans and make sure Nas had a sleeping mat and bag. We headed down the road out of Wasdale Head and turned off the path to Dore Head alongside Over Beck running below Yewbarrow. Our campsite that night was to be beside one of the tarns below Red Pike, so we left the track halfway up and headed across the fell for Low Tarn. On the map there appeared to be plenty of flat land around the tarn but on arrival it was all marsh, with no chance of a place to pitch our tents. Plan B was called into play and we somewhat wearily headed off to Scoat Tarn, passing a possible camping spot on the Knotts above Low Tarn in the hope of something better later on. But Scoat Tarn wasn’t much better. The split boulder at the bottom of the tarn was also in a marshy area and the moraines surrounding all of the lake precluded dry and flat places. Andy scouted out on the eastern side of the tarn while Steve and I looked around the west side. At the furthest end of the tarn we luckily found a small flat and dry patch of ground, perched on top of a mis-shapen moraine. There was just enough room to pitch four tents and give us a small area to fire up the jetboils.
It was not a great sheltered campsite, the wind was spilling over the col between Red Pike and Haycock, just 150m above us. Then the clouds and temperature dropped, so it was time to layer up.
Before we set off from the car park, we had weighed our bags to see who had embraced the lightweight principles. Most of us came in at the regulation 15kg, Steve and Nas hit 19kg! At the campsite we found out why when Steve spread out 4 bags of Wayfarer dinners, two cans of curry and a bag of rice. Nas had a large collection of heavy flapjacks, making his load much of a burden.
Soup, Noodles and a chochy bar for us on normal (lightweight) rations while Steve, Rob and Nas tucked into two more main courses! Between us we also had 3 bottles of Jack Daniels, ostensibly to celebrate Mikes engagement, but as he wasn’t there, we instead toasted a long day travelling to get here.
No views, a penetrating wind and damp mist forced us all to bed just as it started to get dark, which was late enough as it was almost the longest day.