This was a wee trip Mike and I had discussed before Christmas, a winter camp in Borrowdale sometime in January. This was to be a static camp. The Chapel farm campsite in winter, comes close to a wild camp. It is basic, a place to pitch, a tap and a loo, ideal.
We arrived mid afternoon on the Monday and set up camp. Temperatures dropped to below freezing during the night.Tuesday morning had the promise of being a nice day. Thick swirling clouds roiled and swirled over the high tops, drifting down the hill sides and dispersing.
We headed up to Seathwaite, taking the path that leads up through the slabs by Sourmilk gill. A steep path in places, with one or two scrambly bits. This was enhanced by several ice covered sections of the path..
Tiptoeing around the icy bits and scrambling up and across the slabs called for a bit of care and a wee bit of undignified scrambling.
A chilly breeze kept the temperature down. A pause for a spot of lunch and then it was across semi frozen bog toward Raven Crag.
We carefully threaded our way through the jumble of boulders below the crag.
The weather began to close down on us as we headed over to Seatoller Fell. A steep descent down to the road and then it was back to the campsite.
It rained Tuesday night, however, by morning the weather was clear. Mike proposed a walk up Langstrath. It was sad to see the state of the campsite at Stonethwaite (closed) Half burnt rubbish, fire pits strewn with empty beer cans and bottles. The place looked a mess.
Our goal was Black Moss Pot. Quite a well known swimming hole. There were several other pools too, all worthy of a visit.
A pleasant place to stop for a spot of lunch. A return visit is a must. A few easy days of dipping and swimming would be a good idea!
We carried on up to the foot bridge and returned back down the Cumbria Way.
It was pleasant to have a day of comparatively low level valley walking. Mind! I did have to stop and have a breather on the way back.
.It had been a good couple of days of walking. Mike is much fitter than me and to be honest, I was a tad tired by the end of Wednesday. Also, my photos, for whatever reason, never came out that well. Mike's photos are far more superior, northernpies.blogspot.co.uk
With Christmas looming ever closer, it was time to be away. It is not the best time of the year for me. Ticket prices and train times dictated when I could travel. Thus it was that on the Friday prior to Christmas I set off. The train journey up to Aberdeen was something of a nightmare. The train being packed solid with folk heading north. Fortunately the train was only slightly late getting in and I caught my bus connection on to Braemar.
The bunkhouse I have used previously was full right through the Christmas period. The Braemar Lodge hotel also had bunkhouse accommodation and that was my stopover for the night. Surprisingly it was empty! A quick visit to the local Co'op sorted out supper. A few bits of food at knocked down prices where added to the 'just in case' bag. Not feeling too good, saw me having an early night. Coming up on the train I had come close to falling over twice, not good!
Setting off in the morning, I was still not feeling right. A strong headwind gusting down the glen did not help. With energy levels rapidly dropping, a break was had for a snack at Inverey. Thin, mizzly rain was now starting to drift in. My intention to head up to the head of Glen Ey was abandoned. A spot for the tent was found near Auchelle.
Grey, sweeping curtains of rain where now scudding down the glen. With heavy rocks placed on the tent pegs, I tumbled in to the tent. With everything set up inside and a brew on, the world felt a better place.
Come Sunday morning, after a fitful night, the wind and rain continued. Time was spent drinking tea, snoozing and reading. Things quietened down by the afternoon and I went for a stroll up the glen.
More rain, with sleet and hail, saw me heading back to the tent. Monday was a repeat performance, the one difference was that now the rain had turned to wet snow.
Tuesday was another day of freezing rain, sleet and then snow. Toward evening the temperature began to drop. Icy patches began to form on the tent flysheet. At sometime or another an obviously hungry mouse had nibbled a hole through the inner tent. Hopefully it found enough to eat after all that effort!
It snowed for a while on Tuesday and then the temperature really began to drop. The water bladders began to freeze. The fly sheet became icy and I snuggled down in the tent with a cuppa and my kindle.
It was a slow start to Wednesday. There was no big hurry to get back down to Braemar. Packing up I removed the inner from the flysheet which meant everything was stowed away dry accept the semi frozen fly.
It was then just a case of the walk out and booking back in to the bunkhouse for the night. Once more, it was empty accept for me.
Recently Mike purchased an all singing, dancing winter sleeping bag. Of course now it had to be tried out in suitable conditions!
A trip to the Cheviots was planned. Given the sub zero temperatures being forecast, it looked as if were in luck.
It was a gentle walk in and finding a suitable spot that was fairly level, had gorse and thorn bushes to offer a modicum of shelter and with running water close by we set up camp.
It was still fairly early in the day and the rest of the afternoon was spent drinking tea, snoozing and reading. There was a smattering of snow, sleet and freezing rain during the night. In the early hours of the morning the temperature plummeted. My water containers had ice in them. The tent froze, condensation on the inside and moisture on the outside of the flysheet meant that the tent was rigid with ice, interesting?
Having found a suitable spot for the tents, we decided to stay put, do a round of a few local hills with a light pack and return. Unfortunately I was forced to turn back after almost fainting. Blood pressure problems. At differing times in the past I have had both high and low blood pressure. Mike continued on while I headed back to the tent. Very frustrating, I had been looking forward to that walk. Mike returned early afternoon and an easy afternoon was had by all.
Tuesday saw the temperature rising and by Wednesday the weather was on the change. We walked back to the College valley by a circular route. Freezing rain, hail and wet sleet came sweeping in and a second breakfast in Wooler seemed a good idea. More winter trips are in the pipeline.
Things have been quiet here on the eastern coast. My swimming has continued, although of late it is more of a dip than a swim. This is partly due to a few early winter storms. It can be a tad intimidating, even in the shallows, when the big rollers come crashing in.
Grey morning, surf building up.
Mind, it is getting chillier. A week or so back I took part in a small charity event in Boulmer. Part of the do involved a swim in the sea. There was a blustery north wind whipping through the car park were we got changed. Temperatures were given as 3 degrees. Sea temperatures were rated at seven degrees. A few of us opted for a dip, just to show willing. A case of in, get wet, a quick dip and out. Hot soup and such were very welcome afterwards.
Receding tide, Boulmer.
Mike, Lucky, the intrepid dog and myself gave up any idea of spending a night on Lindisfarne. Parking restrictions every which way. Instead we spent a night at Ross Back Sands. Quite a chilly one too.
Recently I have upped my miles a wee bit when walking over for a swim. The average mileage was roughly seven miles. Now I sometimes increase it to ten.
Fishing boat, Blyth harbour.
There is little else to report. A couple of winter trips are in the pipeline. Winter gear is being sorted out. With frequent cold northerly winds sweeping the east coast, warmer clothing is called for. Friday is the first day of December and I shall be in for at least a quick dip.