Thursday 18 December 2008

Paddling in the Lakes

Heading up toCrinkle Crags, Lakes
Last Friday saw me heading north once more. This time it was a trip to the Lake district. Unusually for me, I was actually meeting up with a few folk. The coach journey up was not good. There is a direct service up to the lakes from London. it is a long run though. As we boarded in London the driver announced that we would have to divert due to a serious accident on the M6 which had led to it being closed near Birmingham. After much switching back and forth across country with the driver trying to keep up to date with traffic reports and radio contact with control, we approached Birmingham, which was reported as grid locked. By means of going around the back doubles we finally made Birmingham. A ten minute loo break and we where off again. Unfortunately it took almost and hour to leave the city. In contact with his control once more, the driver was given permission to close part of his journey. Those points where he had no one to drop off or pick up. In this manner we arrived in Windermere only an hour late. Some nine hours of travel. The weather was foul when we arrived. Someone was picking me up from the station but he had also run in to trouble on black ice. Some nifty juggling saw me doing a quick change in the bus shelter out of travel clothes in to my hill clothes and foul weather gear. Shortly after my lift arrived and we headed up to Langdale. The road was flooding in many places. The wind was fairly strong and it was chucking it down with a mix of wet snow, sleet and rain. Arriving at the campsite, it quickly became obvious that many parts of it where either water logged or actually flooded. After a some casting about I found a raised bank at the top end of the campsite that had just about enough room to pitch a few small tents among the trees. The others arrived as we began setting up camp. Everyone nipped over to the nearby pub for a quick drink. Coming back the water level on the road was over a foot deep. The top car park had a river flowing through it. The water level was almost lapping at the car doors. The tents remained above the flood waters, just.

Saturday morning saw the flood levels dropping rapidly but it remained wet with low cloud level. Thus an amble around Ambleside. This was followed by a walk up Loughrigg fell. By then it was just damp with drizzle.

Sunday dawned dry, although low cloud still covered the fells. One or two folk where suffering with sore heads after a little? imbibing the evening before. It was a day for the hill though. Ice axes where strapped to rucksacks, crampons packed and we where away. A steepish ascent up to Red tarn and suddenly we where above any cloud and in clear air. An added bonus was that we now had reached the snow line. Lovely, hard packed snow that made for good walking. The views got better and better as we made our way over Long top and Crinkle crags. There was ice under the snow in places which, although we did not use them, made us glad we had taken ice axes and crampons. Time was getting on and any ideas of doing Bowfell where discarded. Coming down by three tarns conditions where a little slippy and care had to be taken. The light was fading fast as we descended The Band and by the time we made it down as far as Stool End it was dark. The others where heading back but I had until Tuesday. The only day I had managed to get a very cheap train ticket for. Monday saw me going for a stroll and a bit of scrambling up Hell gill. Busy watching where I was going, I did not realise how high I had gone until I paused and saw how steeply the ground fell away below me. Certainly hands where needed as well as careful positioning of the feet. Sleet and rain again on Monday night saw the campsite becoming soggy once more. By the time I packed up to catch the bus down to Ambleside, rain was come down the valley in great sweeping curtains and water was once again flowing over the road.

Red tarn, lakes, partially frozen




  1. Dawn,

    It looks like people are happy to give you lifts into the wilds. Then we all get to read your great reports. Please keep them coming, but stay safe.

    Captions for the pictures would be nice, if possible.

    John Green

  2. Great pics and write up Dawn. Cheers.

  3. Good old Dawn, for yet more accounts of outdoors discomfort but having a spiffing good time.

    There's nothing like finding blue skies and sunshine above the crappy weather valleys, rewarding your effort in an unusually special way.

    Not sure I'd want to endure all the cold, wet, cloud etc while camping but its nice to read about!