Monday 10 March 2014

A touch of drama.

Mike picking me up at Kirkby Stephen is almost becoming the norm. these days. The one difference this time was that it was at an earlier time. In pursuit of cheap train tickets I ended up with an early morning train. This involved being up at the unearthly hour of three in the morning.
A late breakfast/early lunch at Tebay and we headed out. Amazingly the sun was shining!.All very pleasant. Some gentle walking, following footpaths and bridleways over the river Lune and on to Roundthwaite. An easy, steady plod brought us up to Burn Gill and an ideal spot for a camp. It was still early and we had only covered a few miles, however, it would most likely be difficult to find a spot higher up toward the ridge. Being early, Mike headed up for a wander to a nearby top while I went for an explore up the gill.

A pleasant, relaxing  afternoon was had by all.

Wednesday morning broke dull with low cloud covering the hills. It remained dry though. We headed on up and over Roundthwaite Common. A few checks of the compass  at the cairn marking Winterclough. A moment of displacement put us on the wrong side of  Crookdale Crag. A bit of tussock bashing and bog hopping brought us back on course. A dog leg detour to avoid a barbwire fence and then we scooted across the A6. Following the line of the wall we headed up the hill toward Gargill and then around by Whatshaw. Common. The water saturated ground made for some hard going.

Aware that rain was forecast for the latter part of the afternoon, we picked our way down to Crookdale and set up camp. Our chosen spot on a bend of the river, set back a tad from the river on a raised area. of ground. Although not expecting any serious weather, the tents where in an exposed position and thus a few rocks where placed on tent pegs, just in case!

Sure enough, the forecast rain duly arrived around tea time. By that time we where snug and cozy.

The rain continued on and off for most of the night. Thursday morning saw everything covered in an overall greyness. There was no visibility, a grey shroud enveloped all. Thin, mizzly rain, the sort that rapidly soaks everything, scudded down the valley, driven by a boisterous breeze.
There was little option but to hunker down and wait out the weather. This was a mite frustrating, the five day forecast had not predicted weather such as this. Sunshine and showers had been forecast  By the evening the rain was increasing in intensity, in fact a heavy, continuous downpour. The wind too was rising and buffeting the tents.  The voice of the river had changed from a low, pleasant murmur to a throaty roar.
Several checks of the water levels indicated an alarming rise in its volume. More checks during the night showed that the river was continuing to rise. Another factor I noticed, (being bare footed) the ground was becoming increasingly saturated. Uneasy, I began packing. In the early hours water was flowing under the groundsheet. Mike came over, somewhat concerned about the deteriorating conditions. His tent was just a little higher than mine. As water began to deluge through the tent I nipped over to Mike's tent. he also had packed, ready to bail out. Thankfully we managed to sit it out until first light.By then the water level in my tent was well above the tops of my boots and rising. The surrounding area was now awash too. Another half hour or so and Mike's tenacious perch would also have gone under. Mike warned of a deep channel just behind me but I plowed on through. The water was knee deep and quite fast flowing. The river now was a roaring, boiling malestrom. Quite awesome, it was pity we could not manage a photo but cameras where deep in our packs
It was an arduous climb up the hill as we retraced our footsteps back over to toward the A6. Packs where heavy with sodden tents. Underfoot we floundered through flooded ground and clinging bog. Some more bog wallowing saw us descending Bretherdale and back to Tebay.

Mike was heading home and I booked in to Kirkby Stephen hostel. ( There is always a warm welcome there and Denise is a lovely lady and ever helpful.

On the Saturday I took a stroll up to Nine Standards and back rather just sit about twiddling thumbs.
Not the easiest of trips, however, we did manage to get a little walking in.


  1. Never go camping with that Knipe bloke. It will always end in disaster. Just a tip, there... (Just seam sealed and proofed the tent!)

  2. Dawn, Will you please give that area a miss. I don’t think i can take any more. I have webbed feet and a time share in Kirkby Stephen.

  3. Disaster, disaster??? nah!! just another minor epic that will make a great talking point. My tent requires a bit of looking at as well. One of the guys needs replacing and a couple of seams to seal.

  4. Lol Alan. Unfortunately my next trip will most likely end up in Kirkby Stephen as well. It all hinges on cheap train tickets.My boots are still drying out and I had to rinse the residue of of mud out of them.

  5. Sounds like a bit of an epic! Glad you managed to get off the hill in one piece even if you were slightly soggy!

  6. Hi Howelsey, a wee bit of an epic but hey, sure, we had wet boots and tents but all our main kit remained dry. In that respect we came out ahead. Mind,wringing out socks before putting them on is not fun??

  7. Gosh, you are attracting the weather extremes at the moment! Never mind, it'll be heatwaves next....

  8. Mike reckons it will be thunderbolts and lightning next Chrissie!!!???Before we know it there will be hosepipe bans?

  9. It does seem that every time you go backpacking with pies that you get bad conditions!
    At least you got SOME good weather this time.
    You may get better conditions next time...or midges!

  10. Hi John, actually Mike blames me, he thinks I have an arrangement of some sort!!!?????????????????