A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Camping And Fell Walking

A great recent camping and walking weekend with Dominic from the blog  . . . made out of words. Here was our campsite on Seathwaite Farm at the head of Borrowdale in the Lake District. It's officially the wettest place in England. And, true to form, it was raining. The lump on the right is Seathwaite Fell, which I've climbed before... 


This time, late one damp, Saturday afternoon, we picked our way straight from the campsite up a steep and distinct path by the side of Sour Milk Gill (which roared tumultuously), past a tiny, red-berried rowan tree growing bravely by the torrent...



... to the outlying fell of Green Gable (2628 ft, 801 m) and her big sister Great Gable (2949 ft, 899 m), the seventh highest mountain in the Lake District. This last stretch — in rain, cloud and poor light, and up slippery, rock-strewn slopes — was tough going. But we made it to the top. And realised we only had a couple of hours in which to descend before nightfall. We had head torches but in the end didn't need them, as we made it precipitously, and at times uncomfortably, down Aaron Slack and Styhead Gill just before darkness set in. Though we did need our torches (and gas camping lanterns) to cook the evening meal — which, on this first night, was Dominic's affair: pasta, baked beans, and a packet of Dolmio sauce. No, not Cordon Bleu. But we were very, very hungry...  


Next day we drove to Buttermere and took on Red Pike (2477 ft, 755 m), its rock as red as its name suggests. At the start of the day we'd intended walking the whole western ridge from Red Pike via High Stile and High Crag to Scarth Gap Pass, and thence to Buttermere again, along Buttermere Lake. Alas, we had not reckoned on the weather, and at the top of Red Pike felt cold, wet and tired. So, instead, we decided on an alternative, shorter, easier route via Scale Beck and Scale Force down to the shore of Crummock Water. And, miraculously, for that half day, the sun came out, and all felt sublimely well with the world. The exciting, occasionally scrambly, but perfectly safe walk down Scale Beck was utterly delightful.    


For our final meal on Sunday night I prepared two disparate packs of Uncle Ben's rice — with fresh yellow peppers, tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs. Hardly a marriage made in heaven either. But, do you know, we were absolutely famished again...

PS Thanks and undying appreciation go to Dominic for the indisputable culinary highlight of the trip: his glass cafetière, which gave us wonderful coffee —  a huge treat in a challenging environment!

16 comments:

Gwil W said...

A lovely part of the world. Some nice pubs round there. All very cosy. Good fun on rainy days ;)

dritanje said...

oh it all sounds wonderful. Your cordon bleu meals remind me of camping when my children were small. a favourite was tin of baked beans mixed with tin of sweet corn heated up with cheese added. This is fondly remembered by both of my adult children. Coz when you've been walking you do get hungry...

Dominic Rivron said...

Great, wasn't it? I'm a sucker for mountain tops, but I have to say that the walk beside Scale Beck/Force is a real highlight of the Lake District.

I think we did well, between us, with the catering.

Rachel Fox said...

Sounds lovely... and Dominic's a great walking companion I'm sure!
x

Suman said...

Absolutely stunning photos! And, I shall remain glued to that gorgeous green for a while.
I'm sure everything must have been great including the cordon bleu dinners, what with an inspiring companion and surrounded by such great nature.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, Gwil W, some great pubs round there, and in the whole of the Lakes. A shame we didn't visit them on this occasion, but time was limited!

I'm so interested in food and mealtimes, dritanje — and all the associated memories, psychologies, embarrassments, convivialities, significances, cultures and customs.

Dominic, the catering was first class. Oh, those lovely serving wenches.

Rachel, what's good is that both Dominic and I seem to want instinctively half-chat, half-silence. A very good state for me, The (normally) Solitary Walker. I love conversation, but wall-to-wall verbiage drives me insane, specially in the middle of Nature. Anyhow, the wind and the rain made gossip impossible much of the time!

Thanks so much for your comment, Suman.

Ruth said...

All the risks, dangers, rains, suns, and culinary escapades sound just about right for such an expedition. Food never tastes so good as it does outdoors, I think, and there is something quite fun about cooking out. I feel like I'm playing house. The wide angle photographs are spectacular!

(I am so happy you have widened your template ... if not your palate, hehe.)

The Weaver of Grass said...

Seems a bit sad when the culinary highlight was the use of a glass cafetiere!!! As to the camp site - OMG is the only response I can think of. The size of the sleeping accommodation is pretty OMG too but glad you both enjoyed it.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Ruth, for your comment, and for sounding, well, so Swallows-and-Amazons!

Pat — SAD! That cafetiere was the equivalent to the Holy Grail, I assure you! And I really love sleeping in small spaces, snug in my sleeping bag, with the wind howling outside and the rain beating down. Honest! (Am I weird here? Support me, someone!) Love, Robert

Susan Scheid said...

I have nothing but fond memories of my one trip to the Lake District, even though it rained a good bit. It's the first place I saw wild foxgloves, and the first place, after we trudged our way to the top, that we saw an old girl in a plaid pleated skirt and sensible shoes, striding out like it was a workaday walk. Everything tastes good when you're hungry and in the great outdoors, doesn't it?

pilgrimpace said...

Excellent adventure and account. You've skipped over breakfast. Did you have any?

Goat said...

Many's the time I've been grateful for the gift of a ravenous appetite as I contemplated my food bag and exclaimed, "What was I thinking?!" But good coffee can mitigate a multitude of culinary crimes!

Really enjoyed this. I suspect a few days of soaking weather would take its toll on my enjoyment but the atmosphere in the Lake District when the views open up must be magnificent.

Alice @ camping trailer said...

Wow! I definitely love the place. It is just beautiful and so serene. I definitely want to go camping here.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for visiting our campsite, Susan - I'm wondering if it was the ghost of Dorothy Wordsworth you met that day?

Andy — yes! Muesli, with fresh milk. And cafetiere coffee, of course. Fabulous.

You're absolutely right, Goat, in everything you say. I wouldn't like a week of such downpours either. But when the the views open up, suddenly and unexpectedly, it's a gift from the gods. Good coffee is likewise a divine enjoyment!

Alice @ camping trailer — just go there if and when you can!.Can't promise good weather, though. Welcome to my blog!

Laurel said...

Mmmm, the photos bring back memories of damp nights camping in fields in the Peak District and I feel truly nostalgic for my former life in Leicester, or at least for the weekends.

I still remember the beautiful morning light when I walked through Borrowdale a few years ago, staying not in a damp field but at the YHA, indulging in the luxury of four walls and a bed. The walk, the accoms, and the weather were all superb. . . thanks for reminding me.

The Solitary Walker said...

Nostalgic for your former life in LEICESTER? Are you kidding? :-)

Borrowdale is truly one of the most beautiful of Lakeland valleys.