A Fresh Escape

Ever since the start of last week the forecast for the weekend had been promising. It seemed as if a brief glimpse of summer would be heading to the Lake District once again. After far too many long weeks cooped up indoors by rain and low cloud, I was itching to grab the tent and tripod for another sojourn in the hills…

Friday

As we got closer to the weekend the forecast deteriorated slightly, but no amazing landscape shots were ever borne from clear blank blue skies, and I was heading out whatever before I went nuts. I still hadn’t quite decided where I was going, but hey, have tent will camp. Anywhere. So it didn’t matter too much.

As often there was an east/west split with the Lake District forecast, with the west looking the clearer.  The smallest excuse is needed for me to head to the Wasdale area  so I aimed in that general direction, with the thought of squeezing in the Mosedale Round at some point. It’s probably my favourite circular walk in the Lake District, and one with the most ruggedly mountainous views, and a while since I’d done it. The route leads from Wasdale Head along the Mosedale Valley (although you can throw in Kirk Fell as well if you particularly want to head straight up the nose – you’ll probably regret it later), then heads up the top of Black Sail Pass before ascending Pillar, Scoat Fell, Red Pike and Yewbarrow.

I’d earmarked bulk of the walking for Saturday, so headed off on Friday afternoon with a shortish walk in mind just to place me within shouting distance of the Mosedale Round. I decided to aim for Black Sail Pass as a possible campsite.

I knew my legs were going to be heavy having not been out with the full camping and camera gear for 7 weeks, so decided to cheat on the altitude gaining by getting off the bus at the top of Honister Pass, heading up over Grey Knotts and Brandreth, then along Moses Trod and either over or around Kirk Fell to Black Sail.

Skies ended up being relentlessly grey on friday, but I wasn’t too bothered as I knew it was due to improve as the weekend wore on. I think I lulled myself into a false sense of security with the climbing. Even getting off at the top of Honister there is still a steepish haul up to the top of Grey Knotts and it was longer than I remembered.

Grey Knotts

Not feeling particularly photographically inspired by the leaden grey skies when I could have had some nice early evening light, I forced a couple of snaps for blogging purposes.

Despite all the recent rain, the fairly flat terrain between between Grey Knotts and Brandreth wasn’t too boggy, and I had my first views of some of the higher Lake District fells for some weeks. I could feel my lethargy blowing away in the not inconsiderable breeze already.

Along here the view opens up to the north west, giving glimpses of Buttermere and Ennerdale, and the similarly shaped ridges of Pillar and the High Stile Range. There was a thin line of brightness out to sea, but the mountains were a sullen flat grey and I didn’t hold out much hope of any late evening light to bring their ridges and textures to life.

View From Grey Knotts

Making the short descent from Brandreth down to the path of Moses Trod, which skirts below Green Gable and the rocky face of Great Gable’s Gable Crag, I made the snap decision to pitch somewhere along here. The wind was getting up, and if it did get really strong, Black Sail Pass is quite exposed. More importantly, I love the view of Pillar from here, and was mindful that any early morning sunlight would reveal its profile beautifully.

I wandered around for about 15 minutes trying to find somewhere flat enough and sheltered enough, eventually finding somewhere that wasn’t perfect on either count, but would do. And it did have the added soundtrack of a little stream babbling away nearby. I love the sound of water to drift off to sleep to; whether it’s the sea, a stream or a crashing waterfall I find them all comforting in some way. Not that I ever have many problems snoozing away when cosied up in my sleeping bag.

I’d made a big tub of courgette, chilli and tomato pasta to take with me, knowing that it would last a couple of days and would be great for energy. Once the tent was up (about 2 minutes) I had a wander around whilst stuffing my face (I don’t like sitting still, you may have gathered) and wished I hadn’t bothered.

I came across a young sheep which was twitching away in what were fairly obviously the last throes of death. There was nothing I could do for it but it did kind of put me off my dinner for a couple of minutes. There were no signs of attack, so even with it being friday the 13th, I calculated that the chances of it having been killed by zombies, becoming reanimated during the night, and me succumbing in my sleep to a ravenous sheep corpse were fairly slim. So I left it to it’s pitiful end and wandered back to the tent.

Under darkening skies, with not even a slim sign of anything approaching a sunset, I crawled into the sleeping bag and drifted off to an early sleep, with the alarm set for 4am to check for early signs of some raking morning sunlight.

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