Friday 7 September 2018

A Buttermere Backpack

Yup. They are orange. But at least he didn't wear the lime green pair

“Please let me come with you, David, oh please, go on let me.”

“No Geoffrey, and you know why.”

“But I like dressing up as a smurf, and that costume keeps my ears warm.”

“I said no, Geoffrey. You really showed me up when you wore it last time.  Those real backpackers were laughing at us when we had lunch on Thornthwaite Crag.  I have my reputation as a top fellsman to think of.  It took me almost 50 years of walking in the Lakes to earn that. It was destroyed in the course of one quick trail mix break.”

“Oh pretty please.  I promise I’ll dress soberly this time.  Oh go on.”

I gave in. There has to be some kindness amongst all the horridness in this modern world.  And did I make a single comment when he turned up wearing his orange Rab trousers?  I did not. My true nature shone through, as it always does. Sainthood cannot be many more years away.

Route for Day 1

The weather forecast was promising. The sun came out as we parked up in Buttermere and headed off along Crummock Water. A nice gentle start.  Forty-seven years of walking in the Lakes and I had never been along the delightful path along the western side of Crummock Water.  Picturesque, and with an added bonus, as the Kirkstile Inn is just beyond the end of the lake. We arrived at lunchtime, with half the day's distance but hardly any of the climbing done, and so we stuck to a single, non-alcoholic drink (and not even a single alcoholic one, in case you think I was being clever in the use of language there).

Looking back to Fleetwith Pike from Crummock Water
The path along Crummock Water
Happy Chappy at the Kirkstile Inn
After some loin girding on leaving the pub it was up through Holme Wood and along the beautifully engineered terrace path high above Loweswater, followed by a steep pull up the lower grassy slopes of Burnbank Fell and on and over Blake Fell and then down to hunt out a dry spot to camp in the col before Gavel Fell.

Loweswater and Holme Wood, with Grassmoor in the distance
On Burnbank Fell
I'm just starting to get that weary feeling in this picture
We were pitched by 4.30pm.  Geoff was soon in his chair and brewing up.  I have never seen anyone look as comfortable and relaxed when wild camping as Geoff is on a warm sunny evening.  For once I had decided not to have a freeze dried meal for my dinner but to cook properly – well as much as one can on a meths stove with one pot and no plate.  The less said about the meatball and baby wipes incident the better.  Suffice to say I have now washed all the affected clothing.

Geoff in his element

Just before sunrise on our second day

Temperature inversion over Crummock Water

The second day was tough.  It was only 13km and 828 metres of ascent but some of the climbs were fierce and the descents even worse.  It was also much hotter than we had anticipated, with brilliant sunshine for most of the day and little opportunity to top up our water bottles.  When I got home I checked my old logs and found that the last time I had walked the Red Pike – High Stile - High Crag – Seat ridge was in 2011.  Seven years has taken its toll on my fitness and ability, but it is absurd to complain.  It remains a superb walk with the most fabulous mountain scenery in all directions.
Fleetwith Pike from near High Crag
Grey Crag looked superb.  Had I really hauled a heavy rucksack of climbing gear up to it from the valley floor one hot day in 1996 for several hours of climbing on its traditional rock routes?  I had.  No way could I ever do that these days.  The descent of Gamlin End was as horrid as I remembered, but at least I knew it would be bad, so had reconciled myself in advance to a few minutes of purgatory.  But beyond Seat and Scarth Pass the going down to Ennerdale was fine, and the brew at the Black Sail Hut even better.  After this Geoff picked out a splendid camp spot a little higher up the valley for another evening of sunshine.

Glorious pitch in Upper Ennerdale, with Great Gable and Windy Gap on the skyline

From my early morning walk with Mr Trowel


The Black Sail Hut

Warnscale Bottom and surrounding Fells

The head of beautiful Buttermere

Rain had been forecast for our final day but our luck held.  There were a couple of showers in the night but none as we made our way up to Scarth Gap and then down to the lovely Buttermere shoreline.  It was an easy finish to a superb three days with excellent company. Thanks as ever, Geoff.  And you know that the insults are because I am really secretly jealous of your sartorial elegance in the hills. 😄
Route Days 2 and 3 - with various bits missing as I struggled with the screen shot