Monday, 15 April 2019

Rambling about the Lake District, with a couple of wild camps thrown in

Slater's Bridge, Little Langdale: A Delight

The Pre-Walk Daunder (PWD) took place this week.

For those not in the know this is the world’s premier backpacking event, which takes place each year a few weeks before the world’s second best backpacking event, the cross-Scotland TGO Challenge. The PWD was the brain child of two shadowy figures of the backpacking world, Lord Elpus and Alan Sloman, the latter also being known as ‘The Stringpuller’ by those whose strings have been pulled. These two worked tirelessly to ensure that this year’s event was a success. The Stringpuller telephoned me and asked me to help Lord Elpus organise everything. I telephoned Lord Elpus who gave me the dates and suggested we walk for three days from Torver in the Lake District. He then stated that as I knew the Lakes better than he, I could be trusted to come up with a route, organise any camp site bookings, sort out car parking, reserve a table for dinner at a suitable pub on our first night, produce gpx files and e-mail the participants with details. “I’ll do everything else, though”, he assured me, “and Al and I will tell you who to invite. We don’t want any of your riff-raff mates”. Well that’s rich given that Mad ‘n’ Bad and Croydon Mick were on his list.

Baysbrown Camp Site, Langdale: The Pre-Walk Daunderers assemble 

Mick, Mad 'n' Bad and Emma, High Park Farm, Little Langdale: a simply superb cafe stop

Torver? Nah. A cunning route taking in a mixture of some of Lakeland’s finest mountain scenery together with some hidden gems that demonstrate that solitude can still be found in the heart of the National Park in the school Easter holidays. Thus, on the first day we would set off from Baysbrown camp site at Chapel Stile in Great Langdale, head round to, Little Langdale, and then climb to Red Tarn between Pike O’Blisco and Cold Pike for a wild camp. The following day would see us descend to Mickleden, head up the Stake Pass and Martcrag Moor and take in as many (or few as it turned out) of the Langdale Pikes and nearby fells as we could manage before wild camping above Codale Tarn. After which on the final day we would wind our way along the delightful Blea Rigg ridge before descending back to Chapel Stile.

Our wild camp spot at Red Tarn. Contrast the shoddy way in which Andy's Tarptent Notch (in the background) is pitched compared to the Stratospire 1, an example of Fellbound's fine camp craft

5.50 am, Red Tarn: Chilly. 
Judith -  realising that the Lakes aren't always like Piccadilly Circus
Our pitch above Codale Tarn

And that’s what we did. The weather was perfect for walking. The nights were rather chilly (water bottles part frozen, frosty tents and down jackets required). The scenery was stunning. Only the area around Pike O’Stickle was busy whilst we were walking. We had Red Tarn to ourselves for the first wild camp; we got pitched on a fine spot well above Codale Tarn for the second wild camp, only later to find about ten more tents arrive, fortunately pitching much nearer the tarn. These were some aspiring mountain leaders and their instructors. By coincidence I had last camped at Codale Tarn almost exactly 40 years earlier – on my mountain leadership course with some fellow PGCE students from Durham University.

Al 'Stringpuller' Sloman looking as if he's on a covert spying mission

The company was great.  The conversation erudite and intellectually robust, and as a result of the latter I now know much about Mad ‘n’ Bad’s bowel movements.  The traditional PWD schisms occurred each day.  As a result, a great time was had by all. Or so I am told.


Mick Croydon, the only wild camper I know who generates a black bin bag full of rubbish every single night


Fellbound demonstrating his new sartorial elegance: from the 'Grey Man' to Captain Pumpkin. And yes, a red beanie does clash with an orange jacket. I'm sorting it, alright?

Life Without Twitter



I gave up using Twitter in March. How’s it been?  Great.  Try it!  Even for a short break.  I’m convinced it’s been good for both my mental and physical health.  It has meant not being drawn into pointless or superficial arguments or discussions about politics, and stuff such as whether cats are cleverer than dogs (they aren’t), or whether Showaddywaddy was the classiest band in the history of Rock and Roll (it was).

There are downsides to not being a Twitter user. I do wonder what my Twitter friends are up to – but then I have the mobile numbers of many of them, and I have upped my usage of Whatsapp, e-mail, and pen, ink and postage stamps to contact people and, horror of horrors, have even telephoned some of them for a chat.

However, having de-activated my account  I re-activated it within the 30 day grace period before it disappeared forever. There were two reasons. Firstly, it seems to be the only way into the ‘Social Hiking’ website which I want to use during next month’s TGO Challenge cross Scotland walk; and secondly it seems to be the best way of pointing to my blog when I put up a new post. Otherwise I would be almost entirely reliant on readers of the blog sharing links to it – which isn’t that reliable. Thus, if I want to continue to blog and for people to read my posts I need Twitter.

Reactivating the account means the need for discipline to avoid the temptation to peek at Twitter. So far I have resisted the urge, and the longer I have gone without Twitter the easier this has become.

In short, I stopped actively using Twitter, I didn’t die and I feel better for it.  I’m not on Facebook or Instagram either.  I would encourage others regularly to put down their smartphones, give their eyes a rest from the screen and instead to talk to somebody, or go for a walk, or write to a friend, or read a book.  Try it. You know it makes sense!