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?


  1. Obviously I should point out only 1 side of my Notch was held up by a temporary pole to air it, as unlike some tardy buggers, I was heading up Pike O Blisco with poles (sans pack with Emma), having already been over it with full pack from the other side, whilst yet again a tardy bunch wandered up the road refusing to Man/Woman up and so the proper 'kin 'ard stuff.
    Just sayin' !!!

    1. Hi Andy, of course you can pitch your Notch properly. But whilst your Notch was up with the temporary pole and you were up Pike O'Blisco I did feel the need to call out to all passing walkers that the tent was not mine but belonged to a very very mad and bad man.

  2. Indeed a great time WAS had by all. A triumph, Sir, and as a reward you are excused all Daunder related duties until ... oooh ... 2020?

    1. Let's just get May over first shall we Phil. And I think Croydon should choose who plans next year's event. That will get me out of it.

  3. Having not placed a single step 'outside' going for a proper walk since entering the portals of the Park Hotel last May, I approached this PWD with considerable trepidation. I am no longer the Bronzed Greek God of my youth (That's enough of that, that you very much) and the knees are not what they used to be.

    However, your excellent route allowed for some minor improvements to take in the occasional chair, log fire, food and ale, which took care of the knees admirably.

    A triumph of planning, David, and ex cellent company.

    I'm in full agreement with Phil on this - take a well earned break, and gird your loins for a similar Herculean effort organising the next one in 2020.

    1. Alan, for somebody who hadn't stepped 'outside' for 11 months you managed to both look and actually be much fitter than me. Which 'boils my piss' as they say.

  4. Lots of standing around, sitting down, lying down, talking, snoozing, yes, would be a complete challenge daunder if there was a beer in that second photo. Love the Jaffa jacket btw, so you.

    1. Alan

      Jaffa? That jacket is 'pumpkin' coloured you pleb! I predict everyone will be wearing one by July.

  5. Pumpkin! Isn’t that just a big headed orange. Pleb, yep like that description. I predict I won’t be wearing one. I believe midges and ticks like the colours orange and yellow. Just saying like.