Photo Trip Report: Blencathra

Location: Blencathra, Lake District

Date: 2 October 2012

Weather: Regular, heavy showers. Occasional hail. High winds at night.

Company: Michael

Distance: 10ish miles

Highest point: 868m (2,848ft)

Kit roundup: Here

After a few changes of plan due to an ever changing forecast we decided to go back to the original destination, Blencathra. This great lump of a hill has many routes to the summit and was loved by Wainwright who rated the routes of ascent as follows; Sharp Edge, Hall’s Fell, Doddick Fell, Scales Fell – we finally decided on Doddick Fell as the weather and our relative inexperience in scrambling could have made either of the first two options a little precarious.

I took this opportunity to give my new Panasonic Lumix GF2 its first outdoor test, everything here is taken using a 14mm f2.5 prime lens. Here’s our day in photos.

The waterproofs and pack covers were on from the word go

View towards Thirlmere, with clouds rolling in

mqhiker giving the Travel Tap its first test.

There were a few stream crossings as we headed east towards Doddick Fell

Man and sheep keep one eye on the summit

My new Berghaus Deluge pants spared my Terras from the mud soup on lower ground

On Doddick Fell, the path was good and the going was steady

The views from up here were great, but the weather was inconsistent. Thank god for breathable waterproof fabrics and venting!

Not far from the top. Looking down on Scales Tarn with Sharp Edge in the background

Beautiful view…

…followed by some hail and high wind. Great.

Scouting out a location for a wild camp on Blease Fell, looking towards Keswick

I’m sure mqhiker won’t mind me using his photo of our pitch. Vango Tempest 300 on a slope

Chicken Fajitas at night…

…and bacon sarnies in the morning

We headed down to lower climes after a night of being battered by (but surviving) big winds and heavy rain

After a more relaxing day in and around Keswick we pitched up at Thirlspot Campsite and enjoyed a few pints before calling time on the trip.

So there it is. I enjoyed this trip for a few reasons; firstly I got to give my waterproof gear a test in less than ideal conditions and it performed well and kept me dry and warm. Secondly, it was nice to have a wild camp that was truly wild in terms of location, pitch and weather. I think both me and mqhiker have learned a lot from this outing and will hopefully go into the next wild camp well equipped to deal with inclement weather and limited pitching options. Oh, and we ticked another big hill off the Trail 100 list!

Gear wise I’d say everything I took along was up to the challenge. I probably brought a few too many clothes for this trip but that is something that is easy to remedy next time – just take less. My camp kitchen continues to bring a smile to my face. With the addition of the non-stick frying pan from my Mini Trangia it is a versatile little setup and managed to cook a full-on fajita dinner on a damp, cold hill side. Plus, who doesn’t love the smell of meths and smoky bacon in the morning? I slept in my new North Face Gold Kazoo for the first time too. The performance and comfort is very similar to my Nanok Endurance -10, but with a weight saving of over 1,400g and a much smaller pack size. Bonus.

The new camera was really impressive and I’m sure it will continue to surprise me as I learn how to use all of its capabilities – hopefully the pictures in this post are a bit of a step up from the mobile phone shots from previous posts and can give people a more realistic sense of where we were and what we did.

Lastly I want to give mqhiker’s Vango Tempest 300 a bit of a shout out. For a £90 tent I wasn’t expecting top performance in the high winds that were forecast, but it surprised me. I slept reasonably well all night and we didn’t end up flying half way down the hill into a pile of sheep droppings. Top marks to Vango. For a more in depth trip report have a look at mqhiker’s latest post.

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