I went for a wander in the Lakes last Friday with my pal Simon from Church Green Studios. This was our first trip together and his first wild camp – I seem to be getting in the habit of breaking people’s proverbial wild camp cherry these days. The plan was to head to Grasmere and then up to High Raise before pitching up at Codale Tarn and returning to civilisation in the morning.
We had five Wainwrights in our sights – Silver How, Blea Rigg, Sergeant Man, High Raise and Tarn Crag.
It was lunch time before we started walking and the temperature was right around 15 degrees celsius with bright sunshine just being broken up by the odd wandering cloud. The lower slopes of Silver How, just west of Grasmere, were lush and green with grassy slopes punctuated by juniper and bracken. We passed a couple of older walkers and briefly exchanged pleasantries and route plans as they stopped for a breather. Ploughing on towards the top we spotted quite a few people out enjoying the sunshine.
We got a little waylaid amongst the undulations of Silver How’s top but after five minutes or so we managed to find the path again and make haste towards Blea Rigg. The climb was a bit rocky but proved simple enough. It was around 1pm by now so we grabbed a rock and sat down for a spot of dinner just as a handful of RAF fighter planes zipped down the valley following the A591. No doubt they were looking for my lost Leki poles. The views out over Helm Crag, Gibson Knotts, Grasmere and towards Fairfield were spectacular.
The Langdale Pikes came into view before long so we wandered south a bit to get a decent look at Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle and Stickle Tarn. The ground over here was getting boggier, something I learned was fairly normal for this part of the Lakes when chatting to a few guys the next day. I was going include some of these hills on this route but thought it best to save them for a walk of their own in the future.
Our third Wainwright, Sergeant Man, was next up and proved to be the steepest uphill section of the day. By this point we were feeling the heat and Simon described the climb as “like walking up the stairs all day”, I had to agree as we trudged up towards the rocky dome of the hill. Every so often a different brightly coloured figure would adorn the summit and disappear out of view in some kind of mountain whack-a-mole esque display.
We took a quick break to recharge and enjoy the sun before bagging the summit. My Craghoppers Kiwi shirt was wringing by this point and once again I regretted putting it on, but the Rab MeCo base layer I was wearing leaves little to the imagination so I thought it best to keep the shirt firmly on my shoulders, for now.
Clearly happy with the day’s Wainrights so far, Simon was beaming from ear to ear. The wind was picking up a bit on the exposed plateau so I stuck my Houdini on and Simon donned his MeCo top. Luckily the air was still warm enough and the rain that was forecast for the early afternoon never manifested. On our way across the peat bogs to the trig point at High Raise we ran into a shorts-wearning American chap asking the way to Sergeant Main. I didn’t have the heart to correct him as the clearly looked a little fed up but I was confident he was on the right track and pointed him towards the top of the Man so he could make a brief headline appearance to walkers below.High Raise is often touted as the central fell of the Lake District; the hub of the wheel as it were. The panorama was incredible. Looking West I caught a glimpse of one of the targets of my next walk, Great Gable. After reading Roland Turnbull’s The Riddle of Sphinx Rock I’m really looking forward to finally climbing it in a week or so with Michael and Sean. Other than the views, however, the summit of High Raise was a pretty underwhelming affair so we didn’t hang about for too long and started towards the night’s camp at Codale Tarn.
As we’re both men of good taste we pitched a pair of Tarptent Scarp 1 tents in unison on damp ground. You can probably see in the picture below that we were on a slight angle but it wasn’t anything too extreme – only minor midnight slippage occurred. A smattering of clouds rolled in on the gentle breeze and I settled down for a quick nap before tea, much to Simon’s delight as my snoring prevented even a minute of shut-eye on his part. 45 minutes later I got unpacked and started thinking about food.
Soup to start, meatballs and rice for main and a coffee and Double Decker for dessert. Job was a good ‘un. A couple of weeks prior to this trip we’d placed an order with Look What We Found and took advantage of their 40% off deal. I’ve enjoyed the stuff of theirs that I’ve tried in the past and the Tees Valley Meatballs were no different. Being low in calories, I bulked the balls up with a packet of quick cook rice from the pound shop and heated it up over my meths burner.
After tea we shared a couple of cans of rum and coke and rambled on about pets with varying degrees of hilarious names. Chisel the dog was a personal favourite of mine. Crawling into the sleeping bag at about 9pm I listened to Public Service Broadcasting‘s new album Inform Educate Entertain and waited for the impending rain which blew in around 10pm and lasted well into the next day.
Saturday morning arrived and the rain was firmly in residence. Cloud had dropped into the valley and the ground was sodden. Wisely we stayed in our shelters for as long as we could, firing up some coffee and porridge to ease the raising of the dead. Between the morning and evening we both filtered a good four litres of water with our new Sawyer Squeeze filters – they worked a treat and the flow rate was impressive for something so reasonably priced and compact. This will get a bit more stick on my next few camps for definite; I’ll make sure to post a full review after I’ve had time to test it properly.
It was after 8.30am when we left camp and pointed our compasses towards Tarn Crag. It was an easy climb out of the corrie but full waterproofs had us working up a sweat in short order and the incessant downpour kept my camera firmly in its dry bag. We followed the course of Sour Milk Gill down into Grasmere. Five Wainwrights in the bag we were pleased with our efforts and pretty much soaked through, but with the premiere of The Caingorms in Winter with Chris Townsend to look forward to that evening we grabbed a bite to eat and made our way north to Keswick.