A Lake District Wildcamp (2008)

Here’s a trip report from back in February 2008.

This was a trip born and planned on the internet (outdoorsmagic) between 20 or so like-minded people who had been chatting for some time but never actually met up. The destination of the Lake District was chosen as a reasonable “midway” point for people coming from a variety of locations on the UK. The drive up was long and tedious for about 200miles and suddenly the M6 began to meander through rural Lancashire and Cumbria giving rise to stunning views and mouthwatering distant mountains. Although it was a long drive, I enjoyed that last couple of hours as my destination drew closer. The final few miles found me winding my way alongside the huge expanse that is Wast Water and the first glimpses of real mountains began to hove into view. I passed Buckbarrow and Yewbarrow before finally arriving at Wasdale Head. It was here that I met up with two of my weekend camping fellows and the unusual process of meeting for the first time (we had known each other only by correspondence up until that point)

The road to Wasdale - Buckbarrow

The road to Wasdale - Buckbarrow

I am not sure how we got to the final choice of the 1st night’s wildcamp spot but we ended up heading for the top of Kirk Fell. Being February there was a real need to get up Kirk Fell and pitch our tents before 4pm. Myself along with Ed and Shamus made our way up from Wasdale Head doing a spot of impromptu scrambling along the way to find ourselves on the flat grassy top of Kirk Fell in reasonable time to pitch our tents. When we got there we found another 6 of our number already there. Greetings were offered all round, views taken in and admiring looks cast over each other’s kit and tents. Whilst the sun was going down on a beautiful day and the temperature was already beginning to head towards zero as dusk arrived. Through the next few hours we had a regular procession of new arrivals. Our numbers swelled and the night got very dark and very cold. We ate food and then ate again, mainly to keep warm and then shared a few drops of whisky, vodka and various other comradely drinks. The evening wore on and still we chatted whilst we chattered, amazingly more people turned up until at around 2am we had around 20 or so people. By this time it was a very chill -7deg Celcius and by mutual consent we headed for the comfort of down encased in silnylon.

The morning started cold, frosty and bright, the sun slowly filling the eastern sky and exploding out over the opposite mountain ridge towards Broad Crag

Morning sun

Morning sun

With the morning came the stirrings from within the assortment of brightly coloured tents. I had never seen so many different coloured tents in one place ever before and to consider that we were supposedly wild camping covertly…… 6 red, 3 blue, 1 cream, 3 green and 1 yellow tent! Even with the morning sunlight, the temperature was still very chill and so people were keen to get up and active to get warmth back into their limbs. After a variety of breakfasts were consumed, the plan for the day was proposed as a leisurely walk (scramble!) across the face of Great Gable and on to Styhead Tarn before making our way up to Scafell Pike and then back down to settle for the evening on Lingmell Col

Campers Arise!

Campers Arise!

After settling on a route, we set off mid-morning for a stroll along the face of Great Gable. Needless to say I found it a little bit hairy and the fact that I was carrying a full weekends worth of winter stuff in my pack made it a little more “interesting”. The scree was a challenge to the feet and I was constantly holding one hand out to my left to steady myself. It wasnt just me and more than one or two of my companions appeared to be walking along a tightrope at times. The traverse of Great Gable was on the limits of my comfort zone and I have to say I was a little relieved when we got to the end and dropped down slightly to stop for lunch by Styhead Tarn!

Lunch by Styhead Tarn

Lunch by Styhead Tarn

After this brief stop, we split the group slightly with one lot going for the Corridor Route to Scafell Pike whereas the more adventurous mob took the route via Great End and Broad Crag. I was of course amongst the former group and so we spent the afternoon winding our way up the Corridor Route and enjoying the splendid views. As we made our way up the last bit of the route to Scafell Pike, the path became a jumble of rocks and the last vestiges of winter snow could still be now be seen. At the top, there was the usual bevy of people although not as many as you would expect on such a glorious, albeit frigid, day. The views all around from the summit were spectacular in the cold sunshine and the group then posed for the obligatory photo on top of Scafell Pike.

On top of Scafell Pike

On top of Scafell Pike

After this, we made our way back down and pushed a little further on to Lingmell Col where we were to make our campspot for the night. The forecast was again for clear skies so we knew it was going to be cold once more. We got our tents up and made ready to cook an early evening meal to warm up.

Wildcamp on Lingmell Col

Wildcamp on Lingmell Col

The light faded quickly as later afternoon became early evening and various down jackets were once more donned to stave of the increasing chill. The last rays of sun picked out the peaks surrounding us including our wildcamp spot on Kirk Fell from the previous night

evening sun looking toward Kirk Fell

evening sun looking toward Kirk Fell

As the night fell, we found that the temperature plunged quickly down to around -7Deg C again and we were forced to cook and eat a second time as well as partake in various whisky sampling just to keep warm….. Bedtime came much earlier this time with most heading off to the relative warmth of their tents around midnight. The strange thing about the nights we experienced on that trip was that there was absolutely no wind and not a cloud at any time day or night.

In the morning, the inevitable splintering of the group began shortly after breakfast. It was another glorious morning with wall to wall sunshine and blue skies which at least meant that packing up could be leisurely and the walk back down to Wasdale Head very pleasurable. After a short steep yomp, I found myself back at the car park of Wasdale Head with Shamus and Ed once more as my companions. And that was that. The end of a great weekend meeting in the lakes .

Or was it? Of course, it didnt quite end there as we did stop off Ambleside on the way back home to have a very nice lunch and a mooch around the myriad of gear shops on show. Well, we just had to didnt  we………………

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About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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10 Responses to A Lake District Wildcamp (2008)

  1. backpackingbongos says:

    Looked like a great weekend. Sometimes you just get amazing weather in the winter, you can’t beat a cold crisp nights camping. A couple of cracking wild camping spots there!

  2. backpackbrewer says:

    oh it was a really really good weekend. I much prefered it to say a summers camp because of the lack of insects and we didnt overheat whilst walking plus the views were crystal clear! The wildcamp spots were awesome and yet not too far from Wasdale Head either. I want to go again!

  3. blogpackinglight says:

    Looked like a good little trip.

    Any news on the new Scarp 1? I emailed Henry but not had a reply.

  4. backpackbrewer says:

    It was a great trip thanks Robin.

    re the Scarp, no news from Henry as yet but then I think a 6 week turnaround on a new design may have been a bit optimistic. I am not even sure he had decided upon/finalised the design for version 2 when he was talking about it. Hopefully some more news soon…..!

  5. Martin Rye says:

    Good weather indeed. Good stuff to catch up with old friends and the Lakes as well. Hard to beat that.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      top notch it was and ever since then I have been on regular trips with most of the same people. Long may they continue!

  6. Marcus says:

    Nice little trip and stunning sunrise photo too. I’ve spent a cold night on Lingmel Col and it was just stunning. Never considered kirk fell in winter but looks worth a shot.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Kirk Fell is a relatively easy ascent from Wasdale Head for a wildcamp that feels completely removed from everything. Its the kind of place you can reach if arriving at Wasdale Head late as the walk in is relatively short. And Great Gable emerging from the gloom to be illuminated by morning sun is a sight to behold

  7. Nigel Gray says:

    Hi Dave, funny but I posted last night and yet it didnt appear? Anyway sounded like a great trip and the photos do it justice – I prefer the spring to autumn as you know – particularly those crisp, bright days such as you had, though not sure it qualifies as a ‘wild’ camp when there were so many tents there!!!:)

    • backpackbrewer says:

      This is true Nigel. It was in fact quite a civilised wildcamp but great fun and great company. I hope to do it again sometime soon

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