20080618-21 Lake District 4-Day Walking Break

20080618-21 Lake District – 4 Day Walking Break
When : 18 to 21 June 2008
Who : Just me
Where : Lake District – England

  • Mellbreak from Buttermere Village via Buttermere Dubs & Scale Force.

  • Buttermere circular including Fleetwith Pike, Haystacks and Scarth Gap.

 

  • Great Gable from Honister Hause, via Grey Knotts, Brandreth and Green Gable.

  • Castle Crag Circular from Longthwaite, including Seatoller, Allerdale Ramble, Jaws of Borrowdale, Low and High Hows Woods and River Derwent.

This page gives an introduction to a short break in what I think is probably my favourite place to walk in England. I have spent many superb trips in Lakeland in the past, starting in the late 1970’s with three back-to-back holidays with my Mum, Dad and two sisters staying in self catering cottages at Troutbeck Bridge, mid-way between Windermere and Ambleside. Those three holidays whetted my appetite for more and I’ve revisited many times since to walk the fantastic fells and mountains in this beautiful part of the country. I’m afraid my stumbling prosaic English maybe can’t do justice to this small corner of England … but if you want more poetic writings I feel you should search out Wordsworth, Coleridge, and other eminent literary persons.

In my visits over the years, I’ve walked on my own, with family and friends, etc. In some respects I feel I know the roads around the lakes better than the countryside around Coventry and Warwickshire, where I’ve always lived … I just feel at home as soon as I turn off the M6 towards Kendal or Keswick. Having said that, since the mid 1990’s I haven’t actually visited very often, as, getting a mortgage, gaining a wife, having children, family illnesses, etc., entail diverting time, energies and moneys in different directions. Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change any of the above for anything (well maybe the mortgage and illnesses I could do without), it’s just an observation of how things change as responsibilities increase. The things you can do when you’re single, with spare time and cash is, in some ways, a different world to the one I live in now. Anyway, my lovely wife had finally persuaded me that I ought to take a break from our normal family life and spend a few days on a short walking break and so allow me to rediscover the Lakeland fells I love.

After much planning, in a very short space of time, I’d booked and paid for three nights accommodation; one night at Buttermere Youth Hostel (on the outskirts of Buttermere Village) with the following two nights at Black Sail Hut Youth Hostel (a superb setting high up in Ennerdale). I’d spent hours reading maps, referring to Bob Allen’s Guide books and sorting out routes to suit where and when accommodation was available. I’d settled on a handful of alternative routes for the 4 days away (Wed through Sat). I’d then settled back, content everything was all hunky-dory.

Wrong !!! … It all started to go askew on the Monday evening, just two nights before I was due to travel :-

YHA central office rang to say my two nights at Black Sail Hut had to be cancelled. I could either have all my money back or they’d try to find alternative accommodation for me … “Oh dear” I thought (a polite expression I can print here … I’ll leave it to your imagination to substitute a more, errmm, earthy phrase to describe my initial thoughts). With all my best laid plans evaporating into the ether, I dashed around with ‘phone tucked under my chin, finding my original accommodation notes, routes, etc. I’ll give the gent’ at YHA-Matlock his due, he was patient and helpful as I came up with potential new overnights, thinking on my feet, about possible new routes etc. Many of the Hostels that had been available just a few days earlier were now fully booked, leaving a paucity of sites still able to accommodate me.

Upon asking, I was informed that the reason behind the temporary closure of Black Sail Hut was because they’d had no rain for 8-weeks and their spring and only supply of fresh water had dried up. Apart from 2008 generally being a particularly poor year weather-wise, this was all the more amazing (unbelievable even) as Black Sail is only about 3 miles or so away from Styhead, officially the wettest place in England, just the other side of Windy Gap. Anyway it ended with the three nights being amended to read :

  • Wed. night … Buttermere Youth hostel.
  • Thurs. night … Honister Hause Youth Hostel.
  • Fri night … Borrowdale Youth Hostel (formerly know as Longthwaite Y.H. for any traditionalist hostellers out there).

To compound the perceived injustice of the accommodation changes, the forecast for my four days was somewhat iffy to say the least, with significant rain on the way! Just my luck! Anyway, I resolved to make the best of things, and I resorted to a flexible approach regarding daily routes. By being flexible I mean I was just going to decide on that days walking “at the last minute” effectively just “playing it by ear” regarding weather conditions, etc.

I was quite happy with this, however, my wife was a little nervous about me being in potentially wild country with no-one knowing where I was or what I intended to do, so we developed a little plan as a bit of a safety net.

  • I was to leave a brief route description, car details and next destination, at the Hostel I was about to leave (many Youth Hostels have a book or similar system specifically for doing this).
  • I was to ‘phone home after finishing the days walking, by 9pm latest.
  • If I didn’t ‘phone home, my wife could :-
    a) ring the destination Hostel to see if I’d checked in … b) ring the Hostel I’d left that morning; check my planned route & whether my car was gone … c) have a bit of a panic before deciding what to do next … d) in the worst case scenario, call 999 and ask for mountain rescue to mobilise and go find me.

Some might say this was a little over-kill and could detract from the enjoyment of what to do during the day, but all things considered we thought it prudent to put this minimal safety procedure in place. In hindsight, it worked … I always rang home before 9pm and happily all the subsequent stages of the plan were not then needed and were never put to the test.

All that remained was to pack my rucksack and some spare clothes; sort out lunch packs and get on the road (M6) North. I was genuinely quite excited as I pulled away on the Wednesday morning.

Anyway, preamble over, the more interesting stuff will follow on separate pages (ie. the walks themselves).

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….
End

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