01 January 2009

Seeing the New Year in...

at 624m.

On Tuesday I took delivery of a Vango Spectre 200 tent, which I managed to snap up in The Climber's Shop online Boxing Day sales, so I felt duty bound on Wednesday, New Years Eve, to go and try it out. Not happy with just camping in my back yard in Carlisle or on a purpose built campsite I decided that a wild camp in some remote corner of the Lake District would be more fitting a test for such a fine piece of camping apparatus. Out came the OS Maps, and I turned to my collection of Wainwright books, a Christmas present, in order to find a route, which would encompass many of the fells that he had walked and written about.

With the route decided and everything packed we were on the road relatively early, and clad in boots making the steep ascent up the side of the Seathwaite Slabs no later than 10:30am. Up to this point the walk looked set to be on the depressing side as there was a thick blanket of cloud covering the fells, dimming our visability, however, as we carried on our ascent, now on the flanks of Base Brown, we suddenly appeared above the clouds and were greeted with spectacular views of the outlying fells, poking out from the low level valley cloud.

On the flanks of Base Brown with Grey Knotts, on the left, rising out of the cloud.

On we trod to the col of Base Brown and Brandreth. Then to Green Gable, where we had a quick rest and plotted out the rest of the route for the day before marching onwards to our next summit, Brandreth.

Panorama from Green Gable, looking down a cloud filled Borrowdale Valley.

'Remember to shut the gate!' On the ascent of Brandreth from Green Gable.

From Brandreth we stopped again, this time for a bite to eat, and once again plotted out the rest of the day's route before turning westwards and following the rusty, iron fence posts down to Great Round How where we could bear off to Blackbeck Tarn so that we could start our ascent of Hay Stacks.

Looking out from Innominate Tarn on Hay Stacks to Kirk Fell and Great Gable.

We reached the 597m high summit of Hay Stacks sometime around 2pm and we still had to find and make the descent down to the Ennerdale valley before climbing up high to reach the next two summits and the spot we had decided would be suitable for wild camping. It didn't look like it could all be done in the two-and-a-bit hours of light we had left, but we plodded on regardless.

We found the route through the scree slopes of Hay Stacks, which took us down to the col at 450m between High Crag and Hay Stacks, and then the well made path lead us down a further 150m to the track that would take us up the Ennerdale Valley, past the Black Sail Hut, to start our ascent on Kirk Fell.

A falling sun as we ascended Kirkfell Crags to the summit of Kirk Fell.

Once stood at 802m on the summit of Kirk Fell, we still had a descent, an ascent, and a further descent and ascent to go before even contemplating pitching the tent. It didn't look possible so we changed our plans, made one final descent to the 624m high col between Kirk Fell and Great Gable, and pitched the tent besides Beckhead Tarn, with the view of reaching the summit of Great Gable early New Years Day.

Looking south from Blackhead Tarn down to Wast Water.

We had a pleasant night in the tent, and even though everyone we had talked to during the walk on New Years Eve seemed a bit sceptical about sleeping out under canvas, metaphorically speaking, at no point did either of us feel cold tucked up in or respective sleeping bags. However, when we woke early New Years Day the temperatures outside did make me slightly reluctant to leave the micro-climate of my sleeping bag, which I had spent so long manufacturing that night. We were on foot again by 9am though and managed to reach the summit of Great Gable just before 10am.

A panoramic view north from Great Gable.

Looking across the Fell and Rock Climbing Club memorial to Kirk Fell and beyond.

From here it was all down hill to Styhead Tarn. The route we had mapped out back in Carlisle took us back up onto the Seathwaite Fells, where we were planning on camping at Sprinkling Tarn, before walking back down Ruddy Gill to Grains Gill and the awaiting van at Seathwaite. However, we once again changed our plans and headed north from Styhead Tarn, in order to miss out another ascent and descent, down Styhead Gill, around the base of the Seathwaite Fells in order to cross Grains Gill at Stockley Bridge. It was just a gentle stroll now, back along the well made track to Seathwaite.

More pictures of the two days can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So now, one year later, how do you like the spectre 200?

ps, Why did you get the blue version, when they have the Vango-green one?