Thursday 29 December 2011

Wild Camping on Branstree

You might be aware that I planned a 2 night trip to the lakes over the Xmas week, which in a short story went tits up.  The cold bug hit my mate Andy and that was him out, Dave just couldn't be arsed and then Alex dropped out last minute which caused problems for Chris to get to the lakes as he is without a car since some dick drove into his car while his wife was driving.

So with last minute talks with me and Chris trying in vain to sort out how we could get him up to lakes we cancelled the 2 nights and thought instead of rushing it we would do the 1 night instead.  So plan was for him to public transport it taxi and trains to Kendal and for me to drive down and pick him up.

Easy well for me anyways change of place to camp to make it a bit closer to Kendal and we where set to wild camp on Branstree or any other surrounding fell.  As per usual I slept in and was going to be about half hour late, thankfully roads weren't too bad and well I made it with Chris not hanging about for too long abo9ut 5 mins.

I picked him up and off we went to Haweswater where we would park and walk up Gatesgarth and the a turn left onto Branstree to spy a sweet camp spot with shelter, we needed shelter as the mountain weather forecast from met office had it max gust of 100mph.

Now as we both had our hillebergs this wasn't a problem but we did intend to have a bit of a festive drink and chatter not very good if winds were going to be that strong.

Walking up we spotted a digger, a quick picture and a bit vid of me pretending to break in and off we went 100s of stops to chin wag and catch my breathe still have a touch of cold and it weren't helping me walking up.

we reached the summit of Branstree in pretty good time considering the stops and we decided to spy a sweet sheltered spot for our tents, after what seemed a lengthy time looking around the side we found it not too far from the summit.

Taking note that the wind was coming straight over from High Street we were out of view and we still had a nice view of Haweswater Reservoir, we started to pitch the Allak (my Tent) poles in and the winds started to go mad typical trying to hurry the pegging it down only had 2 in to stop it blowing away a gust cam and took the Allak down with 1 big swoop.

Shocked with a moment of me and Chris looking thinking what the fuck a quick get it down poles out as quick as possible, the wind was calm but every now and again a few gusts would hit sharp and very powerful.

With our sweet spot now needing to be somewhere else a bit discussion on what to do we not here to test our tents to the limits near on a grands worth of tents we wanted to go back home with and not damaged. The big couple of gusts has actually bent the poles slightly, lol it takes me back to my voyager it has slightly bent poles too.  ( I should quite this pitching in hurricane force winds).

We had joked early on when on the summit to pitch behind a wall that runs across the top, it was now not a joke but a plan, yep you can laugh but if them winds hit 100mph am not sure you be walking away with a full tent maybe bits lol, so we walked back up to find a place next to the wall.

Pitched with ease this time winds had been measured at dinner time 50+mph and -9 wind chill it had been a fucking cold walk on the old face with a bit hail after we pitched which was a pleasure to see and hear beating off the tent.  Chris had his Kestrel also and we put them together to see if they would read the same and they did about +/- 1mph.

What I could figure out is our max gust so far was only just over 50+mph yet it had already shoved us about and put Chris face down lucky saved by his gloves, bit wipe down he was fine with a big smile on his face.  Now many will know that I have been in some winds and when you out near on every wild camp you get from Gales to storm force winds you tend to know what to expect, 50mph does not knock you off your feet and it don't push you around as much as we had experienced.

I had read in the instructions that the kestrel takes a couple of seconds to get a reading of the wind now when I got home still puzzled about this wind speed it actually takes 3 seconds so if it hits 100mph it has to keep blowing into the metre for 3 seconds before it will say 100mph.  It comes to me know that when out on this adventure the winds had not been like I've had them before usually I get a constant strong wind and then a gust, what we were experiencing was a sharp whack a stop and then a whack a couple like this and this is why I think I wasn't getting a high reading wind speed was averaging about 20mph and then it would go complete and then a massive gust it was quite mad.

Ok so rant over sort of with the Kestrel it could be better but never mind, back to camp we both jumped in our tents to cook some food phone our loved ones and fling a few tweets out, sitting in my tent for about half an hour I could hear the winds picking up.
Christmas toy Vargo Titainum Wood burner stove

After me dinner/tea Chris jumped into my tent for a dram or 2 a few good laughs and a bit daft laugh on bambuser, Chris dancing to his music.  We both sat in my tent listening to the noise what I can only try and describe as a jet or a train coming towards us, few seconds then back it hit the tent time and time again it was picking up big time.

When the hail stopped I went out to double check on the guy lines a big problem was the ground was soaked off all the melting snow and when I mean soaked you could push a y beam peg in with ya finger.  I'd stuck them in the ground all on massive angles but it had been so strong it had ripped 1 peg out so sticking it back in a different hole as that 1 now was 2 inch hole, I re tensioned all the guy lines and got back in tent for a few more Drams.

The conversation soon turned into about the tent and the winds the noise was terrific when the wind would come it hit the tent so hard I thought it was going to give way, again after a massive noise this time sounding like a wall falling it was the hood on the top of the tent had unhooked because the guy lines had come loose and 1 peg again had come out.

After a while Chris went back to his tent and left me to sit and keep popping out to make sure all was well with pegs and guy lines.  Every time I got out I had something to do re tension or put a peg in I was sick already and we had about another 12 hours to go.

Watching from my tent at the Solou it was moving in the wind flexing but not as much as mine the longer poles the bigger tent but same diameter and same fabric used on both tents it was obvious Chris's 1 man tent was more stiffer thus he wasn't having the problems of things un hookin.

I did have to put a peg in he was using delta pegs for the base of tent and big plastic y beam for guy lines.  So would I have still gone for this tent knowing what I know now??? yes as I wanted a 2 man tent I could have went for the Staika which uses the stronger fabric and the thicker poles so maybe I should have went for that but it is more weight.  If on the other hand I do ever get the need for a 1 man tent i will certainly be having  Solou.

After having tents up for about 6 hours it was time to think this through the winds had been getting worse since we had put tents up, I went over to Chris and asked him the pride swallowing question should we ride this out or bug out before it gets any worse? we couldn't call it and I said give it another half hour see what its like then we will see.

I turned around and another peg was out, my mind was just about made up I got in my tent and sat and switched off the nutter inside and weighed the pros and cons.  If I had to get out of tent every 15 mins all the way till we packed I wouldn't get to sleep that and the noise of the wind smacking the tent from all angles was unreal.  I had a 3 hour drive back home after the walk down and with no sleep, the fun had stopped now, this was what made my mind up once the fun has stopped its time to get off the ride.
I told Chris the winds were picking up still and a quick measure next to tents said it was near 30mph 47mph over the wall so we had protection but it was hard to stand still if at all possible when the gusts came and my Kestrel still was saying same so know true reading to tell me the exact max wind gust but it was by far either the same as Great Mell Fell or higher due to the way the wind was buffeting.

Tweeting on tweeter and getting some people worried and some jumping on the band wagon to gloat.  Given advice to me, its nice to get advice from people who have been in strong winds and camped but until your actually there its hard to say what you would have done.  For me to ride it out like I have in every wild camp I have been on it was time to use my better knowledge and to be in and out of the tent for 12 hours to keep the bugger down and then have to drive in a safe manner for 3 hours am not too sure I would have made it.

So now looking back was it the right decision too fucking right it was I still have my tent Chris still has his and we are able to camp again.  Oh and we got home safe.

So before we packed up and fled the hill like some would say (wimps) shame on you Dave you should know better ;) I got in touch with the other half and find out which hotel was free for us to crash in.  Job done we headed down in the pitch dark with parts of the sky totally clear and the billions of stars on show and then the hail came again hoods up and off we plodded in the sodden path back down, getting blown about hitting each other and falling into the fence.

1 obstacle was a big old water logged bog at the top of Gatesgarth we hopped and jumped and Chris was swallowed up by  a nice deep bit.  Walking down the pass a twinkle of what looked like dogs eyes which must have been a fox it soon went as we got closer.

We hit the car in a good time I think we both had had enough by then and off to a warm Inn the Crown & Mitre very cheap £40 for the night per single room and a bar so it was straight into the bar for a couple of pints before we retreated to our rooms where another boil in the bag was for supper washed down with a bit of Brandy.

We headed out back to kendal for a bacon sarnie and then I took Chris back to the train station where we said our good buys kisses and cuddles and I headed home for a well deserved bath with radox.

Thanks to all who was concerned some I haven't even met but all the same its nice to know.

I notice the fell top bloke didnt get too summit Helvellyn on Wednesday when we camped and then today he didnt get too top either

FELLTOP CONDITIONS REPORT from Swirral Edge (850m) at 1230pm on Thursday 29th December 2011. Once again, strong gusting winds prevented the fell top assessor from reaching the summit of Helvellyn today.  Readings from 850m on Swirral Edge today at 1230pmTemperature: 1.1cWind chill: minus 9.3cMax wind speed: 52.9 mphAverage wind speed: 13.1 mph


  1. Good read mate I was I ullswater yesterday and can vouch for how strong the winds were last time I was out and it was bad I had problems with pegs coming out I put some massive rocks on top of them and they stayed solid

  2. Good read mate , Good decision to come down !!

  3. I packed loads of snow on and they still came out was going to use some rocks but I'd lost the will by then cheers for the comment Mark

    cheers Barney yep it was nice to sit in pub for a couple wish I had went down early on to have more pints lol

  4. Good right up and right decision you can't do much next day if you get no sleep due to noise.nice write up Peter277. Munro277

  5. Good read mate, doesnt matter what anyone was saying that was sat with there feet up in the houses drinking beer commenting

    The only two people who could comment on the situation were the people
    Who was sat in the tents

    Defo the right decision to come down it was getting wild out there!!

    Like I said this is only a hobby, even though we are massively passionate about it)

    So the minute you stop enjoying it and start hanging on in your tent, that's when the fun stops, and need to think about out own safety

    Even so another top trip..

    Just checking my vids not really got much but will drag something out on Y-tube

  6. Interesting read mate. in truth I've had nights like that. Not nice. Bloody awful in fact, and what with you feeling unwell I don't blame you for packing up. Though you could argue (just a thought) it may have been safer to stay in shelter.

    Either way, I reckon I'd have got some rocks and placed them on the guys/pegs and then slept it out. But I do know, even after that you can expect damage of some kind to tent.

    Maybe next time, pick elsewhere to camp eh? Think you've been christened enough with the winds. lol Next time, head low and camp somewhere sheltered in the valleys. Howgills are good for that ;)

    In fact, saying that has reminded me of a time where I pitched up tops like you then packed up and camped in one of valley bottoms in the, there you go. No shame in it mate.

    Was good read and fun as always :)

  7. cheers peter yea its ok if your going down and well thats the end but having to drive man I fall asleep at the wheel when am full of beans never mind when am shattered with no sleep I could have been lying next to chris dead now all to prove a point nah common sense comes into wild camping you dont need qualifications just lots of common sense thanks for taking time to read

  8. yea I was going to tie guy lines to rocks but the tent was getting hit so hard I still wouldn't have slept them gusts where something else and if that kestrel only takes a reading every 3 secs then basically its putting out an average know an average you can double that for max gust lol just a thought but I did get a reading of 50 mph lol yea we could have pitched in valley but we both didnt want to might as well just went to a payed campsite we knew what winds were going to be like pitched in a camp site at least we could have had a pub but we both dont have the pleasure of camping when we want so like to wild camp up or near to summits to get the mint views even now knowning if I had to change it I wouldnt cause I learn from it the sodding ground never had that my pegs have never came out thanks for the comment

  9. @ Chris thanks mate yea it was a hard 1 to call but am really glad I did it was a sweet trip and an another good learning curve look forward to our next wild camp

  10. Cracking bedtime read. So makes you wanna try it once though ha ba. Hope the wind well and truly does one for new years eve.. Camping at great Langdale for festive fun. Enjoy ur next wildcamp xxx

  11. Great adventure to talk about when your older. The live Bambuser you two did was great even my partner Nicola was getting into it...:)

  12. @mountian madness thanks for you comment and I hope you get better weather than we did on this camp

  13. @ukwildcamping cheers mate yea its a good feature when you have signal but the weather was hampering my signal so quality wasnt too good but a laugh all the same cheers for commenting

  14. Paul, excellent report and video. I chickened out from taking my Soulo up to Cross Fell the same day! Settled for a day trip in the Peaks on Friday. Well done to you and Chris for trying. Good to see the Hilleberg's performing well in such testing conditions !!

  15. Cheers Mark I read that day up on Great Dun Fell they recorded 96mph I think, such winds are not to be played with.

  16. The usual die hard stuff I expect from you !
    Looked like wild weather to be out in !
    Nice One and I look forward to the next report.

  17. Thanks Anonymous it was the wildest I've camped in or is that tried to camp in lol I hope to be out this month fingers crossed

  18. It doesn't come any better than this, where have I herd that before lol, that bed looks comfy :)

  19. @Dave yep it is pinch from our Murphy lol bed was sweet mate comfy as owt