Monday, 18 January 2016

Winter Wild Camping on Common Fell (lake district)


Me walking up whiteout behind me

Me and my better half had planned a wild camp for the 16th of January 2016, as normal I kept a watchful eye on the weather, changing from sunny to snow, it was going to be a proper winters wild camp.

The snow was forecast to drop at 7pm so that would give us time to get up and setup and then start the long tent bound night, however this was to change on the Saturday morning and now the snow was on its way and dumping from 2pm till 12am giving about 10cm of snow added to what was already there.

Maxine wasn't sure snowy icy country roads isn't her cup of tea and she didn't have any gaiters or micro spikes, so she made the hard but best decision as if we both had gone the dog (Izzie) would have to go too.

So with the decision made it was just me going for a night in the snow.  I had to get up at 5:30am for work but with a finish time of 11am it gave me plenty of time to driver over to the lakes and walk up to my camping spot.  After work I re arranged all of my equipment as Maxine and Izzie were no longer going. I had tried my reactor stove but after over a year not using it, it was acting up so I chose not to take it and took my petrol stove instead.

Swapping the stoves over and not thinking of needing a pan to cook my minty lamb casserole I had made on Friday, I forgot it only getting about 10 mins away, I had to turn round, thankfully this is all I forgot. I arrived at Dockray where I parked outside of the pub, kitted up and off I went.

It had already begun to snow when I was getting ready, this was the beginning of a good dumping of snow, I took a slow pace stroll up to Gowbarrow Fell. Once I reached the summit I decided to go where I originally planned a hill called Common Fell.  I could see it in the clouds and the snow was coming down heavily, I couldn't see a pathway so I decided to make my own.

This was going to test my fitness to its limit and back again, as I have not been up a hill for about a year I am so unfit its not even funny, there is a term and I shall use it to describe how I felt walking up.....I was blowing out of my arse.  The snow was the deepest I've ever walked in, off the track it was upto my knee and there was drifts that would go right up my legs.

Took on my way home Samsung S6
So as I walked a few steps up or should I say walked a few and fell a few with lots of breaks I was at the summit. The wind was ok and not too bad to get the tent up.  It's a new tent I had it imported from the USA from a small company called Lightheart Gear Solong 6, it's a 3 season tent but its always good to test your knew gear.

Once I was happy with my tent setup I got in out of the cold for a much needed tea, which I had made on the Friday a minty lamb casserole.  Once I had that I took the awning pole out of the porch and closed the tent down for the night building the snow around my tent to stop any spin drift coming into my tent.  I took a reading with my kestrel 3000 it was 19mph winds and the wind chill was -10.2 c. Once I was settled I got straight into my sleeping bag and turned on some music and just relaxed for the night.

The wind picked up ever so slightly and it made the tent rattle and flap quite loudly making the inexperienced wild camper to think it was gale force winds, however I  had checked the speed on my gadget and at 20mph I had nothing to worry about.  The tent has 2 air vents at the top which you cannot close up so the snow was getting blown under the outta flap and on to the mesh which some snow was making its way inside the tent.  Eventually the full air vent was blocked with snow and it stopped coming inside.

I was planned to be up and sorting breakfast out at 5:30am but I woke up at 5:15am to find the ridge pole had burst out of is velcro fastening, the wind had pushed it out.  so fighting to get it back and strapped back up again, I had to make plans of skipping breakfast and getting packed up and off the hill.  It was a struggle as the wind was keep bursting the velcro strap and making the tent half collapse. Keeping hold of the pole with my foot I managed to pack away and get on the move.

Walking down in the night it was dark and the wind was blowing the snow in my face visibility was poor but the ground conditions were worse. I would be walking along on top of the snow 1 minute and the next Id have fell into a drift one I fell into I was so shattered of the heavy walking I just sat there and had a drink of orange, got my breathe back and carried on. Once again i had chosen wrongly and trying to make my own path to get down quicker just made it even harder to walk in.



Took from the A66 Canon 550d
I finally got down and back to my van for the drive home, the roads were fine only 1 road had snow on and that was the road leading onto the A66. The van made it with ease and I arrived safely back home greeted with a bacon sandwich from the other half.

I had a great time but if your reading this thinking about going out make sure you are prepared for the conditions apart from the tent I had warm clothes (spare also) micro spikes etc I also left the plan with Maxine with places i would be parking and the route up and where I would be pitched for the night.  My advice would be never take mother nature for granted respect it and enjoy yourself. Video to follow.

Lovely picture of Blencathra at sunrise Canon 500d
Thanks for reading

Paul

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