Sunday, 31 July 2011

17 Wainwright's become 9, due to a rucksack disaster!!

I had been planning this 3 day 2 night wildcamp route for quite some time, and was really looking forward to completing it, it also incorporated Striding Edge which I had never done before so I was really excited about this. I was also taking Megan my Border Collie so it was going to be interesting to see how she gets on with Striding Edge.

My planned route was to park up at Haweswater car park (NY469108) head up onto High Street via Riggindale crag, then across to High Raise via Kidsty Pike and Rampsgill Head, then head back over The Knott and off to Patterdale going past Angle Tarn. Then setting off for Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike & Dollywagon Pike before descending to Grisdale Tarn. Next on the list were Fairfield, Hart Crag, Dove Crag, Little Hart Crag & Red Screes. A quick stop at the Kirkstone Pass Inn for some refreshment and then the final set of Wainwright's back to the car, Stony Cove Pike, Thornthwaite Crag, Mardale Ill Bell & Harter Fell.

It was a beautiful warm and clear day and at midday I left the car behind and turned right to cross the footbridge over Mardale Beck, following the reservoir for a short while before taking the path which branched off to join the main route heading up the wide ridge of Rough Crag and Riggindale Crag towards High Street. The views back along Haweswater opened up as we gained height. Haweswater reservoir itself is manmade and was controversially begun back in 1929, as it meant the flooding of farming villages and the forced relocation of residents. The remnants of the village of Mardale can still be seen at times of drought.

Blea Water from Riggindale Crag
After passing the tarn at Caspel Gate, the final steep section of Long Stile was all that remained and it wasn't long before we where walking over to the trig point at 828m marking the plateau of High Street. The expansive views across to Helvellyn and the Fairfield horseshoe and beyond where glorious. After a brief rest to take a few photos we headed off to Kid Sty Pike, where we could see our ascent across the Riggindale valley. Then going across to High Raise at 802m where I stopped and watched a couple of mountain bikers heading off towards Loadpot Hill whilst enjoying the cooling breeze for a while.

Hayeswater and beyond from High Street
View from Kid Sty Pike
High Raise View
It was time to continue and heading back to we went over Rampsgill Head and also the short climb up and over The Knott picking up the main path which heads over to Satura Crags, whilst passing these crags I met an elderly couple going in the opposite direction who took a shine to Megan and gave her a fuss which she didn't mind at all. She was wearing a Ruffwear Web Master Harness and they asked if she was a rescue dog. It was so tempting to tell a little white lie, but I couldn't so I had to confess she wasn't, but it would have been a good tale!! After leaving the couple to their journey we soon passed Angle Tarn and it was very tempting to go down and have a paddle to cool off from the heat of the sun, but as it was already busy with kids I decided against it, I also wanted to push on and try to get up to Red Tarn for our wildcamp spot.

Heading towards Satura Crags
Angle Tarn

Going over Angletarn Pikes and heading towards the Boredale Hause there where some nice views across the valley to Fairfield after which we where soon heading down to Patterdale and a brief stop at the small post office where I took on some supplies. After which I set off for Grisdale and the slog up to the Hole in the Wall, which if I'm honest I was bloody knackered by now and this ascent was extremely tiring after the long days walk before, with the time approaching 8pm I passed the "hole" and headed towards my nights resting place and I couldn't wait, my mind was now thinking of food! Upon reaching Red Tarn I discovered I was not alone, which I wasn't surprised about, 2 other tents where already pitched, so I picked a spot away from both and set up camp & made dinner..... After devouring my "Look what we found" Home Reared Beef in Black Velvet Porter with Potatoes in no time at all I retreated to the comfort of my sleeping bag as the midges where getting too much.

Looking towards Fairfield and Brothers Water
Day 2, another day long lay ahead as I wanted to make use of the predicted fine weather to get somewhere near the finish over in Haweswater as tomorrows weather was not as favourable. I woke to a glorious sunrise looking back to Place Fell. After breakfast I packed up and set off as I wanted to get over striding edge without any pressures of having hoards of people around due to the fact I was taking Megan, not sure some people would appreciate a dog up there if they where in any way nervous of it.

Pitch under Helvellyn
Standing at the start of Striding Edge I looked out across it and I have to say I felt at ease with the situation I could now see that the ledge was not a knife edge and posed no real problems for my 2 legs and especially for Megan's 4 legs. So confidently making our way across we where soon standing at the "step" which marks the end of the edge and the start of the steep scree slope up to Helvellyn's summit. This "step" had to be done in 3 or 4 moves with Megan waiting on command before being lifted down for each move, she took it all in her stride and seemed to understand she needed my help to get down. Next the steep section up, with a full pack and the sun now higher in the sky and beating down on the back of my neck, this section was hard and tiring. After a few stops we made it and where confronted with memorial to a dog who stayed by its master's side when he died in a fall.

Megan, Comfortable with Striding Edge

Looking back over Striding Edge
When I reached the summit a couple where already there taking photos, so we swapped favours by taking pics for each other. The trig point is at a height 949m but the actual highest point of 950m is marked by a pile of stones. Utilising the shelter I stopped for a rest and looking at the phone noticed I had a decent signal, just goes to show, no signal at all in Patterdale but a decent one so high up, so I rang home.

Me on Helvellyn's High Point

Helvellyn's Trig Point and High Point
Pressing on the peaks of Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike where some polished off and these gave to some views back across to Helvellyn and Striding Edge as well as down Grisdale Valley. I was soon descending down towards Grisdale Tarn and could now see my next summit Fairfield, I was not looking forward to this ascent as it pretty steep and long up some loose ground. Stopping at the tarn to cool off my feet and replenish some water.

Grisdale Tarn & Fairfield

Boots off!!

Feet Cooled!!
My fears about this ascent were not wrong, the steep loose slope was energy sapping and after plenty of stops the ground finally eased. I passed 2 guys who promised me someone was on the summit serving ice cold lager's, when I got there disappointed to find no such person. I took off my rucksack and SNAP!!!
"Oh SH....UGAR!!!" I said as my right main strap on the rucksack broke!! I just stood there looking at it in disbelief, right what was I to do, I knew I couldn't go on Haweswater it was just too far to carry a heavy pack on one shoulder strap, with a heavy heart I knew my journey was over so my only option was to descend back down to Grisdale Tarn and follow Grisdale beck back to Patterdale to get a taxi back to Haweswater. So after a bite to eat I put on the rucksack and using Megan's lead as a brace between the hip belt and a carabiner on the broken strap I set off. The pack was very uncomfortable on my back as it was not sitting straight but leaning to one side.

Broken strap and lead as a brace!!
Once back in Patterdale I rang for a taxi, and luckily found one who drove me and the dog all the way round to the car park at Haweswater, £41 later!! Oh well. So in the end I only managed 9 out of the planned 17 Wainwright's and although disappointed I still left satisfied I had done a good couple of days.


  1. Ahh shame your trip got cut short Bruv!!! £41 for the taxi and the cost of a new rucksack as well!! The photos are fantastic. I especially like the wide angle one of Angle Tarn! That is one fantastic dog you have got - have you even trained Megan to take photos of you while you have your breakfast? Where are you going next? Cx

  2. Thanks Big Sis!! Luckily my replacement from Osprey was free! so can't really complain, very good customer service.

  3. Excellent photos -superb shot of your feet being cooled! Look forward to the next 8 Wainwright's adventure. Have you repaired the rucksack or is it an expensive new one?
    Matt MF

  4. Thanks Matt, It was nice as my feet where hot!! Got sent a replacement. See you at football on Thursday.