Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Lake District - 21-23 July 2010

The weather changed for the better during the second half of my trek so I made it to the top of Skiddaw and back to Keswick on a fine, dry Tuesday. That was a clear day too which provided for fantastic views. It was very hard work though - 8 miles from the town centre and back which took me six and a half hours, including a 20-30 mins lunch break on the summit and a lot of breathers on the way up and down.
Skiddaw (3054 ft but it felt like more)

My path from Gawthwaite to Keswick had been along The Cumbria Way. The rest of the walk to Maryport, via Bassenthwaite where the Sun Inn pub is attractive, the beer decent and the food not so (I would not recommend the Steak in Ale Pie), was in glorious weather and by way of The Allerdale Ramble which is shown on the OS 1:25,000 map.

The camp site near the village of Bassenthwaite was surprisingly quiet. Mainly statics, there were a couple of tourers and two, maybe three groups camping out of cars. I was the only backpacker and I set up near the washroom/toilet/shower block. At £6.00, it was a better stopover for me than the Great Langdale National site.

Stylish stile north of Cockermouth

The aim had been to walk hard in preparation for the Coast to Coast which I start next week. I'm certainly better prepared except that my knees still hurt and I'm not sure why. I'm not entirely sure why I am walking the C2C either but think it is more about doing it to have an opinion on it and as a challenge. Walks over 10 miles (in the Lake District) demand a lot of me so the C2C will put me to the test.

There will be some changes to my kit for future walks.

I realised last year that my Snugpak Softie 6 sleeping bag was not for me but I made do. It's warm enough but I feel too restricted in a mummy shaped bag to get a good night's sleep. I'm expecting a much improved slumber and sweeter dreams in my new Golite Adventure 1+Season Semi-Rectangular where I can move around in the bag rather than with it.

There'll be more to say about the Golite sleeping bag and other additions to my kit (including an Icebreaker merino wool polo shirt and the Pico Solar Charger) in the near future.

Terra Nova Pegs "parked" in old Biros so that they won't pierce anything when packed

I'll be camping and B&B-ing later next week. I have no place booked to stay, or even in mind, in Grasmere so I may change that part of the route to avoid that fair town. I'm not sure about the blogging either because my phone is still to be sorted. A bit like me all-round really.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Lake District - 17-20 July 2010

In the movie Blade Runner, it never stops raining. It's been like that here in the Lake District since Saturday morning. Harrison Ford isn't around nor the doomed Rutger Hauer and it's not perpetually twilight as well so I suppose it's not really like the movie at all. Except in the movie no one moans about the rain and I haven't heard anyone complain about it around here either. In fact only positive comments - "At least it's not cold!" etc. The true British spirit lives on.

I'm in Keswick now and it is catch-up time with my blog. My phone isn't working fully and until now there has been no network coverage anyway.

Saturday - I set off from Gawthwaite, on the southern boundary of the Lake District, for a 10 mile walk to Coniston along route of The Cumbria Way. Stair rods of rain greeted my arrival in Coniston where the shorn sheep, which are daubed in a fetching splash of blue, ignore my calls of "Come on you blue~ues!". A couple of pints of Coniston Bluebird, a plate of Fish and Chips and a decent B&B completed my day.

Beacon Tarn

Sunday - A 13 mile paddle to Dungeon Ghyll, where radio reception is nigh on impossible let alone network coverage, and where the sheep are wearing SO last year's colour of red, and where lamb is on the menu at The New Hotel but with no hint of whether it is from from the Blue or the Red Tribe.

Monday - The plan was to make my way over Stake Pass to Stonethwaite (7-8 miles?) where I could recce Borrowdale prior to my visit next month, but the campsite there was already waterlogged, the rain unabated, the pub closed (on Mondays), a Tea Room closed, so I carried on to Keswick not bothering what colour the sheep were. Derwent Water was filling up and my intended stopover on the campsite there didn't look too appealing and campers were being asked to move away from the lake. Given that I was a day ahead of my schedule, I booked into a very comfortable B&B. Then having dined, drank and dried out had a warm dry night's kip.

Tuesday - Here I am scribbling furiously before my 30 min stint in an Internet Cafe runs out. Then I'm off for a cuppa before walking up to the top of Skiddaw and back.

Wednesday - I'm heading north to the Bassenthwaite - Cockermouth area, Thursday to Maryport where I can get the train south on Friday.

Not sure about any internet access for the remainder of the week.

Afterthought - Rutger Hauer's expiry in Blade Runner gets my nomination for best ever movie death:

"I have seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the Shoulder of Orion. I watched C-Beams glitter ....... All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to die."
It was still raining at the time.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Corrymoor Socks

I'm not as fit as I was this time last year. I've been eating for England so most of the weight I'd shed in 2009 is back and visible. There was always an excuse or a reason why I couldn't make it to the gym so I'm not as bendy as before either. Therefore, as well as the extra weight, I'm carrying some apprehension - unsure of what I'll be capable of during a week of backpacking in the Lake District.

Next Saturday I make my way from Ulverston to Coniston along the first leg of The Cumbria Way. I have a B&B booked for that first night then I have another six days with my backpack, stomachpack and a slightly bulging rest of me. There is no schedule at the moment other than to get to Coniston, have a pint and see how I feel. It might take a second pint of Bluebird Bitter before I conceive a plan which may include having a third.

I don't think my feet could be classified as fat but I do get swollen ankles occasionally. Consequently, tight fitting socks (which most seem to be these days) can be problematic. I may have that issue under control now though as I have successfully test walked a pair of Corrymoor Gentle-Top socks. The short, lightweight socks, which are 55% mohair and 45% nylon, have elastic free tops. The material has a slightly "hard" feel to it; a cotton-like texture but wooly with excellent wicking properties. I'm using the large size and they fit comfortably over my Bridgedale Coolmax Liners, over my size 9 feet in size 10 boots.

Prodnose: "I can't believe you're blogging about socks for Gawdsake! Are you on commission or something?"

Brian: "Shove off! I choose what to say on my blog!"

They are not whiffy after prolonged use on my plates either. I've worn them unwashed over a five day period, in hot dry conditions - purely for testing purposes you understand. I didn't detect any wrinkled noses as I wafted past sock test dummies (my feet were washed daily by the way).

Corrymoor deserve a pat on the back for making online purchasing so easy and for such swift delivery. I now have four pairs but I need a slap on the head for going for one pair in Old Gold.