Sat 24th Aug - Sun 25th Aug, 2002
BH The Lakes, Wasdale Camping
Members: Dave Bone, Dave Dillon, John Evans, Dave Garland, Tony Major, James Richardson.
Guests: Pete Barnes, Shane & Jackie Storbeck.
Hmmm...The Lake District?...August? Bank Holiday? Funny how things turn out on KMC meets sometimes. Arriving Friday at midnight at the Never-Camp-There, sorry, Nether Wasdale site we were greeted by a sign "No arrivals after 10:30pm". There seemed to be other signs saying things like: "no fun", "no looking at the trees" and "no ANYTHING". O dear. Drove down the dark & winding road to Wasdale head (12:30am) "Campsite Full". Never mind. Drove down some more dark & winding roads (1:15am) to Santon Bridge: "No new arrivals". Not to worry. Drove to Fisherground Farm (down a very dark, tortuous lane at 1:45am) - plenty of room...My recollection of whether I was asleep before I put the tent up is now vague! James & Pete didn't have any tent pegs, and declined to use the sleeves for the tent poles kindly provided by Eurohike; they did very well, all things considered...Maybe I've been lucky, but I've never met a full campsite anywhere before - or one that enthusiastically locks the gates before last orders! Folk sidling off to Pembroke on the other hand...
Ah, the North of England in summer...Saturday morning brought rain so loud it drowned out the sound of Scumbag's frying pan - not encouraging. Cessation of the downpour brought optimism, and the rumours of Buckbarrow being a quick-drying venue resulted in myself, Scumbag, James & Pete creeping across the Nether Wasdale campsite under breaking cloud. Thus we happened upon Wavy and his two accomplices, who were very cagey about how they got into this closely-guarded establishment (I think he used the umbrella...his powers are strong). Strolling was the plan for Wavy, Jackie and Shane (keeping off the grass of course). Once rested from the backbreaking ascent to Buckbarrow, a pleasant VDiff called Gar garin was climbed by Team Skinny and the Tentpeg Borrowers. This was followed by Buckbarrow Needle, a goodly two-pitch VS 4b (Scumbag's "Grade of Doom"); at the top of the first pitch Dave made all manner of exclamations but triumphed eventually. It was a testimony to Wavy's kind heart to hear him later say: "it looked impressive from the valley". Meanwhile James & Pete climbed a chimney (possibly not a Lakeland classic) using only vegetation for holds...The bar-b-q Jackie and Shane engineered back at Nether Wasdale (contrary, of course to the regulations about "no fun allowed after 2pm") was remarkable indeed: a whole cow roasted over an area of hot coals no larger than a KMC newsletter centrespread!
Later, ensconced in the hostelry at Eskdale Green, we were delighted to see Messrs. Bone & Major, who gave a lengthy account of their movements (at the usual low levels of volume) during the day. I do believe Yorkshire was involved, but my mind at this point was more than usually addled by the Old Peculier...They were camped a mile away (yet within the same campsite!). One feature of the weekend was the immense overprofusion of campfires lit at Fisherground; TONS of things must have been burned, certainly immense clouds of smoke belched into the sky - blotting out the stars - why this took place I do not know. I think maybe the air must have been a bit too fresh for some.
A surprisingly early start on Sunday saw all folk on the meet flogging up towards the Napes, lungs aching and cautiously observing the fluctuating cloudbase. Wavy, Shane & Jackie strolled up, up and away - perhaps to rendezvous with the Mothership...The quiet men scuttled up to Kern Knotts - Buttonhook Route HVS (amongst others) was reportedly climbed, no doubt with with the usual understated ease. Team Skinny and the Tentpole Boys joined the mercifully short queue for Tophet Wall, a much-hyped Severe, which certatinly didn't disappoint - a corker with continuously interesting climbing. The subsequent traverse across the Napes to the Needle revealed what seemed to be half the population of Henley-on-Thames, and no chance of ascending through a crowd of people concerning themselves with "Backwash". Backwash, it turns out, is when someone passes you a bottle of water, which you gratefully swig, noticing as you return it, that the many breadcrumbs floating in it were not put there by you...Hmmm. Sitting around James' mighty cooker in the smoky dusk, we all drank from OUR OWN, INDIVIDUAL BOTTLES (kindly supplied by Pete - gradually his box of beer/pillow/seat was diminished).
Monday was the most encouraging of all weatherwise, with the sun actually threatening to shine. Ignoring the warnings of possible greasy rock Scumbag, Pete, James & myself set out for Esk Buttress (We passed the impressive Heron Crag, where I heard a whisper that Mr Major & Mr Bone were discreetly going about their business on, for example, Gormenghast HVS). The mighty yomp to Esk buttress has to be one of the finest (and longest!) walk-ins in England, a quiet river valley gradually leading up to the upper reaches of Eskdale - and what a place to be on a sunny summer day! Doesn't really feel like being in England at all. With an eye on the walk-out and the drive South only Bridge's Route was done, a superb and exposed Severe on a great big spectacular cliff (considering it's in the same country as Chorlton-cum-Hardy). A colossal day on the hill. More time - maybe a high camp up there next summer eh? Ta for coming along to those who did, and more Lakes climbing please...
N.B. This is a change from the meets list (originally meant to be 31st August), due to the bizarre occurrence of me being invited to a wedding!
OK folks, Thought the Lakes could be good in the latter part of summer - of course bearing in mind that rainclouds and isobars may well already be gathering at the mere mention of a KMC meet in Wasdale...
I am an optimist, however (goes with the job!), and we might just have a marvellous couple of days. I know it will be busy, so I'm going to camp at Nether Wasdale (other end of Wastwater from Wasdale head) near Strands, where pub and shop facilities are good (I'll post the Grid Ref. on the Website nearer the time).
Although this is a bit further from Scafell, it allows easier access to Eskdale (quieter crags and walking) and is handy for Buckbarrow: "South facing at 300m.Often avoids the bad weather of higher crags"... (100 Classic Climbs - Lake District - Steve Ashton).
If the weather is kind I'll be climbing high up, either on Scafell or Eskdale, if not lower alternatives will be sought (Michael Fish and his Met.Office mates allowing). I'm hoping to include a day's walk around Wastwater:
Starting from Stands go up to Irton Fell, along the top of the Wastwater Screes to Illgill Head. Thence down to Wasdale head (might be thirsty!)... Up then into Mosedale, up to Dore Head then steeply up to Yewbarrow (627m), then down the ridge to Wastwater. Once at the lakeside one can either stroll back to Strands or the more energetic can take in Middle Fell and traverse across the top of Buckbarrow crag and drop down to Strands. (around 13 miles, or 17 for the proper job).
So hopefully a goodly contingent will make the trip, and fingers crossed we won't need to discuss ingenious ideas for drying facilities, or question the usefulness of Social Workers...