The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

High Seat and Bleaberry Fell

As is so often the case, the main purpose of a flying visit to the Lakes was a shopping trip. There were a few items that we needed to buy for our rapidly-approaching LEJOG walk (just minor items; boots and that sort of thing).

However, even though our visit was fleeting, I was determined to squeeze a walk in.

We had travelled up to Great Langdale on Sunday afternoon and following a chilly night (minus five was the lowest thermometer reading I saw) we headed off to Keswick on Monday morning.

With great expedience, we were finished in the shops before 11am and a quick cup of tea in a café gave us the opportunity to give some consideration to a map and choose a place to walk.

Given the hour of day, our criteria was: 1) short and 2) reasonably local to Keswick (in order to save time wasted by travelling).

Various options were briefly debated whilst hot tea was hastily drunk, with the final decision being that we would pop up High Seat and thence over to Bleaberry Fell from the car park a few yards up the road from Ashness Bridge.

Somehow time had marched on to just after noon (the realisation that the entire 2 litre contents of my water reservoir had leaked over the boot of the car and the de-labelling of new boots may have contributed to the delay) by the time we set out up the hill.

Despite the frozen beck and the icy grass, the sun was beating down on us and by the time we had gained a couple of hundred feet of height I was down to a baselayer and wishing that I was wearing shorts. It’s really not right to be so hot out walking in February!

Derwent Water on a Lovely Day!

A slight detour (and a rushed one at that) was made on our way to High Seat to try to photograph two aircraft flying along the valley below us, and then off we went to the summit.
Look at a bigger version to spot the two planes
Click for the big version of this picture to spot the two planes in the valley

We had it to ourselves for about three minutes, before we were joined by eight or so members of the Tyne & Wear Fire Service.

We didn’t mind the intrusion, mind, as I had other things to occupy myself. In the name of ‘loaded backpack’ training, I had been walking with the stove, a pan, a can of soup and half a loaf of bread in my pack (amongst many other items that were unreasonably heavy for a day-pack). The summit saw me break out the stove and the soup, followed by much slurping and satisfied dunking.

Heating Soup on High Seat
Husband takes control of the camera as I concentrate on heating soup

With such a stunningly sunny day, the top of Bleaberry Fell was perfectly visible to us as we stood at the trig point on High Seat, as was the trodden path that led there. It’s a bit incomprehensible how, in such conditions, and having pointed at and discussed our objective, we managed to wander off the top in the wrong direction and without either of us noticing the error (in fact, I’m sure that we’d have made a better job of it had visibility been bad; at least then we would have paid attention).

We’d gone about a kilometre before we realised that something was amiss. The map came out. We scratched our heads. We beat ourselves about the head for our stupidity. Then we indulged in some ‘good and proper training’ by heading directly back towards where we had intended to be. By the time we got back on track my mind was made up that I’ve done enough tramping through heather for one week.

The mid-afternoon hour at which we arrived at Bleaberry Fell meant that we were bringing up the rear of the people heading back down to the valley, giving us peace and quiet to enjoy the surroundings.

The entire outing lasted less than four hours and was somewhere in the region of 4.5 miles*.

Another night was spent in Langdale (along with a tent of chaps whose inconsiderate use of high volume voices and forced laughter late at night and early in the morning reminded me nicely as to why wild-camping is so good); once again with significantly low temperatures. It was cold enough that the gas really didn’t want to play on Tuesday morning; it required a good hug multiple times in the process of making tea and porridge, but we got there in the end.

That was our trip over. Far too short, but squeezed into an available window.

(*I’m trying not to seem too sad, particularly as the day was so still, but I did have the anemometer with me and on the top of High Seat during our lunch stop I recorded a top wind speed of 7.2mph).

A Duvet on a Tent
Gt Langdale campsite on Tuesday morning: Is it just me, but if the temperature is -5 degrees and you've got a spare duvet with you, wouldn't you use it inside of the tent?


  1. Not a strict adherant to the ultralight brigade I see

    And if there's a chance for a bit of pampering sounds fair to me!

    Those pixs are gorgeous. Drooling here awaiting my Lakeland return later this year

  2. Well whenever that return to Lakeland may be for you, I do hope that you get the same quality of weather that we got.

    Aside from the enjoyment factor of such conditions, it does make for better photos - even with our little point-and-click.