Camping in the Lake District is sometimes touch and go, the weather, as anyone who lives or visits the Lakes, can be very temperamental. I personally don’t mind the rain whilst been there, I guess who just get used to it, all I ask for is a few minutes ‘let up’ while we put the tent up, once it’s up it can lash it down and I’m still happy.
This weekend we decided to hot foot it down the A66 after work and meet our old favourites and great friends Dicko and Sue at the campsite at Thornthwaite that we nearly always use. The journey was pretty much rain free with only a few spots near the ‘Cumbria’ sign. But the clouds cleared as we found a space on the field and started to erect our brand new Icarus 500. Like hundreds of times before we have a routine, we both set up the outer and then Kel sets up the bedrooms and what she calls the ‘Housekeeping’ while I do the ropes and the outside stuff. During this process what I’ve learnt is to do exactly what Kel says and listen to what she says, not how she says it! However, due to this being our first time setting up in company with our friends, Dicko and Sue thought they’d try and help. Hmm, well have you ever disturbed a Grizzly Bear from hibernation?! I think Dicko and Sue must have thought they had. I tried to whisper to him, ” Just leave us mate, she’ll kick off” however he must have thought I was just being polite, he obviously didn’t think I meant it was to possibly save his life! Enough said on that matter but let’s just say they didn’t ask again.
Tents up and camp fire roaring and the night was passed away with good banter and a few drinks and chatting about the walk planned for the next day, a nice bimble around Derwentwater. We went to our sleeping bags with smiles and thoughts of the next morning and breakfast. Laid in my ‘scratcher’ I heard the first patter of tiny rain drops but drifted off.
Next morning came and I awoke to a mini Glastonbury! It had absolutely hammered it down all night and the site was water logged, the worst I had seen it. The others had been up a little before me and Kel greeted me with a brew. Dicko had bought his BBQ and it wasn’t long before he had sparked it up and we were tucking into a full Monty brekky.
Dicko and I had decided, due to it being quite warm, to wear shorts for our walk. The girls laughed and we started to get set for the day. As It was a low level walk Kel popped her wet weather kit in my daysack and as usual I was cart horse for the day. Dicko was the same, but that’s the norm for the long suffering lad as Sue doesn’t even know what a daysack looks like. So bait was made, car packed, pots washed and Sue’s hair very, very straight and looking perfect as usual.
Parking just over the bridge near Portinscale we put our boots on in the pouring rain which had made another appearance whilst we were on route. I hummed and arrr’d about putting water proof bottoms on but seen as Dicko was standing firm with his decision I didn’t bother, a decision I would come to regret. We set off over the suspension bridge into Portinscale. As we walked through I think the majority of other walkers, who had water proofs on looked and thought me and Dicko were slightly mad. Sue, whom had put all her waterproofs on, was probably giggling away to herself looking at our bare legs, which her a sight in dry weather, but with the rain dripping down our legs into our boots.
Like most villages I walk through in the lakes, Portinscale was no different. I don’t mean they look the same, it’s quite the opposite they’re all breath taking in their own way. No, this is a feeling of jealousy!! I always get the urge to mumble under my breath “lucky bas***ds” at every dwelling with a lake or mountain view, and most that don’t come to think of it.
The walk carried on and the rain eased, we took a left off the road into the woods and towards the lake at Nichol End. We’d decided to the route anti clockwise saving the B5289 for the homeward leg. Dicko as usual reminisced about coming to the lakes as a young lad for which I am also jealous, I’ve been all over the western world but he by far beats me having the pleasure of a life in the lakes. Even with the rain again beating down on Derwentwater I can’t fault the place, love it!! The route through the woods isn’t definite. You can see where walkers before have tried and tested pathes leaving a mish mash of trodden grass. We came to a piece of marshy land and we all, as you do, went off in our own separate ways looking for a route through, with an extra obstacle of a beck through in. In these situations I usual get quite clever as having 34 inch legs I normally can stride through no problem. I decided to avoid the soaked logs and branches others have tried to stack over the beck as they’re generally slippery and if your footing goes, a smack on the head with a piece of wood can mess the walk up. As I inspected nearly every bit of sodden ground, I could hear the girls giggling and messing on trying to get through. The next thing I heard was a scream from the depths of hell. Don’t ask me how, but I once spent I couple of nights not too far from a Leper colony in the early 90’s, the sounds I heard from there were some of the unnerving I’ve ever heard. But this scream was something else, and what was the source of this call from Saturn… Kel!! I quickly looked up and saw my wife up to her knees in a bog, struggling and grasping for anything to pull herself out. After about 10 seconds she’d managed to pull herself out and the laughter started. Sue, who was to her rear looked like she was gonna pee. So there’s Kel gaiter’s covered in peat as we trugged on with our adventure.
The rain was hard core today, there were swirls blowing across Derwentwater with the opposite side shrouded by the sheer volume of rain. The chatter had stopped by the time we’d reached Manesty Park and everyone was face down stopping the rain driving straight into our eyes. We took a left off the Cumbria Way and headed for the B5289. As we crossed the open ground at the very bottom of the lake, Dicko commented on how wet his socks had become. He’s been having a few problems with his new boots letting water in so I just thought it was the problem reoccurring. However, after a few more yards I began to feel a little bit soggy in the sock area too. The problem was the rain dripping down our legs into our boots and drenching our socks, school boy error really, quite embarrassing as we are no strangers to walking and should’ve known better. My embarrassment was doubled when Sue remarked how dry and cosy she was.
We crossed the footbridge over Cannon Dub and headed for the gate on the main road. Now, on this gate is a sign saying ‘café 200m’ with an arrow pointing south down the road. Hey, we’re all soaked, apart from Sue, what better than a nice brew to warm our cockles. “200 metres my arse!” The café was best part of a kilometre down the road and to add insult to injury, cars were taking pot shots at us driving through the puddles. We arrived at the café absolutely soaked through; the guys at the café were very cheerful and welcoming so they were forgiven for their crappy measurements.
A few more digs from Sue about how stupid we were accompanied by a lovely diet coke and we were back on the road, in our waterproofs. The walk up the road was kept interesting by idiots belting up the winding road in the atrocious weather splashing us or narrowly missing us with their wing mirrors.
We managed to get lakeside again and left the BMW drivers to kill each other. We walked to the jetty near the Ashness approach road. For those who know us, Kel did ‘trash the dress’ at this jetty, that day in October and it hammered it down, guess what, it was hammering it down today too.
We stopped for a bite to eat at the National Trust car park and the rain subsided slightly. Two canoeists came storming in from the open water; the lake was very sea like with canny waves making it look a bit like the coast. The two guys looked exhausted but had massive smiles on their faces.
Faces fed and we too were back on the walk with smiles on our faces. The water level had risen slightly and the paths were submerged at points. Friar’s Crag was soon in view and it wasn’t long before we were at the landing bay at Keswick. I’d dried out a lot under my water proofs and was beginning to feel happy and looking forward to a pint at the Dog & Gun before the last leg back to Portinscale.
Not the most scenic walk we’ve completed only due to the weather, not the location. At the car I took my soaking socks off and the steam coming out of my boots looked like a power station. We went back to the tent and sorted our kit, mainly drying clothing. The site was a little less populated on our return, seems the weather does bother some campers but as usual, and as I always say, at least I’m in the Lakedistrict no matter what the weather!