After another cold, calm, clear night we woke to the sight of mirror like Devoke Water.
The others enjoyed a lie in whilst I spent the calmest and clearest hour of the day bimbling around the lake, taking in the minor summits of Seat How, Rough Crag and Water Crag, all with fine views of the Isle of Man and back to higher Lakeland peaks.
The geese, greylag I suspect, were very active in the air and on the water, as they seemed to have been all night.
By 9 o'clock we were packed up and on the good track that leads from the boathouse to the Birker Fell road, where we were to meet the other Alan if he'd managed to dispose of his B&B guests. We waited at the rendezvous point for a while before concluding that the guests had won.
Today, apart from the common birds listed yesterday, I saw plovers, stonechats and a blackcap. And probably failed to identify many more. We have all seen lizards, scurrying purposefully in the grass.
An easy track led to the start of a short but interesting ascent of Great Crag. The final few metres up this modest hill were along an unlikely looking steep grassy ramp. Rocky outcrops were avoided as we continued to the summit of Broad Crag, then a yomp over easy ground found us at the nipple like cairn at the top of Great Worm Crag. We looked for worms but all we could find were bits of sheep skeletons, a feature of this trip, picked clean. Carnivorous giant worms hereabouts?
Anyway, we now turned just north of east. Here we felt the full force of the strong, cold easterly wind that had taken an overnight breather. But the cloud that had rushed in to replace the early morning sunshine was now weakening in the face of the rising sun.
A welcome brew stop punctuated our route to White How. A most pleasant sheltered spot with excellent views looking back along our route from Black Coombe.
White How, on the summit of which Alan and I are pictured, was the first summit of a rocky crest dominated by our next summit, Green Crag, a Wainwright. Two couples were lunching here - the first people we'd seen all day.
Then it was on to the lower summit of Crook Crag, before heading over to an outlier, Great Whinscale, which sports views of a coastal power station, if you look carefully.
At this point the whiff of pork crackling in the air had a strange effect on Alan and Sheila, who rushed off in an easterly direction muttering something about being late for the gin and tonic before their Sunday dinner with Alan and Tina. I'm sure I caught the words 'wine' and 'port' in the air as they hurried away...
Kepple Crag was my own next objective, in between wrestling with waterproofs as the long predicted rain appeared to set in. Good views from a small hill.
Then I set my sights on Harter Fell, at around 650 metres the high point of the entire trip and a hill (like many on this excursion) that I hadn't been up before. I felt a little peeved that the 400 metre ascent would be in rain. Then, after reaching the main path that would be leading Alan and Sheila to their dinner, I was attracted by some waving. Had A and S stopped for lunch where their path enters forest and mine commences the steep ascent of Harter Fell? No. "We were just being friendly" said the group of seven. We chatted whilst I paused for lunch. We were all rather surprised. The rain had stopped. In fact the weather sort of cleared, with high cloud and the easterly wind taking over for the rest of the day. Visibility wasn't great compared with this morning's clear views to the Isle of Man but hey - we were expecting rain.
The summit of Harter Fell appeared to be a large slab of rock that towers over the trig point. It took me a while to find an easy way up the slab in the strong wind.
Then I made my way down over Demming Crag and Horsehow Crags, meandering around various rocky outcrops to my planned camping spot, which turned out to be in a marsh.
Heading further down towards Hardknott Pass I found the beginnings of a marsh lined stream that I followed westwards to a minor precipice. Just above the steep drop was a small patch of dry but sloping grass. Testing it by lying down, i soon found a body shaped area that was comfy, so the Phreerunner (pictured in situ) went up around that spot, in which I am now lying in extreme comfort, replete after another excellent meal, albeit composed principally of dried ingredients.
It's much windier tonight, even in this sheltered spot. I'm expecting rain.
Today's stats - about 19km with 1100 metres ascent, taking around 9.5 hours.
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