Our traditional gear checking backpacking trip in the Lakes got off to a slow start. A dire weather forecast saw us delaying our departure as long as possible, the excuse being that Sue and I wanted to do Wythenshawe parkrun.
It was supposed to be raining all day in most places, but the run took place in dry conditions. We were back to the 'normal' course, hampered only by a little breeze.
Then Alastair (40+), Andrew (13), and Kate (11) accompanied Sue and me to the Travellers Rest by Grasmere, where their chips looked better than our thin soup with two small slices of white bread.
Despite the rain and the closure of the A591 north of Grasmere due to its recent destruction by floods, the traffic queues had started before Ings and delayed us considerably. We’d already found the farm café on the Kendal by-pass too busy to warrant queuing.
There’s no overnight parking available in Grasmere, so far as I’m aware, though the lay-by on the A591 would probably be ok. The Travellers Rest lets you park overnight for a fiver, and perhaps provides more security than the lay-by, especially if, like us on this occasion, you don’t bother to lock your car.
It was 3 pm before we set off into the rain.
A retracing of steps was needed after 300 metres, the first of three detours due to rivers in spate. It has been dry for two weeks, but the ground must be so waterlogged that today's rain caused instant flooding.
We overcame the floods by way of our three detours and made our way slowly round to Easedale, meeting a few folk descending after a wet day in the hills.
Much to my surprise they were all enthusiastic and even envious of our backpacking trip! Kind words of encouragement were offered.
After admiring the mare's tails cascading down the hillside from Easedale Tarn, we reached our objective at around 5 pm. Two Hilleberg Nallo tents and my Terra Nova Solar Competition 2 were soon deployed after our 6.5 km stroll.
Then Sue made a fine job of preparing an a la carte meal for two before darkness fell at 7 pm. Catering in the other tents also seemed to go well.
Meanwhile, we were assaulted by gusty squalls far more violent than anything our recent trip to Patagonia could throw at us. Everything seemed fine to me, but on leaving my tent in the morning it seemed clear that there had been an overnight incident.
One of the Solar Competition’s poles had snapped at around 2.30 am, causing Alastair to relocate to one of the Nallos. Thankfully not ours. He had launched himself into his childrens’ tent, having rescued a bag’s worth of mini Easter eggs that were lodged randomly in his clothes bag. The resulting packet was handed to Kate, who thought it was shut. So when she shook the bag, its contents were distributed fairly evenly over the tent. They presumably spent the rest of the windy night on a bed of Easter egg marbles. Good for one of Kate and Andrew’s favourite activities – snacking.
Our own Nallo tent had taken a battering, with the wind having caused one of the rear poles to flex into a banana shape, giving the impression that the entire rear of the tent had moved sideways. It had moved sideways – some of the pegs had decided to relax their guard.
We weren’t planning a long walk, so we could all take our time getting up, though despite the clocks moving forward by an hour, the children were eventually enticed out of their tent and we were ready to set off by 9 am.
Despite the rain and sleet, and boosted by a change of clothes for the Roberts family (Sue and I didn’t get wet – just as well as no spares were carried), we continued on up the valley to reach Codale Tarn, another option for our overnight camp had the weather been better and if we had set off earlier. Here we are at that destination.
Retracing our steps to Grasmere was fairly straightforward, albeit care was needed on the slippery scramble back down to Easedale Tarn.
Back near Goody Bridge, despite all the overnight rain, the floods of yesterday had subsided. There must have been a really serious downpour before we arrived yesterday. The path shown below had been impassable due to Easedale Beck choosing it as an alternative venue.
Gingerbread was on the agenda. But the gingerbread shop didn’t open until 12.30 – 45 minutes away. So we enjoyed some sausage rolls instead. They were excellent. Then it was a simple stroll back to the unlocked car at the Travellers Rest. The alternative lay-by is on the left above the road closed sign in the picture below.
Before changing into yet another set of clothes, the Roberts contingent lined up for an ‘end of trip’ picture just as the sun paid a momentary visit.
Here’s our route – 16 km with 550 metres ascent, a most satisfactory alternative to our planned repeat of last year’s visit to High House Tarn, near Glaramara, which would have been wildly over ambitious in the prevailing conditions.
There’s a short slideshow here.
Here are our defective poles. The Terra Nova pole on the left just snapped, whereas the Nallo pole became banana shaped. Another Nallo pole was also bent, so both the spare poles that I carry have now been deployed. I’ll have to do some shopping with Terra Nova. That tent was actually pitched a bit better than the Nallos, and it’s quite a surprise that its relatively new poles should prove to be more fragile than the twelve year old Nallo poles. The Roberts tent was unaffected by the wind – Alastair should be happy with his purchase of Andrew’s old tent that hasn’t been used for a while.
Gear check: Sue and I stayed pretty dry, though her so-called waterproof gloves leaked. The NeoAir XLite that Thermarest sent me last week to replace a leaky one seems fine. My old Karrimor Jaguar 65 rucksack is serviceable but seemed heavy when soaked. Andrew’s Osprey Atmos 65AG looked good, or I may consider the Deuter Act Lite 60+10 or 65+10 by way of a replacement for the Jaguar, which will remain in reserve due to its durability. Other gear was fine.