Fun with a Fox!

Fun with a Fox!

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write following Marc’s tragic passing.

I have received many messages asking me if I will write again? I have tried several times but haven’t been able to find my passion. I guess I always knew that being in the hills would be a struggle. I had an experience a few weeks back which I knew I would love to share with you all so here goes…

Red Dell

In the morning I had mixed emotions about heading up Wetherlam. I have tried to be up there recently and the last time I cried all night. There is no ‘manual’ for grief and how we deal with it but in my heart, I knew that if I found my favourite pass time to difficult to do anymore my life would be empty. I was desperate to feel the love I used to have for sleeping under the stars and taking photo’s (and sharing these experiences with you lovely people!). I had asked Sarah to join me but sadly she was working. I felt having company would be better.

As I pulled up in the Coppermine’s valley my eyes scanned the hills and I tried to predict the weather. The forecast was ok. A stiff westerly wind blew straight through me, Autumn was in full swing now and I needed to remind myself how much I loved the elements.

I had Marc’s poles with me as I broke mine the previous week – it was a good excuse to use them! They were brand new after all. I slipped my hands through the wrist straps knowing that the last hands in their were Marc’s; My eyes filled with tears as I set off up the track..

I turned my thought to the mines – my other big passion. I had been doing a lot of solo exploring of late as well as with friends. Tony H and David H had been my partners in crime and had been a great help. I had in the previous weeks soloed my nemesis. A massive and arduous undertaking called The Thriddle Shaft. I had transported 250 metres of rope plus all the hardwear alone. The first time I bottled if. I sat on the edge of this deep void listening to my heartbeat in my ears but I couldn’t summon the courage. I hid my ropes and then went back the next week. I again took a long time to lower myself onto the rope and start the long descent. The weight of the ropes dragged at my harness as I looked at the bolts and my knots wondering how on earth they could stand up to all the weight! Of course they are all fine but your mind plays tricks.. I was soon on my way. The rebelays are strenuous and with the extra weight I knew they would be difficult to pass. The first one proved to be a real bastard but after much swearing and cursing it was passed and I continued down. After much effort I reached my limit. I had descended as far as I dare go safely that day. I needed to return with the drill and a companion; still, I had dome the lion’s share of it. (400’). I started the long journey back to the surface. It had focussed my mind…


Mentally reliving my trip had got me to Levers Water! It was beautiful. And pretty quiet considering it was half term week. I decide to head up Black Sails as I knew this would be the quietest option and I was unlikely to see people. Marc and I had walked this way several times so there were a lot of memories here. I opened my heart up and let them come flooding in. I felt a deep sadness but also a calmness too. I messaged Malc (his dad). I always send him pictures of where I am. As I got higher up the wind chilled me and I decided to layer up a bit. Soon I was looking over to the Langdale Pikes. It was cool, and the air clarity was good. The cloud was fairly broken; I knew the morning forecast was better than the evening but I hoped it wouldn’t be clagged in.

I passed over the boggy ground to meet the main path to the summit. I could see a couple of people ahead of me, their packs liked ‘big’ for day walkers……

As I neared the summit the people I had seen were stopped on the western edge and I always stay on the East on my rocky platform. I decided to dump my pack where I sleep and head back to the small summit tarn to collect water, if they were staying it’s only fair to ask them if they would mind me being there too, after all they had arrived first and its courtesy if they want the summit to themselves. It was a father and son and they were camping. They were nice people and we chatted briefly. I wasn’t enthralled at the thought of sharing the summit but as it was windy, and time was cracking on I didn’t really fancy moving on! They were not fussed with my presence and to be honest we wouldn’t even be able to see each other.

I headed back to my favourite platform and sighed deeply as I sucked in the view. I sat for a short while with my memories. A tear rolled down my cheek at the same time as my tummy rumbled. Sad and hungry! Time to sort my bed out. The evenings were really drawing in now and I like to be organised. I decided to tuck right in tonight as the winds were gusting to 35 mph. I started to unpack – I hoped that I had everything with me as it’s been a while since I was out and I’m a little out of practice. Every time I leave the house I go through a mental checklist as I’m driving away in the car. On several occasions I have turned around at the road end where I live and driven back to collect my pillow, headtorch, Buffs, Dry socks, Food!! Etc. Today seemed ok, everything appeared to be there. As I leaned forward to move a rock to weigh down my groundsheet my back reminded me it was bad…Luckily I hadn’t forgotten my painkillers!

Dolphin Rock and the Langdales

Soon the familiar sound of the Jetboil was on. I filtered the water with my Sawyer before boiling it as the little pool on the summit doesn’t look the cleanest – its standing water and is probably full of sheep wee!

I was looking forward to my brew as the temperature was now down to 5 Celsius and 0 in the wind. I cupped my coffee in my hands, the warmth was welcome on my cold fingers. I sat back against the rocks and watched as the light started to fail. Large clouds billowed over the Old Man and all the way along to Swirl How; I was glad I had come over to this side otherwise it would have been a damp and murky evening. I used the rest of my water to make my Wilderness Stew and rested it in my lap, again enjoying the heat from pouch. I was sporting my new Haglofs Primaloft Skirt. It’s great bit of kit. My dear friend Graham got it for me. It’s great for keeping your bum warm when it’s not quite Primaloft trouser weather!

Cloud over Blisco
Happy and set up.

I was fed and watered. I felt ok. I was surprised, I had expected to be in floods of tears by now, but I was alright. Even when I looked up and saw our star – Vega, I felt sad but I wasn’t in hysterics as had previously happened. I walked to the summit cairn, I had my wine in hand as I watched the very last light disappear. Sunset had been atmospheric though not dramatic. It was what I was expecting really. Sunrise was promising to be a good one.

The mountains took on their familiar silhouettes against the night sky and the stars slowly pricked the night sky with their cold light. It was beautiful. The wind had dropped a little and all was dark. I hadn’t seen the campers at all apart from one distant wave so I felt alone.. I was ok.

Bed time.

I went back to my bed and poured some more wine – it had been warming in my Jetboil. I chatted to Marc for a while. It sounds odd talking to the dark, but it can help, or I think it can, though it’s a good job the bloke and his lad didn’t come over or they would have thought I was a right loony!! It was soon time to get in bed. I made a hot chocolate and had a mini fudge bar for supper before cleaning the fangs and having a wash. It felt good to be getting in my bag. It had dropped to 3 degrees and -3 in the wind. I wriggled around and got comfy.. I was so pleased I had packed the Western bag and not the MHW.I would have been cold! Soon I was tucked up and listening to the wind whistling through the rocks. I covered my face with my buff and stared into the blanket of stars. I saw 3 satellites as I lay there. It was only 9.30 but I was soon drifting off..

I woke a couple of times through the night, once to the stars and once to low cloud. I fell back to sleep fairly quickly both times. No night terrors or night mares like the last time. The last time I woke I looked at my phone and it was 5.45. It was still dark though the fine line of red was just appearing on the eastern horizon. Venus was huge and was amazing to see. I sat up and rested on my elbow to fill the Jetboil. It was brew time.

Eyes in the dark!

A gazed across to the ever-lightening sky, it is such an amazing experience watching the sun rise. A real treat. I thought of Marc and the sunrises we had seen together. At that moment I caught something out of the corner of my eye. It was a beautiful fox. I think it was a vixen as she was quite small. She looked amazing. She was curious. I slowly reached for my phone. I hadn’t got the camera with me which was a shame, but I did manage a few snaps! She stayed for a good few minutes and was only 2-3 meters from me.. Wonderful! She walked off in the direction of the tent. She was attracted by the smell of food. I got out of my bag and quietly made my way over. The man was up and came straight over, he too had seen her. We were both really chuffed. We chatted for five minutes and I jokingly said that I should get back in case she nicks my food bag… As I got back to the bivvy I bent down to put the stove on again.. I reached for my food bag which had my coffee sachets in and it wasn’t there! It was then that I realised that in the 5 minutes I had been away the sly little fox had done a 360 and headed straight back to my camp and made off with the bag! I was a little worried as it had my rubbish in a grip seal bag in there but little else! I decided to go and look for it. About 300 m from the bivvy I found it; minus the rubbish bag! I looked around but it was nowhere to be seen.. I took my bag and headed back to camp. I had no sooner got the stove on but she appeared again. This time a little further away. She watched me again for a short while and then trotted off. What a lovely experience. One I won’t forget.


It was soon time to pack up. The sun was rising, and the stars had all gone. There wasn’t a breath of wind and I was looking forward to the walk down. I packed up and took my LNT picture and headed of. I waved goodbye to the man and his son and went on my way. On the way down, I took photos at the tarns near the top of Steel Edge, they were so still. The reflections were perfect, like a mirror.

Leave no trace.


Beautiful conditions.
Perfect light.
Exploring the gully.

I decided to take a strange way down as I had always wanted to check out a deep clefted gully that heads steeply in Red Dell. I wondered if there were any old mine workings in there. I approached it via a sheep trod. Sadly there was nothing to be found and it turned into an exercise of practicing descending on very steep ground! When I got down to the valley I checked out a small promontory that I have wanted to look at for a while with a view to bivvying on it. I thought it would be good for a post work hit as it would be a short walk in. The top of it was perfect! I will definitely be back there in the snow at some point. It ndwas also home to an OMM checkpoint. I had passed another couple of these on the walk up. My friend’s Ste and Paul would be running that weekend. The forecast looked poor for them on Saturday sadly. I had got the best day. (for the record they did very well and finished. Well done guys!).

The new bivvy spot!

I descended the miners track down the side of the beck. The water sparkled and glistened in the sunshine, it looked inviting… Before I knew it I was stripping of and was slowly immersing myself in the icy water. It was like an ice cold jacuzzi! The word ‘invigorating’ sprung to mind. BRRRRRRRRR. I stayed in the water for quite some time. It was lovely. It was usually very quiet in Red Dell, so I didn’t expect to see anyone… Seconds after I got dressed a man appeared! I was lucky. He nearly got more than he bargained for on his morning hill walk! We had a chat and I told him where some of the interesting surface areas were. He was very grateful for the local knowledge and toddled off with his map.

I was soon throwing my stuff in the car and heading home. I’m pleased I went. It wasn’t as painful as I expected it to be… I only hope it lasts.

For Marc.

For Marc.

For those of you that have followed my blog for a while you’ll be wondering why I haven’t been writing. Many that are friends with me on Facebook will know…

I recently suffered the loss of my partner Marc.

I am writing this as a testament to what a wonderful man Marc was and how the grief has affected me.

I first met Marc through facebook and having mutual friends. Last October I was in North Wales on a solo trip. Marc and I had been in touch on messenger previously just chatting about tattoos and mountains. He contacted me the evening before I was due to leave. He was meeting his friend Glenn to do Moel Siabod. He invited me along. I explained to him in a message that I suffered with anxiety and struggled with meeting people. He reassured me I would be fine and that he’d look after me. I decided just to go home. I left Betws-Y-Coed and headed for the A55. I battled with my head to make myself turn around.. As I got to the A55 the traffic was stationary… I persevered for 20 minutes before turning round at Conwy and headed back to Betws! I checked myself into the Ty Gwyn Hotel. I’d always wanted to stay here as it was my mums favourite hotel.

I messaged Marc to say I would decide if I could come in the morning! I forced my breakfast down feeling sick with anxiety. It was time to leave… I got to the Bryn Glo carpark and sat nervously waiting. Eventually Marc rolled up 20 minutes late! M60 terror!

We instantly hit it off. He (and Glenn) made me feel relaxed. We had such an amazing day. It was just brilliant. I messaged him when I got home to thank him as I was so nervous and he made me feel completely at ease.. He messaged back to say he had also felt nervous, I asked why? He replied – “well you are a rather attractive lady”. I laughed to myself.. 2 nights later I asked what he was up to for the week, he said he was just at home in the evenings with no plans.. I hopped in my car and messaged him when I was at the M61 services on my way to see him!!! He actually thought I was joking until I knocked on his door….His face was a picture. The below picture was taken the next morning.

The start of something amazing


For many years now I have found my peace and happiness in the mountains. They have bought me resolve, contentment, healing, laughter and comfort. In recent months since meeting Marc I got to share some of these nights (and days) with somebody who brought light into my life. We shared sunsets and sunrises in complete happiness. We had snowball fights on top of the mountains. We held hands and gazed up at the stars (finding our star Vega) and watched satellites wheeling across the night sky,  we made wishes when we saw shooting stars. Marc was witness to his fist cloud inversion…All amazing memories..

Since Marc has gone I have been back into the mountains on several occasions for bivvies. The one thing that used to bring me complete happiness has left me feeling sad. I have laid alone in the depths of night staring at the night sky; watching Vega twinkling at me.. Instead of contentment I have found hurt, sadness, grief, loneliness and emptiness.

When Marc was alive I would send him pictures of evenings and mornings, He was there even when he wasn’t. The first person to message me in the morning and the last person to message me at night. It always brought me comfort.

Loving our adventures

As many know I have always been a bit of a loner and rarely spend nights in the hills with anyone as it helps my anxiety to be alone, but knowing you have someone you love only a message or a call away kept me stable. This was sometimes difficult for Marc but he took it in his stride and was always supportive and loving.

I was lucky I got to spend the best night on the hill ever with him. Mid winter on Swirl How. His first proper wild camp. It was perfect.

Happy and loved up!
A perfect night.
Watching the sun rise together

I often wonder if I will ever feel happy in the mountains again. I guess the trouble is when you meet someone that you connect with you take them to all your favourite and special places. That’s what I did with Marc. On Wetherlam last week I laid on the grass where we pitched our tent only months before. I cried until it hurt, talking to him through the tears and wishing he was still with me.

Where I lay crying.

I just don’t know how you move forward from this.

We would always start our days going for breakfast at The Meadowdore café in Coniston; I haven’t been able to go here since his passing.

Waiting for breakfast!


Even being at home is tough. The cottage is filled with memories inside and out.. All the plants he bought me in the spring time are now dying as autumn takes hold. You pray for them to stay alive as another piece of him the grasp onto.

I have done quite a bit underground alone and with friends to try to focus my mind, it offers short term relief as you have to be focussed, but even here, when you get off the ropes the memories creep back in. I took Marc to all the areas of Coniston you can access without ropes.

In Coniston Coppermines

I went to North Wales last week as we both loved it there, I was hoping it might help with the healing process.

We had a holiday here in February. I thought it would be really tough spending 24/7 with somebody but we had a blast. Not a crossed word all week. He thrived on my knowledge of the history of the mines and joined me for a several hour underground trip in Maenofferen Slate Mine. He absolutely loved it. We went up Cnicht; my favourite welsh mountain, we did the snakes and ladders trip at Dinorwic. Every evening returning to our little cottage to snuggle up in front of the fire, content and happy. (with Rum!)

The cottage

I had every intention of visiting the places we had been together… I lay in my tent crying. I drove home the next morning. The memories were just too painful.

Trying to keep dry feet in Tilberthwaite Ghyll


People keep telling me time heals…. This feels like it will never leave me. I have had some very dark days. Grief takes you to places that you never you imagine your mind will go.

My man


I think that the hardest thing about this is, is that I feel like my future has been taken away. When you’re older you know one of you will sadly leave. When you are both 45 you think you have all the time in the world. You talk about all the things you will do together. The places you want to experience and the adventures you want to share, the climbs you want to do, we wanted to do Corvus on Raven Crag-a route I’ve done several times, I really wanted to have that day with Marc as he would’ve loved it. Holidays that you would plan in front of the fire on wet and windy nights that will now never happen.

Wetherlam summit.

Where do you go from here? My future is shadowed with a vail of grey that won’t seem to lift. My future was Marc….

He was the funniest and kindest man. We even shared a love of tattoos. He was in awe of mine and I of his. He would lovingly moisturise my dragon (Kada) as I couldn’t reach!

We both understood pain, me with my back and him with his knee and back! We were a right pair after a long day in the mountains.


Since his sad passing I have had the pleasure of meeting his dad, (step) mum and sister Jenny. Malc and Kathy are the most wonderful people. You can see where Marc got his manners, kindness and fantastic sense of humour from, He was simply the most amazing man.. He was clearly a pretty awesome brother too (and uncle).

One real testament to Marc is that I have never heard a bad word said about him. He was loved so much by his friends and family. You couldn’t not like this man. He was kind hearted, hilarious, empathetic and above all loving and patient.

His close friends that he climbed with now have his climbing gear so his spirit will live on in the hills. His oldest friends who I sadly only met after his passing have been lovely. He was loved and respected.

I loved the very bones of him. The saying “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” is now etched in my heart. I can honestly say that despite it not all being perfect (as real life never is) I found my match. The person who understood and embraced all my faults.


I don’t know when I will be able to write properly again. Until I start enjoying the mountains again; which could take a while.

Below are some pictures from our adventures together.

Rest now sweetheart. Until we meet again.

Happy times.
He had to climb up everything!
Love this guy
Brim Fell.
Winter in the Coniston Fells
Brim Fell…and some sheep..

Brim Fell…and some sheep..

So, I was at home tending to my plants! It was promising to be a nice day but I wasn’t really feeling much like driving to the Lakes. I thoroughly enjoy doing my hanging baskets and window boxes. Its very therapeutic!

The day passed. I helped my lovely neightbour with her shopping and my other lovely neighbour doing some gardening. I was looking at the skies thinking it would be daft not to take advantage after all the thunder we have had!

I went inside and checked the forecast…It was very good for the west but not as musch in the east. I packed in a hurry with only wine and and water to sort when I got to Coniston. I fed Merlot and was soon singing happily to Ben Howard and heading for the Lakes.. Now, I know you could ask if I ever get bored of the Coniston Fells and the answer should be yes!! But actually its No! I do love the fells around there. They feel like home and I have a lot of fond memories from childhood right through to the present day of them. I remember days with my mum and dad and sister fell walking there. And there is the mines of course! I love those big cavernous holes!!

I pulled up in the village and nipped in the Co-op. My friend Lee was working so I had a nice chat with him before grabbing my bits. I also nipped to my fave cafe for a treat for supper!

As I drove up the valley I noticed the breeze was quite strong; this pleased me as I didn’t fancy being dinner to 3 million midges! I had packed my Smidge and headnet just in case!!

I was soon on my way but wasn’t sure where as yet, I followed the mine track up the Levers Water side so whatever happened it wouldn’t be Wetherlam! I had been on there the previous week and had a brilliant night with Ste and Jacqui. Whilst tending to go solo much of the time I do like company on occasion and I hadn’t seen Ste for a while. It was a really fab night filled with laughter and swearing! Ste didn’t get picked on at all!!!!!!!

I have added a couple of pics of that night.

Anyway, back to the day in question. I decided to take the steep path up the Levers Water, it was really hot but the breeze was welcome and was keeping me at an acceptable and comfortable temperature. On the way up I found a very small miners wedge, possibly early 18th century, it was a lovely little thing so I put it safely in my pocket.

Soon I was ay Levers Water and looking to at my favourite view! I decided to head up to Levers Hause and then would decide on Brim Fell or Swirl How. The going was really hot as the I was sheltered form the breeze here. I stopped at the beck and filled my Sawyer pouch and carried on. After the short sharp shock I popped out at the Hause. The wind was prevalent here and I knew I’d be weighing my bag down!

A short pull and the ground soon plateau’d before me. I went straight to my usual exposed spot. It’s a really top spot to bivvy or camp. It has fine views of sunset and is as flat as a bowling green. Perfect!

The perfect spot!

I busied myself setting up. I had packed all my stuff in my bivvy so all I had to do was unroll and blow my mat up with my schnozzle bag. Quick and easy!. I had my mat out to test the night before as the night I was out with Ste and Jacqui I had managed to puncture it on my rock on Wetherlam! It was my own fault….

In my element and blinded by the sun!

The repair was easy to do and had worked so I was happy.

I was soon sorted and put dinner on. A chap passed by and I could see a few people on the summit of The Old Man but nobody else came my way. I cracked open my G and T and had it whilst waiting for my Carbonara to rehydrate. Soon I was full and ready to sit back and suck in the sunset. It was looking sweet.


Convected clouds over The Old Man.

I was a little premature as the sun wasn’t going to set for at least an hour. I took of my trainers and socks and had a wander. The grass is short and springy and felt cool to walk on. I wandered around for ages like this. I looked to the South and the clouds looked convected but I knew no storms were forecast.  I went over to the top of Brim Fell slabs and looked down over Low Water. The lambs were now in ‘mental mode’! It always seems to heppen at dusk! They ran and jumped and butted each other as there mums looked on despairingly… if they were human you could imagine them shaking their heads and rolling their eyes! I sat and looked as the shadows crept into the dells and corries casting odd shapes. I love this time in the evening. Soon it was time to put some extra clothes on as I had a lot of goose bumps now. I headed back up to camp.

Feet out!


Low Water.

Soon I was warm and comfortable. I like getting my power stretch leggings on! There’s something comforting about it. I think I liken it to winter when I put my prima loft trousers on 🙂

Happy and warm!

I looked at Dow, it was shadowed and dark and looked forboding. I’ve climbed on there but only once. An intimidating but beautiful crag.

Sun setting.

I cast my eyes back to the sunset. The sun was lowering. The sheep had been entertaining so far this evening and they were still all gathered quite high up. A couple had been curious and come quite close to me.

My company.

I sat on my favourite rock and stretched my legs out. The sun was getting really low and I cursed not having my camera with me! I have broken another one by using it underground! It happens every couple of years sadly. So, apologies if the pics aren’t great.

I sat thinking about my friends and what they were doing. I thought Gillie and James would be swimming somewhere and David would be at work. Sadly Marc was at home and working early the next day. I sent regular pictures to update them of my evening.

The sun was almost finished with her day (well, at least where we are), she sank gently behind the Scafells leaving behind colours that you can never express in words. It was utterly mesmerising. Everything had an apricot hue to it before instantly turning to deep shade.

Hang on mum!
Sheep at sunset,
Last Light.

I finished my wine off and went back to my bag. The wind was still blowing quite hard and I had plenty of ballast holding down the kit! I fired up the Jetboil for a last drink as I had caramel shortbread to eat from the Meadowdore! My treat. They do make awesome caramel shortbread as well as breakfasts!

The time had come to do teeth. I had another walk around and stretch before getting snuggled in. The wind had dropped a little and was pleasant on my skin. I settled down with my arms and head out but my Buff pulled over my mouth and nose (I would hate to wake with a slug on my lip…….)

Bed Time!

I watched as the stars started to pepper the sky. It was as magical as ever. I never tire of seeing such beauty. I soon drifted off. I woke at 3am to an icredible sight. The moon was just above the horizon and was being lit by the sun rising to its west. No camera… I was gutted. It was other worldly.

Morning sheepies!
Wake up time!

I decided to get some more sleep as I was at work at 8.30. I woke again at 5.30 and decided to get up. The wind had abated and there was the odd midge around. I got a brew on and packed up. I decided a cereal bar would suffice until I got to work. Soon I was ready to leave. The sun was already high. Little did I know but my friend Sarah who was on Grasmoor was being treated to a brilliant inversion! I however wasn’t.. You can’t win them all.

The Scafell Massif.
Leave no trace.

I retraced the previous days steps as it was the fastest way down. Levers Water was like a mill pond when I arrived. Stunning.

Levers Water.

I was sad (as always) to be leaving the hills, but real life beckons and I’d had my fix.

I know some of my blogs can be a bit odd! In as much as they are related to my anxiety stuff. I hope this doesn’t deter people from reading…or just looking at the pictures! I don’t mean to be boring or over indulging in personal stuff. 🙂





My Messy Head!

My Messy Head!

This is a blog about me…again. Its not a wild camping one but has some good pics so feel free to skip the text! It’s about my messy head and anxiety! Again 🙂

After a successful solo.


It’s a strange thing, lying in bed in a haze of opiate drugs, desperate for the pain to subside and give me some respite. At the same time, my head plays massive games with me. The trouble with anxiety (particularly) is that when you’re lying here your head wants to f**k you over. I feel massive guilt… this is how the scenario goes.

Question: What must the team think?

Answer – they all think you’re skiving and are at home or out on the hill and that you’re too lazy to be at work.

Question: What must my boss think?

Answer – He and the other Directors are thinking of ways to get rid of you because you’re shit at your job.

Question: What must your friends think ?

Answer – You’re always moaning about being in pain and anxious, they’re only friends with you because they feel sorry for you.

Yep, that’s how it goes…. every time.

And the bizarre thing is that no amount of reassurance gets rid of these thoughts. My team and my friends and my bosses are all awesome people. Many have been through similar issues to one degree or another, therefore I know they understand in some ways. That doesn’t stop the questions.

I worry that a lot of people think my problems with my back are self-inflicted. They aren’t…

Yes, I slipped on the hill on Thursday and that is the reason I am now in bed with a head full of shit but if I don’t keep getting up and going to work or going on the hill or underground then what have I got. I’ll tell you what I’ve got – Jeremy Kyle and Judge Rinder! That’s what I have to look forward to. If anything is going to make you depressed then that should do it!

A rather nippy night on The Glyders.


It’s the saying “use it or lose it” that is most relevant with my “condition”. If I stop doing what I do then it will become more of a problem. I guess I am guilty doing too much at times or pushing myself a bit harder than I should but I guess it’s my choice on the day. I’ve never called in sick because I had too much of an arduous day underground. Sadly, with being into the outdoors in a big way means that there are times when you might hurt yourself… Slipping the other day was one of those moment’s. And for me a simple slip is a bit more of an issue then if I didn’t have a bad back.

Winter bivvy on Swirl How.

One of the things that a lot of people don’t understand and a question I feel gets asked a lot about my anxiety is “How come you can go underground and into the mountains alone if you have anxiety?”

To a large percentage of the population that is nuts and backwards. To most people that in itself would be enough to cause huge anxiety. I can’t go into a busy café but I can dangle off a rope in a disused mine in the pitch black surrounded by hazards or sleep on a mountain in the pitch black, totally alone with the wind howling and snow swirling around my head…Yep, that’s how it is.

19-3-2010 (34)
Enjoying the delights of Coniston.


The Blue Pool,

Underground and on the hill, are my safe spaces. Busy places are my worst nightmare and not being able to do “normal” everyday stuff is a real issue at times but they are manageable because in normal everyday life you have to do the things that you maybe find uncomfortable. A friend suggested that getting my shopping delivered maybe a good idea so I don’t have to go to the supermarket (aka HELL), this in theory is fine but it is also the start of a dangerous path… As soon as you start the road to not getting out of your comfort zone you could end up really isolating yourself. Carrying on as normally as possible is the right way to go about things.

The thing is that the things I do focus my mind so there is no room for anything else; especially the vertical stuff underground. I am totally focussed on my surrounding and the dangers as there is no room for mistakes. The same with bivvying in winter; you need to stay focussed. However, in the supermarket there is lots of time to concentrate on feeling anxious. Finding the Lurpak and Felix doesn’t quite have the same focussing qualities as “tie the right knot or you’ll fall 30 metres to an untimely and painful death!”.

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Photography is also a good focus. I’m not very good at it but I like to try and get good shots. This is also a massive focus as you are absorbed by the technicalities of it. (also avoiding frostbite and not falling down things plays a part!)

I’ve said it before and I’ll be super boring and repeat myself, we are a product of our past. There are a lot of things that happen to us that change our mindset from being carefree and level to careworn and wobbly! It’s actually ok to be the latter so long as you can manage it. When you feel it all getting too much to deal with then you have to assess things before its gets beyond the point where you can sort it out alone. And even then, it’s cool to ask for help because despite what you think people are thinking about you, they probably aren’t, and they do want to support you!

Why I do what I do.


So, there you have it. Another instalment of Kates messed up mental head.

Pillar to Siabod!

Pillar to Siabod!

This blog follows on from the Pillar story! Sorry its a little delayed but I’ve had no time to write. Also, apologies for the photo quality.. A few issues have been had!


…As I had descended from Pillar I could physically feel the anxiety creeping in again. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with myself! Mountains are usually the best therapy but this time was turning into a real battle. The weather was nice, I have a good job, great friends and family etc etc. All the things that should make you a happy and balanced person, and I just couldn’t get my head straight.. That’s the trouble with this stuff, it doesn’t matter what you have or haven’t got. Its irrational.

As I drove back home I decided I would go to Wales! Maybe that’s where I needed to be.. It was worth a try.

I got home and repacked. I was tired and my back hurt but I had to do something. I wished I was normal and could just call a friend and talk to someone but I always choose to run away and hide on my own..

Soon I was on the M6. My head raced around as usual. Lots of thoughts are about what people must think of me. I worry constantly that people think I am faking my pain (as I get out so much) and that leads to me being very anxious. It’s all very odd. I prayed that as I drove into Snowdonia the “weight” would start to lift. I was soon at The Spar in Betws getting some bits for later. The weather was lovely. I wanted to stop at the Siabod Café but my anxiety wouldn’t allow. I then had to go through the process of where to go. I decided on the Glyders so headed for Ogwen. I parked at the Car Park for Idwal and got out of the car. I fiddled with my pack at the boot and looked up at the mountains.. I shut the boot and got back in the car.. I sat, just staring. I didn’t feel better. I needed to focus but just felt like crying. I turned on the ignition and drove away.. As I reached the junction I again wobbled; half of me just wanted to drive home.. I carried on and thought about the Moelwyns-I’d always wanted to bivvy here. As I approached Bryn Glo I swung into the car park. Siabod? I got out and looked up at it. I have fond memories of this mountain as its where I first met Marc. I have camped on the summit previously but not bivvied. There were plenty of good spots.

This time I set off… this was a positive.

The road up is steep to start.. and then it joins with the quarry track. I would head up the Daear Ddu ridge-it has quite a bit of grade 1 scrambling but most can be avoided as I had my heavy pack!


The sun was hot but nice. There was a warm breeze and the ewes and their little lambs were sheltering in the grass from its heat.

I would collect water from Llyn Y Foel on the way past. My head continued to race around, full of stupid questions and pointless, unhelpful answers!

I thought back to when I was last here. Meeting Marc and Glenn was a massive challenge for me with my mental head! I had never met either of them before. It all sounds a bit crazy as meeting people shouldn’t really be an issue – if it was in a café I couldn’t have done it..Ever! But as we were outside I felt better about it. I also knew Marc had read about my anxiety so he would have an inkling about how I would be feeling..

I tried to busy my head with positive thoughts. The sun beat down on me as I approached the quarry. The flooded closehead is very beautiful. I looked around at the old ruins and tried to picture what it would’ve looked like in the early years. A hive of activity. The water wheel pit is still intact and was fed from a reservoir above the workings; if you look closely from above you can make out the remains of the old dam. I love industrial history. It fascinates me, most of us have a fairly comfortable life. I think of the miners. Being up here in winter. Sleeping 4 to a bed with just a few blankets. The beds in the  ‘Barracks’ would be riddled with lice. They literally had the clothes they had worked in all day and a small fire to keep them warm. Incredible, hardy people.

My thoughts turned back to the job in hand.

I was soon overlooking the ridge and the Llyn. From the col the ridge looks intimidating-a crest of spikes and pinnacles rise up to the summit. It always looks impressive. I was hoping with the spell of dry weather I could keep my feet dry as the next section is pretty boggy! I weaved in and out of the marshy ground looking for a flowing water source. The water in the tarn was very stagnant and didn’t look appetising even with the Sawyer! I found a small inlet that was ‘just’ flowing and drew water from here. I take an empty plastic bottle now to decant into the squeeze bag as its difficult to fill them if there is no way of getting the bag vertical!

I was soon 2 kg heavier.. Ugh.. Luckily everything is lighter in summer though I was still using my winter bag and mat as temperatures were due to fall with a clear sky promised and I knew how chilly it was on Pillar!

I was soon on the ridge. I put my poles away for a while as I wanted to stay on the rock as much as possible. I was soon recalling my day with the guys and hard we had made it for ourselves. Today would have to be a bit more sensible as I only had Salomon trainers on and my pack was a lot heavier. The rock was cool to touch where it was shaded from the sunshine and hot in other places. I stopped to take in the view. You could see all the way to Cadair and the Rhinogs with the Arrans beyond. It was a stunning day.

I toiled on upwards in the heat. I had seen no-one at all. I could hear a cuckoo in the distance and the larks were rising and falling in the Spring sky. I was pleased I was out. I knew it would help; even if it was a battle.


I was soon nearing the summit, I had really enjoyed the ridge even though it was hard with a cumbersome pack on. There was one lady on the summit. (and a sunbathing lamb!) We exchanged pleasantries and I set about looking for a spot to sleep. The lady was sitting right where I wanted to bivvy! I sat around and waited as she wrote her postcards! I thought she would never leave! She eventually bid ne a nice night a tootled off! At last. It was nearing 5.30 and I was hungry.

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I lay my kit out and got organised.  I fired up the Jetboil and made a brew and got my Bla Band prepared. It was nice to be alone. Peace and quiet. My head felt slower and less full of crap. I sucked in the view as I drank my coffee. A couple of guys turned up who were running first aid courses at Plas-Y-Brenin. I took a picture for them. They went and another 2 ran up from PYB! I took some pictures of them which I promised to email (and did-I got a lovely relpy!). After they went I was alone again. I ate my dinner and leaned back as the sky started to turn golden.

Looking to the coast.
Looking to Cadair.

It was promising to be a lovely sunset. I was totally chilled, wine in hand and my pain was under control with the tramadol. Ii looked around and saw a couple approaching. I was a little cheesed off that my peace was going to be disturbed… They asked me about the ridge as the lads girlfriend had not been able to do it and they had to walk all the way round! Then another 4 lads approached the summit! They knew the couple that were already here! They all engaged me in conversation! The lads cracked open cider and stella! Oh bugger…how long would they stay for.. The first couple left as they were worried about time and had no head torches. The lads chatted away and then went down to the shelter 50m away. They too soon went shouting goodbyes as they headed off.. At last it was quiet! The sun started to drop. It was a stunner.



The Snowdon Massif.



Last light.

As it sank the temperature sank with it. My trusty Patagonia Nano Air was under my new Patagonia Ultralight down jacket and I also had my Ultra light down vest with me. Plus, hat and gloves and a multitude of Buffs! It was feeling nippy but I was toasty warm. I watched the light fade over the Snowdon Massif and wondered if anyone else was out.. I sipped my wine and watched the lights start to come on in the valley’s and out towards the coast. The last people out I could see were walking down the Miners Track on Snowdon; there headtorches bobbed along back to Pen Y Pass. All was dark now and quiet. The temperature felt near freezing and when I looked at my bag it had a sheen of frost on it! I was so glad I had the Western bag and not my MHW!


New Jacket!

I decided it was time to turn in and watch the stars. The moon had risen behind me as I watched the sunset and it shone down covering the rocks with a ghostly light. Perfect. Despite my head (and a lot of unexpected company) it had been a good day. My back was looking forward to a rest. I cleaned my teeth and had my usual squaddie wash then at last I was horizontal and gazing skywards at the stars and the moon. A gentle breeze kissed my nose and cheeks and I pulled mu Buff up and snuggled down. I was soon unable to keep my lids open and the last thing I saw was a satellite whizzing past the Plough..

The moon.

Morning dawned fair and bright. My bag was covered in moisture. The sun was already crowning Snowdon with her warm light. It was magical. I sat up. Brrrrr! It was really chilly! I had to force myself up for some photos and a wee before getting back into bed! I wasn’t ready to get up yet. I slept for another hour then when I woke again the sun was high. The temperature had risen and it felt pleasant in the sunshine. I put my brew on and set about airing my kit. A green theme was emerging!




Airing the kit!
Chilly breeze.


The views were wonderful. I sat in the sunshine and ate breakfast. My kit was dry in no time and soon I was packing up for the hike back. I would go over the top and back down the other ridge and meet the track I ascended on. There is a bit of scrambling but it’s easy.


Soon I was on my way.

Leave no trace.

I was thinking as I walked down if I should stay another night… I still didn’t know where I wanted to be!!

I had the urge to be on the North Pennines! I would consider my options on the way down. The views were magnificent and I was pleased I had come. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk down. The cuckoo was back and the Larks. Real sounds of summer. I stopped on the bridge and took some pictures of the Afon Llugwy. It’s a stunning river. I saw a dipper bobbing around on the rocks which was a treat, great little birds 😊

Afon Llugwy.

Back to the car and back North!

Because We Need it…..

Because We Need it…..

Well, its been a tough few weeks. You see, my daft anxiety doesn’t let me choose when it will leave so I have to act in one of two ways.. I can A, sit at home and shut out real life. B, Fight like hell and push myself. Or C, Both!

This occasion was to be C. As I write this its worth knowing that I’ve had to take several days off work using holiday and unpaid leave. I have not seen anyone socially for 4 weeks…Not even Marc (until last night) and one evening with my dear friend David. I have fought and battled through work and the rest of the time I have spent alone…searching for a way out of this current ‘bout’. And search I have.. I have been over and underground. In bed, on the hill… I’m still none the wiser but I have moved forwards and I am now in a better place.

I would like to thank some friends in this blog who have tirelessly reassured me and offered words of support and care when I was at my lowest points. They may not think it adds up to much but seriously, I don’t know where I would be without your help and support. (I’ll mention them later to keep you all in suspense!)

I hope my followers and friends don’t mind me including some of this stuff in my blogs? I feel its appropriate at times as It is these problems that I have to endure that inspre me to keep doing what I do.

So, I’m sitting at home. The sun is blazing outside and I’m staring at the empty fireplace..processing, looking for answers to questions.. for hours. Playing mind numbing games of spider solitaire to pass the painful hours. My back hurts, my head is full…constantly processing, over processing, over thinking, processing….on and on it goes. Never good enough, worthless, pointless, lethargy, apathy, pain, exhaustion…..and it goes on. But today, I would make it stop. I had to. I was done. I stood up and walked to the cupboard, my favourtite cupboard… I started to pull out my bivvy kit. I stuffed and packed everything into my sack. I didn’t know where I was going or why. I just had to go.

I got Joanne to feed Merly for the night and morning and got in the car. I decided to head somewhere further afield and Pillar spring into my head. It was a long drive and the Fred Whitton was on the next day so I would need to be off the hill at a sensible time to miss the conjestion. I was committed mentally so off I went. Soon I was in the jaws of the valley. It was stunning. I could see waves on Wastwater so I knew it would be a breezy night.

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I parked in the NT car park and checked with the warden I was ok overnight.. It was fine. I headed down the road, all the ewes were heavily in lamb and new borns chased around enjoying the sunshine. I walked to Ritsons Bar and dumped my pack outside. I ordered a water and a wine and sat under the trees out back listening to the water and watching the birds. I always think of my mum when I’m here; she loved Wasdale and I knew that she would probably have sat in this exact  spot at some point… My eyes filled with tears and I dropped my head as the area was busy.. I missed her so much.. I looked distantly to Pillar and the long hike ahead of me. I felt reluctant-but thats my head. I had to forge forwards or go home. I knew it would be painful to force myself onwards but I knew if  went home that the anxiety had won and I would feel defeated. I had come this far so I knew I must carry on. I finished my wine, tightened my pig tails and pulled my pack on. I was soon traversing the flanks of Kirk Fell. I stepped aside for a runner and to my surprise the lad behind him was my supervisor, Dave. We chatted for a good 20 minutes; this was good as I hadn’t conversed for days now.. They were reccying the Bob Graham Round.

I was soon on my way again. I was battling my head the whole time..It was bloody exhausting. I was soon where the path crosses the beck from Black Sail. Here I had to take water and pack was about to get 2 kilos heavier! Great…

The next section of path zig zags and then a small trod breaks off and rises steeply to another traverse that comes out near the path to Looking Stead. I had to dig deep here as I felt wasted. Soon it was all over and I was on the main path to Pillar. An icy wind cut through me from the Noth east and I put some clothes on. Goose bumps like hedgehog spikes formed quickly on my legs! I told myself to ‘man up’ and crack on! I passed a few people heading down and then I was alone. I was soon approaching the summit. The wind was searching for any bare flesh to freeze…as per usual. I hoped it would abate and leave me be.


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I set about building a small shelter around the bivvy that was already assembled but needed some repairs! The weather was stunning and the air clarity perfect. I felt ok. Relieved but still not quite there.. I sat back and cracked open the tin of G and T I had lovingly carried up in my pack! I looked around. Soul food. The suns rays searched downwards to Ennerdale and fluffy clouds moved over the sky. It was as good as it gets. I saw some heads bobbing towards the summit. 4 Irish bloked that were all reccying the the BG round appeared. One sat down and chatted to me about a night he spent under the stars and how magical it was…It’s the best way to see the stars I said! He was soon dragged off by his friends! I waved them off and was alone again. I decided to have a little walk. I made a quick brew as I needed my tramadol and then wandered off to photograph Pillar Rock. To my surprise I saw 2 guys walking up. I took some snaps and then went back to the summit. They soon appeared having done North west climb. We had a good chat and again, I was alone.. This time for the last time. I was pleased as last time I was up here another guy was bivvying. We had a good night really, we kept a respectful distance and had some nice chats but also some alone time too.



I fired up the beast and prepared my dinner. I was pretty hungry and was looking forward to it..and my wine… My head was definitely quieter but I still felt an edge to me.

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I decided to focus on food and photography..oh and wine…obviously..

The sunset looked promising. I decided as was time to move house. I preferred the look of a spot in the summit shelter. The ground was flat but a little stony-the Sea to Summit Comfort Light would be fine and I knew what it could handle so I quickly moved in time for the sun dropping. I was soon resettled and walking around with the tripod.


I was in awe of the mountains, everything looked perfect. The wind had dropped and I felt good. I was warm in my new Patagucci Ultralight down jacket.. Its worth mentioning that I got it as a present for Marc but the colour was far too ‘girlie’ so I kept it!!! (for the record-I bought him an Arcteryx Atom SL in place!!!).


As the sun dropped, the shadows grew long and cast over the mountains and valleys.. It was a stunner of a night. I sat and stared down the beautiful Ennerdale Vally. The sun shone brightly from its surface in gold, soon to turn to peach and orange.. If there is ever a way to heal your head then this is the cheapest and best therapy there is.

I love this time of night. The colours, the air, the silence. A distant bleat from a ewe and the wind.


088I snapped away and took in all the surrounding. This was what I needs..I knew in my heart (and head) that this couldn’t always be the soloution but it will always level me.

Despite the sickness from my Tramadol the pain was (temporarily) gone. I sat back with my wine and watched the horizon pull the sun towards it..Soon she would be gone and I would be left with the stars…no poor substitute. Sunset was amazing!

The wind was now all but gone and walked around feeling warm and happy. My wine coursed through my veins. It was a perfect. Just breathing felt good. Appreciation of your surrounding can be incredibly rewarding-and humbling…

The night drew in and my favourite stars appeared. Warming my soul and evoking memories. Soon it would be final brew time. It is remarkable the simple and primitive things you look forward to when you are in the mountains at night. (apart from the 3am wee!!!!!!!).

I decided it was time to get snuggled down for the night. I cupped my hot chocolate and breathed the cold clear air. It felt like spring was here, despite the chill there was a different smell on the breeze.. In usual fashion I toddled off to do my teeth etc and was soon engulfed by all my warm stuff. It was beautiful. I looked skyward…My head was empty…nothing… Just Marc and how I sorted stuff out..The fact that he is so awesome and patient would hopefully make that easy.. Why he stays I have no idea..


And then it was 5.11am!!!! I looked down at my dew covered bag. The air was cold and I was reluctant to move. I needed a wee and it was sunrise! Up, I thought, get up! Don’t sleep through another one!!! I forced myself out of my warm cocoon.. And boy I’m glad I did…What a stunner. Inversions were prevalent in the East. Cloud poured over the Helvellyn range and Blencathra sat in a sea of cloud..It was certainly a good tool for spurring the spirit along! My eyes watered in the chilled air. The fells changed colour and I was hungry! I snapped a few more and headed back to the warmth and a good breakfast! Powdered coffee and dehydrated food is totally underrated!!!!



I finished my food and coffee and then…..I fell asleep for another hour! I must have needed it. I woke and there was warmth in the sun. I got up again and put another perfect powdered coffee on and had a cereal bar. I took some more pictures. Steeple and Red Pike were beatufully lit now…Soon it was time to head back to reality… I started to pack.

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Soon I was shouldering the pack and taking a last look before moving off. I wouldv’e gone the long way but was mindful of the Whitton. I retraced my steps but for a deviation onto the runners paths as it was easier on the back. The sun was now high and warm. It was lovely! I thoroughly savoured the walk down. The valley was so beautiful.. As I descended it became warmer and the small of summer filled the air. I saw a new born lamb high on the fell which was lovely.



Soon I was nearing the pub. I stopped and chatted to a few people who asked about the temps on the summit and winds. The National Trust guy had to unlock the gate for me as I was in the overflow field! I was so pleased he was there or my car would’ve been locked in!

A cracking night in all but I knew more time would be needed to get over this current ‘issue’.

My head was already in Wales…. Oh dear.. It was going to be a long week…. TBC..

So, those people I need to thank for keeping me level..

Gillie H, Marc Y, James R, David H, Ste M, Katie Mc, Ali R, Paddy R, Justin G, Julie W/T, Lee W,Steph D, David W, Graeme C, Stephen B, Mike N, Pete H, Martin W,. There are many more too. Including my team at work..Absolute legends. Also, all the people who messaged me following my frst blog about anxiety.. I’m sorry if I haven’t mentioned you but after all I am a bit bonkers! (and tramadol wipes your memory!)

The Daily Fight.

The Daily Fight.

This is a personal blog about my mental health issues. I won’t be offended if you don’t read it as I know it’s not a regular instalment of wild camping fun and happy stuff!

It may seem a little disjointed as It has been added to at different times..

For those of you that do read it I hope it goes some way to explaining about me and how things aren’t always as they appear.

So, this a wild camping blog? Right? Well, yes, it is, but this time it’s going to be about something that some of you are aware of and some aren’t. It is partly an explanation of how I got into wild camping and needing solitary time on the hill..

I really don’t know where to start. Anxiety is something I have suffered with for a long time. When my mum got sick 9 years ago, I was rocked. I watched my mum – the most important person in my life, die. Now, death is cruel in all its forms, but this death was more distressing, more cruel and earth shattering than any other death I had been exposed to because it was taking my best friend away. I watched it take her ability to feed herself, to draw-her biggest passion, to communicate, I knew I would never hear her tell me she loved me again. I watched he as her hair fell out from the radiotherapy, her skin lost its colour and then at last she was in a hospice and I knew it wouldn’t be long before she and us were released from this 8 months of torture. The day she passed was the saddest day of my life. My dad had lost his soul mate and we, our mum. But me, I had lost my best friend. Now, my point is, this shit changes you. You are never the same….ever.

The anxiety started during her illness, I was in a shopping centre when I was suddenly overwhelmed by a need to leave. I couldn’t swallow and thought I was going to faint or be sick. I ran to an alley and stood there, terrified to move or go back into the centre. I tried to put it down to a lot of things. I prayed it was a blip but the attacks became more frequent. I couldn’t go into meetings at work, public transport was a definite no, getting in a car as a passenger, having people in my car when I was driving, no, cinemas, shopping centres, aeroplanes, pubs, drinking hot drinks in public-stupid, yes?? No…. I lost the ability to swallow drinks if other people were with me…  …I was becoming trapped. I found reasons not to do things if it involved anything that may bring on an attack…I eventually went to the doctors, I was diagnosed with severe anxiety. I was put on Beta Blockers. For four years, I took them until eventually things started to level a little. I still avoided all the situations that I knew could bring on an attack.

I found sanctuary in the mountains. I guess this is where the bivvying became so important to my well-being. Despite my back pain (which I was dealing with also) I would force myself out. I went into the mountains when I knew nobody else would be around. In a way, I thought I was ‘healing’ ok. I still think this is the case…But now and then something happens that is out of our control.

The following happened recently…

I had wanted to see Placebo for years but a gig this big took a lot of courage and ‘manning up’. With help of Paul my friend, I did it. I felt anxious but I did it. This was a huge deal for me. A huge step forward..Then, the following day I walk into Asda and boom. A massive attack. I literally ran out of the supermarket….I sat in my car crying. I was crestfallen. I couldn’t put my finger on a trigger..

The next day I had a staff meeting at work and our Xmas party in the evening. In the morning, I was edgy, lacking in focus. I walked over the park and realised I had forgotten my shop keys… I went into the coffee shop and then wandered up to work. David let me in and I explained that the day prior I had suffered an anxiety attack and that I would like him and Steve to be my voice at the meeting. The whole team were soon in the store. As Ali walked in I looked at her and she caught my eye, she came straight behind the counter and I grabbed her arm, I knew what was happening, what took place next was the most terrifying experience ever. I was hysterical, shaking, hyperventilating, confusion, nausea, fear…I looked as the guys watched in horror and pity as I broke down. Steve and Ali holding me up and trying to get me to breathe. It was the worst attack I’d ever had. I searched my confused head for triggers and found nothing. I felt beaten down. I was now in fear. The day passed in a blur. I tried to focus on work, sitting in the office trying to rewire my brain. Dave came and sat with me on his lunch, we watched a cycling video, it was a good distraction. Then Steve came up. He complained about his lunch tasting naff. I decided to try to go to the shop floor when Steve was finished. I walked apprehensively downstairs and to the counter. Dave was there too. The guys suggested I should maybe try to come to the party….This was like poking a fire that just needed a little oxygen..I was almost running out of the shop..Steve was hot on my heels and I was outside again in a similar position as the morning. I had no idea what was happening. All I knew was I was terrified.

I decided the best place for me was home. I cried all the way back in the car. The sense of relief as I locked the door behind me was overwhelming. In my head, I knew this was not healthy as you can’t stay locked up forever and I knew I could only postpone ‘real life’ for a short time before I would have to sort myself out. But how? How do you sort out something that you are totally bemused about? I searched my head for answers. Soon it was full and spinning. I tried to focus. I knew that one thing that was important was work. I was going into my buying season for Winter 17. I was in Manchester on the Friday to see Patagonia. Surely, I would be ok. I sat with a glass of wine and stared at the flames in the fire. I liked watching the fire; it offered more entertainment for me than TV.

Over the next 24 hours the phone rang and pinged, I ignored calls and communicated by message. I couldn’t face talking as I knew I would cry. People who are very dear to me were trying to reach out but I pretended they weren’t there by putting my phone onto silent and ,making the cat chase the laser pen as a distraction. I slept uneasily with the help of amitriptyline.

The next day I would drive to Manchester and see Patagonia for my appointment…right? Wrong… I went to see Marc first (my boyfriend). He reassured me I would be ok. I knew already I wasn’t going. It was not going to happen, the thought of going filled me with dread. Marc had gone to work….I sat crying in the car again trying desperately to make myself go…no. I text Steve apologetically. I was embarrassed and upset. I went to Marc’s and blitzed his house, I moved furniture and cleaned. At least I would achieve something and kill the hours that would pass until he came home at 9.45pm. I then decided to try the shops. This was a massive challenge. My friend Paul had suggested putting my headphones in and trying to focus on my music. I walked into Poundstretcher (don’t laugh!) I wanted something for Marc’s bathroom. My heart pounded as I walked around. As I got further from the door I clutched my neatly folded plastic bag -this comes everywhere with me in case I’m sick….stupid eh? No…. it’s like a lifeline. I grabbed the bits I needed and made for the checkout, it was empty.. The girl was really pleasant behind the counter. She asked if I had a new bathroom. No, I replied, a new boyfriend! She laughed as we exchanged glances, she had noticed my hands shaking…I was embarrassed now and the panic was rising in my chest. Just made it I thought.. I dashed to the car and dumped the bags. Now, in my head I just achieved something amazing….Mental? Sometimes when I think about what I’m writing it is completely off the wall. The fact that going into a shop is seen as a major achievement is utterly bonkers but sadly very real. So, as I’d achieved such greatness I was eyeing Asda up…I picked up my bag and headed to the entrance. I thought about pizza, but there was no time to think, it had started. I grabbed a flat bread and went straight to the self-checkout. That was a bit of a failure. I was in a mess by the time I got to the car… The one thing that is certain about anxiety is that it is irrational…totally irrational. I was glad to be back in the safety of the car.

It would appear now that everything in my head was a challenge. My thought processes were reverting back to a few years ago. I was already making up stupid and irrational scenarios in my head. Everything was focussing on anxiety and how I would cope. Work, friends, my dad etc

The scenarios have continued to rear up. For instance, I decide to go into the Lakes for a bivvy.. I spend the whole journey being terrified by the thought of going into my favourite coffee shop in Coniston. Would I be able to ‘swallow’ my coffee or would I stare at it and then take the tiniest of sips and fight to get it to go down. It’s like my throat closes and that’s it, I’ll gag and maybe I’ll be sick in front of everyone…the spiral starts. This is before I am even there…

Today I am in bed. A trigger last week (which I can’t talk about yet) has left me in another state of being mentally dysfunctional.

I hate myself for not being able to just get up and sort myself out. I hate myself for being weak. I hate the pain I have to deal with. The way tramadol makes me feel sick. I hate the way anxiety and pain exhaust me to the point of tears, to the point where I second guess everything, to the point that my head is never quiet, guilt, suffering, pity, hate, sorrow, loathing. Tinnitus at 2am when all the world is quiet but my head is so noisy. Over processing every scenario. Wanting to make plans but knowing I’ll cancel them anyway.

Some days I avoid going for coffee with people I’ve known for years in the outdoor industry because I worry that I won’t be able to have my drink in case I start to feel anxious and can’t swallow…

I expect a big question for most people reading this is ‘Why not get help’?

I’ve had counselling – for quite a while after mum passed. I was also on Beta Blockers for 4 years ( as I previously mentioned) to control the attacks. I was weaned off them and don’t welcome going back to them.

I also now have the added problem of the acceleration of my back pain. The doctor joked once when he was prescribing Amitriptyline that whilst this drug was for a muscle relaxing purposes it was also used for depression – after all he said, most people who are in pain everyday will also suffer from depression. I guess he had a point. I hadn’t really thought about it before, I suppose I was used to the grind of the daily pain.

The other medication I’m on – Tramadol has side effects that if you read you would probably never take them… Sadly I don’t have that choice.

The vicious circle..

Tramadol – side effects include anxiety and nausea. But there are days that if I don’t take them I cannot function and would struggle to go to work full time. So, I can be pain free but have increased anxiety and symptoms that relate to anxiety.

Amitriptyline – make you feel hungover but stop me having nerve spasms through the night which would otherwise wake me up. These allow me to sleep most nights but make me feel hungover – also similar symptoms to bring on an anxiety attack.

So, it’s a bit of a ‘Catch 22’… Obviously, I’ve tried many different types of medication to find a better solution… But, it seems there would never be an easy option.

The solution. All I can do is carry on trying to function as normally as possible. I know there will always be times when I cannot do the things I want to do. That may be going for dinner or going to the shops or having a coffee, getting a lift to somewhere, using public transport. The things that most people take for granted are the things that can consume my thoughts for hours..I have tried Mindfulness and it does work to a degree but I think that there are some things we are allowed to accept as our own normality..

I cannot really remember being carefree and pain free. (this isn’t a sympathy hunt..). The days of rationality are long in the past for me. This is now my life.

When I went to counselling more recently I was asked about my childhood etc. I felt like the counsellor was looking for other reasons behind my anxiety.. As he dug around in my past I had to tell him as I could tell where he was heading! I told him I wasn’t interfered with as child, I wasn’t abused. I had a strict upbringing but that was a good thing as I’ve grown to be a disciplined and honest person. I wasn’t bullied, I left home young but it taught me to be independant and streetwise. All I knew was I missed my mum and I was in constant pain with my back..

I felt like I wasn’t really being listened to. Like there should be something else that was causing my anxiety. I thought long and hard about this…(too much as usual). I decided counselling had one benefit for me. It had made me realise that some of us can’t be fixed. Not by talking, medication, therapy or anything else for that matter.

I felt it was time to be honest with myself. As I sit here in bed feeling sick from the tramadol and struggling to function normally (it’s a nice day outside and that’s where I should be)…I have come to the conclusion that this is how I am now. These conditions that I suffer are part of me that I can’t change. I am allowed to be like this. I don’t have to get help. All I can do is help myself. I will try to stay fit and active as my back allows. I’ll take my painkillers when I have to. I will have anxiety attacks. I will struggle with all those things that most people take for granted because its who I am now. I am a product of everything that has happened in my past. This is my life. I’ll never be fully free of pain and it will deteriorate and I will take all this in my stride. My friends and colleagues will have to accept that from time to time I may not be able to make it to work because of how I am on that day. I know I can’t go to the climbing wall, yoga classes, the gym…All these places are now ‘no go’ areas as they are all places where I know I am increasing my chances of having an attack..

I also know that sometimes it stems from my back pain. I become ground down and don’t always realise how much it’s getting to me. The desperation to keep pushing myself so I don’t fail at work or miss a night on the hill or be there for someone else takes its toll and before I know it it’s all got too much and I’m on my knees. (or that’s how it feels). But this is ok. It is what it is. We are allowed to be tired. We are allowed to throw the towel in from time to time when it gets too much.

This is just a small part of my story. But I do feel that even putting this small snippet out there it may help others in some small way that are also suffering in similar ways to me.

(Or you may just decide I am bonkers and should be avoided at all times!)

Mental health issues and problems come in many different forms. It can be destructive and frightening to suffer from any form or condition whether it be Anxiety, Depression, Bi-Polar, PTSD amongst others. The battles are often (as I know from friends who suffer) debilitating and exhausting. I never thought I would be someone  who would be here as one of those people. I wrote this because at times I feel like everything is pointless. Today I made a step toward accepting my ‘nutty’ problems and moving forward carrying them as best I can as oppose to trying constant ways to rid myself of them and failing miserably.

Keep trucking people.

Post Work Perfection!

Post Work Perfection!

I was clock watching all day at work as the weather was perfect. It was a Saturday and had quietened off considerably as it was the last Saturday of the holidays. I managed to leave just after 4pm as I needed to go home and pack then drive back into the Lakes!

I was home in no time and on my way back..I was sure I would’ve forgotten something as I was rushing. I had no idea where I was going to go. I looked at the fells, they all looked inviting… I decided to turn right at Ings and head over to either Yoke area or Red Screes. I decided on Red Screes as I hadn’t been up there since I was a young girl. I parked at Kirkstone Pass and headed off. It was very nippy in the wind but there was warmth in the sun. The path is steep and rocky in places but very enjoyable. I passed the last two walkers who were descending. Off to the pub no doubt!

It was a beautiful evening and I was glad I had made the effort to drive home. Merlot was happy and full at home and my friend Joanne would feed her in the morning.

I was soon nearing the summit after enjoying the fabulous rock scenery on the way up.

The trig popped into view and at last I could look for a bed and relax. I had forgotten what a pretty summit it was with its tarns and incredible views down Ullswater.

Top spot!

I found a suitable spot just North West of the summit and organised my stuff.  A couple of walkers appeared from Scandale but only hung around briefly as it was very cold… I checked the forecast and as usual it had changed.. It was going to be overcast for a few hours until midnight it would seem. Looking at the sky it told a different story.. It was pretty clear with some clouds in the west. I hoped it wouldn’t spoil sunset..

I had a quick look on the camping forums only to find my mates Peter  and Lee were on Yoke! The irony.. I keep missing Peter by one summit! I messaged him to say I’d flash him later. Bless him he was very jet lagged after his hols so said I may see Lee’s headtorch as he would be asleep soon..


I fired up the Jetboil and prepared my dinner. Bla Band Creamy Pasta with broccoli and cheese-I am working through the new recipes. I walked to the summit to eat and have a brew. Dinner was nice for a veggie offering and whilst I ate I watched as a Kestrel as it swooped and glided below me looking for a meal… Beautiful.

Dinner time.

The sun was starting to drop and I decided to move house! I wanted to be closer to the summit. The great thing about a bivvy as it’s a really easy task! I gathered everything in my ground sheet protector, grabbed the four corners and carried it to the new spot! Easy!!

Perfect view.
Feeling content.

I got organised and poured my `wine. It was a magical evening. Very little wind, sunny and pleasant. I went off to explore my surroundings. I walked around the tarn. Something breached the surface but I couldn’t tell if it was frog, toad, newt or fish! Bubbles rose in few places so something was living in there!

Summit Tarn.

The views were lovely. I looked to Stoneycove Pike. I am keen to go there next. (Jane and Sue were up there the following day with their lovely Labrador Amber; it looks like a great spot for a camp!).

Shadows were starting to draw on the hills and the air temperature was dropping. The sunset was a little flat at the moment but it may come good as it got lower…

Lowering sun.

I set my tripod up and cupped my wine. The colours in the sky started to change out west. A buzzard soared on the thermals and let out a beautiful cry… Perfect. And it wasn’t windy!!!! Yes!. I looked smugly toward my bed.. My pillow would never blow away again as I had made it a lanyard out of bungee cord!

The solution!

As the light diminished the colours in the sunset started to intensify. It was looking pretty stunning…and it got better and better. I was in awe as I watched the contrast of the orange and red against dark foreboding clouds. It was incredible. I smiled to myself. I was lucky to live here. Every night is worth the effort but every now and then you get a sunset that brings tears to your eyes.. this was one of those nights.

Intense skies.
Fire in the sky.
Sheer beauty.
Wine and photography.

I watched as the sun inched its was down until it disappeared leaving behind its last warmth and colour before the blue of night time nudged its way through. I looked to Coniston and was glad I made my choice to be here! It was shrouded in heavy cloud for now..

Thw Coniston Massif.

The first stars started to pierce the night sky and it was time to get the headtorch out. I finished my wine and fired up the Jetboil one more time. My colleague and friend Jane had given me a Bounty for my supper so I would have that with a hot chocolate before bed. It was nippy now and the light wind was harsh against bare skin. My Sea to Summit cup let enough heat through to warm my fingers as I watched the sky darken. I looked toward Yoke to see Lee’s headtorch moving around the summit.

Ready for sleep.

Time for bed. I rinsed my cup and cleaned the fangs. Soon I was engulfed by the Western Mountaineering Versalite! And My New Montane Down mountain cap! My friend Aimee got it for me! It was super warm. Love it!

I laid back and gazed skyward. The stars were up in force. I tracked down Vega (mine and Marc’s star) amongst other familiar ones. The light winds caressed my cheeks. I sighed and fell into a deep sleep.. I woke with a start as a Swaledale sheep clearly had something to say at 10.30pm! I sat up and saw her having a right good bleat! Luckily, she had don me a favour as I had fallen asleep with my face exposed…again…idiot! I snuggled in again and didn’t wake till after sunrise. Whilst Peter and Lee were happily photographing I was still snoring! The morning was calm and clear. Some high clouds made for good photo’s. I brewed up and had my Bla Band Apple and Cinnamon porridge for breakfast. Time to get up I guess. Work beckoned. I felt refreshed and rested. I decided to have one more coffee as I had enough time as It was a 10am start today and I would be early anyway.


I sucked in the view. A Herdwick wandered over to the tarn and started to drink. You don’t see them drink very often so this was a treat! Soon I was rolling up my kit ready for the decent. I took my ‘LNT  picture’ and headed off.

Thirsty Herdy!

The descent was pleasant. I took my time as the path is steep in places but was still down in 30 minutes. Stunning bivvy. Perfect weather. I will definitely be back!

The road to work!
The Winds Continue to Conspire…

The Winds Continue to Conspire…

I left work at 4.30…A little bit if a flyer as things had quietened off in the afternoon and my staff are awesome!

I headed for the usual haunt of the Coniston fells as I was back in work at 9.15 on the Sunday morning. I could see it was going to be a nice night and I wanted to get high…To be honest its pretty hard to motivate yourself when you’ve been on your feet all day and now you have to flog up a mountain with a heavy pack on.. Winter was hanging on so extra kit is always needed when you only use a bivvy bag as there is no protection from the wind.

I had invited Gillie tonight but she had her dogs so had decided to camp up on The Scar above Kendal. (Tigs is getting old and prefers a bit of comfort) 🙂 I told her I would look for her headtorch light later on.

I decided to  head to Walna Scar carpark and see where I ended up. I was surprised to see that some irresponsible git had left the gate wide open! I drove through and closed it behind me.

I got out of the car and a keen wind from the North West hit me! Brrrrr, extra layers would be needed. I messed about finishing the packing and decanted some wine into my platypus for my evening tipple! 🙂

Soon I was on my way, my legs complained instantly…I would soon warm up I thought. I was really pulling on my poles now as I was mindful of the time and the sunset. I didn’t want to miss it. I felt sluggish and slow… As I approached Low Water I exchanged pleasantries with the last few walkers coming down off the The Old Man. I decided I would go up via Raven Tor; Its a nice little trod and fairly direct to the summit of Brim Fell. (I usually avoid the Old Man summit on a Saturday night as its popular and there is a chance you may get company!) I felt really weak as I started up the steep grass to the col. There had been a bug/virus at work and I was hoping that I wasn’t getting it..I felt stupidly slow…I can usually really beast myself but tonight I had nothing in my legs. I wondered if I should head home, I could curl up on the sofa with Merly in front of the fire and have a restful eveining….Nope, I must keep going..I was driven by the thought of the sunset..knowing soon I would be rested and watching the sun sink with a cup of wine and a good meal! I rested at intervals as I couldn’t keep my rhythm at all. Soon I was heading for the summit. I was pleased I has persevered, it was, as always, stunningly beautiful. The Scafells and The Langdales, Wetherlam etc now in view.. Perfect.

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Looking to Wetherlam

Yet again, the wind was not in my favour..I took my mobile out and updated the forecast. 30mph gusts. As usual I would have to spend all night hanging onto my kit!

Getting ready for dinner 🙂

I found a great spot just under some rocks that would give me some protection from the wind. I unpacked, taking care to keep everything sheltered and weighted!. I made a wind break with some rocks to help the Jetboil along. I put my water on straight away for dinner as I wanted to be done and dusted with food and ready to sit and watch the sunset with a full tummy and some warmth in me! It was pretty cold.. I was soon wolfing down my Bla Band Pasta Bolognase..I felt a little less washed out. I finished up my dinner and coffee and was soon sitting back and relaxing. I was well layered up! I decided to head for a walk. I thought back to previous nights on this summit. Gillie and Tigger, Vicki, Bryn have shared this summit with me…Also the only time I have seen the Aurora was from here. I stood looking to the coast and smiling as I thought of Tigger-(Gillies German Short Haired Pointer) with a Buff on his head! He looked great! We had danced to Ben Howard and drunk G and T! Good times..I would hopefully see her head torch light when it got dark.

Soon the sun was sinking. It was quite a ‘flat’ sunset. Beautiful nonetheless.. The sky was clear and the stars would be good tonight.I headed back to my bed, the wind continued to remind me of the winter..It was well below freezing on the skin!

Sun setting
Harter Fell and Sellafield.

I finished up my wine and stuck another brew on. Hot chocolate was most welcome. As darkness fell around me I breathed in the cold night air. It was just the best feeling.. The stars appeared one by one and the temperature seemed to fall with everyone that appeared. I cupped my hot choccy and looked toward Kendal. My phone screen lit up and Gillie messaged me to say she could see me! I picked up her moving headtorch on the Scar also.. Lovely! I felt comforted by it somehow. I watched her for a short while moving around as she did me before it was time to say goodnight.

I started to sort my bits out ready for bed. I carefully sorted through my kit to find my toothbrush and face wipes. Soon I was ready for bed, it was after 9! Rock N Roll! I took of my boots and wriggled in my bag. I put boots away and made sure all my stuff was in where I needed it. I slid down and put my hand up to pull my pillow into place….My lovely pillow, one of lifes little luxuries when you camp or bivvy. I patted around the top of the bivvy, no pillow..I sat up, and felt around again, maybe it had deflated.. I got out again and started to look inside the bag, no pillow.. Damn it.. I know what had happened, it had blown away..I was bloody well cheesed off! I looked acroos the plateau, knowing it was futile; it was long gone. Back to the old school method of the down jacket in the Buff!

I snuggled into my lovely Western Mountaineering Verasalite bag.. Did I mention previously how much I love this bag! It really is a piece of work.. Just phenomenal!

Soon I was satellite searching and star gazing! My eyes scanned the sky for movement, I picked up 3 and saw 2 shooting stars before drifting off.. I woke an hour later with a very cold face!. I snuggled in and was woken at 6 by my alarm.. The wind still searched for me.. I shivered in the morning cold but the view fed and heated my soul.. It was just beautiful. Clear, cold and stunning..


I put the Jetboil on and sat in wonder. The clouds curled over the Eastern fells. Hugging and rolling over their contours. It really was beautiful.








My hands froze in the wind but I had to take lots of pictures.. I would want to share this moment with people.. Soon I was with Fruit Porridge and Coffee. It soon warmed me up! I was sad to have to hurry but work beckoned. I reluctantly got up and started to pack. My legs were cold! I didn’t have my primaloft trousers with me! Soon I was ready for the off..The need to find the pillow drove me much harder than work did!!!. I took my LNT pic and headed off in the same direction I walked up the night before..The colours on the mountain were so warm…

Leave no trace


The wind would’ve taken my pillow in that direction. My eyes scanned the fell. I knew if it had got wedged turquoise side up I had a chance of seeing it…the other side  was grey…..needle in a haystack! I approached Low Water in the hope of seeing it floating on the water! No sign.. Oh well. It was gone. So if you’re up in the area then keep your eyes open!

I approached the car and smiled. I was less a pillow but I didn’t feel like I had a bug! The day was gorgeous but I had enjoyed the best part of it. My back hurt but someone is always worse off…….

Note – I have already attached my new pillow with a piece of bungee cord to the zip on my sleeping bag!!!! Its not going to happen a second time 🙂

Strong Winds and Deep Snow!

Strong Winds and Deep Snow!

The day dawned fair and bright. Marc was with me and had agreed to walk into the hills with me as I wanted to bivvy. For the first time ever he was to finish packing his sack before me! I had wanted to go to Pillar or Scafell as I was off the next day but despite a brilliant forecast the wind was to be my enemy again! I was cheesed off with it as it seems that every good forecast is plagued by strong northerly’s..

Still, beggars can’t be choosers and sometimes you just have to go and hope to find some decent shelter!

We packed the car and set off to Coniston and to our favourite café! The mighty Meadowdore 😊

We were soon there and ordering our full English. I tucked myself into the corner away from the busy area (my anxiety doesn’t allow me to be surrounded!).

Breakfast selfie!
Oh yes!

It arrived soon enough in all its glory! It’s a great way to start a good walk in the hills: especially as I knew we were going to be in thigh deep snow at times! Marc and his pal James had been out the day before and attempted to get to Crinkle Crags-there mission was aborted as the snow became too deep. I was in for an arduous day!

We drove to the Coppermines Valley where we would leave our cars and start the walk to Levers Water where I would decide in which direction I wanted to go…or have my direction dictated to by the depth of the snow!

My pack was as heavy as usual as I was anticipating it to be super chilly! (extra down packed!)

Going was easy at first as we headed up the track. I showed Marc Gaunts Level (a mine entrance) and found a lovely piece of wood at the entrance which would make a perfect shelf in my bathroom! I left it to one side to collect at a later date. There was also a large rock I wanted with a triangular drill hole in it! That would take a little more effort to get to the car!

Gaunts Level

We were soon at Levers water and I assessed the snow situation. I decided to head to Swirl Hause first and then make another decision based on snow and wind!

As we approached the far side of the reservoir we noticed that despite it being later in the day there had been nobody heading this way! Great, we would have to break trail… The snow about knee deep and very soft and wet.. It would prove to be tough going and very testing on my back.. We cracked on and the sky started to clear. It had been a little cloudy up to this point. Soon conditions felt alpine.. I was struggling a bit but enjoying the day. We stopped to take pics and had an impromptu snowball fight! Obviously, I won… Though I had taken the upper ground.

Feeling positive.

We met a couple coming down with a dog. As we were about to say hello the man went absolutely flat into the bog! Poor fella was totally soaked to his pants.. He was dripping! After we asked if he was ok the banter began and Marc gave him eight out of ten  for his fall style and we enquired as to whether he’d been drinking! Luckily he had a great sense of humour and we all laughed at his misfortune! The pooch was having great time!

We then met another two guys with a lovely dog that I played ball with for a while. He was fab! They told us that the snow was thigh deep in places on Prison Band.. It was not particularly good news! Still, there was always Black Sails..


We carried on and had another snow fight! As you do. Spirits were high despite the obvious toil!


I suddenly remembered at that point that I hadn’t left the key out for the cat feeder. Bloody hell.. Marc said he would stay at my cottage overnight and drive back for work in the morning so she would get her dinner! What a star. I text my friend and told her the craic and my mind was then at rest.

We had a chocolate stop at the hause. Nobody had been up Black Sails so we decided on The Prison. I would decide where to sleep at Swirl How. The going was really tough. I struggled with the weight and the snow depth. The guys weren’t joking. It was so deep in places. I was knackered. Marc asked me if I wanted him to take my pack for a while. I declined, it was good for me! Or that’s what I tell myself. We chatted to another couple who headed to Wetherlam. We watched as they struggled through the deep snow up to Black Sails. We looked around us. It was utterly stunning though the wind was starting to make an appearance. Let’s hope I would find some decent shelter when we got onto the summit.

As we approached Swirl How the wind made itself very clear! It was going to be a long night. I set about finding somewhere sheltered. Behind the cairn was so calm, Marc got some pics and I trooped off.

Off to find a spot!
Working hard!

I eventually decided on stamping a ledge into the base of a snow drift as the ground that wasn’t covered in snow was very wet. Marc set about getting some warm stuff on as it was bloody freezing in the wind. He was soon ready for the off and I needed to sort my admin! We had a kiss and hug and I waved him off. I watched him depart, he was struggling to keep mobile in the strength of the winds.

Marc heading off.

I turned my attention to setting up home. I sorted my ledge and got my bag out-I pack it all together so its easier when I get to my destination. I weighed everything down with rocks as the winds were still finding me. It was frustrating. I was soon sorted. A few things that happened next almost caused me to bail! So, my Sea to Summit pillow wouldn’t stay inflated. There seemed to be a fault with the valve. I managed to get some air into it and would make do.. I got the Jetboil let and started melting snow. I had to keep hold of everything as the winds just wouldn’t leave me be. I didn’t wait for the first lot to boil properly as I was hungry for Wilderness Stew. I poured the water in, stirred it and left it. I also made a coffee and then put more snow in the cup and set it off again. Once it had melted I turned it off and put the wind shield away. I set about eating my dinner, I kept an eye on the Jetboil but assumed it would be heavy enough not to blow over…wrong. As I tucked into my ‘warmish’ dinner (that’ll teach me to use boiling water), a gust came through and knocked the Jetboill over.. I watched the water disappear everywhere! So, all that gas wasted for nothing. I finished my food and set about melting another load of snow. It was soon done and I made another drink and put my wine Platypus in it to get it up to temperature.. I watched it closely, thinking it would stay upright with that weight in it! Wrong. Over it went, spilling all my hard earned water again.. Bugger this I thought. I went off with my sit matts, wine, tripod and cup to find somewhere to sit. (I put some extra ballast on the bivvy first!)

First spot.

I walked over to a large rock I had visited earlier when looking for shelter. I put my sit mats down and quickly sat on them. I relaxed at last. It had been a frustrating start to the evening. The wind howled past my spot and I started to feel that maybe I should try to move the bivvy to somewhere a little less windy. I was going to try.. I stood up and in a split second one of my sit mats (the one Ste M gave me ages ago) took flight and disappeared in the direction of Seathwaite.. I had no chance of getting it back, It was long gone! I was getting very hacked off. I gathered my bits and headed across in the direction of the summit. As I turned into the wind a gust hit me blowing the wine from my cup and all over my dry warm glove!!! Arrrggghhhh. What next! I sucked at the powerstretch! Well, no point in wasting it..:-)

I was soon at the summit cairn. I crouched down and it was windless. I just don’t know how this happens! It was the only place on the whole of the summit plateau that was calm. I looked at the ground to see if there was any way at all I could fit my bag that would avoid the worst of the rocks. I kicked a few out. They were really starting to freeze in. I decided to try it. My Sea to Summit mat is really good and I have recently purchased a new foam silver backed bivvy liner-I had forgotten my silver ground sheet.. I also had my Western Mountaineering sleeping bag (Versalite), which is proving to be a fantastic bit of kit! Sleeping on ice doesn’t put me off.. I had enough kit.

Sleeping spot!

Soon I was throwing everything into my huge green dry bag and dragging it to the summit. I laid it down and was finally happy. It was perfect. I would never have thought to try this spot as it always looked too stony but it was fine. I didn’t even need ballast! I soon had my tripod set up and was ready to take some pictures. First I would try my new Kestrel Anemometer. I wanted to know how windy and cold it was. I picked up my wine and headed out from behind the cairn. As I walked a few steps forward towards the Prison I took a sip of wine the next thing I knew I was covered in it! A gust literally blew it out of the cup and into my face and eyes. It stung like hell..I put my cup down and grabbed my Buff to wipe my face; it was dripping with Wolfblass!!! Then the bloody cup blew over spilling the remainder of my wine.. You couldn’t write this shit!

This had to go down as the most annoying, frustrating, arduous, windy, wine wasting bivvy I had EVER done!

I took my readings and skulked back to my sheltered bit of heaven… I sat on my mats-I still had 2, I use them as wind shields for the Jetboils 😊

I deserved a decent sunset after all this! And I was rewarded with one. It was beautiful. Despite the howling winds I was able to get some great shots. The sun was soon showing me her last light before she slipped away until the morning when she would warm my face again.

Trying to stay still!

It was time to get the Mantas off and the Montane Bootees on. I poured the last of my wine and breathed the cold air deep into my lungs.. It had been an eventful day! My thoughts moved to my dear Mum. It would be Mothers Day on Sunday.. A day I dread. I pictured her in my mind. There is a beautiful picture that my dad has of her standing right where my bivvy is now. It was a hot summers day and she was wearing red shorts and a vest, her older canvas Karrimor sack on her back and a red and blue neckerchief round her head.. God, she was so beautiful. I realised I was crying, the tears stung my cheeks as I thought of her. I told her I loved and missed her as the cold blue night set in..I know she was with me.

The blue cold.
Tearful but content.

Time to have a little walk I thought. I didn’t go far tonight. It was really hard to stay upright anywhere apart from behind that cairn! I decided it was time for my hot chocolate and the caramel shortbread Marc had bought me earlier. I thoroughly enjoyed my supper!  It was much better than the luke warm Bla Band I had eaten earlier!

Supper time.

I decided to get comfy. I cleaned the fangs and had a face wash and moisturise. The stars were already incredible. I was soon snuggled down in the Versalite! I love this bag.. Despite being on ice I felt no cold spots and settled down for sleep. I pulled my Buff under my eyes and my Sherpa hat down and stared upwards. I was so content. Satellites and shooting stars put on their unique show for me-better than any television. I thought about Marc and Merly  snuggled up in the living room in front of a warm fire.. I missed them but I was happy.

Soon I was drifting off. This time I remembered and tucked my face in so as not to freeze my eyes through the night, then Sleep! And Awake! 3am.. I stuck my head out, the wind had dropped but it was super cold. I felt a bit of a cold spot under my hip.. I was on ice after all. It didn’t keep me awake, after watching a few more satellites I was drifting off again. I woke to my alarm at 6am-I had promised to get back to see Marc before he left. The sun rise was imminent and I shivered at the thought of getting out of my bag!!!! Brrrrrrrr. I was soon forcing my feet into frozen Scarpa Manta Pro’s.. Yuck.

First Light.
Stunning sunrise.
Prison Band.

I looked at my perfect surroundings. I was lucky to be waking up to such beauty. I made a hurried coffee and decided to have breakfast at home. I was soon packing, which is quick with the bivvy! As I rolled my bed I saw the water ice I had been sleeping on all night and was in awe of how good kit is these days.

Leave no Trace.

I took my ‘leave no trace’ pic. (John H always does the same-top bloke!) As it should be… and was soon heading back down Prison Band. I was so pleased I had packed my Kahtoola Micro Spikes as where the snow wasn’t knee to thigh deep any water that was on the rocks the previous day had frozen and water ice was difficult to avoid!

Sam Bottom.

I was soon back in the really deep stuff but at least there was foot steps to follow. It was so beautiful and very quiet after the winds of the previous night. Settled and calm.

Levers Water.

As I got to Levers Water dam my stomach grumbled. I was ravenous.

I decided I would leave my shelf wood and rock until next time and just get back, and soon enough II was at the car.

As I approached Waterhead in the car I rang Marc and asked him to put breakfast on! Today I would have a chef! He didn’t disappoint… I was greeted by a fat cat and a huge breakfast and a great chef when I got home! Breakfast was devoured gratefully and we then decided to climbing ay Hutton Roof. A perfect couple of days! Marc had also got my rock and my wood! What a star!!


Breakfast at home!

Credit to Marc Yeoman for selected pictures.