Moon Shadows and Merlot!

Moon Shadows and Merlot!

As per usual I was sitting trawling the forecasts with hope of some more promising weather than its beem of late.

I knew I would be in for a cold and windy night whatever happened. I just needed it to be clear.

As usual the western Fells looked better so I would head for Coniston and my favourite café (The Meadowdore). I could treat myself to brunch before setting off. The full English is to die for..

I skipped from forecast to forecast – I use the Met Office one coupled with MWUK. Its £3.99 for the app and its very good!

Soon I was tucking in and refreshing the forecast using the wifi in the café.

It was looking pretty unpredictable! -4 – -6 with a strong North Easterly taking the wind chill to -16. It would be torture on the hands! I wasn’t quite as high as this but not far off.

17148668_10212752932361367_490802654_o
Nippy night ahead!

I was still unsure of where to go so after I stuffed myself to the point of bursting I set off up the Coppermines Valley. I took the mine track towards Levers Water and my first decision had to be made! The short, sharp shock up the side of Levers Water Beck or the long zig zags up the miners track! I opted for the painful way! My pack would now feel heavier than usual! My thighs burned as I set of until they got used to the weight and exersion. It would soon be over then the next decision! Where the hell to go? The wind was firce as I got to the tarn.. I decided to try and stay out of it for as long as possible and headed along the side of the reservoir towards Swirl Hawse; here I would make a decision based on what the wind was doing and how the sky looked. The light was very flat at present and I wondered if I would end up taking my pack for a long walk and ending up back at the car in a couple of hours…

The going was ok underfoot. The usual bog was still boggy approaching Sam bottom.. I filled my Sawyer at the small beck that runs from the hawse, the water was icy on my skin and I was glad to get my gloves back on! I pushed my water bag down the stretchy pocket on my Exos, it was sticking out a little but I had other bits in it so I couldn’t get it down any further.. I only had my 1 liter bag as I thought there would be enough snow to melt providing I  could get high enough.

As I got higher the ground became more frozen and I was soon in the snow line. It was at approx. 500m. The wind was becoming more constant with unsteadying gusts. I decided to head straight up the side of Black Sails to cut short the distance..this would prove to be an interesting decision! I plodded up slowly.. The snow turned to neve and even my Manta Pros were struggling to make much impression in the snow.. I looked sheepishly down between my legs and the many metres below me…I decided as I only had my poles with me my best option would be to traverse to the rock band to my right and  scramble the last bit! The rock was freezing and had a covering of ice, but it was grippy and a better option than the steep neve! I felt a little foolish. If I’d have stuck to the path it would have been fine.

Soon I was on slightly better ground but as I got to a small plateau behind the summit I got the full force of the wind! It would be an interesting night if I stayed out! I bent down to re hook my trousers onto my boot…At that point my Sawyer water carrier broke free from its lashing and headed off down the neve at break neck speed. I looked longingly at it shooting off praying it would stop soon… Eventually it did..some 60 meters away..and only because it caught a previous walkers footprint! So, off I went to retrieve it! Bloody hell…I grumbled as I skulked off. I picked it up and positioned it more securely in my pocket and then retraced my steps back and beyond to the summit.. The wind was making it difficult to stay upright. I would need some shelter tonight if I was going to stay high. Bailing was still an option if I wasn’t happy 🙂

250
The Coniston Massif.

I scoured the summit but the wind found every nook and cranny. The summit cairn looked beautiful. The ice looked like a dragon! I hadn’t taken many pictures on the way up as the light was too flat.

 

I headed off the summit and down the ridge to see if I could find a spot. Eventually after much mooching I was happy. I fould a spot just below an outcrop of rock. It was pretty flat but I set to work digging myself a shallow grave so the bivvy wouldn’t slip. I had forgotten my foil sheet but had my foam mat to put under the Comfort Light to beef it up. Soon I was pretty sorted despite the bitter cold. The wind was raw butwouldn’t be out of my bag for long.. I had a quick wee then decided to get in my bag and get  a brew on. I was thirsty. I attached my filter to my bag and decided I’d have a quick drink of water. I squeezed the bag and to my horror icy water squirted all over my cheek..ugh. I thought I had’nt screwed it on properly and so re did it and tried again, another soaking. I swore at it and then inspected it!!!! It would appear that somewhere between falling out of my pack and going on its little journey it had bust the top seem. Nevermind. I drank some of the water anyway and boiled up the rest.

Soon I was with a hot drink looking out over my favourite mountains. The sky wasn’t promising for a good sunset. You can’t win them all I thought to myself. I had decided I would stay anyway and hope for a clear night. I busied myself getting more water prepared. My hands were so cold out of my big gloves! Tonight, would be tough!!

259
Happy!

I opted for my favourite Bla Band Meal – Wilderness Stew, it always goes down a treat, and of course some Wolfblass Merlot to wash it down. I left some hot water in the Jetboil to warm the wine 😊.. Dinner was served.

267
Oh yeah!

The night started to draw in and the lights in the valley twinkled. You could see all the red lights out to sea at the wind farm off the coastline of Barrow in Furness. The tell-tale red lights on the BAE building shone brightly on the peninsular. I laid back and gazed up. My Sea to Summit pillow tucked under my head offered me a lot of comfort… The clouds started to break and the stars came out one by one and made me smile. I pulled my Buff up gazed into the night sky. The winds whistled and moaned through the rocks and grass.. It was all good.

265
Night time approaches.

Now, unbeknown to me; or it may have slipped my mind , but it was Lunar Eclipse night! Sadly, it would definitely be clouded up by the time it was due to happen but I was hoping the moon would be awesome as it would be full.. It didn’t disappoint. I could sense its brightness behind Wetherlam as it crept over the ridge. It was magnificent. I got out of my bag and grabbed my camera and tripod. I wandered around in my Montane Bootees; they really are great for this kind of thing! I took a few shots but sadly the wind kept moving the tripod-blowing it over completely once! Luckily the camera survived!

003
Bootees!

 

001
Moonshine.

 

007
Alpine Conditions.

I put it away and sat on an outcrop of rock for a while. The mountains looked alpine in the moon light, it was utterly stunning. I was glad I made the effort and ‘manned up’!

Despite still feeling quite warm I headed back to the comfort of my Western Mountaineering bag. I have fallen in love with it!!

My back pained me now and would need my painkillers soon so I put another brew on. I have been using the Nescafe sachets. The Vanilla Latte and Double Choca Mocha are very nice! I drank my chocolate and had my tablets. It would soon be sleep time. I had my usual routine of teeth, wee and wash. Brrrrrrrr! It was nippy. I was soon back in bed laying watching the moon and stars. I saw 2 shooting stars which was fab. I snuggled down and pulled my Buff up again so just my eyes were showing. I mustn’t fall asleep without putting my goggles on I thought…

 

Next thing it was 2am! My eyes felt puffy with the cold.. Damn it! I pulled my bivvy over my head and snuggled in again. The last thing I remember was hearing the wind howling..I awoke at 6.30am. It was overcast and snow threatened. It had put a but down through the night but not much. I was boggy eyed and looking forward to coffee. I rummaged through my sleeping bag to find my gas cartridge. It came out nice and warm and soon the snow was melting. The wind had abated a little so it was easier to use the stove. I decided I would just have my coffee and bail. The snow was falling steadily and there was going to be no dramatic sunrise. I drank up and prepared to put my frozen mantas on! Yuck! I was soon packed and ready to go. I took my LNT picture and popped my Kahtoolas on for the descent, they are great at keeping my upright!

275
Leave no trace.
023
Chilly morning.
271
Breakfast.
028.JPG
Kahtoolas and Couloirs!

On the way down I bumped into my mate from Coniston MRT. We had a good long chat before he headed up and I headed down. I took in some mines on the way down as usual and I was soon at the car. It had been a pretty good night, despite not being perfect it was good to get out!

The Coldest Yet!

The Coldest Yet!

I like having someone to walk in with. Marc is good company. His enthusiasm for what I like to do is brilliant.

He had to work Saturday so would leave me on the tops. The forecast was promising to be interesting! I had been watching all week-as per usual. The winds were going to be strong, possibly problematic, but rather than risk breaking a tent pole I opted for the bivvy bag! Now, I know Wetherlam may be getting a little repetitive, but in less than perfect weather I know the summit like the back of my hand and I knew I could get some protection from the fierce WNW winds!

We were both starving by the time we got to Coniston so we headed straight for the Meadowdore Café! It was closed till the end of the month!! Luckily there is always a backup plan J, the Green Housekeeper! I love both these cafes but the Meadowdore is a little more spacious so helps with my anxiety. We parked up and walked down; there are only 6 tables and luckily it was quiet. The breakfast at this place is bloody huge! I can never finish mine. Marc however is a beast when it comes to food!! He just about got through his.

We set off up the valley. I left my car in the village in case it was icy in the morning. Soon I was shouldering my pack and we were off! It was bitterly cold and the wind was already very noticeable…I wondered if I had made the right decision or whether I would be walking back down with Marc and heading for home by 4pm! We would see.

I opted to walk up to Red Dell and then up the Thriddle Incline to Levers Water and then on to Black Sails. This way I could look for sheltered spots on the way up should it be too fierce on the tops. I knew of a couple of places; one off them was nicely sheltered. I bivvied there with Ste (Mac) the first time we met.

img_2024
Levers Water.

There was a dusting of snow that wasn’t budging due to the temperatures, it was lovely and wintery. Really great to see some snow!

We chatted on the way up, mainly about how full we were from breakfast! I felt sluggish with all the food in me! I would benefit from it later.

img_2029
Marc.

 

16117389_10154225724218388_2094984693_n
On the way up!

We were soon at the incline and the wind felt strong; knocking us off balance and forcing us to stop from time to time.

As we neared the ridge we saw that there were waves on Levers Water! It was going to be a tough walk up. It was bitter. I was keeping my pace steady as I didn’t want to sweat, I didn’t fancy stripping off in -13 wind chill!!!

 

Black Sails is a lovely walk. It’s interesting and featured. The path is only a trod and you see few people on it, speaking of which we hadn’t seen anyone all day but from a distance. Bliss.

Soon we were nearing the top of Black Sails, The ground was solid, everything was iced up…and the wind..welll!! It was hooning over the tops! Full on weather. Marc took a video whilst I searched for shelter in caser I was to come back this way. There was nothing. The wind seemed to be able to find me everywhere! We stopped to take pictures of icicles at the spring at Red Dell Head Moss. They were fabulous! I took my gloves off for a minute and instantly regretted it.. It was bitter. Tonight would be a challenge.

15996050_10154225724033388_636897533_n
Icicles.

As we neared the summit I knew this would be the coldest night I have ever spent on the hill. Admin would be difficult with the blizzards that were forecast and it would be tough keeping everything from getting full of snow! Especially the bag! I was excited as I have committed and bought a Western Mountaineering Versalite. I wondered if it would be warm enough. It has a comfort rating of -5 but I know they under grade their temperature ratings so probably nearer -7 and top end comfort of -12. I was also looking forward to using my Primaloft Booties that Marc got me for Xmas! An I also have some new Mountain Equipment Couloir Gloves! (I got these given from the rep as the colour was wrong and they look more pink than red! Perfect for me J)

 

 

I was soon at my favourite platform of rock. I knelt down and hooray! I had some shelter…providing the wind didn’t veer more Northerly….

092
Scafells and Bow Fell.

Marc was fab, he helped me gather rocks to hold all my kit down and build a little wall at my feet to stop me sliding as the pitch is on a slight angle. I pulled my mat etc. out of my pack; a system I use a lot in winter is to have my mat and sleeping bag already in my bivvy rolled up as it’s so much easier to sort out when its windy or snowing; all you need do is blow up the mat and bed is ready! Behind me Marc let out a shout; I turned to see him holding an earring. I had left a pair on the summit last time I Bivvied 3 weeks prior! I was gutted as they were lovely… He then found the other! I couldn’t believe it. I thought they would be gone forever. I was sooo chuffed J

img_2042
Ballast needed!

 

img_2039
Happy camper!

I was soon sorted and had everything where it needed to be. It was time to let Marc get on his way. He had a long drive back to Manchester. We had our hug and kiss and I walked with him a short way as I didn’t want to leave my kit for too long because of the winds. Soon he was disappearing over the ridge and gone. I was alone. The wind bit at my skin.. What was I thinking. I took my phone out to refresh the forecast. It was conflicting as to how much snow was going to come through the night. I was hoping for a good sunset and sunrise and whatever happened in between I would deal with! I would hunker down and keep warm.

img_2047
Taking it all in.

It was a little early to be up and this would make the evening long. I sat on my bag and sucked in the view as the wind howled over my head, soon I decided to get in my bag to keep warm until sunset. I changed from softshell into my Sherpa Primaloft trousers and snuggled in. Soon the Jetboil was on. Marc had left me nearly a litre of water which would save me collecting snow. I had kept my gas warm on the way up so it performed perfectly. I had tipped some of the water into my Jetboil cup as I didn’t need to boil it all, within 4 minutes it was frozen fully on top! Chilly I thought!

 

083
Sun setting over the Old Man.
img_2044
What a view!

I cupped my instant Latte and felt some life return to my freezing fingers. The hot aches weren’t far off! It wouldn’t be the last time I would have them.. I moaned as the tips started to return..God its painful…

092
The Scafells and Bow Fell etc.

Soon the sky was changing. Sunset looked like it would be a little flat but it did come good in the end. I got out of the bag and reluctantly put my Manta Pro’s back on; they were already stiff… As I stood up the full force of the wind caught me nearly knocking me over. Bloody Hell I thought, this is gonna be a hoot!!!! I wandered around with the camera and phone. The sky was like that of Mordor. Heavy ominous clouds hung in the air, the snow wouldn’t be long. I was soon back in the warmth of my bag. I already loved it. The features like the zip guard were brilliant; the material didn’t catch once. The warmth was already clearly going to be ample. The static temperature was approx. -4/5 already and I was toasty.

 

105
Yes!
116
Mordor……
111
🙂

I wondered if Marc was back at his car safely and at that moment my phone lit up. He was on his way. I was pleased he was down and ok.

I decided to have a slightly earlier dinner in case it snowed. I was having Bla Band Pasta Bolognase tonight for a change. Soon it was rehydrating wrapped also in a foam sit mat to keep the heat in the bag. You learn these little tips when bivvying as food can chill quickly when you’re exposed. They take 6-8 mins to rehydrate so it’s good to keep them off the ground and insulated.

img_2076
Dinner time!

 

The light faded fast now as I tucked into dinner. It was welcome though I wasn’t overly hungry following the gargantuan breakfast!

I had my painkillers and another brew; I had to break the ice with my spoon this time! The lights twinkled in the valley below. I could be tucked up in front of the fire with Merlot I thought to myself… I was happy though. I love the challenge the mountains offer, so long as you treat them with respect and are sensible you can expose yourself to the harshest of conditions.

img_2083
Wine ‘O’ Clock , brought to you by Sea to Summit, Wolfblass and Mountain Equipment!

The wind was howling through the rocks all around me and spindrift whipped around and sparkled in my headtorch light; It was magical. I warmed my wine a little and soon was feeling it course through my veins. I love red wine. I wouldn’t have too much tonight as it’s not good in low temperatures to drink alcohol. I had some Dalwhinnie in my hip flask as well! I lay back and looked up at the stars, suddenly I was aware of moonrise, I hadn’t given it a second thought. Stunning! Sadly the picture doesn’t do it justice as it was hard to keep the tripod still!.

128
Moonrise.

The cloud was patchy so far and apart from the odd flurry the snow was staying away. I picked out The Plough, Orion’s Belt and saw Vega twinkling. It was too cold to get my phone out to use Stargazer. My Sea to Summit pillow felt so nice under my head as I laid back. It’s the little comforts that matter when you bivvy! My Montane Booties were awesome also.

It was soon 7.30 and time for my last brew. I poured a little bit of Rum in my hot chocolate, it was delicious. This was in my other hip flask! I sound like an alcoholic!!!! I also had half a piece of caramel shortbread, sadly it was a little frozen! It tasted good though. I was now dreading cleaning my teeth. It was soooo cold and I was sooo warm! Needs must though. I also needed a wee! That was going to be awful, exposing my backside in these temperatures was not going to be fun at all… The deeds were soon done and I was back in the warmth of my bag. I won’t bang on too much but seriously! Western Mountaineering have it nailed. Awesome bit of kit… The dogs J

 

I was mindful of any exposure to the wind tonight as I knew if I fell asleep with my face exposed I could end up with a frostbitten nose! I decided I would have 20 mins of stargazing and then I would sleep. I lay staring up at the sky. The cold prickled my cheeks. My hands were warm in my Couloirs and I had my Arcteryx Firebee on, despite feeling a little warm I was fine…rather that than the other way around I thought. I started to drift and caught myself just in time. It was sleep time. I pulled my Buff up and pulled up my hoods. I zipped my bivvy up and left to large vent holes for air..soon I was fast asleep…

 

I woke with a start! It felt as though someone had hit the top of my bag! The wind had veered to NNW/N and was hitting the end of my bag….I looked out of my vent hole to reassure myself it was just the wind, Snow was swirling around and the cloud had lowered. I prayed I would get back to sleep. The wind pressed on the bag, I was lovely and warm and soon managed to get back off again. I woke again, this time a bit of a nightmare, I thought a black shape was crawling towards my bag… Again, I looked out and of course there was nothing! It was 3am…Next thing I knew It was 6.30am. No more terrors thank heavens.

150
Snowy breakfast.
img_2099
Welcome warmth!
158
In my element!
img_2112
Snowy!

Snow was falling and being swirled around. I had quite a bit of snow banked up around me. At least I wouldn’t need to get out of the bag to collect any for water.. I reached down in to my bag for my canister. Soon I had a warm drink and porridge. The snow kept falling! The sunrise was going to be poor I thought. Despite it saying it would be clear by morning it was really quite cloudy. It was threatening to break and I briefly saw an amber glow through the clouds but it was short lived. I decided to pack up. I didn’t bother packing properly, I just rolled and stuffed! As I looked around the cloud was braking properly, It was alpine- bitter but beautiful. Soon the summits were clearing all around me. The Langdale Pikes looked beautiful…Everything looked beautiful!!!!

img_2118
Time to pack.
img_2120
Take only photographs leave only footprints.
212
The Langdales.

 

206
Sun Rays.
180
Stormy skies.

I took my ‘leave no trace’ picture and was soon heading down the shoulder of Wetherlam. I was high on life, this was real soul food. Spindrift swirled into ‘snow devils’ and the cloud and sun treated me to some spectacular sights. Perfect! I only shared footprints with a fox 🙂 I was sad to be going but I’d had a great night and morning and I didn’t die! I can strongly recommend Western Mountaineering Bags, Montane Booties, M.E. Couloir Gloves, Sherpa Hats and Vajra Primaloft trousers and Arcteryx Firebee’s! Also, Bla Band meals and Rum JWithout these it could’ve been a miserable night! and Sea to Summit everything!!!! Oh and Jetboils and BD Headtorches!!!

 

272
Fox prints.
232
The Old Man and Brim Fell.
277
Herdy!
Sometimes its worth staying..

Sometimes its worth staying..

The forecast was supposed to be for clear skies so I headed out from Tilberthwaite feeling very enythusiastic….as per usual! The sky bothered me a little though. The cloud seemed oppressive and heavy; it didn’t look as though it would clear at all! Oh well I thought, I’ll crack on. As I got into Drycove Bottom Wetherlam came into full view, it looked gloomy. The rock was damp and slippery on the path and my pack was heavy, I felt clumsy in my Scarpa Mantas. I stopped to chat to a couple who were a little geographically misplaced! I set them straight before continuing up to the steep path that leads to Birk Fell Man. I crossed some old mine workings that took me back to my early days of exploration. Also and old Miners Bridge, simple but effective and still there 200 years on.

066
Wetherlam Edge.

After a short steep pull I was approaching the top and looking towards Wetherlam Edge. The path is vague and shelves of wet rock are always fun with a big pack! I could hear a group of 4 coming down…one of the girls was soooo noisy it was kind of annoying! She was shouting to her partner about where the path went….no need really! They soon passed and it was quiet again. I had some 4G so I rechecked the forecast…It was completely wrong. It was still reading, fully clear skies. The cloud was a complete blanket, no breaks could be seen anywhere. It was high but completely overcast. I was longing for a good sunset. I trudged upwards on short scrambly sections taking care not to slip.. I was soon high enough to see some small isolated snow patches. It was all but gone. It had felt mild in the valley but the temperature was dropping quickly as I approached the summit. (762m).

I stood and looked around. Still not a break in the cloud to be seen. I was pissed off! I messaged Sarah M and she asked if I was going to stay. I scanned the horizon for a glimmer of hope but there was nothing but a flat grey sky.Lights were coming on in the valley and a keen wind pinched my cheeks. Oh well I thought, I must stay. There seemed no point in leaving; it wasn’t raining. I decided at first to tuck into the corner of my regular platform and try to build a little wall from protection as the wind was now feeling stronger!

068
No sun!

 

Soon I was set up, a faint Mordor red glow came from the horizon near Black Combe and disappeared! That was sunset… Great I thought, sunrise had better get its finger out!!!!!

I was chilled and hungry. I stripped to my waist and put dry clothes on, that is one of the highlights of bivvying I reckon! I also put my down jacket on and dry gloves. Bliss.

070
Warming up!

I hate being tucked in so I soon dragged my bivvy out onto my usual platform!

Soon the Jetboil was fired up and I was waiting for the water to boil. I’d kept my gas cartridge in my down jacket inside pocket to keep it warm. Soon the water was bubbling away. I had got water from a small stagnant tarn just off the summit and filtered it with my Sawyer Squeeze! Great bit of kit!!

067
Sawyer territory.

Pasta Carbonara was on the menu tonight and but was I looking forward to it. I also had caramel shortbread! I nipped into the Meadowdore Café for a piece-they really do make the best! I would have it later with my hot chocolate.

I looked around and the darkness had engulfed me. The cloud was still unbroken and I felt a bit cheated, still, I was out and I had food and wine and all my shitty anxiety problems were somewhere far away. I was happy.

I troughed down my food like someone was going to take it away!! I was hungry! The food warmed me instantly but the little bit of wine I had poured felt cold..My hands were cold from wearing just liner gloves, the wind was BITTER! I checked the forecast again, it was supposed to hit -2 with a wind chill of -9/10 celcius. Not too bad I thought as I lay back and gazed upwards…suddenly, yes, hooray! I could see a star J This called for a celebration. I decided to warm the  wine in the platypus! I wasnt going to as the wind was really annoying and affecting the flame. I turned off my headtorch and lay back listening to the sound of the wind and the Jetboil. It’s a good sound I thought. I love my Jetboil-despite me  sticking things to it regularly!

My Terra Nova Laser 900 bag that retails for £650.00…..melted onto the Jetboil – 2nd use!

My Patagonia Fitzroy Down Jacket- £400.00…melted the cuff onto the Jetboil… Bloody clumsy I am! Still, I haven’t melted the bivvy bag with it yet! Though I am surprised!

The wine was finally at the right temperature as I reminisced about trashing my kit and soon it was coursing through my veins. I lay propped up on one elbow gazing at the twinkling lights below. The wind stung my cheeks and my hands were hurting with the cold. Time for the ME Couloirs to make an appearance. Soon I was warm. My gas was in my sleeping bag and all was well in my world. The stars were now peppering the sky. I picked out the constellations I knew and sent a message to Marc to say I could see Vega…our star J …sad yes, but on out first camp we were both drawn to the same star. I used my stargazer app to identify it and now it’s a special star!!

075
Couloir gloves ain’t just for climbing!

Sunrise was promising to be good as far as the forecast was concerned. The wind wasn’t due to increase above 25mph gusts which was good. It felt raw. The coldest night I’ve experienced in the bivvy bag this winter. My feet were a little chilly but apart from that I was ok.

I finished my wine and had a quick nip from the hip flask.. The Cardhu was a lovely malt that I’ve just discovered. It tasted divine.  The time was marching on past 8pm and I decided it was time to have my hot chocolate then do my teeth. I wanted to look at the stars.

Soon I was lying back. I love my Sea to Summit Pillow-They are bloody awesome things! I was comfy. Must cover face before sleep I thought. I have had issues with my eyes swelling up with the cold. They retain water in little bags under them!!! So, tonight I thought I’d try pulling my buff higher.. Fail! I woke at 2 am. My face and nose were dangerously cold!! Idiot. I looked down and everything was covered in sparkling frost. I covered my face and snuggled into my warm bag and listened to the wind whistle through the rocks as I drifted off.. My feet were still a little cold I thought!

It was soon 6am! Sunrise was still a couple of hours off. I lay for a while assessing my swollen eyes! Bloody fool I thought. My selfies were going to look rubbish with baggy eyes! Snigger…

 

Everything was covered in rime ice..It was bitterly cold. I needed a wee and was very reluctant to remove myself from my very pleasant down cocoon!!! Needs must. My boots were frozen, Ugh. I made it quick! Teeth and wee then back to warmth. I had filled the Jetboil the previous night and the water was partially frozen. I rummaged in my sleeping bag and soon I was hearing boiling water. I had Bla Band fruit flakes for breakfast and vanilla latte. Posh bird!

My hands were so cold in the wind chill as I went about breakfast… Brrrrr. I was glad to get my first hot drink down me.

085
First drink of the day!

The light grew around me and mountains took on a warm hew. It’s a very special experience. Watching them come to life, the shapes and shadows. The light that you only experience at dawn, it’s truly magical.

001
Dawn.

 

 

Soon she was nearly upon me. I was up and out. The tripod was attached to the camera and I was bobbing around the summit. All the pools were completely iced up. It was beautiful. The apricot glow on the fells and the silence. Yes! I had already half decided I would be out tonight as well J

I put the Jetboil back on after taking a few shots – my hands were a funny shade again! I knew I was in for the hot aches and boy did it hurt! I started to pack as the Jetboil bubbled. I perched on my platform and decided to take a self-timer shot, the light was lovely. Me in my natural environment!

048
One happy camper 🙂

 

I was soon packed and ready to leave. The stars and the sunrise had made it worth not having a sunset. Thanks to Ste Mac for my first piece of Cuban Fibre kit. My Minimo Bag!

292
Cuban fibre goodness!

 

The walk down was just beautiful. Calm, icy and blue skies. I would definitely be out later.

078
Icy Pools.
079
I love this area!

I went home, dried my kit and headed back out after some kitty cuddles.

A perfect night was spent on the Lower Tilberthwaite fells. I thought I’d add a few pictures. I was late setting off but had a great evening. Owls hooting, shooting stars and cool winds… Soft grass and perfect skies. Sunrise was a treat….. Happy New Year to all. Thanks for reading.

 

My

008
Yes!
325
Oh Yes! Yes, Yes!!!

 

As Good as it Gets!

As Good as it Gets!

So, I’m about as Good at relationships as I am sleeping in tents!!! No pressure to get this right then! I was taking my new fella on an adventure!

Marc hadn’t wild camped before so going in winter was going to be a challenge! Or so I thought. He’s mountain savvy and climbs and scrambles so I was sure all would be well.

The first hiccup came at home as we tried to fit as much stuff as possible into a Berghaus 45 litre cragging pack! It was bursting at the seams but we got there. My Exos 48 was also very full and very heavy; still at least we didn’t have to carry water! There was plenty of snow and I packed 2 full Jetboil cartridges which would be ample.

We were finally on our way to Coniston. I had recently acquired a North Face Mountain 25 at a very good price so at least Marc wasn’t subjected to the bivvy bag just yet!

We pulled up in Coniston at the Meadowdore where we had decided to go for breakfast but sadly everything seemed to be shut till 10! Only 20 minutes to wait and we were in plenty of time.

We were soon in after a quick visit to the Spar for some bits. A perfect full English was soon placed in front of me…. They do very good breakfasts in here. Not too much and never a grease fest! We chatted about our plan. I wanted to head up Wetherlam first via Hole Rake and then over to Swirl How as the sunset would be perfect from here.

Breakfast was soon demolished and we headed up the Coppermines Valley top park. The Sky was blue and the air cold. It was perfect! We soon shouldered our heavy packs and cracked on. The tent was weighty but fine; my pack felt no different and I never weigh it anyway. I always just think that what is in there is needed so it’s irrelevant what it weighs.

048
Walk in.
045
MMMM!

 

Luckily Marc is pretty hill fit so we had a steady pace and were soon in the snow line. It was alpine. Absolutely class weather. There were very few people about either which was nice. I explained to Marc how many false summits weather had; I think he was getting cheesed off by number 5!

054
Half way up Wetherlam.

Eventually though we got there. The breeze was an icy north westerly, it was going to be a cold one… I worried a little that he may not enjoy it but we would see later. As we left the summit of Wetherlam we hit our first proper neve which was nice underfoot.

I pointed out all the summits to Marc so he could get his bearings based on what he had done here previously. Soon we were bypassing Black Sails; we went a little higher than usual as the path was well banked out above Greenburn and we were only carrying poles as oppose to an ice axe, better safe than sorry.  Soon we were dropping to Swirl Hawse, the sun was just starting to drop a little. It was after 2.30pm and sun sets at 4pm. I was determined to be set up by then so I explained to Marc we were going  to have to get a wiggle on J He was cool and took it in his stride! The Prison was snow bound but well-trodden so we didn’t need crampons. I looked round and breathed the air, it was icy cold as we now in the shade.. Marc was a little behind and I heard something about feeling like Ueli Steck!! I laughed as I watched him trying to keep up with my ridiculous legs! He’s only small…. Bless him, he was doing an awesome job. Baptism of fire! I was soon approaching the summit at last with Marc not far behind me.

073
Prison Band.

We regrouped and started to look for a good pitch. We soon found a flat area. Marc helped to check for rocks then he was sent off to get changed out of damp layers and take pictures whilst I sorted the tent. I really wanted to pitch it myself and see how it was to do alone.

Less than 15 minutes later it was up. I like this tent I thought. It was easy to pitch and super roomy. We were soon inside sorting kit. I had a touch of the hot aches as I got cold putting the tent up in thin gloves! My fingers hurt….ugh… Not the first or the last time that will happen this year I thought!

I was soon engulfed in my favourite jacket of all time and melting snow into the Jetboil. The sun was starting to drop and it was breath-taking… utterly stunning. A lone fell runner approached the summit and we watched him just sucking in the view. We had a chat, about how amazing it was! All three of us just buzzing and excited by the sheer beauty of it all. We watched as he ran off towards Great How. That was the last person we saw. We cupped our mugs as the sun started to dip. It was just stunning. Marc’s face was one of awe. We walked over towards Great How to take photos. I got arty with Marc’s sun glasses!

032
Me in one lens and the sun the other.

The snow turned orange and peachy as the sun cast her final light before dipping. The haw frost glowed and then turned icy blue. We turned to the tent to see the most prominent pink/purple sky glow I have ever seen. Marc was getting treated to the best show ever, I was glad we were sharing it.; despite enjoying being on my own mostly.

I couldn’t stop taking pictures!

036

012
Yes!
060
Getting dark.

Then comes the cold blue. As anyone knows who stays in the mountains after sunset in winter the temperature drop is almost instantaneous. It was chilly! It was dinnertime also J Marc was definitely hungry and  he was about to be introduced to the delights of Bla Band Wilderness stew! I made his first and then did mine. He was soon tucking in. He was blown away by how good it was! My water was soon boiling and I was soon tucking in as well. The wind had picked up a little now and it was super cold. Frost was forming on the inside and outside of the fly already.

We finished off with caramel shortbread and a cup of wine. We chatted about stuff and mountains and then decided to go for a night walk. Marc hadn’t been to the WW2 memorial so I suggested we take a walk to Great Carrs. We zipped up the tent and set off. The snow was dry and powdery with the cold. The silhouettes made the mountains look dark and foreboding. With super powerful Black Diamond Revolt headtorches we could light up the alpine looking faces. It was spectacular and we were both thoroughly enjoying our night. Marc kept saying he could totally ‘get’ why I do this!

We approached the memorial and I explained to Marc where the Halifax struck and then pivoted down the front face into the combe below. Tragic. We stood and thought about those poor men in the dark under the stars and paid our respects before trudging on… Lest we Forget..

We were soon on the summit of Great Carrs. We looked over the edge into the darkness below. The snow sparkled under our lights and the stars shone brightly above. Perfect. We took some photos and looked in awe at our surroundings. It is a different world at night. The silence was deafening. We decided to head back to the tent for more wine, whisky and warm drinks

115
Happiness!

 

I took a few pictures before getting back in and captured The Plough above the tent J We were soon cosied up again and melting snow. My wine felt cold but nice all the same and when we cracked open the hip flask the whisky tasted good! I added some to our final drink of the night, hot chocolate.

I checked the weather and also got my star gazer app opened. We had both been drawn to one star; it was Vega. It was a ‘twinkler’. A bit like Arcturus but ‘smaller’!  The weather now looked clear for the morning which made mw super happy as it had forecast some cloud. We went out of the tent for the last time and looked at the stars and cleaned our teeth before turning in. It was so cold but utterly amazing!!

 

120
Cosy.

We got settled in for the night, of course I wanted to sleep with the door open! We snuggled in, engulfed in down. I was soon comfortable but for my back; Marc was gently snoring beside me…he got a gentle prod…he went quiet.

The night passed and we both slept well. It was 6am and we were soon out and in awe again. Our boots were frozen and feet cold but it was worth it. The sunrise promised to be wonderful and it didn’t disappoint. We got had a brew on and I had brought up some Bla Bland Fruit porridge which was welcome and warming. I shovelled mine in and ran around with the tripod for a while. Our beautiful sun soon made an appearance and turned everything pink then gold. Marc was blown away-as was I. To witness such beauty for the first time is an amazing experience. It’s just the best feeling. He was being treated to the finest of what The Lake District has to offer – a perfect, snowy sunrise..

096
Sunrise.

 

093
Great Carrs.

We took photos and watched as the sun shone her light over all the mountains. Filling the shaded areas with light and warming our cheeks.. Time for more coffee! It would soon be time to break camp. It took no time to get the tent down and we were soon packed and ready to walk out. I had chosen Levers Hawse and was hoping it wouldn’t be too banked out with snow. We passed some amazing raised foot printed in the snow. More photographs! Marc sadly took a bit of a clatter on the frozen turf…ouch..It was iron hard in places! He was ok but for a bruised ego! I managed to stay upright..I am so careful because of my back…

165
Raised footprints.
172
Marc absorbing the view.
177
Descending Levers Hawse.

The top of Levers Hawse was treacherous. We picked our way down very slowly and carefully until the point where the angle eased slightly. It was warm in the sunshine and the tarn looked cool and almost inviting. We passed a chap we had seen the day before on Wetherlam. We had a chat to him before heading round to the Back Strings of Coniston Coppermines. I pointed some bits out to Marc before heading over the dam. Our adventure was nearly over. Just the mine track down to the car.

179
Reflection.

Soon we were back in the Meadowdore with a sausage and egg butty! A perfect end to a perfect night out. Marc was great. He really took it in his stride and thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

Corned Beef Hash and Cake!

Corned Beef Hash and Cake!

Sometimes the forecast changes and you wonder why you bother packing! This was to be one of these days… Ste was driving up as I’d assured him of snow and bursts of sunshine… Oh how wrong I was…

We sat in the car looking at the persistent rain. We had to drive down Langdale to pick up Ste’s tent at the campsite so we stopped at Chapel Stile on the way for a feed…We watched the straight grey rain bouncing down. I defended myself fiercely to Ste as he tucked into his toastie and me my Corned beef hash!! Of course, it was all the fault of the Met Office!! We headed off and battled our way through floods! We were soon at the campsite and were back on our way again soon. I suggested we drive to Coniston before giving up on our plan altogether…The backup plan was to get drunk at mine J

We were soon in the café at Coniston drinking coffee and eating huge slabs of chocolate fudge cake that over faced us both! So far, I had ingested 7000 calories and not moved for more than 20 meters! And still the rain fell. I sat dejectedly trawling the forecasts for a glimmer of hope. And still the rained bounced. We both knew it was falling as snow above 400m but neither of us were keen on getting drenched on the way up.

We were soon back in the car and heading back towards Ambleside. We’d spent a small fortune on food and drinks and fuel and were pretty much resigned to heading back to mine. A small patch of blue appeared on our way past Yew Tree Tarn… I was mildly excited. Ste was as keen as me to get out so I suggested Langdale-again! We were soon heading up the valley for the second time in a day. I suggested Lingmoor as we have bivvied there before and knew the lie of the land and the walk in wasn’t huge. We decided that as it was still raining we would have a quick drink in the Wainwrights Inn..Why not J We were soon beside the fire chatting about anything and everything. Ste is good company; we have always got on since meeting a good while ago for our first bivvy.

It was time to do battle. We were soon faffing at the back of the car and deciding what and what not to pack! It’s a pleasant walk in and takes in the Elterwater Quarries, a lovely indigenous wood and the old mine road that leads up to all the disused working near to our planned spot. We were quickly heading up through the woods as darkness crept up on us. The rocks underfoot were slippery and tree roots were always ready to trip us up.. We reached the gate and the rain had all but stopped and the clouds were breaking. The temperature started to drop as we stopped to fill up with water at one of the mountain streams. We headed up the zig zags before reaching the next gate and then we were on the open fell top. We had both opted not to use headtorches and let our night vision do its job; its amazing how you can still see so much when its nearly pitch dark. A keen wind blew and it threatened to be a chilly night. At last we reached our spot. We set about getting the tents pitched as bad weather never seemed too far off and the sky was threatening more showers. We got pitched in time before the first of several squalls came through. The noise on the tent always makes me smile. It’s a great sound when you are warm and dry. The wind was gusty but the Terra Nova Southern Cross and Ste’sHilleberg Soulo held up nicely.

004
Pitching!
011
Dinner 🙂
014
Tentage!

Dinner was soon served out of its usual bag! Ste lit up his tent with his multi fuel stove-it always looks so cool!

009
Ste looking cool!

We chatted casually between gusts and showers and drank wine as we did. It was a night of stars and squalls! Before we knew it, we were both out of wine and ready to turn in. The squalls became more sleety and snowy…maybe it would be whiter in the morning.

007
Waiting for snow!

We shouted our ‘goodnights’ and soon I was drifting off listening to the wind and rain battering the tent!

I awoke a couple of times in the night but soon dropped off again. When the morning came, there was a strange feeling…A muffled quiet. As I unzipped my inner door I could see the snow immediately! Oooooh, it was exciting! As I opened the door I was greeted by a lovely view. Everything was white. The snow was quite wet but very beautiful to look at. It took a few shouts to rouse Ste but he was soon taking in the amazing view! Stoves were soon on and coffee was being consumed. We decided we would have breakfast at mine.

 

I laid back, coffee in hand and looked out at the view. I always feel privileged to see such things-even when the weather doesn’t play ball. It’s still amazing to experience such things and to share those experiences with your mates from time to time J

Now it was time to break camp. My least favourite thing…I was so cosy. Pulling on cold boots in the morning is never fun and the cold hands are usually painful… As we finished taking our tents down the weather started to turn again and another squall came through. We were soon shouldering our packs and taking bets on who would end up on their arse first! Luckily, we both stayed upright!!! We were treated to the sight of two beautiful deer as we headed back into the woods… Brilliant to see!

Soon we were back in the rain, luckily we weren’t far from the car and a short drive home to my house for coffee and bacon and egg sandwiches!

A great night out with company for a change! Thanks to Ste for persevering!

Chinks in the Armour….

Chinks in the Armour….

 

I was focussed on one last night out before the weather turned down.. The Howgills were in my mind as I knew I needed to feed the moron and pack before I could go anywhere”

I dashed out of the shop at 5.30 and was soon heading for the palace. The traffic frustrated me as I drove towards Kendal…

Soon I was home with a hungry cat snaking around my legs.. I quickly fed the beast and hurried the packing. I have become really good at this! I knew the sunset was at 7.25pm so I didn’t have long. I had decided on Winder in the Howgills. I had work in the morning at 10am so I could get down, dash home, feed fatty and go to work, Plan!

I was soon in the motor and heading for the hills. The drive to Sedbergh was without problem and I was parked up and heading uo the bridleway before I knew it.. A mountain biker came hoofing down and passed with a quick hello!

I looked behind and the sun was sinking fast! I was dripping with sweat as I forced my reluctant legs up the strep grass. It’s a pleasant walk and the air was warm and pleasant,, I prayed for more breeze or I could be mauled by the midges when I reached the top!

014
Arant Haw
011
The Sentry!

 

 

The summit soon came into view and a crow sat sentry on the first trig. It was a stunner of an evening and I hurriedly unpacked; searching for the flattest spot. A fell runner appeared and we chatted as I sorted my stuff, at the same time faffing with the camera. He was off for an Indian.. MMMMMM, mu tummy grumbled loudly. I was having pasta carbonara tonight..I couldn’t wait!

015
Winder Trig.

I set the tripod up and waved goodbye to the runner, A couple more shots then I’d get dinner and a warm drink on; there was a real chill on the air and I’d already got all  my clothes on!

029
Set up!

 

031
Before realising I had no burner!
065
Sunset.
074
Last light.

I pulled out my food bag and opened the Jetboil. I looked down at the grass as I emptied the components onto the ground, the burner must be in the food bag right? My heart was already sinking.. wrong..the burner was in the cupboard at home…… I knelt there as the sun set finally feeling utterly crushed! Dinner was off..I relived the moment I had had pushed it further back on the shelf in the kitchen; knowing it was there in its little black velvet bag.

 

So, I had 2 choices, to go home or to stay. Well, there was no way I was leaving-even though I knew I could be in front of the fire within the hour with a full belly! Punishment was in order! I reached into the top pocket of my pack and pulled out a Picnic bar..That was dinner and breakfast right there.. I broke it into 3 and ate the first bit. I shivered as the wind blew gently on my face.

I decide best to get in the bag and stay warm.. I was crestfallen!! I poured my now very cold Merlot (that I couldn’t warm up!!!) into my cup and lay there feeling sorry for myself. I nibbled my second bit of Picnic, it was hard and crunchy, nobody like chocolate bars in this condition! They need to be at room temperature!! Rubbish, what an idiot! Chinks in the armour…The girl who is always prepared had forgotten the crucial piece of kit!

 

I had the sudden feeling I was being watched…I looked towards the trig and sure enough a black shape was moving behind it…What the hell is this shit I thought. It reappeared and disappeared a few times..my heart raced as I went through imps, goblins etc… soon it was moving towards me..it was jet black, time to get the torch on..I was greeted by a waggy black springer! Followed shortly by a guy bike packing over to The Calf! What a relief. We had a quick chat and he rode off into the gloom.

The stars peppered the sky now and moonrise was stunning. Despite being hungry I felt calmed by my environment. There was vague road noise from the M6 and I could just hear the odd sound from Sedbergh but all in all it was a good spot. I think next time I would go to Arant Haw but time didn’t allow on this occasion-and I would have been even more hungry!

 

069
The Moon!

 

I decided to sleep off my hunger..I wasn’t looking forward to morning. The forecast was for cloud so I knew I was in for a cold, damp start. I lay back and sighed. We live and learn everyday! That was my last thought.

043
Tired and hungry.

I woke at 6am having slept through pretty much solidly. The mist was shrouding everything. I wanted coffee and porridge! I hauled myself out. Everything was soaked with dew. I bundled it all up and stuffed it in my pack, there was no order to this process at all! Soon I was jogging down to the car, desperate for coffee and food. I’d been home in half an hour.

054
Dropping out of the mist.

So, ALWAYS check and double check is the moral to the story. It won’t happen again!!!!!!

For The Haters….

For The Haters….

If you don’t like foul language then don’t read on as you’ll only be offended.

This is more of a statement than a blog but it’s my right to say it  because it will make me feel better and after all its my choice.

I recently heard from somebody that some people had been passing judgement on me…

It was basically about “How can my back be that bad if I’m out on the hill all the time” …its obviously not that bad kind of attitude…..

Well, here’s my message…FUCK YOU.

If anyone who reads this thinks I’m making it up, then:

“off you fuck”.

Unfriend me, unfollow, don’t read my blog etc. But don’t have the nerve to doubt what I go through on a daily basis. I have no room for haters and stirrers and disloyal people in my life, because guess what? It’s too short. Go and doubt some chav sponging off the state if you’re bored. And for the record, I have only ever had time off post surgery…..I work full time so that gives me the right to do what I like on my days off –  without being judged.

I have been through back pain for all of my adult life. It has got progressively worse and is degenerating as I get older…faster than most peoples. I have had 3 operations, epidurals, spinal injections, nerve cauterization and I’ve spent thousands of pounds trying to get better with natural treatments… And you know what….the only therapy I have is mountains, and every time I’m in those mountains I have to have prescription painkillers to make it possible, and you know what? Whilst it takes away the pain I feel sick…So, even when I’m not in pain I have to cope with nausea…..

So, whilst on face value I look happy, yes, I’m happy but that’s because it’s the only thing that makes me truly happy..(and riding my bike…and going underground)

So, for all you haters, for the record, my pain is awful…some days it’s worse than others (not that you’ll give a fuck if you doubted me in the first place and personally you can go and boil your stupid fucking trappy head if you did); and some days I can function without tramadol, but, for the most part it’s pretty tough.

There, that’s that said. I apologise for the use of bad language but seriously, this kind of shit incenses me. If you know no better than be nice and don’t doubt/judge people. You don’t know how bad things are just because people seem happy, ok, healthy…..

In the famous words of someone who writes quotes for a living:

Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about..Always be nice.