The day dawned fair and bright and Grey Friar had been on mind for a while.. It’s quite a walk in from Coniston but the alternative is a long drive to the Duddon. I chose the long walk. I had packed in the morning; going through he usual routine. I had chosen the bivvy bag as the weather is lending itself to proper star gazing at present-plus it’s a little lighter!! I was soon on my way. I have a favourite cafe in Coniston at the moment called the Meadowdore-they do THE best sausage and egg roll ever.. It would be rude not too as it was lunch time… I fed and watered myself and headed up the Coppermines Valley. It wasn’t long before I was shouldering my pack and heading for Levers Water. I had chosen to head to the reservoir then up to Levers Hawse and then on to Swirl How and cut straight over to Grey Friar, leaving Great Carrs till the morning and a lighter pack!
The path to Grey Friar from Swirl How is really nice. It’s grassy and forgiving underfoot. Most of the height is gained in the first part of the walk so only a gentle pull up and you are on the summit. The weather was as promised; sunny and mild though a little hazy. The Scafell massif looked spectacular and I was instantly smiling to myself…. I walked around the summit looking for the best spot-there was many to choose from. I was spoilt for choice! I finally settled on a spot at the south summit which had a little natural shelter-I also use a method now of standing my pack between my poles to keep the wind off my head at night. It works quite well!
I arranged my bits and pieces and set about starting dinner. What a surprise! Look what we Found!!! I have started using different rice which isn’t quite as chunky as Uncle Bens and cooks quicker. One tub does 2 camps so it’s handy.
The sunset was looking like it was going to be a corker-despite the haze the fells looked warm and the smell of warm grass and the sound of skylarks filled the air…sheer bliss.
I had to get some pictures on the go. I attached my mini tripod and set about my silhouette shots as the sun stared to dip. I’m not great at photography and don’t have a great camera either but my friend used to say “it’s all about framing a shot” – he will read this and know who I mean!! (TH). I always remember this now when I’m snapping!
My other problem is that I always forget where I put my wine whilst I’m running around..I have an orange mug now that is much easier to spot in the grass!!!
The sun soon dipped to its resting place and the light faded forming a horizontal rainbow effect..Stunning. The Scafells looked so close that I felt I could almost touch them.
Some headtorch lights caught my eye on Pike ‘O’ Blisco and the shadows grew and I watched to see if they were fellow campers or the last hill goers making their way to their cars..It would appear the latter..
I was alone. I could still smell smoke from a heath fire I noticed earlier in the valley…amazing how the smoke carries on the breeze from far below in Cockley beck.
The Larks had fallen silent and the breeze whispered gently in the grass as the stars started to illuminate the sky one by one.. I love what I do. I lay back on the grass and stared up into the night sky. I could see the satellites as always. My eyes straining to follow as they fade and disappear into the navy blue blanket.
The chill started in the air; I hadn’t noticed as I was too busy watching the world before me change from light to dark.. I rummaged in my sack from my primaloft trousers and down jacket to keep out the nightime cold. Instant warmth was achieved!!
I sat on the summit for some time watching the coastal lights twinkle and the mountains grow dark. Vast looming dark shapes. I can name pretty much all of them by silhouette-many years of my dad drumming in every single one!!
Time for teeth and bed! The evening had been beautiful. I knew I had to have my painkillers too as I would have a really broken sleep otherwise…Still, they get me up in the hills so I can’t complain! Soon I was in my bag and staring up at billions of stars. I saw 2 shooting starts before I drifted off. Amazing. I slept through till just after sunrise-I woke twice to change position but that’s all.
It was a little breezier in the morning and I was in the shade so I dragged me and kit into the sunshine. I laid listening to the larks who were now all awake and were rising and falling from the clear blue skies.
I lay watching them and drank my coffee amd ate my porridge. I was deciding how long to extend the walk back. First I would pay my respects at the Halifax crash site on Great Carrs and then make my along the ridge to the Old Man before descending back to the valley. All good things must come to an end and it was soon time to pack. I took my time getting my stuff together and had one more coffee!
The walk back was pleasant and I didn’t meet another soul. The memorial cairn is in good condition on Great Carrs – I always check. A family friend looks after it and was involved in building it.