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