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Mad Cow
22-02-2011, 18:18
Although I have been a proponent of converting some non obvious vehicles into campers this has been largely to avoid the hasle, cold, wet etc of pitching tents.

Until now I have used by "tin tents" in a variety of venues; Often whilst running stands at 4x4 and Land Rover Shows (semi legit but does avoid having to pay for a camping ticket as I'm not using a tent or a caravan and it's clearly not a motorhome). As a cycling official, the other venue is at marathon races, either overnight or 24 hour races where the ability to get some shut eye at some point is invaluable and this is of course entirely legitimate.

But as stated my camping has always been (semi) official, the reason I joined this site was because I was thinking of broadening my horizons.

So last weekend, my wife is away for a week so rather than sit around at home, I decided on a weekend away in the Lake District. My first problem was that I could not get away early on Friday so my arrival would most probably not be until after midnight.

This never used to be an issue as many a time in the past I have turned up at such hours, pitched my tent at a campsite and dutifly paid my dues in the morning when someone came round to collect the fees. No such quaint notions these days, campsites have automatic barriers, pitches must be pre-booked (at surprisingly high costs) and arrival after 8.00pm (or 7.30 in one example) is strictly forbidden. One site I looked at had a rule that "talking was forbidden after 10.30" :rolleyes:

So hence my enthusiasm for a bit of wild camping. Unfortunately my attempts to download the database last week didn't work well but I managed to get some ideas from the excel spreadsheets as to places I had already identified from my own extensive knowledge of Lakeland.

So my first wild camping adventure was underway:

Despite a poor weather forecast, including snow (I threw my ice axe in the Land Rover just in case) I left Hertfordshire at 7.20pm and set off into the night. I had feared that traffic would be bad as it was the start of half-term week for many but I was pleasantly surprised. A brief comfort stop near Birmingham and I made excellent progress.

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010001.jpg
Heading north on the M6

I eventually arrived in Ambleside at around 11.30 and although my plan had been to head up to the Castlerigg Stone Circle, I decided to try somewhere I knew.

Betwen Ambleside and Grasmere, there are two pay and display car parks, either side of the A591 at White Moss Common, these were out of the question but the one on the right has a minor road leading off right next to the entrance. Whilst the A591 detours left around the end of the long ridge running down from Fairfield, this single track road climbs over the top to rejoin the A591 at Dove Cottage, Grasmere.

However near the top of the climb there is a small parking area on the left, at first sight it looks like a gravel track leading off (actually it is) but after 15 yards a turn right takes you into a small circular parking spot. It is shielded from the road by a high bank and is surrounded by trees.

The spot is about HERE (http://www.bdcc.co.uk/XMarksTheSpot.htm?g=NY3449606303&t=NY3449606303)

I parked up, did a quick survey for No Camping or Pay and Display signs but found only an old laminated "don't leave valuables in your car" sign tacked to a tree. So parked up ready for a quick getaway if needed but tucked into the lee of the bank, I sorted out my sleeping accomodation:


Fold the passenger seat forward
Slide the front part of my sleeping platform forward to rest on the dashboard
Fit (with velcro) my silvered window blinds
Allow my self inflating sleeping mat to do it's stuff
Dig out pillow and sleeping bag
Lock doors
Leave keys in ignition for aforementioned quick getaway

In less than five minutes I was ready for bed.

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010009.jpg

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010007.jpg

I duly dropped off to sleep, to the sounds of an increasingly strong wind but no concern as my parking spot was well sheltered...

to be continued

Mad Cow
22-02-2011, 18:38
I awoke at 03.30 as I was cold, having fallen asleep with my sleeping bag unzipped (it was warm at midnight).

The rain was drumming heavily on the roof, so I popped in some earplugs, zipped up my 4 season bag and dropped off again.

At 06.00 I awoke again (my normal waking time) and removing my ear plugs was satisfied to hear the rain seemed much lighter and the wind had abated. I pulled aside the blinds but it was still pitch black.

As I guessed I was still very much on my own, I fired up the engine to warm up the motor (I must treat myself to an Erspacher heater, actually a Land Rover listed accessory).

On dragging myself out of my bag I unlocked the doors and peered out the back to find out why the sound of the rain had eased....

It was now snowing thick and fast:

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010016.jpg

I threw on some clothes and drove down to Grasmere to use the public toilets, there are some others near the White Moss Common car park but I wasn't sure they would be open overnight as they are a bit remote.

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010026.jpg
Grasmere

A quick wash in the sink (unfortunately no hot water) and I was ready for the day.

I then drove north over Dunmail Raise as the weather forecast had said there would be less snow in the Northern Lakes, the conditions were pretty wild for a while

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010030.jpg
On Dunmail Raise

But started to improve on the other side of the pass

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010032.jpg
Near St Johns in the Vale

I eventually parked up near the village of Mosedale near Caldbeck and got the stove out for breakfast as the snow had now stopped. Obviously the danger of carbon monoxide poisioning prevents cooking inside unless the back door is open.

The rear portion of my sleeping platform, with mattress and sleeping back packed away, makes a great table for cooking on, whilst I use the bench seat (out of an old Series III Land Rover) fitted on the other side.

And talking of food, I'm off to have my dinner, the story will continue later...

wilthebeast
22-02-2011, 19:54
Really enjoying your Quest so far, i hope its not long before the next episode

Mad Cow
22-02-2011, 20:53
Well to be honest the rest of my story has little to do with wild camping but I spent a great day on the Caldbeck Fells in almost total solitude, I saw only three other people that day, topped out five summits and remember the ice axe? Well it saw some use, So here's some photos of the day:

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010037.jpg
First peak of the day, Carrock Fell after 2 miles and 1450' of ascent

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010021-1.jpg
And some amazing frosting on the cairn

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010022.jpg
On the 2 mile ridge to High Pike (and another 330' of climbing), it was getting very cold by now!

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010027-1.jpg
The Summit of High Pike

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010036-1.jpg
The bothy on Great Lingy Hill definately a bit of wild camping! On the 2.5 mile ridge walk to Knott with another 550' to climb!

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010056-1.jpg
The rather uninspiring summit of Knott

Followed by a quick 0.75 mile dash over to Great Sca Fell, only 50' of ascent this time.

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010052.jpg
Not very "Great" i'm afraid

Then 0.75 miles and a 250' climb back back to traverse over Knott and another 2 miles and 480' onto:

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010057.jpg
Great Calva

After the very quick one mile descent back into the Caldew Valley, all that remained was a 5 mile hike back to the car :(

After 16 miles and 3110' feet of climbing I arrived back at the car in the dark at 7.00pm. Cold, tired and not looking forward to another night in the back of the Land Rover I have to confess that I wimped out at found a B&B in Ambleside for the night.

When I arrived on their doorstep despite having had the heater on for the last half hour, I was started to shiver uncontrollably, a clear sign of the early stages of hypothermia. So I was very glad to get in to the room and straight into a hot shower and after a great meal at a nearby restaurant a night in a comfy bed was easily justifiable :D

Mad Cow
22-02-2011, 21:16
On Sunday morning I awoke refreshed but with every muscle aching!

After a smashing full English Breakfast and a drive over Kirkstone Pass an easy saunter up Arnison Crag at a mere 1424' was the order of the day.

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010001-2.jpg
Looking back towards Ullswater

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010074-1.jpg
The path to the top

In the afternoon, I decided to let the Land Rover do the work and drove the "Old Coach Road" from Mardale to St Johns in the Vale, an old unsealed county road that runs across the northern edge of the Helvellyn ridge across some really remote countryside with fantastic views:

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/CopyofESS2010061.jpg

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010072.jpg

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010071.jpg

After that I treated myself to a late lunch and then endured the 5 hour journey home.

Crazy? Just a bit

Will I wild camp again? You bet!

Was it fun? Definitely!

christine
22-02-2011, 21:35
Excellent! Many thanks for taking the time to share. Glad you enjoyed our weather!!

jennyp19
22-02-2011, 21:56
Love the pictures.

Mad Cow
22-02-2011, 23:01
I did try to get some photo's of my camping spot but as it was pitch black both when I arrived and departed, the flash on my camera wasn't really up to the task

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010010.jpg

This was from inside but even the headlights didn't show much, the exit to the road can just be made out to the left and the high bank (with retaining wall) to the immediate left, so you can see how you are completely hidden from the road.

It could be a bit tight for a large camper but smaller vans would have no problem, the surface is relatively smooth too, despite being a stone surface.

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t9/MadCowPhotos/Lake%20District%20Feb%202011/ESS2010021.jpg

Canalsman
22-02-2011, 23:09
Betwen Ambleside and Grasmere, there are two pay and display car parks, either side of the A591 at White Moss Common, these were out of the question but the one on the right has a minor road leading off right next to the entrance. Whilst the A591 detours left around the end of the long ridge running down from Fairfield, this single track road climbs over the top to rejoin the A591 at Dove Cottage, Grasmere.

However near the top of the climb there is a small parking area on the left, at first sight it looks like a gravel track leading off (actually it is) but after 15 yards a turn right takes you into a small circular parking spot. It is shielded from the road by a high bank and is surrounded by trees.

The spot is about HERE (http://www.bdcc.co.uk/XMarksTheSpot.htm?g=NY3449606303&t=NY3449606303)

I parked up, did a quick survey for No Camping or Pay and Display signs but found only an old laminated "don't leave valuables in your car" sign tacked to a tree.

Brilliant find that - it can be found here Grasmere, Lakes - Google Maps (http://tinyurl.com/4ugfzju)

A few yards on towards Grasmere there's a similar spot, seen here Grasmere, Lakes - Google Maps (http://tinyurl.com/4vwpunj)

Thanks for these - they've been added to the wild camping database :)

Regards

Chris

PS Enjoyed reading of your adventures too!

Firefox
23-02-2011, 01:04
Good report, I enjoyed reading.

I think you would be OK cooking in the back provided you had the windows open and had a CO alarm. I always carry an electronic CO alarm now.

I wild camped in the Lake district a few years back, but we just took a plastic sheet. Started in Wasdale and went over Pillar amongst others. However 2nd night we went for Black Sail youth hostel rather than the plastic sheet. It's tough sleeping out in the winter and hill walking too!

Ian03/54
23-02-2011, 12:26
Grateful thanks, to Mad Cow in this instant, to all who post these wonderful tales and photos of getting further into the “Wild”, these thanks come from someone, who, due to becoming physically disabled 16 years ago is now unable to get far from the metalled roads and so never get to see these really wild views anymore. I can, and do, enjoy many forms of wilding in our Hymer but roads that go towards the top of mountains sometimes aren’t quite as enjoyable as seeing the view that only walking that last bit can give. Got some good memories though!

Ian


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