September 12th 2020
Sometimes things don’t go the way you intended.
We had this weekend down for a wild camp in the Lakes, and planned a route from Grasmere to Coledale Tarn. Our Vango Banshee 300 was still relatively new to us, and Helen had a couple of new items of gear to test out, so we deliberately kept the extent of our expedition short.
As the weekend neared, the weather worsened: gales were forecast overnight and rain for a good slice of the night. We decided to press on with the trip.
Come the Saturday, we were a little lethargic in getting ourselves moving – often a sign that we were unsure about going. But we pressed on and got everything ready, right down to tiny details.
We set off from Chester just after lunch and immediately ran into a traffic gridlock in the back streets of where we live! It turned out that a water main had burst on a main road in Chester and the resulting diversion brought the city to a standstill. We sat in the traffic, a long way from our route out of Chester, and nothing was moving. After 20 minutes I decided to weave my way through some other tiny streets which, whilst slow, did eventually get us out of town – in completely the wrong direction!
We decided to press on, and took the outer ring road to get us back to the M56, and the remaining journey to Grasmere was uneventful, apart from a smash on the M6 that we mercifully arrived a few minutes too late to be involved in.
The sky was grey and heavy with expected rain as we set off towards Easedale Tarn. This is a lovely route, and the scenery was rich in romantic settings and colour. By the tarn we spotted a few tents, picking what seemed like the best locations.
We pressed on, and started up the valley wall at the far end of the tarn, to climb up to Coledale Tarn. By now it was raining, and getting dark. There is a short section of scrambling in the climb, and the wet rocks made Helen feel uncertain about progress.
I’d spotted a couple of likely tent pitches just before the climb, so we decided to go back down to the valley floor and head off to a likely area, 150 metres from the path.
It was dark as we pitched, but the rain had stopped and it was a good spot, protected all around by the valley wall, including the imposing Eagle Crags. We settled down for the night as the rain returned and very gradually the wind increased. By midnight the gusts were very strong and the tent was starting to struggle, though still safe. Given our location at the end of the valley, and with the wind from the SW – directly on the other side of the cliffs – I was surprised by the turbulence.
The wind continued all night, occasionally flexing the tent wall dramatically. The rain had stopped and somewhere around 4am we fell into some kind of sleep.
At 6 am, as dawn crept into this corner of the valley, we packed up and headed back down to Grasmere. We noted a few extra tents had arrived during the night: we wondered how those still pitched by the lakeside had got on, as we could just make out the sides of their tents rippling in the wind.
We were tired and hungry. Grasmere village provided a few opportunities for food, but all were opening in another half an hour or so, so we decided to press on. Leaving Windermere behind we spotted the turn-off to Staveley and thought “Wilf’s”! Wilf’s café, in the amazing little Enterprise estate in the centre of Staveley, provided a perfect full-English breakfast, and great coffee. The Social Distancing arrangements were superb.
We got home easily, unpacked, and fell onto the bed – exhausted… but happy. Sometimes even things that don’t work out as planned can provide a great experience. And our gear got tested – thoroughly!