The Vault Regulars

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Walna Scar road.

I had these 2 photographs sent to me showing the devastation that the recent floods in Cumbria have caused to the bottom section of the Walna Scar road. The pictures were taken by Alwyn Batton from the Newfied Inn.
The pictures are taken on the Duddon Valley side of the Walna.
Incredible pictures Alwyn.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tasmania - Walking/Backpacking.

Its not everybody's cup of tea to travel 24 hours on a plane to Tasmania but if it doesn't bother you the trip is well worth it. Tasmania is fantastic walking and backpacking country. In a lot of respects it reminded me of Scotland very much. You can have all 4 seasons in one day. And don't think that it's hot like Australia because it isn't. Some days if the wind is blowing up from the south the temperature can plummet. We had 30 degrees down to -6 while we were there.
There are many, way marked trails to be found and quite honestly it is best to stick to these if you are on a walking holiday.
If you are there for a lengthy period of time and want to stray away from recognised tracks then be aware that the going is very tough. Much tougher than Scotland due to the dense vegetation and boggy land. Let somebody know where you are heading for and get local knowledge of what's ahead.

We mainly stuck to 2 trails. One was the Cradle Valley/mountain trail and the other was the coastal Fracinet trail. Both very different but equally beautiful in there own right. We only did day walks but the urge to come back and do some backpacking was very strong as the scenery is stunning.

Anybody interested in having a go at Tazzy should read a couple of books 1. A man and a Mountain by Margaret Giordano and 2. The East Coasters by Lois Nyman. These are not walking guides, which you can pick up in any walking shop. These are historical books relating to the terrain, the people and how it all came about. Well worth reading.

Also do please note that in some of the national parks permits are required to enter.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

St Bees to Fleswick Bay

A few weeks ago Sheila and I walked some of the Coast to Coast route. After we had been going about a hour we came across Fleswick Bay. It looked really nice and we said at the time we would come back and spend a bit more time here.
This weekend we decided due to the lousy weather forecast to do just that. On Thursday night we drove up to West Cumbria, to Sheila's mums. It hammered it down most of the way and there was a lot of flooding. We picked up Dorothy and went for a couple of beers in Gosforth Hall.
Friday morning we drove to St Bees in wonderful sunshine. So different to yesterday, and we set of walking along the Coast to Coast path.
It was so bright, that from the viewpoint on St Bees Head we could see Isle of Man 30 miles to the west with the twin Peaks of Snaefell and North Barrule clear, the Scottish coastline and hills behind was also visible. Getting down to the bay from the path was a bit precarious as the sandstone bed was very slippery. But it was worth the effort.
We explored the cliffs and rock pools. The sandstone weathering was fantastic especially where the water had come down the cliff faces from the land above and worn the ground rocks into what looked like red icing. (See pics in gallery.)
The remains of a large engine, a gearbox, a transfer case and some winding gear can be seen in the surf. These are possibly the remains of the fishing boat Coeur de Lion, (Lion Heart) which foundered in 1993.
The light was just fantastic as the clouds were lit by a watery sun and the surf caught the rays as well. Its difficult to explain the beauty of Freswick bay but have a look at the photo's and you will get my drift. Its a great place to spend an hour or two and we never saw a soul.

The Travel Tap

Just want to share this brilliant bit of kit i purchased from Bob and Rose at backpackinglight, its called the Travel Tap and its made by Aquagear. Cost £35. Its a water bottle come water filter. We used it on our St Bees to Penrith trip and found it to be well worth the money.
At first sight i though it was a bit expensive. I now know that it's worth every penny. On our walk we were chased off by some horses from our wild camp site. When we were at a safe distance away from them we set up camp again. The only problem was that we were away from a stream. The land was very boggy with many pools so i decided that this was as good a time as any to try out the water filter. Well we are still here and we had no ill affects what so ever. It will be coming with us on all future trips.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Walna Scar shepherds meet

This weekend saw Sheila and I off to Cumbria to enjoy the Walna Scar shepherds meet. This years show was at Broughton Mills. Saturday dawned very wet but farmers are not put off by the weather and the show goes on. We stayed with friends in Seathwaite, Duddon valley, so we didn't have far to drive. On arrival at the field we found it was very muddy as you can imagine and it was chucking it down. Stair rods even. It was good to see some old friends and discuss sheep and the weather. In the hospitality tent, was free tea and coffee and some homemade cake and biscuits. Very nice.

Alan and Tina Linnit had arranged some photographs from previous years which was very interesting.

At lunch time the landlord from the Blacksmiths arms put on a Tattie pot, as they say in this part of the world, followed by sticky toffee pud and it was simply the best. I had a good pint of Dent Aviator and Sheila had a Coffee and Brandy to keep out the cold, honest. More sheep showing, more rain, hound trailing and more photographs in the afternoon then it was back to Seathwaite for a homemade Chilli and rice supper. Thanks Tina.

After supper we got a lift back to the Blacksmiths for the evening session. We sat in the singing room and listened to the Shepherds singing solo traditional Lakeland songs, hunting songs, comedy songs etc etc it was a pleasure to be there and we enjoyed the atmosphere greatly. We would both like to thank the shows organisers, also Tina and Alan Linnit, the farmers and The landlord and Landlady of the Blacksmiths Arms for a fantastic day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

St Bees to Penrith

I am writing this post from my comfy leather chair now that we are back home. I don't have the capability to write and send as i walk. My phone is for emergency use only.
As Sheila had a week off work we decided to walk some of Wainwright's coast to coast. I myself had done this some time back but this was Sheila's first assault.
Fortunately Sheila's mum lives near St Bees so having somewhere to leave the car was a bonus.

We set off on a beautiful Saturday morning and dipped our feet in the sea. There were quite a few other walkers setting off and we criss crossed each others paths continuously.

One of the things i am not going to do on this post is bore everyone with the route. This has been written about in books and blogs to infinitum. What i want to do is mention what we found that probably hasn't been written about very often or maybe not at all.

Walking round St Bees head is delightful and although you walk around 5 miles before going east, it is still worth it. Fleshwick bay is worth a longer look and we will go back and explore it when we have a bit more time to spare.
When we got to Sandwith at 12 o'clock we expected to find the pub open for some lunch. Please note that the Lowther Arms has gone and the Dog and Partridge has shut as well. So no lunch here.
After you cross the B5345 you drop down to the railway and go under a bridge. This path which runs south of Stanley pond and up to the disused railway line is a complete mess. When we crossed it we had to wade in the bog for about 200 yds. This is one area that needs some footpath replacement work on it. Also if the weather has closed in this can be an area where you can take the wrong path, so care and attention is required here.
Once under the disused railway bridge the path is easy up to the main A595 road.

When we got into Moor Row we were pleased to see the Pop in cafe. The lady running it is quite a character and its run from her home and garden. She said that when all the shops in the village closed she opened it up in the main for Coast to Coast walkers. Thank you, it was just what was required.

The next hurdle was Dent. A piddling little hill that took an age to get up. We were certainly tired when we got to the top.
Once through the lovely Nanycatch valley we looked for somewhere to camp. We wanted to walk south of Grike tomorrow and then pick up the track down to Ennerdale water via Red Beck rather than go into Ennerdale bridge.
We found a nice spot just North of the Kinniside stone circle and just prior to the cattle grid on the road going down to Ennerdale Bridge. We started making tea when all of a sudden we were inundated by horses which had been let out from the nearby horse riding stables. They were into everything. Our rucksacks, food, tent etc. It was very scary and we were lucky to get out of there without any damage to the tent. We headed off very quickly across Blackley moss until we came to the path leading into forestry. We stopped here and finished eating our meal which had been kept warm in the pot cozy's. We got the tent up and luckily the horses stayed back towards the road.

Next morning we set off through the forestry on good paths. We noticed as we walked that there were no decent places to put the tent up. So it was a good job we pitched prior to entering the forestry. When the path emerges from the trees it heads for a wall which on the other side leads to Red Beck.
With hindsight i would not decide to come this way again. There may be a path marked on the map following Red Beck but it is non existent on the ground. The way down to the lake shore is very steep and slippery. It had 2 metre high ferns growing more or less the whole way down. Most unpleasant and not recommended as a route for walking with a pack.
The route from here up to Black Sail Hostel was great. We took the path on the south side of the river rather than the suggested north path. The reason for this was that the views are much better.
Black sail Hostel is a fine place to have lunch. You can make yourself a brew here and have a piece of home made cake if you are there early enough. The warden asks you to leave some money in the honesty box for the privilege of using the facilities. BUT! Please note, there are no toilet facilities for those not staying the night.

From the hostel we headed up Loft back and across to Honistor Pass and then down to the campsite at Rosthwaite. The views from the path between the top of Loft Beck and Drum House are spectacular.
The campsite at Rosthwaite is adequate with some nice pitches and at £6 per person and £0.50p for a shower is fair enough. The facilities could do with some updating, especially the showers. Although that said they were hot and lasted long enough and i am not complaining.

The next morning we went via Stonethwaite up to Greenup edge and then down Far Easdale into Grasmere. A fantastic walk although Lining Crag is a bit of a shock to the system and good map reading is required at the top of the crag until the path drops away down to far Easdale Gill if the weather is poor.
On the way down into Grasmere i noticed my right foot was giving me some jip. This was unusual as i had not had problems before. It got so bad that once in Grasmere we went into Cotswold Outdoors and got the problem resolved.
Cutting a long story short, after a great deal of time and patience, it was found that my boots were slightly narrow for my foot and a size to long. I must say that the 2 guys in the store gave me the best customer service i have ever had in any outdoor shop anywhere in the world. So many thanks to them you were fantastic.
I purchased some new lightweight boots and they sent my old ones home FOC.

There are no campsites in Grasmere unfortunately but there are 2 hostels many hotels and B&B's. The hostels would probably allow pitching a tent if required. We opted for the luxury choice and booked into a hotel for a bath and some TLC to my foot.

We had a wonderful breakfast in the hotel and set off refreshed to go to Side Farm campsite in Patterdale. The walk up the track to Grisdale tarn is fairly easy and then its a stroll down into Patterdale if you are not doing the striding edge route..

Booking into Side Farm Campsite , i thought i recognised the lady we were paying the fee to. It turned out that i had walked with her a number of years ago when we walked a route from Seathwaite in Borrowdale to Seathwaite in the Duddon valley. A cracking walk over Esk pike, Bowfell, Crinkles, Swirl How, Brim fell, Dow Crag and down the Walna Scar track to the Newfield Inn.
We were disapointed with the pitches on the campsite as the grass on any flat ground had worn away and where there was grass the land sloped away quite steeply. The facilites were very good though. We went for a few beers in the White Lion and very nice it was too. We had eaten our dehydrated food so we were not hungry but the food served in the pub looked fantastic. We didn't give in to temptation.

We checked out our next move as we had to end up in Penrith the next day to get the bus back to Workington. There didn't seem to be any places to camp between Bampton and Penrith so we decided to get the bus from Patterdale to Penrith. This was a bit disappointing because i know what a lovely walk it is past Angle Tarn and down Haweswater. But i had no idea if there was any transport from Bampton. I must address this issue for a future walk.

All in all we had a fantastic walk, breathtaking scenery, truly amazing weather and met some very nice people.

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