The Vault Regulars

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Swindale to Haweswater. Backpack day1.

After a cracking breakfast in The Abbey Cafe on the main street in Shap we made our way to Swindale, the start of what was hoped to be a leisurely 3 day backpack.

Swindale is now a quiet Cumbrian valley, a little bit like "the place that time forgot". You cannot drive down the dead end road anymore and in some ways this adds a charm to the place. If you want to walk the fells beyond Swindale Head then you have a fair walk to get to the start.

We however, were heading for an overnight camp somewhere along Measand Beck on the west side of Haweswater leaving the walk down Swindale for our return leg.

It was raining, of course it was, Sheila and I were out walking, so it was bound to rain. It had been raining since before we left the motorway on the way up.
We sat in the car at the said parking spot and watched the outside world come and go in the mist. A few sighs and a realisation that this rain was no shower made the decision that we might as well get going.

We had a few new pieces of kit to try out, for starters Sheila had her new over trousers, the right leg length this time, a new shell jacket a pair of trail shoes, an iPhone charger and rucksack. I had a new rucksack, a pair of over trousers and a water filter to try.

Our path started at NY521141 and it was more like a stream than a path, very slippery in places but otherwise clear.
 The start, Swindale
Clear did i say, well it was clear until it disappeared on the ground at around 300 metres and then joined lots of paths not marked on the map. We stood atop an outcrop and surveyed the many routes.
As we were in no rush we decided to head up or along to Scalebarrow Tarn but it wasn't anything to shout about so headed back on track to the gate in the wall.
Heading for Scalebarrow Tarn.
From the wall, the route down to Naddle Farm is a pleasant one, even in the rain, many deciduous trees line the route and also the views start to open up to Haweswater. As we chatted i spotted movement out of the corner of my eye, it was a Red Squirrel. It stayed still on a bough and i had time to get the camera out. It was a bit far away and the camera doesn't have a view finder so i pointed, zoomed and shot. The result is far from great but at least i got a picture.

Across the ford my map reader said we need to take a left just past the buildings but we couldn't find a path. Naddle Farm is now the home of the RSPB and what a delightful place, however, re-checking the map the route definitely shows a left turn between the buildings, so back we went and found our gate nicely hidden from view by a very large trailer and a load of fence posts. Squeezing past we just about opened the gate to get through.
Boy was it a boggy path. It leads to the Haweswater - Mardale road where we were hoping to cross over the dam outflow by a bridge marked on the map.
The problem was that nobody had told the Waterboard that we wanted to go that way and the gate was locked, the deer fence high and rickety and the path a bit overgrown and unused. We made our way to the Dam end but again progress was blocked with chains and padlocks.

 The road back down towards Bampton was our only way to get across to the other side of the dam. The good thing was that whilst looking over the surrounding walls we spotted a Deer. Was the Deer fence there to keep them in or to keep them out? I guess the later and obviously it wasn't working.

At the bridge over Haweswater Beck a finger post and footpath leads into Burnbanks and so saved us a longer road walk. The path is a good one, lots of fungi and birdlife.
Haweswater Beck at Naddle Bridge.
Burnbanks is a non descript sort of place with nothing to keep you there. I suppose its a very nice place to live though as long as the dam holds. I wonder what the house insurance costs. Anyway i digress. 

Through Burnbanks it only takes a few minutes before your on the reservoir footpath proper. A very well made cast iron sign indicates the way. The rain was now intermittent but the path was still flooded meaning that waterproof gear would have to stay on a bit longer. 
The last time i walked this path was when i did the Coast to Coast but in the opposite direction.

Here we met the only people to be seen today, 2 ladies doing the circular route whilst the men folk did the high level option. The rain stopped, the path improved, at last waterproofs were removed. 
Blue sky started to appear and the atmosphere improved too. Its amazing what a bit of sun does for your well being. 

Before getting to Measand Beck we could hear the force of the water. We were lucky that it had rained so much, the force was with us. It's a truly wonderful Beck with many falls throughout it's length and a worthy walk to do it end to end. 
I have walked it before but it was many years ago, i didn't keep records then so i guess it must be 30 years ago. 

We were wild camping,  spending the night here or there abouts and i had a good grid ref. given to me by fellow backpacker and blogger Robin. Thanks ever so much. We went to have a look at the spot but decided that because of the good weather forecast we would prefer a view of the reservoir, especially hoping for a good sunset or sunrise being projected onto the water. 
We picked a good spot, i will email the GR if anyone is interested. (Al, you know where we mean)

 Reservoir track and the rain has stopped.
 Tail of Measand Beck
 Stopping Point with a view.
First job after getting the tent up was collecting and filtering water. I was trying the Soldier Filter for the first time in anger. I have to say its the worst filter i have ever used, almost useless, definitely hopeless for a backpackers needs. 
The outlet pipe that is connected to a plastic elbow which then fits into the body of the filter continuously falls out. Can be easily dropped into the water. The filter body has to be perfectly upright to pump the water through otherwise it lets air into the system.
I cannot get close to recommending anyone buy this. So it was back to my old reliable Delios.
 Late afternoon sunshine.

Dusk and getting cold. 
Food wise, for this evenings meal we had wet food which we needed to use as it's best before date had past. Pasta Bolognese. It filled a space, thats about it. 
The evening was leisurely, doing a crossword, drinking coffee and thoroughly enjoying the peace and quiet, the views to die for and the calm windless evening with no midges.
The lights came on in Bampton and the Haweswater Hotel. It was time for bed and looking forward to tomorrow.

Our route, day 1. Not long, just 7.5km with 304m of Ascent.
The knee did good which was a bonus.


Dave said...

The early part of your day sounds a bit like mid-Wales, Alan; not just the rain, although that would certainly apply.

I was thinking more of the paths: sometimes (in Wales) there are clearly marked tracks on the map which don't seem to have any equivalent on the ground; other times there are paths there which don't appear on even the 1:25000 maps. On the occasions when I've resorted to trusting my instincts, I'd say I've ended up lost more than 50% of the time; 70% is probably more like it.

Enjoy the rest of the trip.

Al said...

Hi Alan,
You got a cracking shot of the squirrel, especially in the rain!
It's always a bit quieter out in the eastern Lakes.
I recognise that pitch its a great view from there as you say.
Looking forward to the next episode :-)

Dawn said...

Looks a cracking walk. Lost paths can be tedious, as can flooded ones. You both did well. Splendid photos.

AlanR said...

Hi Dave, Reading the OS i believe that the bold green paths are rights of way that don't necessarily show on the ground whereas the small dashed black paths on the map are there on the ground. Goes to show that after all these years i am not too old to learn something new.

There is a better one coming up in Day 2.

AlanR said...

Hi Alistair, I remembered that pitch from reading your blog. I did have a good spot marked out which i got from Robin (blogpackinglight). Because of the good weather forecast i decided that the view was just to good to pass so thanks for your post.

We never saw a soul until we got onto High Street. Sheila had not done it before and was a bit surprised at just how many folk were about. I said it was because M and S had opened a store up there.
Don't know if you have been in that Cafe in Shap but its worth popping in if you get chance.

AlanR said...

Hi Dawn, I only planned relatively short walks, especially on the first day, because i wanted to see how my knee coped with the heavy pack. Fortunately it did ok. But i admit i enjoyed the slow pace and the frequent pauses. Its surprising what wildlife you see when you sit down and stay quiet.

Alan Sloman said...

Another chap out and about.
I'm still in slug mode.
Mainly buying kit to replace worn-out gear, with the occasional afternoon stroll chucked in.
That filter sounds like a 5* job!

AlanR said...

Hi Alan,
Have you watched how fast slugs disappear when you take your eye off them. Sneaky b's. You must have enough kit to start your own shop by now.
I dont think any Soldier would use that filter and it makes me a bit annoyed that reviews say that its good. Its dreadful and i'm not exaggerating. I bought it so i'm even more annoyed. All i would say is that if a pump action filter is the way folk want to go then spend some money and buy a decent one like the Katadyn for example.

You must be close to your wee daunder now.?

Gayle said...

Shiela looks remarkably cheerful in that first photo, considering the rain and waterlogged ground! A good test for her new waterproofs, I guess.

Nice to see some sunshine in the later shots, though.

AlanR said...

She is always cheerful Gayle. It would take something traumatic to change it. Like Man City winning the league for example.
Will do a review of our new gear after the walk is complete.

Al said...

Hi Alan, I've never visited the Abbey Cafe in Shap. But I've been to the chippy plenty of times:-))

AlanR said...

The Cafe is a good one. Give it a try. The chippy was closed when we passed, starving. We went to Tebay services.

Find it Here

About Me

My other blog.