Day 3’s route of 21.3 km with 604 mtrs of ascent and 926 mtrs of descent. Red is planned and Blue is actual. Here one can see the part of the route that I skipped to the East. It was a tough decision to make, but given the state of my right knee and the blisters, it was the right decision to make. In the event, the distance walked was pretty much bang on the planned distance for this day, despite missing out the Eastern part of the walk. It seems that once again the OS planning software is not taking elevation properly into account!
Day 3 was all about descending from the Mountains and making my way to Devoke Water.
The previous evening I had studied the maps intently as I knew I had camped around 5 km short of the original planned spot. I wanted to know about the viability of tomorrow’s walk. After measuring it on the map, it became obvious that if I stuck to the plan, tomorrow’s walk would be around 35 km plus! Much higher than the original 21 km allocated for day 3.
Given the state of my right knee and my blisters, I decided to plot an alternate route directly to Devoke Water. This alternate route would keep me away from the bigger elevation changes to help take some of the load off of my right knee.
After plotting the new route, the distance seemed to be exactly what I had originally planned for this day – around 21 km! This in itself, provided additional ammunition to go with the revised plan.
However, I decided to postpone the actual decision until I reached the base of Esk Pike. That would give me the opportunity to both assess the terrain and to assess how the right knee was holding up to the walking up to that point.
When I got to Esk Pike, it took me around 10 minutes of intense deliberation before I made my decision. In the event I chose to go with the modified shorter route. For some reason, I felt extremely guilty doing this, almost like I was letting myself down.
In the event, however, it was to prove to be the right decision. When I got to Devoke Water after hiking 21 km I was absolutely out of energy. I think that had I gone with the original route I would have had to plunder more food from Day 4 and suspect that I would have only arrived at Devoke Water to be there just in time for sunset.
Both today and the previous day are starting to raise concerns about the food I take out with me. On both occasions I found my energy reserves completely depleted. I need to conduct more research to see if it is indeed my diet or whether there are other factors at work.
As with the previous journal entries I’ll let the photos tell the story:
I start the day by heading South Eastward toward Esk Pike.
The journey to Esk Pike is very scenic. However, even at this time of the morning, the day is blisteringly hot.
I gain quite a lot of elevation on the way to Esk Pike. This is a photo looking back the way I came. In the far distance one can see Sprinkling Tarn where I had been camped earlier that morning.
A self photo as I make my way South Eastward. By this point of the journey I have a bad right knee – something I still have – and a particularly bad blister on the back of my left foot’s heal. Although the blister was the most painful of the two, my greater concern lay with the knee. I didn’t want to stress it out more than I needed to. I decided that when I got to the base of Esk Pike I would make a decision as to whether or not to proceed up it, or take a more direct route to Devoke Water, the final destination for this day.
Here I’m at the base of Esk Pike. It is now decision time. I had looked at the map the previous evening and it was obvious that if I continued to follow the current plan I was more than likely going to end up with a walk of 35 km plus – way higher than the original planned walk of around 20 km. It seems that once again the OS planning software has let me down.
This issue, plus my injuries meant that I had to seriously consider whether to stay on plan or head straight to Devoke Water. The decision was very tough. I already had a lot of elevation under me, so continuing up the Pike would have been relatively easy. However, to do so, would commit me to a much longer and hillier walk.
After much internal debate, I decide to abandon the plan and head straight to Devoke Water. I felt quite guilty about the decision, but given the state of my right knee, I felt it was the right one.
I have now started my journey downward to the River Esk. I’m still questioning whether I had made the right decision to cut out part of the route. However, with each passing step, the pain in my right knee is starting to convince me of the wisdom in that decision.
As I make my descent I look up and notice I’m being watched by a sheep!
The descent is very rocky and in some places quite steep. I can’t wait to get to the bottom as it is playing havoc with my knees. Many walkers I have talked to have said that walking poles make a huge difference when descending and really do spare the knees. There might be a convincing argument here to buy one!
The Osprey Exos 58 rucksack has exceeded my expectations in just about every way! This photo shows a close up of the water bottle stowage pocket. It is a work of genius! The hole in the right hand side of the mesh allows one to easily reach back and pull out one’s water bottle without a need to take the rucksack off! It is such a great innovation that I sometimes wonder why other manufacturers don’t do the same!
As I descend, the rocks start to disappear and is replaced by relatively smooth grass. This makes the going much easier! Up ahead I get my first view into the River Esk flood plain. I had spotted this from the top of Sca Fell on the previous day, but now I would be walking along this valley following the River Southward!
*zoom on* Down below I spot two tents being used for wild camping. I had seen these the previous day at the base of Sca Fell. So it looks like these peeps are taking a nice slow wander down the valley and simply enjoying the wild camping experience!
This is the view to my right up toward Sca Fell. I can’t quite believe that I was at the top of these Mountains on the previous day!
This part of the walk was a delight! The going was extremely easy, I had easy access to water and great views!
At the side of the Mountain range I spot this rather large water fall. Such features are great for getting exact map fixes of one’s position!
I take a last long look back down the River Esk valley before I leave it. I try to follow the River Northward with my eye to spot the descent route I had used down the mountain side!
Here, I’m on the very long journey Southward. This part of the journey is all downhill with relatively easy going. I can see that the terrain is already starting to lose some of its Mountainous qualities as I lose elevation.
To the South I can now see a road and the valley bottom. This signals a change in direction as I start to head Westward toward Devoke Water. I’m looking at the Cumbrian Mountains to the South as I know at some point I will be going over them!
The journey Westward is on a well made track, so progress is now very swift! The intent is to get to the main East-West road at the bottom of the valley.
Eventually my descent takes me down to the main East-West road. I now hang a left Eastward to find Whahouse Bridge that will take me over the River Esk. This should lead to a trail taking me Westward that should bring me back onto the original planned route.
I eventually find the bridge and cross it. This takes me on to this trail which is taking me Southward before turning Westward at the tree line.
The River Esk has a number of small streams feeding it like this one. Here I stop to top up water supplies and munch on some cereal bars.
The trail from the stream should have hand railed it to my destination. However, it looks like the trail has been closed off here with an alternate route. I’m a little wary of taking the alternate route as it seems to be going in the wrong direction, but on this occasion, I decide to go with the diversion.
The alternate route soon changes direction and starts heading Westward – which is where I need to go. From the map I can tell that this alternate route is running parallel to the original and is simply avoiding Penny Hill Farmhouse.
Soon I run into more diversionary signs. But these ones explain that the diversion is there to route walkers around the Farmhouse. I’m more than happy to do this as I always feel like I’m trespassing when I walk through farm houses and farm yards.
The diversion soon takes me back to the main track once the Farmhouse has been cleared. I’m now back on the original planned route!
As I head Westward I get to ‘Doctor Bridge’. I get the map out and quickly glance down at it to determine if I need to cross it or not. For some reason, my interpretation tells me that I need to cross the bridge. It isn’t until later on that I realise my mistake. I put this navigation error down to fatigue.
The River Esk from Doctor Bridge.
I’m now hand railing the River Esk on its North Bank. I know I’m on the wrong bank and keep sending glances over to the other side to see if there are any decent fording points. Unfortunately the other side has a barbed wire fence running down it.
I now have an alternate plan. I have spotted a bridge on the map that I can use to get back on the planned trail. It’s now a case of keep heading Westward until I get to it. Or so I thought…
The heat at this point is almost unbearable. That plus my fatigue, puts me in a ‘head-down-pick-up-the-pace’ kind of a mood. Alas, when walking like this, it is too easy to miss terrain features. In this case, I had forgotten to count stone boundaries on my right. The result is that I end up too far Westward.
Eventually I cross the River Esk at this unplanned bridge. However, I am now locationally challenged! The heat of the day and fatigue in general had conspired to ensure that my concentration wasn’t where it should have been. As a result I forget to count boundary walls resulting in a walk too far Westward. The density of the terrain features in this area meant that it took me a lot of time to relocate myself on the map. I also found myself getting a little self-conscious and embarrassed as other walkers passed by whilst I was staring down intently at the map! Eventually I work out where I am and decide to head Westward.
Here I’m headed Westward to the Boundary Wall up ahead. Once I reach the wall I will need to hang a left up the hill. I was quite relieved at this point as for the first time in a fair while I actually knew my precise location on the map!
I get to the boundary wall and turn left Southward. Here I’m starting my ascent up the hill to a farm called ‘Low Ground’. Once there, I can get back on the planned route!
The hill climb isn’t that bad and is helped by the tree cover which keeps the unrelenting sun rays away!
The tree cover soon ends as I continue the climb. The heat is making the walk very tiring, but I am thankful for the well made track.
I look back to the North where I’m pleasantly surprised at just how much elevation I have already gained.
Here I have reached the top of the Cumbrian hills. It is now a case of following the trail until I get to Low Ground Farm.
Here I have made it to Low Ground Farm where I shelter under a tree away from the direct sunlight. I take a rest and try to work out the next leg of the route. Once again, in my fatigued state I make a map reading error. For some reason I think that I’m at High Ground Farm – even though I knew the target of this leg was Low Ground Farm. This results in a lot of time trying to match the terrain to the map – which ultimately proves to be impossible.
Eventually, I realise my mistake and curse myself for not concentrating. Now that I’m looking at the correct part of the map, the route South Westward toward High Ground Farm is easy to work out!
Eventually I get to see High Ground Farm up ahead. I know that I need to walk to it then hang a right Westward toward Birker Fell.
Here is the turn off toward Birker Fell. I know that there isn’t much further to go.
The view Northward as I head Westward toward Birker Fell.
The walk Westward has very smooth going. The views from here are great and I don’t really need to worry about navigation as I know I should run into a road catchment feature. This road is so long, that it will be impossible to miss 🙂
Finally I make it to the road. Up ahead is Birker Fell, my final climb for the day. I know that Devoke Water is just on the other side of the Fell and that I would soon be in camp with my feet up!
I now start my ascent of Birker Fell. My energy levels are now very low. I don’t know if this is because there is a problem with my diet or simply the heat of the day. Although very fatigued, I am spurred on by the fact that in theory Devoke Water should just be over the top of this hill!
As I ascend Birker Fell, I take a rest to eat some snacks in the hope of regaining some energy. This is the view back toward the way I came. The mountains that I had ascended the previous day now look very far away!
Whoopie!!!! I clear the ridge-line and get to see Devoke Water for the first time. I don’t think I have ever been so glad to see a lake before!
I decide to keep going around the Lake until I spot a suitable camping spot. The building up ahead is an old disused boat house at Washfold Point.
Eventually I find a good spot and make camp. The tent provides some much welcome shade from the beating the sun!
A view over the Akto tent toward Devoke Water!
Boots off and just chilling enjoying the view out of the tent. Once again, as with the previous evening, my energy levels are very low. Nearly every activity that I attempt seems to require exertion. I have only walked around 21 km and most of that was downhill. As a result I’m wondering why I feel like this? Is there a problem with my diet? Or is this to be expected on such a hot day?
One thing for sure, given my fatigued state, I am now reassured that my earlier decision to skip part of the route was in fact the right one.
Getting the food on!
I leave the best meal to the last evening – the Chicken Curry! It is absolutely gorgeous, especially in my fatigued state. I actually find myself savouring each mouth full and hoping that the curry won’t end!
Today is so hot, that for the first time ever I go to bed with the outer tent door left open. It makes for a great view out of the mesh door as I fall asleep!
The sun starts to set with the winged insects starting to make an appearance. Despite the great view, I’m forced inside the tent to avoid their bites!
Day 3’s camp spot right beside Devoke Water!