Day 1 was a 11.8 km walk with 486 mtrs ascent and 276 mtrs descent.
Day 1 was classified as one of the ‘spare’ days – the 2 in the 4+2 day walk plan. The reason for this is that I wouldn’t be in the Lake District until quite late, so I wouldn’t be able to put in a full day of hiking.
From my planning I knew when sunset would be, so picked Blea Tarn as the planned destination with the intent that I should get there at sunset.
As things would pan out, it all went like clockwork. I found myself at Blea Tarn in my tent, eating the evening meal just after the sun had set below the horizon.
I’ll let the photos tell the story of this day’s walk!
I leave the railway station and start the walk. I cannot believe how good the weather is!
As I walk up the road I get greeted by two horses on the other side of a barbed wire fence!
I soon get to Fell Lane – my main exit away from the road. So far this is the same route as my first Lakes walk. I really need to find another way into the Lake District via public transport 🙂
I soon crack the up-hill portion of Fell Lane and get to the first downhill section. Unlike the first walk, I will be hanging a right here to go around the base of Muncaster Fell, as opposed to up it. The intent is to go up and over it on the way back!
I pass through Ian’s wood as I head down hill to the Eastern base of Muncaster Fell.
As I head through the wood I run into this sign. I’m too far committed down this track to turn around so I decide to carry on and ignore the sign. I suspected that the chances of anyone working this late on a Saturday was remote. As I proceed through the wood, my suspicions are confirmed as there is no one about.
Once again the Forestry De-Comission are up to their old tricks….
Eventually I make it to the Eskdale narrow gauge railway. It’s off season, so I’m not expecting any trains, but I do take a good look up and down the track first!
The railway looks like it goes through some pretty scenic terrain. One day I will have to have a ride on that train! 🙂
I’m now hand-railing around the Gate House Outward Bound Mountain Centre to take me to my final destination for the day of Blea Tarn. The terrain is very muddy and slippery, so I’m trying my best not to slip 🙂
*Zoom On* In the far distance I am heartened to see the presence of snow on the mountains! One of the objectives of this walk was to get some snow experience to reinforce what I have learnt from books and the internet.
I’m now on the way up the Fell to Blea Tarn. The first real climb of any walk is always a bit of a shock to the system 🙂
The Osprey Exos 58 pack was at its limit on day 1 with a 20kg load. I had assumed it would be cold enough that I would be wearing some of the kit I had worn on the train, but this day was so warm I didn’t need the additional kit. This meant that I had to pack the additional kit into an already full rucksack which pushed the physical dimensions of the Exos out to their limits.
As I get near the top of the Fell I pick up a wall on the right. My map tells me that it will take me straight to Blea Tarn!
Once I get to the top I catch sight of Blea Tarn. It seems my planning is spot on as sunset is only just around the corner.
As I walk to the tarn I spot another fell runner’s marker. Exactly the same type as the ones I saw on Dartmoor – I’m guessing it’s not for the same runners! 🙂
I get the Akto tent pitched quickly and ready for bed as I know that the sun will soon be dropping below the horizon.
Despite Robin at http://blogpackinglight.wordpress.com/ giving me some sound advice on how to repair the Akto from a mishap on the the previous walk, I had somehow forgotten to do it! Never the less, the material is incredibly strong, so there is no danger of the rip spreading.
The tent is in a great scenic spot by the Tarn – but as I was to discover later on, it was a little exposed….
The view over Blea Tarn from inside the tent.
I have been really impressed by the JetBoil Sol. It is small, light and efficient. One of the best features I like is the way the flame is always safely contained within the assembly. This drastically reduces the fire danger when compared to other more open stoves like the Trangia.
By the time the food is ready, the sun has gone down. I’m quite happy with this day as the timings were spot on!
During the night I was awoken by the tent being battered by storm force winds. It wasn’t so much the winds themselves, but the gusts that really got my attention. These were loud and really pushed the tent to its limits.
At that point I knew my ‘perfect’ camp spot wasn’t really that perfect. It was actually very exposed on the top of a hill, with a direct view to the coast from where the winds originated.
I have never been in a storm like this, not even on the Black Mountains.
I decided it was time to start thinking about what could go wrong.
I knew the pegs would be fine as I had placed heavy rocks on them. I figured, that if there was going to be a failure, it would be in the main tent pole.
The night was cold and stormy. I decided that I didn’t want to be in a hypothetical position where the main pole had broken with me scrambling around trying to find my clothes to get changed in a collapsed tent.
So at this point I made a decision to get fully dressed and to just sleep on top of the sleeping bag until the storm passed. I felt much more comfortable being fully dressed. It meant that if things went wrong, I would be ready!
Eventually the storm did die down, so I removed my clothes and crawled back into the sleeping bag for a good night’s sleep.
On reflection, I can’t believe how tough and strong the Akto tent is. It seems almost bullet proof. I wonder how many other tents would have been able to survive such a stormy assault?
It was this night that had put an end to any ideas I had of replacing the Akto tent with something lighter. I’d much rather keep it, knowing that it will keep me safe in some pretty horrendous conditions!
That’s it for day 1, tune in next week for day 2 and the emergency termination of that day…