Monday, 28 April 2008

It all went swimmingly

It was the annual PreWalkDaunder. A good attendance. Six of us set out from Langdale; most slightly below par from the previous night's exertions in the ODGH bar, to climb eastwards out of the great bowl of the dale and 'westward ho!' to Wasdale. Under normal circumstances this is a fine daunder, but on this occasion we were laden down with all the paraphernalia of camping gear, so that we could have a few nights out in uncivilisation.

Lunch was taken just in time for the cold wind and rain to arrive, so we packed up and headed off up into the mists and rain. We enjoyed a brief respite at the shelter below Esk Hause before we beetled onwards under gargantuan packs towards the slippery, rocky stumbly descent down into Wasdale.

The Vicar noticed a group of young ladies and the Duke of Edinburgh (or so he said) ahead and shot off nimbly in his booty-plimsolls to offer them assistance, salvation, call it what you like, but he did spend an inordinate amount of time talking to the pretty dark haired girl labouring at the back. The more visually challenged young ladies were left to the older folk in his congregation to encourage onward and upwards to camp at the tarn.

It rained all the way to the pub and the silly fat man (accompanied by a surprisingly lovely wife) grumped and groaned as we lumped, one by one, into the lean-to outside, to dump our sodden packs, leaving the door ajar at times so that he too could feel the benefit of the sharp Lakeland air.

The church pews barely accommodated my frame and I ached all through an early dinner of lamb hotpot and just the one pint of Wasdale Something-Or-Other.

The campsite at Wasdale was full of rain all night, but we slept soundly, utterly knackered from a day of just nine miles. Nine Miles. That's less than Ten Miles. And I was utterly knackered...

The next morning we packed up sopping tents and shouldered our burdens and headed off upwards into the murk. Lord Elpus had handily forgotten to pack his compass, but fortunately the Doc had packed his new GPS toy and so could give us a read-out of exactly where we were, when bidden, in the 20metre visibility clag of our little half-world in the clouds and amongst a lovely bog.

So how we ended up too high up in the greasy sharp boulder field can only be put down to my gross incompetence in following my compass. Still, Big Dave enjoyed his tussle with the rocks, and besides, the resulting holes in his expensive over trousers were only in the back of his legs as he had them on back-to-front.

The river crossing was a delight; in full spate, and only a few yards from our night's destination, so not a problem. Even at our idyllic campspot not a single idyll could be seen as we could still only see a 20 metre radius.

We had successfully walked five miles. Five Miles. That's less than Six Miles. And I was utterly knackered.

To inject a frisson of excitement into the evening we played pass the whisky flasks around the group. A good game enjoyed by five players with five flasks. Within ten minutes we couldn't tell a fine Islay from Micks Meths. I think it was the meths that got us there more quickly. I retired to Wanda to sleep it off. Whilst I was dead to the world, Lord Elpus was on stage, pirouetting on a small island in the river until his lack of balance got the better of him and he dived gracefully fully clothed into the evening river - a full submersion.

I have heard that Mick has captured this moment forever digitally. No-one stepped forward to help Lord E in his moment of torment. He swam stoically to shore to shiver hypothermically in his new tent.

I woke to more mists and more rain, so that I could once more pack up a sopping Wanda and plod through the sumptuous bogs to the next river crossing, passing wonderful torrents en route.

We climbed slowly up an unerring straight line to three puddles, where at last we broke through the clag to a commanding view of yet more clouds above us. We sloped off down the Band complaining of the degree of difficulty of the downhill slog.

We finally made the sanctuary of the ODGH bar, where not a single drop of alcohol passed our lips. Today's torture was over; five miles. Five Miles. That's less than Six Miles. And I was utterly knackered.

This Challenging Lark - it's overrated if you ask me.


  1. The photo reminds me of The Usual Suspects photo.
    So glad you all had such a wonderful time, the picture conveys that so well. Why so miserable?

  2. Hope Uncle Roger isn't reading this. And it's a shame WD wasn't with you - he could have given you each a stove to test. Nice route description - brings back memories of a Karrimor Marathon Tent Incident near the Three Puddles.

  3. Uncle Roger has far more style. He would never be caught in these deep, dark canyons.

    As for WD's stove test - hasn't he enough for two stoves each?

  4. What an, interesting trip. I'm almost jealous!

    See you next week!


  5. Hi Al,Seems like you had a pretty tough outing.My weekend was spent at the Backpackers AGM in the Peak District where I had a leisurely time looking at lots of tents and brand new gear.Also managed to get into a pub in Bakewell to catch last 20 mins of Man Utd v Chelsea game.Totally relaxing weekend but I'm sure your trip will have done you the world of good!Did you take the Osprey Kestrel sack with you and if so,what are your thoughts about it?

  6. weather was better than you expected for the Lakes then I guess?

  7. Those Lakeland poets have got it all wrong. I saw not a single fact I saw very little.

    I reckon old WW had been at STC's stash to start seeing flowers and sunshine.

    (note to self...must find out what STC was on and take some next time...)

  8. If you can't take a joke you should have never joined. Challengers having to go practicing before the event! Never heard anything like it. In days gone by it was out with the gear you used the May previous and on with the motley!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Hi Jeff

    The Osprey Kestrel 48 is a lovely sack - a strange combination of ancient and modern. It has two capacious side pockets that appear integral within the pack body - so when not in use they are neatly stowed away.

    The back system is a contoured washboard affair that is very commfortable indeed and the hip belt is good and supportive - much better than the Atmmos 50's. The shoulder harness is far and away more comfy than the Atmos as it is built of far more subtantial stuff.

    The pack body is actually bigger than the Atmos 50 as it does not have the aerated bulge digging into it. The lid has two pockets on the outside, one on the inside. It also has an integral pack cover that is tied to the pack so it won't blow away in the wind.

    All these features are far and away better then the Atmos.

    There is a downside - it is heavier - by about 350 grams, but on balance it is a much better pack and , I forgot to mention - is also back length adjustable so you can fine-tune the fit.

    So Gear Monsters out there - try it! I picked mine up for an incredibly reasonable £75 - a real paeach at a bargain price.

  10. Absolutely fantastic write-up, if I may say so, Mr. Sloman.

    Makes our adventures of late seem rather tame.


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