A Lakeland Adventure – Day 1

Published 16 June 2011

Sign for Langdale YHA set in a rock
A glorious old sign set in the rock in Langdale

Although Rambling Man is about my long distance walking, you may not be surprised to hear that it’s not the only walking I do. Normally such other walking consists of wandering round South East England but sometimes I do get out of London and recently I spent a few days in the Lake District.

I went up with a couple of aims – the big one was to try out my new 80 litre rucksack and all the various camping equipment that I’d be using when I attempt the Southern Upland Way this summer – I wanted to try things out and make sure I knew what I was doing before heading off on a 200 odd mile adventure.

The second reason was that I wanted to do some Lakeland fells; tick off some Wainwrights.

This might sound strange given this is a walking based blog but I haven’t actually done that much fell walking in the Lakes. The Cumbria Way goes mostly on low level routes, and the only actual summit it goes to is Skiddaw, and that is optional (and which I didn’t do as the weather was terrible.) The tale was similar on the Coast to Coast where rain and storms kept us to the lower level routes. So on this trip I was naturally keen to improve my previous record.

After a weekend scouring back issues of Trail magazine, Wainwright books and Ordnance Survey maps I eventually came up with a plan that I was happy with – a mixture of flatter walking to get used to carrying 18kg of weight on my back, with some fells and a few nights wild camping mixed in as well.

It was a vague plan with plenty of options and holes to take into account that everytime I go anywhere near the Lake District, I invariably get soaked. But it was a good plan. And as it happened, it was almost all thrown away.

Day 1 (Sunday)

Planned version: get the 10:45 train from Euston, arriving in Windermere about 3 o’clock. Get bus to Ambleside, then bus to Dungeon Ghyll and camp at the National Trust campsite at Great Langdale. Sit back, enjoy the view then pop to the pub.

Day 1’s plan was ditched before I even left London thanks to the weather forecast for the Monday being absolutely terrible. The revised plan became to camp closer to Ambleside, at Tarn Foot Farm campsite overlooking Loughrigg Tarn. With no need to worry about bus connections, I got the 09:45 train instead and arrived at Ambleside.

The weather wasn’t bad at all, and I decided I was happy to start my first Wainwright – Loughrigg Fell. At 335m high, it was a good start and a chance to practise with a heavy sack.

Trig point at the summit of Loughrigg Fell

Walking was slow, but the view at the top was absolutely wonderful, and having admired it I then followed Wainwright’s instructions to come down towards Skelwith Bridge as his route for that passes Tarn Foot Farm.

As it wasn’t signed anywhere, I couldn’t actually find the campsite and ended up walking in a long circle around the lovely Loughrigg Farm before someone pointed me in the right direction.

Loughrigg Tarn surrounded by fells

“Have you seen the weather forecast?” was the first question I got asked when I enquired about staying the night.

I knew there was going to be a lot of rain, but apparently 60mph winds were due overnight as well. The campsite owners suggested I might be better off indoors and this being my first night camping for 11 years and in a new tent, well I kind of agreed and headed up the road to nearby YHA Langdale.

I wasn’t the only camper who had headed indoors that night – another bloke had been advised to head indoors by the National Trust campsite at Langdale.

And as I sipped a bottle of ale and tucked into fish and chips cooked by the YHA staff, sat at a large table in the dining room of an old manor house, I couldn’t help but think that the camping life really was a good one indeed.

The exterior of YHA Langdale

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