Stepping out in the Eastern Fells
It started out as a weekend with a weather forecast that had the potential to soak us through to the undergarments, and blow us into the bogs. The pessimism of the various mountain weather forecasts had us considering a postponement. Injuries and illness threatened to thwart our long-planned, long-anticipated foray into the lovable Lake District fells.
And then things changed. We started to recover. Defective ligaments and soft tissue niggles subsided. Snot dried up, as did the rains, and the winds abated. It was on!
The plan – to head up to the Youth Hostel at Troutbeck on the Friday afternoon – enjoy some food, ales, and tales in the evening and strike out into the Eastern Fells of the Lake District the following morning.
Strictly on plan, beer was consumed, whisky was quaffed, and bellies were filled with food. Sleep came easy, for me at least.
The next morning, heads were fuzzy, but the skies were almost clear. The cramped youth hostel spat us out into the winding country lanes which led us toward the hills. Instantly, legs ached and lungs were bursting as though protesting at their rude awakening.
Sour Howes and Sallows are grassy, modest peaks. Not really peaks in the purist sense, more appropriately I’d call them hills. Their summits are reserved, with small cairns marking their tops, but the surrounding views are truly beautiful. I think that’s what’s so great about Lakeland, even the lowly tops have something special to offer.
Down to the Garburn Pass to pick up the rocky ribbon that would carry us (*coughs*) down to the cultivated, green Kentmere Valley and a spot of lunch on the boulders by the River Kent. The weather was improving as the hours passed. Sunshine. Lovely, warming sunshine was filling us with optimism for our intended camp in the fells but there was more adventure between us and our camp.
Shipman Knotts was up next, and wasn’t to disappoint. An enclosure which was grazed by cattle interrupted our progress, more by interesting diversion than inconvenience and after ushering them off our path we bimbled over the grassy knolls to the summit proper and once again surveyed the landscape that completely surrounded us with its stunning beauty.
The tops were certainly windier than the valleys, nevertheless it wasn’t sufficiently bad to trouble us – none of us had even fallen over thus far, quite an achievement really. The going from here on followed a useful post and wire boundary fence, which guided us conveniently from summit to summit over Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell each offering us a place to pause and consume the enormous space above and below us.
Our camp was to be by a small tarn and the route to it forced us to descend very steeply to the bowl-shaped couloir at the head of the valley. The warmth from the sun was ebbing as we got lower and lower beneath the towering horizon to find sufficient space for the three of us to pitch our shelters directly next to the waters of this exquisite little lake. Once the guylines were pulled taught, and the water bottles were replenished, we settled for the night and cracked open the rocket-fuel strength lager we’d carried in... and the malt whisky... and the wine... and... sleeeeeep.
The wonderful day in the fells was closed.