Old Man to Mountain Man

Coniston Travel Blog

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An engine recovered from the Bluebird

My first problem surfaced in the morning, I filled up the hydration bladder that I had brought with me and discovered that the seal on the cap was leaking, damn!  To get around this I only partially filled the bladder and stored it inside a spare stuffsac to prevent leakage into my pack.  Additionally I filled a foldable bottle that I had also brought to ensure that I was carrying sufficient water.

A quick shower and I was soon sat in the dining room to give the breakfast a try, I had challenged the chef the previous evening to restore my faith in the days most important meal as provided by the Youth Hostel Association.  He turned out to be more than up to the task and I was treated to a freshly cooked full English breakfast, made with locally sourced ingredients all done to perfection, and I had not been given any preferential treatment, it was the standard breakfast.  I thanked and complimented him before leaving and then I picked up my pack and wandered into Coniston village.

I bought a postcard and asked at the post office where I could find a good place for a coffee, whilst I wrote it out.  I was directed to a little coffee shop around the corner and enjoyed my latte in the sun writing the post card at my leisure.  I then decided to have a look around the Ruskin Museum.  John Ruskin is probably the first Travel Buddy, enjoying travels throughout Europe especially around the Alps and Switzerland, an acclaimed artist, teacher and considered a century ahead of his time, he could have been buried in Westminster Abbey but chose instead Coniston as his final resting place.

Red Tarn - Don't be fooled, it's only a small tarn.
  The museum is quite small, but has made the most of its displays, including plenty of information about Donald Campbell and the Bluebird attempts at breaking the water speed record including obviously the final tragic attempt and some Arthur Ransomes ‘Swallows and Amazons’ memorabilia.  There is a good mix of multimedia displays, with slide shows, photographs, video and display cabinets.  I wiled away an hour or so and then eventually had to make my way up the mountain that looms over the village.

The tramp up the mountain took quite a bit longer than I thought although I did stop a few times for Kodak moments especially at Low Water.  The walk up is probably not considered the prettiest due to the remnants of the old mine workings, but it does seem to compliment the area in some way and was certainly of importance to the village in past times.  The Coppermines Youth Hostel is situated near the workings and obviously gets its name from them, I will have to stay here sometime in the future, it is a great location and has the advantage of a mile or so head start up the hill.

It was a bright day with plenty of sunny spells, although there were a few clouds threatening the need for waterproofs hovering around.  After a brief stop on Coniston Old Man I headed off towards Wrynose Pass and then onto Red Tarn located in the shadow of the Pike of Blisco.  There was one short shower late in the afternoon, but almost as soon as it had persuaded me that my waterproof jacket was necessary it stopped.

There were two other guys sharing my ‘campsite’ we passed some pleasantries, but they did not seem that pleased I was there and that was about the extent of our interaction.  I had an evening meal of noodles and it was as bland a meal as I have ever suffered until I added a few squirts of chilli and garlic sauce.  Top tip, fill a couple of squeezy type travel bottles before you leave, one with honey and the other with a favourite, but flavoursome sauce.  Dehydrated food can be tasteless, so anything that can ‘jazz’ things up, or sweeten where necessary will be extremely welcome, especially if you are out for more than a couple of nights.

The light was terrific so I decided up a wander up the ‘Pike’ before the light completely faded, and took a few photographs that will hopefully turn out as impressive as envisaged.

The sun setting over Sprinkling Tarn
  My fellow campers were secure in their tent when I returned so I decided to turn in myself.  I squirmed into the opening of my little canvas abode and was soon oblivious to the outside.

I woke up around 3.30am and decided to make the most of some more great light conditions as the sun was beginning its slow and irresistible clamber into the sky.  I spent around ninety minutes walking around the area taking a number of pictures and then went back to bed for awhile.

The sun was already beating down on my tent when I woke up a few hours later, I got up and put on my special porridge and boiled some extra water for drinking.  My second problem was beginning to manifest itself at this stage.  I had brought a small gas stove that a friend had given me recommending it as ideal for solo camping, as it was very compact and light, no problem there.  However it was becoming apparent that the stove was fuel hungry and had already entirely depleted the contents of one canister after just one day!  I have two MSR multi-fuel stoves and was now regretting not bringing my ‘Dragonfly’.  This fuel problem was to be a constant thorn in my side throughout this trip.

People were already regularly filing past my campsite as I was packing up and there was a steady flow of walkers making their way up the path which I was intending to take in a little while.  It was already pretty warm and was only going to get hotter as the day went on.

I eventually followed in the footsteps of the ‘early birds’ ahead of me and headed up towards Crinkle Crags and Bowfell.  This was the first time I had been over Bowfell, not a particularly special hilltop, but one of the higher peaks in Lakeland and satisfying all the same.  The weather brings out the hordes and there was a constant stream of people travelling in both directions and converging on Bowfell and other peaks from all four points of the compass.

I had been so ruthless in my packing that I had neglected to bring some sun protection and I was now beginning to pay for it.

A Lakeland sunrise.
  I covered up as best as I could, but I had already been out in the sun for sometime and still had a few hours to go.  I did not notice that the rays were only hitting one side of my legs, which is obvious really when you are travelling south to North and the backs of my knees and my forehead were suffering in particular, and I was to pay for this for a few days to come.

I was also not feeling on best form, I have a feeling that it was due to dehydration as due to the fuel problem, I had not been able to boil more than about a litre and a half of water.  So it was soon after Esk Pike had passed under my feet that I decided to head down to Sprinkling Tarn to set up camp.

It was still quite early and there was plenty of people merrily going to and fro along the tracks that wind their way around the Lakeland giants.  I was eventually able to pitch camp just below Great End as the weather was beginning to show signs of change.  It became obvious after making dinner and boiling some water that I would need to visit a campsite with a shop tomorrow as the gas was not going to last another day.

I was a short walk from the tarn and the gill than runs follows the path past Seathwaite Fell and eventually joins the River Derwent.  So when I went to fill my dromedary, I decided to soak my feet in the cool stream and have a wash, blissfull.  All that remained was to turn in and hope for a peaceful night.

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An engine recovered from the Blueb…
An engine recovered from the Blue…
Red Tarn - Dont be fooled, its o…
Red Tarn - Don't be fooled, it's …
The sun setting over Sprinkling Ta…
The sun setting over Sprinkling T…
A Lakeland sunrise.
A Lakeland sunrise.
John Ruskins grave
John Ruskins grave
A newt in the tarn
A newt in the tarn
Hard labour on a hot day
Hard labour on a hot day
Thats Morecambe Bay in the distan…
That's Morecambe Bay in the dista…
Three shires stones, the meeting p…
Three shires stones, the meeting …
That small dot is my tent!
That small dot is my tent!
Amazing colours
Amazing colours
Almost looks like a UFO!
Almost looks like a UFO!
Great End in the background
Great End in the background
Coniston
photo by: Real_PeaceWarrior