Backpacking alone in the Eastern Lakes, June 1992

Day 1

I parked at Sadgill. In blistering hot weather, needing suntan lotion, a hat and indeed, a kepi fashioned from a handkerchief, I walked north, with my back to the sun up Longsleddale. It was too hot to hurry. I considered my options as I went, but opted in the end for a gentle warm-up day, over Slipman Knotts, Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell, and down to the Nan Bield Pass. I camped at Small Water, where dead wood for a small fire could be had just below the tarn outfall. During the night, electrical storms woke me up; there was much thunder and lightning, and rain later.

Day 2

From Small Water to Mardale Ill Bell and thence up onto High Street (2719′). Then, to the Knott, a detour to Kidsty Pike, and onto High Raise, and onto Steel Knotts. At the top of Steel Knotts there were excellent views of Ullswater. From Steel Knotts down to Howtown, that isolated little village in the inside crook of the big bend in Ullswater. Five hours for this first leg of hillwalking.

Thence by steamer from Howtown to Glenridding. At Glenridding,rain showers. For the second leg of hillwalking, I thundered far too fast up the Helvellyn track to Greenside Mine. By the time I reached the Red Tarn corrie, I was shattered – and the weather had broken. Low clouds and rain persisted all night.

Day 3

My third day out was a classic! It started in absolutely awful weather on the Helvellyn range. I needed my waterproof and gloves From Red Tarn, up Swirral Edge, over Helvellyn and Dollwagon Pike and down to Grizedale Tarn, took ninety minutes through the rain. Going up Fairfield was rough. My map-reading let me down on Dove Crag. I had intended to descend into Scandale Pass. In the mist I got desperately lost in an area of cliffs and gullies, and descended very slowly into Dovedale, a rocky and wild side-valley. I lunched, and reached the safety of the valley floor and the Brothers Water Inn around 2p.m.

Then, some decisions had to made – the best way to get back to the car in Longsleddale. I chose to go up to Hayeswater, and on from there up the Knott, whereat the weather started to improve. Thence, once again, High Street, Mardale Ill Bell, the Nan Bield Pass and for the second time, Harter Fell. There is a very well-enclosed area up here – very sound fences even on the high tops.

A pleasant stroll down to Gatescarth Pass and a pleasanter still stroll down into Longsleddale. There is a quarry road. There is a good stream here but flat ground for pitching a tent was less easy to find. Well enclosed – I had to climb over a wall to find a spot to camp.