Route : Coledale Horseshoe - Clockwise from Braithwaite
Wild Camp : Sail
Wainwrights : Outerside, Causey Pike, Scar Crags, Sail, Crag Hill, Grasmoor, Hopegill Head, Grisedale Pike.
Distance : 20.2 km (12.3 miles)
Height Gained : 1510 m (4957 feet)
Kit list at the end
There was snow on the hills and the forecast was favourable so it was time to plan the 1st wild camp of the year. I thought the Coledale Horseshoe would be a good route as I haven't walked these fells before and it is often heralded as an ideal winter hike. Parking space secured at Braithwaite I headed off towards Stile End. The intention was to walk the horseshoe clockwise and camp somewhere around Crag Hill.
|Starting point at Braithwaite|
|The path to Higher Coledale|
|The view over Derwent Water from Outerside summit|
|Mist rolls in from the higher eastern fells|
|Causey Pike from Outerside summit|
|Outerside from the High Moss area|
|Panorama west from Causey Pike summit. Bassenthwaite Lake just visible far left|
|Panorama east from Causey Pike summit - the apex of horseshoe in cloud|
|Rigg Beck from Scar Crags|
|Panorama south from Scar Crags. Sail on the right|
|The Scarp 1 on Sail summit - looking towards Crag Hill|
|Sunset on Sail summit|
The wind finally died down by about 5am and I managed an hour or 2 of sleep. By sunrise the wind was fairly benign and the sky was clear. It looked like it was going to be a perfect winters day. A minor inconvenience was that my milk had frozen (black coffee for me). I had slept with a gas canister and Sigg bottle of water in the sleeping bag so the stove worked fine and supernoodles were soon on the go.
|Sunrise from Sail summit|
|Scarp 1 survives the night - with additional pegging!|
|Sail summit panorama north showing the rest of the horseshoe and the onwards route|
|Heading up Crag Hill with the sun on my back|
|Looking back down the Coledale valley from the approach to Crag Hill|
|The summit plateau of Crag Hill in the early morning|
|Crag Hill summit panorama north|
|Crag Hill summit panorama south|
|Looking towards Grasmoor|
|Glimpses of Crummock Water and Buttermere from the path to Grasmoor|
|Grasmoor summit panorama west|
|My 'view of the day' - the Scafell range from Grasmoor summit|
|Northwest view over Solway from Grasmoor summit|
|Looking down towards Coledale Hause|
|The next 3 fells for today - from left to right: Hopegill Head, Sand Hill & Grisedale Pike|
|Sand Hill summit view north to Hopegill Head|
|The view back to Grasmoor from Sand Hill|
|Hopegill Head summit panorama West|
|Hopegill Head summit panorama East|
|The Isle of Man visible on the horizon from Hopegill Head summit|
|Grisedale Pike's north face in shadow - from Hopegill Head|
|The approach to Grisedale Pike|
|Grisedale Pike summit panorama South over the Coledale valley|
|Grisedale Pike summit panorama North over the Hobcarton valley|
|Outerside and Causey Pike (yesterdays first 2 fells) from Grisedale Pike summit|
|View south of the distant fells from Grisedale Pike summit - far left Pike O'Stickle, Bowfell in the middle and the Scafells far right|
|The magnificent Eastern panorama from Grisedale Pike showing the distant Skiddaw/Blencathra Massif, and the Helvellyn range over Derwent Water|
|A last look back towards Grasmoor and Crag Hill before descending|
|Skiddaw and Blencathra from Grisedale Pike|
|The path down the eastern flank of Grisedale Pike and over Sleet How|
Tent : Tarptent Scarp 1 (1.36kg)
Mat : Exped Downmat UL 7LW (810g)
Sleeping Bag : Cumulus Prime 700 (1210g)
Stove : Primus Express Spider (198g) + Gas Cart
Pans : Evernew Solo-set (250g)
Rucksack : Osprey Talon 44 (1.09kg)
Fluid : 2 x 1 litre Sigg Bottles (147g each empty) + Drinksafe systems travel tap (165g)
: 200 mls milk, coffee
Food : Wayfayrer Tai Green Curry, Buttered Bread, Supernoodles,various sugary snacks.
Bits & Bobs : headtorch and spare batteries, Iphone + Anker 5800mHh battery, tent light,
victorinox knife, map & compass, basic first aid kit and Petzl e-lite, spork, various fold dry
bags, flint & steel, plastic trowel.
Camera : Sony DSC-HX5 & lowepro case.
Clothes : HH 'warm' base top & bottom, Sprayway all day rainpants (410g) , Rab
vapour-rise jacket (615g), , ME beany, Rab phantom grip gloves, sunglasses, goggles, Buff,
Bridgedale winter socks. Montane prism 2 jacket (423g) and Montane Superfly Jacket
(500g) both not used. Spare hat (lowe alpine mountain cap), spare gloves
(ME Mountain Mitt & Extremities tuff bags)
Boots : Meindl Softline (1180g)
Poles : Leki Makalu (544g pair) - used lots!
Ice Axe : Grivel Brenva (520g) - not used
Crampons : Grivel Monta-Rosa (800g) - not used
Loaded rucksack weight = aprox 13kgs
This was a great hike in great weather. The unexpected high winds overnight were easily dealt with by the Scarp despite my initial sloppy pegging. Unfortunately I just cant sleep in high winds though. I use ear plugs but the tent noise just cuts through. Not sure what else I can do about that, perhaps sedation ;) The rest of my kit performed well. The cumulus was warm & comfortable at -6 although I did need to keep my hat on all night. I kept the base layers & socks on so didn't use a liner. The mat is my 'luxury item'. I know its fairly heavy compared to some but it is very warm and comfortable and the extra width is welcome for a restless sleeper like me.
Clothing wise, I am always amazed by the performance of the Rab VR. I never felt the need to add an extra layer and it breaths superbly. I simply left it on throughout the walk and never felt either hot, sweaty or cold. It is my 'go to' winter jacket. On this occasion the waterproof & insulated jacket were superfluous (except as a pillow). The Rab phantom grip gloves are also perfect for me. Having tried various types over the years I bought these having read a favorable review by Chris Townsend and I agree that the the polartec windpro material is an ideal balance between warmth, breathablility and wind resistance. I do tend to be a naturally warm handed bloke so they may not be warm enough for some. Sprayway all day rain pants may not be everyone's first choice for such a trip but they were great. My legs never felt cold or sweaty. I didn't really notice them at all, which is ideal. The Meindl Softline boots performed well as usual. I have has these for 2 years now and use them year round over rough terrain. Although they are rated B0, they are fairly stiff and I have used them many times with the flexible Grivel Monta-Rosa crampons without any hint of movement. They are very well padded and comfortable for me.
I took the drinksafe systems travel tap to save the weight of carrying more than a litre of water but the slow flow rate was frustrating. Having read some favourable reviews and comments on twitter of the sawyer filter, this might be my next investment.
Overall I could have gone lighter. The sleeping bag was perhaps excessive and indeed took up a considerable amount of rucksack space. I also have a Rab alpine 400 which would probably have been sufficient. The mat is also perhaps excessive but I'm not quite willing to give up that comfort yet. The Talon 44 was a comfortable carry and swallowed everything up well, although the tent needed to be strapped to the base.
The weather on day 2 was truly exceptional and I felt very lucky to have these majestic fells and amazing vistas all to myself for a few hours. I guess that's why we wild camp in the mountains. Its a feeling of having 'earned' the isolation and pristine views.
That's it. Please leave any thoughts/comments/advice/suggestions and thanks for reading my inaugural blog entry.