Last week myself and a group of friends took a winter camping trip up to the Lake District. An odd decision, it could be argued, seen as the region has recently seen both some of its worst flooding and coldest winters in recent years. Nonethless, equipped with ice axe, crampons and a generous supply of Kendal Mint Cake we set out to climb Scafell.
Some of the things I learned
- Elephants, though clearly signposted, are not common in the lake district. I didn’t see a single one all weekend. Sheep, however, are plentiful.
- It may be effective as a deterrent against the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, but a towel is no replacement for an insulating mattress.
- Pop up tents, though useful on the beach, are less effective in torrential rain and gale force winds.
- Retracing your steps back through the snow sounds easy, and it probably is for other people.
- The Wasdale Head Inn serves an excellent selection of whiskeys, of which Lagavulin is the best. I should know, I tried all of them.
- Swimming in Wastwater in January is almost exactly as cold as you’d expect.
The map below, which requires Microsoft Silverlight, was exported from my GPS wristwatch and shows the route we took up Scafell before visibility made further progress a bit risky, and so we retraced our steps back through the snow. Or at least tried to before our steps mysteriously disappeared. There is also a Photosynth from part of our route available.
Swimming in Wastwater
Although as an amateur triathlete I’ve done many open water swims, I’ve never done one in winter and never without a wetsuit. So, in an attempt to kill both birds with one stone I decided to go for a swim in Wastwater in January. I lasted about two minutes. I’m no Lewis Gordon Pugh. It was cold, but it really wasn’t as bad as you might think. The water was beautifully clear but unfortunately sharp rocks do not a beach make.