Catbells Wild Camping May 2016 - Blondie606 Photography

Ever had one of those moments when you make a rash decision that seems like a really good idea at the time? Then the closer the date gets you start to wonder?

Hmmmmm..this was one of those decisions. Fancy a spot of wild Camping ? was the question  & for some reason , that escapes me now ,I heard myself saying "yes"

I'm a hotel kinda girl, hot n cold running waiters & a proper toilet & shower ,duvets thick and fluffy ,and a comfortable mattress.....it's not a lot to ask for really is it ? Still not convinced I'd actually go I found myself scouring eBay for a suitable rucksack & visiting my local Go Outdoors for a camping mat & pillow...a girl needs some comforts :-) & some proper walking boots. Having spent almost 2 hours with the excellent assistant in Go Outdoors & having tried on every pair of ladies walking boots in the store I finally settled on a pair of Salomon Boots. They have turned out to be possibly the best purchase I've ever made (& in terms of boots, the most expensive by a long way!)comfortable from the off the fit like a second skin, no sign of rubbing anywhere and are waterproof. 70 litre rucksack duly purchased I sat and stared at it. More straps than seemed feasible to use, detachable pockets & a draw string bottom section , I wondered how the hell I'd managed to carry it empty let alone fully packed!

My travelling partner & cause of the camping trip came up with an itinerary which sounded simple enough.....drive to the Lake District, walk up a hill, put the tent up, take photos ,sleep & reverse the next day, sounds simple enough. The "hill" in question was Catbells. I'd watched a programme with Julia Bradbury doing that same walk so felt reasonably happy about, it didn’t look too difficult . I've never climbed a hill like it before, I think it's classed as a fell walk ,although I do a lot of walking with my camera rucksack on my back . I felt a little more at ease and , in a strange way, started to look forward to the trip. Fast forward a couple of months & the day arrives .The night before I had packed the rucksack, only essentials were being taken:

clean undies & socks & a spare jumper

toothbrush & paste tea bags

water charging slate for phone

Cup, spoon & a pot of porridge for breakfast

Sleeping mat & sleeping bag (borrowed from my travelling partner)

small camera bag with 1 body , 17-55mm lens, Lee filter set & adapter

I tried in vain to fit in the kettle & camping stove but it was a step too far.


I set off to collect Andy and from his we went to another Go Outdoors to buy a smaller camping stove & tin to boil water in . That done we headed off to the Lake District where we were meeting 2 others for the trip .We arrived early & went for a look round and a quick visit to the local Co-Op for tea time supplies . Turns out there was a large event taking place so the centre of the town was busier than expected and the parking bays at the base of Catbells were also full. We drove round the lanes & eventually spotted a space then waited for the others to arrive . The start of the trail looked gentle enough but the weight of my rucksack was still worrying me . Thankfully we were sharing a tent which Andy was carrying.

The other guys arrived & we set off, a gentle incline to start the walk , the sun was shining and there was a gentle breeze so all was good . The path began to steepen , underfoot was a mix of loose shingle and dirt with the occasional rock but nothing to torturous . Walkers were coming down and several times we stopped to talk & admire the scenery . With the camera packed away I settled for phone shots on the way up of glorious views across Derwent Water .My lord we'd walked along way....please remember this was my 1st ever Fell walk so it seemed like a helluva long way ! We'd also walked UP a considerable height & at the next resting point I made the observation that this was definitely NOT the route Julia Bradbury had taken ....her route seemed a lot easier :-)



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The path then turned in to a rock climbing exercise , with several routes up it was just a case of picking the easiest looking one . Looks can be deceptive! The others bounded on , they had previous experience of Fell walking but very kindly waited for me as I lagged behind , wondering for the 10th time what the hell I was doing !  Picking my way across the rocks I made it up the 1st section to find a proper path again which gave me time to get my breath back . As we carried on & came to the next rock face my stubborn streak kicked in & I was determined to make it to the top . I clambered , in a decidedly unladylike way , over the rocks, upwards & upwards & upwards some more , several stops to look at how far we'd come & finally we reached the top . By some standards not a huge achievement but I felt very proud of myself for making it to the top with a fully laden rucksack.

By this time the wind had picked up considerably so we all set about finding suitable spots for the tents , as sheltered as possible which proved tricky . We settled on a spot & got the tent out , putting it up was a laugh !  With the wind trying to take it over the edge at every opportunity eventually we managed it , unpacked the sleeping bags & mats and I set about putting some water on to boil as I really need a cup of tea. We were sat in the tent , gas stove just outside by our feet and suddenly I heard a American voice . I peered round the tent flap to see a handsome chap walking toward us , camera in hand . He introduced himself as Lucas Canino, photographer & video specialist for Nikwax & he wanted to take our photo's for their Facebook & new Instagram pages . Actually , it was my feet sticking out of the tent that had caught his eye .We duly signed the release forms & he snapped away....famous feet :-)

He wandered over to the other guys and took some  photos of them for the same project  then settled on the top of Catbells doing some product shots . A genuinely nice guy & rather surreal event . We ate tea & set about finding a spot for sunset , my chosen spot being inside the tent, sheltered from the wind or at least that was the plan . By this time the wind was intent on ripping the tent from its pegs & sending it in to outer space ! Eventually the wind eased so I ventured out, up on to the tops just in time for sunset. The clouds we scudding across the sky so I popped the 10 stop on & after a few shots got the one I was looking for. The sunset kinda fizzled out so we headed back to the tents at which point the wind picked up again .The night was interesting ....down below & across the water a live band was playing, the sound carrying on the wind but I managed to doze off . I was woken by the rain, my god, rain on canvas is incredibly loud particularly when the canvas is being pushed onto your head by the wind! Needless to say, sleep was in short supply!

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All too soon the alarms sounded , it was about 04:45 & we were hopeful for sunrise, the clouds looked interesting & the light was starting to come good . We went off in different directions, each of us looking for our own view point. I had my usual problem of way to much scenery but couldn’t find a composition that pleased me. I took few shots then just stood for a while taking in the atmosphere before heading back to the tent for a cup of tea .Whilst the water was coming to a boil I fired off a few shots of the view across the lake with the clouds just starting to show some color. The lads came back after an hour so & we started to pack up ready for the downhill trip back to the car. The ethos of Wild Camping is to be unobtrusive, unseen by other walkers & visitors to the area so we wanted to be away early, ensuring we left nothing behind to evidence our stay…… take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints.

We headed back down to the cars & said our farewells, the trip had been a success & even allowing for the lack of sleep I'd thoroughly enjoyed it....to the point I’d already agreed to repeat the experience on a date to be arranged.

Andy & I headed off to visit another couple of locations, wanting to make the most of the good sky & sunshine. Derwent water was the 1st port of call to find the fence in the water that we'd seen in many a photo. We found it eventually & spent a pleasant hour shooting different angles before wandering off to see what else was on offer. We found lovely  cove a little further on and spent another 30 minutes or so snapping away, long exposures being the order of the day. We headed back to the car with one more place to visit...the Brandelhowe jetty. A pleasant couple of hours spent there was the perfect end to a great trip.

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