Mike was late by my clock but not too late that we did not have time for a quick pint and bottle of beer to warm up the joints before the walk. We decided on Red Pike which overlooks the idyllic and quintessential Lakeland valley of Buttermere. Thing is most of the lakes are called meres and the mere district lacks charm I think. We had come to the Lake District.
Mike is a Fight Club hill walking member and TGO Legend. So he knows a thing or two about the hills of the UK. I liked him instantly and his wit. I also took great interest in his knowledge of the history of the hills as he is a volunteer ranger back near his home.
The pace was a gentle stroll up the steep and slippery rock path via Bleaberry Tarn. I have descended this way a few times off the High Stile ridge but never gone up this way. We chatted about hills, Challenge walks, retirement and a lot of other things. Mike led us up via a short scramble to the summit to round off a leisurely ascent. Views awaited us and we stopped for lunch. Like I said we were in no hurry.
The views were stunning on a clear day like this and my eyes fixed upon the dusting of snow on the Scafell range. The Lakeland mountains today had started to be sheathed in winter's icy grip. We chatted more and then moved on. Little Dodd led to Starling Dodd. As we walked on the low sun cast great long shadows and at this time of year I really enjoy the contrast between shadow and light. It is so stark and vivid.
Starling Dodd was where we parted company. Mike left to go meet up with other backpackers and TGO Challenge completers and I headed on. He had asked where I intended to get water for my camp if I was staying high tonight? I pointed to the streams high on the fells marked on the map. I was right and found the source 50ft from the path. I filled up and carried on to Great Borne. The sun was dipping and I made haste to get my tent up and enjoy the sunset. I found a pitch about 130ft from the summit and enjoyed the show. A fine sunset and the moon came out. The mountains were a dark mass of shapes and the light from the moon added to the whole joy of the wild camp.
I made my evening meal and waited a bit longer for the sun to fully set and then relaxed. I had plans to enjoy the summit in the dark with Great Borne all to myself. I waited and walked about looking at the stars. Then when it was the most clear light from the moon I went over to the Trig Point on the summit and gazed on the mountains all around. I wondered if another outdoor Blogger was near with his tent. James Boulter had said he was going to the hills where I was but no lights of a wild camp could be seen below. It was a great place to be and a fine night to be out.
It was a long night and the tent soon had ice on it as temperatures dipped well below freezing. I was warm wrapped in my quilt and relaxed to sleep well to await the dawn. It was a joy to see the dawn - the views were special and it was a great dawn and reminded me of why a high level camp is so good and has to be done.
Breakfast was a leisurely affair as I took on the dawn views. Life was good and I contemplated the day ahead. I also noted the cloud and weather change coming in over distant tops.
I left Great Borne and descended the steep grassy slopes by the side of Floutern Tarn. The boggy bits were frozen and I joined the path heading back to Buttermere. I had planned to go to Grasemoor to camp high again. Cloud started to cling to its top and I thought I might change my route and plans. Meelbreak had long been on the to do list. I headed for it and then up its steep sides. I had then planned to go over it and back along the lakes of Crumock Water (not a mere or called a lake) and Buttermere to finish.
While on the top while I took in the views another walker happened along. "Are you Martin?" he asked. "I am, do you know me? James Boulter of Backpacking Bongos. Another outdoor Blogger.
We are not a common thing and here I had met two in less than 24h. James writes a fine blog and one of my must read ones. It was good to meet him. We also plan to do some training walks for the 2011 TGO Challenge so we took the opportunity to chat and I turned back to walk with James back down the way I had come up. We talked routes and Challenge plans. Kit and blogs. All the normal stuff. Plans hatched and views enjoyed. At Scale Force waterfall we parted ways. I went home and James went on to enjoy the fells and tops on his own. As for me it was a time of refreshment and renewed passion for the landscape of the Lake District. Wild camping high is always great when the weather permits. I have no fears or worries in the hills and mountains. Nothing to prove or battles to win. Just a satisfaction in enjoying being out there.