Great Langdale Camping, Lake District, Cumbria

2nd July - 4th July 2004


  With the distances to the Lake District as great as they are, given that I do not possess the fastest nor most flexible car on the road, especially in wet weather, I truly wanted to do this Xerox camping trip but wished that I could, for once, acquire a lift instead, relax and simply enjoy the drive, as a passenger, for a change. It was with this in mind that I was able to arrange one with Martin Lighten, fetched from Xerox in Welwyn Garden City, at 16h15, after he drove up from London. Vanda was working in Leeds and would meet up with him at the Great Langdale campsite. The rain was pelting down as we made our way on the final stretch, a long drive along twisting, winding roads.  We were booked at the National Trust Great Langdale campsite [Link to Google Maps]. I pitched my tent as soon as we arrived, before it got dark and while the rain had abated somewhat.  Lisa arrived the next day because she thought we were at the camp site for the previous year's camp outing, which I had missed.  When Peter Hartman arrived a bit later with Bonnie and Connaugh, the weather had deteriorated to the extent that Peter, who had erected two sets of tents, slept in his whilst Bonnie chickened out and stayed in the car. The Lake District, also known as The Lakes or Lakeland, is a rural area in North West England. A popular holiday destination, it is famous for its lakes and its mountains (or fells), and its associations with the early 19th century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth and the Lake Poets. It lies entirely within Cumbria, and is one of England's few mountainous regions. The Lake District is about 34 miles (55 km) across. Its features are a result of periods of glaciation, the most recent of which ended some 15,000 years ago. These include the ice-carved wide U-shaped valleys, many of which are now filled with the lakes that give the park its name. The upper regions contain a number of glacial cirques, which are typically filled with tarns. The higher fells are rocky, with lower fells being open moorland, notable for its wide bracken and heather coverage. Below the tree line, native oak woodlands sit alongside nineteenth century pine plantations. Much of the land is often boggy, due to the high rainfall. The Lake District is one of the most highly populated national parks. Its total area is near 885 square miles (2,292 km2), and the Lake District was designated as a National Park in 1951.

Lake District aerial photos, courtesy of Wiki website.


Managing the kitchen was an even bigger nightmare, as we discovered during breakfast the next morning.  Though a tarpaulin had been erected as a roof in an attempt to shield off the rain, it did no such thing but leaked like a sieve.  There's nothing like cooking bacon and eggs whilst having icy drops of water drip down your neck.  By our troupe is not one to complain and dutifully stuck to the task at hand.  I was here, too, that another timeless wonder was revealed to us for the very first time, that of the insatiable appetite of a one Connaugh Parker. My, the little lad must have hollow legs. And so it was that we left on our walk. Given the awful weather conditions, it turned out to be a somewhat shortened one in our case, led by Martin Lighten. rest assured, no-one besides Martin had the energy for anything more adventurous.


  Martin is amazing in this respect - nothing phases the guy! To this day, uncertainty prevails as to the precise contingent of our walking troupe that day (see Conversations between senior citizens), though with surety it can be established that it did include John Adams, Martin, Vanda Ralevska and Peter Groves.  Peter, Bonnie and Connaugh headed off elsewhere.  

At the head of the Great Langdale Valley; Towards Blea Moss, where we encountered cross-country runners en route.


According to Martin's Ordnance Survey Map, the route was as follows:  Leaving the campsite, we headed up the hillside, with Side Pike on our left (289/051); Blea Tarn, past Tarn Close Crag 293/045; Weak sunshine; Along Blea Moss, this is where we saw the runners 295/035; Overcast/slight drizzle; Then on to the road at 292/032 then hit the path again at 294/033 past Castle Howe 297/033, where we stopped for tea; Heavy drizzle; That when the fun started, as we tried to find the route across the river, but we couldnít find the bridge 297/035; So we had to head back to the road 298/033 then it was road all the way back to Langdale via Blea Tarn House 295/048 on Side Gates; On the way up the road we saw the bridge that we should have crossed, nowhere near where it should have been; Then retraced our route up from the campsite past Side Pike on our right. Yes, the runners.  surely these guys could have chosen better weather for it. We had to give way as they "chucked it" past us, over the treacherously wet, muddy, rocky landscape. One slip or false placement of the foot and they could have severely twisted an ankle or broken a leg. Maybe I'm just  being an old softy!


    There is no denying the sheer beauty of this lush, green terrain. After encountering the runners, the route split and there was much debate as to which we should take. What probably turned out to be our most memorable recollection, was our somewhat diabolical attempt to find a suitable crossing point on the stream that joins Lea Tarn and Little Langdale Tarn.

Down the road past the farmhouse at Fell Foot just before the bridge crossing (just out of picture); Sometime after the bridge crossing.


  Martin went back up the stream whilst I searched further down the stream. On several occasions I recall taking my boots off and attempting a crossing. Though the stream could hardly be considered dangerous, it was simply too deep to contemplate a crossing on foot, so we were somewhat reticent. After eventually ending up on the road again, we finally located a bridge crossing.  

Now on the road back before passing Blea Tarn House, with a view across the stream in the direction of the farmhouse at Fell Foot (bridge to the left just out of picture).


Anyway, this was all in a day's fun. It's in conditions such as these that it is imperative that one carries a flask of piping hot tea and a flask of the good old Doch 'n Doris or something similar, as a bit of insulation against the cold, in one's subconscious, at least. with which to warm the cuckolds of one's heart. A barbeque, courtesy of Martin, had been planned for the Saturday night.  


Farmhouse now receding into the distance, further up same road; On the road past Blea Tarn House with side Pike to the background.


  This more than made up for lifting the spirits of all and sundry, though a fair smattering of alcohol did contribute a great deal to achieving this. Preparing with the rain bucketing down was no mean feat. Lisa Jones and her friends, including Susanna, showed up later at the campsite. They did not arrive on the Friday night, having somehow misunderstood instructions, ending up at the wrong campsite.  

Campsite just around the next corner...I think; View across Great Langdale Valley just as we came back past Side Pike once again.


After breakfast on the Sunday morning, it rained but soon the skies cleared and the sun burst forth.  Bonnie vanished, unannounced, on one of her great morning runs, leaving Peter and the rest of us to sort out Connaugh's unique ever-increasing gastronomic desires, like: "I want my sausage NOW"! Well, not that way, you won't. He had us spellbound. He certainly inherits his healthy appetite from Bonnie, except that she's vegetarian, so she doesn't partake of our standard English breakfasts. Peter Karran, generally known by one and all as PK, was quite proud of the elaborate tent construction which he owned. But there is another side to this. It transpired that he was previously in hot water as Jane and her immediate family were the first to use PK's new tent but struggled somewhat to erect the damn thing, only because they had left some parts of it behind. That is my vague recollection of the story he enjoyed relating, implying that he was in hot water with Jane, if the truth be told. Sweet!



Conversations between senior citizens;

Peter:  "Martin, I want to write about last year's camping trip in the Lakes. May I ask if you could give me an idea of the route we took and some anecdotes that you may remember, please e.g.  the leaking kitchen, PK in trouble over Jane's tent, Connaugh's appetite, the runners we encountered, the cows etc?"

Martin: "Peter, Good morning I hope you are well. I have finally got the maps out to look at the route, which I thought was different to the map, but it is the same area. I will fill in the blanks, many of them, in my recollections. I think we should include Vanda, John A, once Iíve marked the route on the map.
They can probably recall other bits and pieces. Who else was with us? I must say it seemed a short walk, but then it must have been the weather ."

Peter: "Martin.  Thanks.  Besides you and Vanda, I cannot for the life of me recall anyone else."

Martin:  "Pete, good morning, John Adams was, canít remember who else either! I know there werenít that many of us? Roughly the route was from the camp site was as follows.  Past Side Pike, Blea Tarn, past Tarn Close Crag, along Blea Moss, where we saw the runners, then on to the road and again on path, past Castle Howe, where we stopped for tea. That when the fun started, as we tried to find the route across the river, but we couldnít find the bridge.  So we had to head back to the road. It was road all the way back to Langdale via Blea Tarn House. On the way up the road we saw the bridge that we should have crossed, nowhere near where it should have been! "

John:  "Martin, Pete, I can't recall a blinking thing!! Dim, misty recollections about the bridge, and wet dogs, but runners - what runners??!!"

Martin:  "John, the runners were on some marathon or something. We had to step off the path to let them through. The weird thing I am fairly sure there were other people with us, but for the life of me I canít remember who!  There werenít that many on the trip anyway so perhaps we were on our own?  
Anyway Iím sure it will all come back to us, probably at a moment when we least expect it! "

John:  "Martin, the runners still don't ring any bells for me!! I have not seen Bob Gaskell mentioned - he must have been with us. Otherwise, having reviewed the list of people for that event, that was it."

Peter:  "John, look at the images on the website and see if it prods your memory. "

John:  "Pete, I had a look at the piccies - very nice, but did nothing to stimulate cerebral activity. I then scrolled to the bottom of the page and realised what my problem is! "

Martin:  "John, were you referring to CCJís?  Peter, I think now that Tony Regent may have been with us? I seem to remember him being as happy as ever even though it was raining!"

John:  "Martin, no, Tony wasn't on the trip.  And what on earth do you mean by CCJ's? ?!!  I was referring to the "ad" for Alzheimer's!!"  [Peter's website host, Lycos Tripod, pastes advertisements at the bottom of each page] 

Peter:  "John/Martin.  This is scary stuff, you know.  For me, personally, my cerebral ineptitude seems to be getting worse at a rather rapid and troublesome rate. Would we be having this conversation if we were all ten years younger? On the other hand, (Cc) Vanda is the proverbial "fly on the wall", probably highly amused and entertained by it all.  (:-) "

Martin:  "To be honest with you, I have a sneaky suspicion that Vanda takes so many photographs to help with her senior moments! Hence the reason we have not heard from her, as she hasnít accessed her remote data storage yet. With this in mind she does have photographs from this weekend, and the walk, so maybe that will help us. "

Vanda:  "Dear All, I feel I have to say something after all. I didn't want to reveal the gaps in my memory, but Martin has already done it for me. Yes, he is absolutely right, I do take all those photographs to help me remember. I probably have more senior moments than all of you together. Nevertheless, I will access my external hard drive as soon as I can and will send you some photos, and hopefully some of my memories, if they come back. I honestly hope they will. "


  Though I can hardly claim to be a frequent visitor to the Lake District. The weather patterns of this region seem to lend it self to the name this region has acquired for itself. On most occasions I have been here, I have experienced nothing other than constant, incessant downpours. On a previous visit to the Glenridding area, I walked Striding Edge and Dollywagon Pike on successive days in June, 2002, in poor weather conditions, followed by Skiddaw, the fourth highest mountain in England (931m), just north of Keswick. Windemere is the largest lake in the area, though it covers an area of only 569 m2 and Scafell Pike [Link to Google Maps] the highest point in England at only 978m. Seathwaite, a farming community and the last outpost in Borrowdale, is the wettest inhabited  place in the country in terms of rainfall, averaging 130 inches a year. Great Langdale is an annual event for the XHC calendar. The website documents two subsequent visits to Langdale, both of which I have missed. One such excursion in 2006 involved Scafell Pike [XHC] and the other Pike Of Stickle [XHC]. Martin was exhausted, I recall, on the Sunday morning, for some reason and so I ended up driving back with Vanda.  That evening I watched the European Championship 2004 Final between Portugal and Greece in the comfort of my flat.  

Peter and Connaugh; Vanda and Connaugh (photos courtesy of Vanda Ralevska).


Acknowledgement to Wiki website for image of Scafell Range.


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