Wild camping in the Lake District and hiking Scafell Pike

Letter 170

Having planned a wild camping weekend away weeks before, we couldn’t have expected to stumble into the national park on one of the sunniest days of the summer. We also couldn’t have expected that this weekend would turn out to be one of the wettest. Whatever the weather, we had the best time camping in this stunning place and hiking up to the highest point in England. Note: slightly late post as we took this trip mid-September…

Lake district scafell pike 1

We arrived late in the evening after a 3 hour drive, and food stop, from Edinburgh following a 5pm finish. Not ideal but we wanted to at least wake up in the lakes on the Saturday. We pitched our wee tent in Seathwaite Campsite, battled the bugs to warm up with a hot chocolate on the new stove and slept 0 hours as the wind hammered into the sides of the tent. It’s all fun and games.

Waking up to a chilly, windy but completely breath-taking valley in the lakes was priceless. We popped the tent down, had some bacon and egg rolls and packed up our bags before starting our hike into the mountains. Despite the chill, we warmed up quickly as we headed south from Seathwaite on a path which headed to Taylorgill Force waterfall which tumbles in Styhead Gill. Having walked the whole weekend along various routes, I can say we 100% took the best one. This part wasn’t so important but later on our route we were so glad of the path we chose. There are a few ways to get up to Scafell Pike, and this is definitely the easiest from Seathwaite side.

lake district morning 3lake district morning 2 taylor gill forcelake district morning 1

We continued along to Styhead Tarn, a pretty little lake, and then made the decision to turn right along a path on the side of the Sty Head. We had no idea what would be the best route, but this way was pretty good, even though there was some light climbing involved. I wouldn’t have wanted to come down this way.

lake district styhead tarn 1lake district styhead tarn 2lake district styhead tarn 3

We continued heading to Spouthead Gill and roughly followed this until the time to make a sharp left turn up the path to Scafell Pike. This was a super busy path with lots of walkers, and was pretty steep for me. This was when my pack took its toll, but we still made it to the top in good time, and the views we definitely worth it. Being 978m above the English countryside is pretty amazing.

lake district scafell pike 2lake district scafell pike 3

We stopped for our lunch and a breather at the top before strolling down to where we would camp for the night. We took a different route down (as we realised we didn’t want to do the reverse of what we had already done) and headed over Green Crag towards Broad Crag which was a nice route but was very up and down. I was happy to do it when going back but I would’ve found it very frustrating to do on the way to Scafell. We continued until Eskhause and then turned off towards Sprinkling Tarn. This was pretty steep, but manageable. It was then a straightforward walk down to Sprinkling Tarn, a peaceful lake hidden in the hills.

lake district sprinkling tarn 1lake district sprinkling tarn 2

As we got there pretty early, we had the pick of the camping spots, and after much deliberation, we chose one right on the waters edge, with plenty of shelter from the wind. It was absolutely perfect. We set up our tent as taught as possible (as we knew we were in for a night of wind and rain), and spent the rest of the evening enjoying the Tarn. We made some dinner, had some hot chocolates, took a walk around the area and then relaxed and watched the sun disappear behind the mountains. It was so relaxing.

lake district sprinkling tarn 4lake district sprinkling tarn 3

That night was the polar opposite of the one before and we slept heavily for a blissful 8 hours. The tent held up easily against the weather and we were warn and cosy inside. The morning was the fun bit. The rain had really come in by this point and it poured for the entire morning. We enjoyed a gourmet breakfast of egg and bacon rolls lying on our bellies and cooking in the porch. Not easy but entirely possible (and necessary when you can’t even sit up in your tent). We took our time and enjoyed the last couple of hours in our little lakeside spot and then fought the tent down in the rain. We managed pretty well and kept everything dry. There was really no need to bother because it turns out when you have to walk back to your car through a very soggy Lake District, everything is bound to get wet anyway.

lake district sprinkling tarn 5

We walked back down a straight path heading north along Ruddy Gill, all the way to Seathwaite. It was a very simple route and took us down some steep rocky steps into the valley and back to the village. Going up would’ve been hard, but down was no problem, even when the path became a river from the sheer amount of rain. Needless to say, I took no photos for fear of drowning my camera. Despite the soggy morning, we enjoyed the walk and the rain just added something else to our weekend.

This was only my second visit to the Lakes and I desperately want to go back again. Climbing Scafell was a pretty big achievement, as the largest mountain I’ve climbed in the UK, and wild camping for the first time was an amazing experience. We got lucky and it was picture perfect.

lake district sprinkling tarn cover

Not sure I’ll get another camping trip in before winter fully sets in, but you never know…

 

From Lou

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