Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Wild camping - Pike o' Blisco

Sunrise Pike o' Blisco

I've camped rough many times since I was in my teens mostly when I was cycling. I used to load up my front and rear panniers and set off for a week or so. Scotland the Lake District, Southern Ireland to name but a few. However, my trusty Macpac tent was a little too heavy if you wanted to put it in a rucksack as opposed to on the rear rack of a bike. I found that much out when I took it over to Eigg a few years ago.  Camera bag on my front and rucksack on my back, I certainly wasn't travelling light.

A few months ago I decided to buy a lightweight tent. They are not cheap so I started looking on eBay. My Macpac weighs in at 2.3kg and is luxurious for 1 so I wanted to try and find something as light as possible (around 1kg) but not too small, I didn't fancy sleeping in a coffin! After being pipped to the post in a number of eBay auctions I managed to pick up a Terra Nova Laser competition 2. I had read lots of reviews and being 6 3" wasn't sure I would fit in some of the super lightweight tents. The Terra Nova is actually a 2 man tent, how you can fit two people in is a bit beyond me, you would have to be very friendly indeed. Next purchase was a new sleeping bag, my current Snugpak weighs in at 2kg.  Back to eBay and I bought a new North Face Gold Kazoo (from Spain), rated down to 2 degrees c and just under 1kg. So far I had lopped a massive 2.1kg off my pack weight! A few more bits and bobs bought or haggled and was all set. 

It seemed an ideal opportunity while on holiday in the lakes to spend a night away on a fell camping wild with the purpose of trying to get some decent sunset and sunrise photos. After studying the OS maps I decided on Pike o' Blisco. I could park at the top of the Wrynose Pass and it was only an hour or so walk to the top, if all went horribly wrong it wasn't too far to retrace my steps to the car. All I needed was some decent weather. Here lies the problem in the Lake District, even in the summer! I decided on a day, but then cancelled, perhaps it would be better tomorrow? but then it was worse. I was running out of week, thankfully on the last day it looked like it would be just perfect. Not quite the cloudless blue skies and sun forecast, but a decent amount of cloud, light winds and great lighting conditions.

Finally I was on the road at 4.30pm, only to be stuck behind slow moving cars and loads of traffic. An hour later I was parking the car at the Three Shires Stone (top of the Wrynose Pass) grabbed my rucksack and I was off. Despite my lightweight kit my bag was still rather heavy, camping kit, camera, 2 litres of water, tea & breakfast, jumper, waterproof... it all adds up. As far as camera kit goes I decided to take just one lens on my 5D mk2 a Tamron 28-75mm, nd filters, cable release & tripod that was the bare minimum. 

Heading up the path my intention was to climb up to Crinkle Crags for sunset then head on down to Pike o'Blisco and find somewhere to pitch up. The top of Crinkle Crags were shrouded in thick cloud, so there was no chance of a sunset. However, I was hoping that I might get a decent view below cloud level from the flanks of Crinkle Crags down into Eskdale with Sca Fell beyond. Just beyond Red Tarn I passed two walkers on their way down, the last people I would see till my return the following morning. It's a great feeling being the only one for miles, peace and tranquillity. Continuing up the path I soon disappeared into the cloud. No photo opportunities here so I started traversing to the South dropping a little in altitude. Every so often there would be a glimmer of light shining through the mist, but within a flash it had gone. I decided it was time for tea so I set my camera up on tripod and pointed it in vaguely the right direction.

Waiting for the cloud to clear

If the mist were to clear I might get a shot or two. No sooner had I sat down there was a break in the clouds and I was rewarded with a view of Eskdale. 

Rays of light Eskdale

The clouds then descended again which at least allowed me less interruptions while I was eating. After sitting still for a few minutes I noticed the temperature drop and was glad I had brought some extra layers. Tea finished and a very slightly lighter bag I packed up to head down towards Red Tarn and then climb up Pike o' Blisco. Sunset didn't amount to anything which was a little disappointing just a very faint glimmer in the sky. Now I was focused on finding a suitable spot for camping close to the summit of Pike o' Blisco so I didn't have far to go for sunrise. The further I climbed the less suitable the terrain became. Towards the top it was much more rocky and any flatter grassy spots were completely sodden. I didn't want to wake up in a puddle! By the time I found somewhere the light was starting to fade, it was a little more exposed than I would have liked and not at all smooth, but it would do the job. The groundsheet in the Terra Nova is paper thin so I was a little worried it would stand up to all the tussocks I was trying to flatten, but it did the job. By the time I was pitched, bag unpacked, matt inflated and general faffing it was dark! The sky was now quite overcast so unfortunately there was no opportunity for star gazing. Alarm set for 4:45am it was time for lights out. I managed a few hours sleep once the wind died down, but it wasn't the most comfortable of nights.

Wild Camping Lake District
Room with a view
Next morning I parted the flysheet to be greeted by a thin orange strip on the horizon (always a good sign). I got dressed, grabbed my camera and in less than 5 minutes I was set up checking out possible compositions. Only having one lens (28-75mm) did limit me a little, but sometimes you just have to work a little more imaginatively to get the shot. Panoramic shots were certainly going to capture the best of the cracking view. 

18 shot panorama: 6 portrait images wide (-2, 0, +2ev) blended in TuFuse then stitched in Microsoft ICE
An hour or so after sunrise, a leisurely breakfast (2 eccles cakes and half a pint of milk!) I was all packed up. Heading down towards the car I noticed two or three other cars parked up at the top of the Wrynose. Maybe other people had also spent the night wild camping? 

Was it worth the effort? Yes I think so, I certainly had spectacular views and it was really nice to get away from it all, the peace and tranquillity was priceless. I'm looking forward to my next wild camp I just need to do some location planning.

Camping equipment:
Tent: Terra Nova Laser Competition 2 - 1.25kg
Sleeping bag: North Face Gold Kazoo - 938g
Sleeping mat: Karrimor X Lite Inflatable Air Mattress - 330g
Pack: Karrimor Hot Earth (40 litre)
Cooking kit: None, I did miss a cup of tea in the morning, but I was travelling light

No comments:

Post a Comment