Monday, July 31

Route Preparation - Fun or Hard Work Pt 2

So how to plan for that long break?

I'm currently working out what to do for a week's backpack across Lakeland Fells at the end of August.

Firstly - what do I intend to do and where?
1. Wildcamp and ideally not go over too much ground covered before.
2. Visit peaks that I've valley(ed) by in the past
3. Beware of disruption from unseasonal weather (It was August Bank Holiday '05 when the gales caught me)

I keep a large (cheap) 3D Lake District poster on my wall, mounted in a perspex photo frame. After each trip I Tippex in the routes used. That way I can see at a glance the areas I've covered. It's filling up fast, but there are areas that I've never gone into, mostly off the beaten track of roads/public transport, especially in the northwest of the Lake District.

Then I check my walking diary, a small A5 book in which I briefly record any new walk I make of merit. I can see the notes I've left for myself for the future- 'Must revist', 'Tarn looks good for camping', 'Avoid at all costs - steep scree!' that sort of thing

From my notes:
I've travelled into Borrowdale a few times, mostly in poor weather, and always over the ridge and down the valley, so now it's time to try the ridges bordering the valley.

Walking the Cumbria Way a few years ago (not very recommended BTW) I passed by CatBells and made a mental note to revisit one day.

A regular to Honister Hause, I've always fancied the look of Dale Head (wonder what it looks like from the top?) Easy descent bad weather, and camping at Innominate Tarn, or worse case Dubbs Hut, both on a path I know well.

So that's a route between (Keswick - good bus interchange - I'm using public transport this time) CatBells, ridge(s) to Dale Head, and across Honister Pass.

And next?

A possible camp on the flanks of Coniston Old Man may be likely, so a slow route from Gable across Bowfell, Crinkle Crags onto Wrynose Pass, and than approach Coniston from the North.

Where to stop?

Ideally near clean water, and my preference is a tarn - ideally not too large as I like to take my water from an inlet flow (I've never treated it, or had any problems) Pitching at the foot of a tarn can mean a long haul to get to the feed, and a longer trip back carrying the water's additional weight. If I want fresh supplies in the morning - the trip has to be repeated. And it's not quite like popping down to the local shops to get a pint of milk, especially when done by the light of a headtorch.

These days I use a mix of internet sites/searches (some preferred links on the right) alongside my reference library of Lake District information built up over the years.
Until recently my main tarn reference was W Heaton-Cooper's 'The Tarns of Lakeland', but there's been a couple of excellent additions recently - 'Lakeland High Tarns' by John Drews & 'Exploring Lakeland Tarns' by Don Blair. Plenty of pictures and ideas for routes and tie ins.

So I've now got a few possibilities.

Now comes the hard bit - putting it all together. How long is the route? What to see on the way? How far off the Ato B route to wander, and most importantly - how to get off it if there's trouble?

Checking back at the top of this post, I seem to have the bare bones of what I want from this trip.
So how to fill in the gaps, and give it the all-important sense check? Will the route really work, and how much flexibility will I have?

More to follow .............

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