Route : From Buttermere, anti-clockwise route up the High Stile ridge
Wild Camp : High Stile
Wainwrights : Red Pike, High Stile, High Crag
Distance : 16.3km (10.1 miles)
Height gained : 1054 m (3459 feet)
The forecast was for clear cloudless skies but cold and windy. It had been a few months since my inaugural wild camp and I was itching to get out again. Having glimpsed the High Stile ridge from Scafell I was keen to explore the area further and thought a wild camp with views towards the Scafells and a sunset over Ennerdale would be just the ticket.
|The Route anticlockwise from Buttermere village|
Having parked in Buttermere village I set off on a path between Buttermere and Crummock Water towards the impressive Red Pike/High Stile ridge where I was ultimately heading. With a heavy rucksack I didn't fancy the steep direct route up the east side of Red Pike via Bleaberry Tarn so I skirted Crummock Water before turning westwards to join a path which ascended Red Pike via Scale Force.
|High Stile (left) and Red Pike (right) from the car park|
|Grasmoor over Crummock Water|
|The path up to Red Pike - not a cloud in the sky|
After the short but steep climb by Scale Force the path levelled out and it was an easy trudge up to the summit of Red Pike. Once on top it became apparent that the easterly wind was a lot stronger than forecast but I was happy than my planned camping spot on the western side of the ridge should be sheltered. The views over to Grasmoor and Robinson were outstanding.
|Red Pike summit panorama east|
|Red Pike summit panorama west|
|Crummock Water from Red Pike summit|
|looking over Buttermere from Red Pike summit|
|looking towards High Stile from Red Pike|
The ridge walk along to High Stile offered a superb panorama across to the Scafell range and I missed my footing on a number of occasions whilst gazing to the right instead of where I was going.
On the approach to High Stile the wind really picked up and once on the summit I struggled to keep my footing. There was no chance of a summit camp so I walked back down the sheltered western side to find a suitable place. The wind was still very strong and gusty but I managed to find a reasonably flat spot where the wind seemed a bit less fierce.
|High Stile summit panorama North|
|High Stile summit panorama South|
|The Scafells from High Stile|
The Scarp was pitched in no time and due to high winds I used the cross poles for piece of mind. The sunset over the Irish sea was spectacular but I was happy to get into the tent and out of the wind. It was a restless night due to the constant buffeting and the occasional violent gust.
|Camping on the southwest flank of High Stile|
|Views over Ennerdale|
|The evening sun bathes Pillar|
|The obligatory sunset shot|
The wind finally dropped about an hour before sunrise but I was up and out as soon as it was light. An inspection of the tent revealed than the fly sheet guy attachment point on the windward side had torn off the tent. That was due to combination of poor guying from me (more of that later in 'Kit thoughts') and a particularly violent gust from Mother Nature. Apart from that, the Scarp had survived unscathed.
As I sipped my coffee the sun started to rise revealing a cloudless sky. It was looking like another perfect day so I broke camp and headed back to High Stile summit to admire the view in a more leisurely manner now that I could stand up straight without being blown over. After exploring the expansive summit plateau I followed the ridge along to High Crag, enjoying the views down the Ennerdale valley.
|High Stile panorama west over the Ennerdale valley|
|Bleaberry Tarn and Crummock Water from High Stile|
|The path towards High Crag (fer Left)|
|High Crag from High Stile|
|Ironmongery on the path to High Crag|
|The Scafells over Kirk Fell|
|looking back to High Stile from High Crag|
|High Crag summit panorama south|
|High Crag summit panorama north|
|looking down to Hay Stacks from High Crag|
It was a steep descent to Scarth Gap before heading back to Buttermere via the Scarth Gap Pass. I hadn't seen anyone else all morning but had the lovely company of a Cuckoo, calling from the Warnscale valley on my right. I then walked back along the southern shore of Buttermere enjoying the tranquil morning and being surrounded by magnificent fells on all sides.
|looking back up to High Crag from near 'Seat'|
|Great Gable from Scarth Gap|
|Hay Stacks from Scarth Gap Pass|
|The path back along Buttermere|
|High Stile and Red Pike bathed in morning sun|
|Panorama of the whole ridge|
This was great ridge walk to appreciate the surrounding fells. The northern faces of Pillar, Kirk Fell and Great Gable look spectacular from this vantage point and Grasmoor looks particularly impressive from the Red Pike end of the ridge.
Tent : Tarptent Scarp 1 (1.36kg)
Mat : Exped Downmat UL 7LW (810g)
Sleeping Bag : Rab Alpine 400 (970g) and Rab silk liner (132g)
Stove : High Gear Blaze titanium stove (48g) + Primus 100g Gas Cart
Pans : Evernew Solo-set (250g)
Rucksack : Osprey Atmos 35 (1.3kg)
Fluid : 2 x 1 litre Sigg Bottles (147g each empty) + Drinksafe systems travel tap (165g), 200 mls milk, coffee
Food : Wayfayrer Tai Green Curry, Buttered Bread, Supernoodles,various sugary snacks.
Bits & Bobs : headtorch and spare batteries, Iphone + Anker 5800mHh battery, tent light, victorinox knife, map & compass, basic first aid kit and Petzl e-lite, spork, various fold dry bags, flint & steel, plastic trowel.
Camera : Sony DSC-HX5 & lowepro case.
Clothes : ME Astron Hooded jacket (400g), Ron Hill wicking T-Shirt, TNF Meridian Cargo Shorts (190g), ME beany, Rab phantom grip gloves, sunglasses, Buff, Innov8 short socks. Montane prism 2 jacket (423g) and Montane Superfly Jacket (500g) both not used.
Boots : Merrell Moab Mid (1020g pair)
My main issue on this camp was the wind. I couldn't say what the wind speed was but I had to take care to avoid being blown over on High Stile summit. The buffeting in the tent was vicious. The Scarp has 2 optional guying points on each side of the hoop to provide extra stability in wind (which I used). It also has 2 additional 'fly tensioner' points at each end which are there mainly to hold the fly away from the inner. I decided to use the one at my head end to keep the fly from flapping against my face. The wind was blowing from this direction. Looking at the set up video you are supposed to use a trekking pole to re-angle the cord so it pulls at right angles to the fly. As I didn't have any poles I used a long cord pegged out from higher ground. It obviously wasn't pulling at the correct angle because a violent gust in the early hours tore the attachment loop off the fly. My fault entirely.
|The yellow cord seen attached wrongly to the fly - before it tore off|
Ah well, lesson learned. Otherwise everything else went fine. The stand out piece of kit for me was the ME Astron Hooded jacket which I've had for a while now but am always impressed by its ability to keep me comfortable in a wide range of weather conditions. It uses Polartec Powershield fabric which for me hits the sweet spot in terms of being wind resistant, warm & breathable. I have worn it in cold winds and drizzly rain without needing to add layers or a shell. It breaths so well that I can leave it on in all but the warmest conditions and it dries rapidly. It really is a 'put on and forget about it' piece of kit for 3 season use. Everything else performed well. Also, of course the TNF meridian shorts were perfect as usual. I have already presented my case for them in a later blog entry (May 2013). Nuff said.
I added a bit of bungee cord to that guying point that caused you trouble. The theory being that there will be a bit of 'give' in windy conditions.
Thanks David. I have done that now after stitching the loop back on again. That was only my second ever wild camp and it was a schoolboy error. Have learnt a lot since then... and still learning.Delete