Monday, June 10, 2024

Back O'Blencathra

Date: 31/05/2024

Wainwrights: Carrock Fell (661m), High Pike (658m), Knott (710m), Great Calva (690m)

Start/Finish: Mosedale Village

Total Distance: 14.5 miles

Time Taken: 8 Hours 

The Route : Anti-clockwise from Mosedale

                        A Video of the Hike

It has been a long time since I was last in the fells. 12 months to be precise, when I climbed up Jacks Rake with my lad. Lots of excuses - mainly the appalling weather and the fact that at my time of life, I really don't want to be braving the elements and suffering unnecessarily in bad weather for zero chance of a summit view. So today was time to make amends and continue the quest which started 15 years ago and had been stuck on 198 Wainwrights for far too long. 

I only had 4 fells left in the Northern Region and they were ones at the back of Blencathra, namely: Carrock Fell, High Pike, Knott and Great Calva. It was going to be a long hike to link these 4 together but I wanted to get them done in a single stretch so a route was planned and I headed off to the Lakes at first light on a cold but clear Friday morning, hopeful that my fitness hadn't completely abandoned me. 

I parked the car in Mosedale and then headed along the road northwards for about a mile. The scenery is dominated by the impressive looking Carrock Fell on the left side. 

Carrock Fell from Mosedale

Most of the fells north of Blencathra and Skiddaw are quite benign in appearance, being mainly grassy mounds with little in the way of rocky scenery. No so with Carrock Fell though. It is decidedly craggy and imposing with steep gnarly flanks. The only accessible path on the OS map was on the eastern face and that was where I headed. The path leaves the road by a small lay-bye and heads upwards, flanking the right side of a steep gully, before emerging onto the summit. 

The way up Carrock Fell

The summit of Carrock Fell is a shattered pile of rocks with an impressive looking cairn and a wind shelter. The views are impressive in all directions. 

Carrock Fell Summit

After a 20 minute respite, I head off westwards on a good path, which then veered northwards towards High Pike. 45 minutes later I was stood on this interesting summit.

High Pike

High Pike Summit looking East ...

... and looking West

High Pike summit is dominated by a large triangular pile of rocks which could be clearly seen from Carrock Fell. What was unexpected is the lovely stone bench and an impressive trig point. The bench is a memorial to a young boy who loved this area but tragically passed away aged 16 in 1944. 

The Memorial Bench on High Pike Summit

The route then re-treads the path back down High Pike before veering off South-Westwards towards Knott. About halfway along the route is Lingy Hut Bothy, one of just 4 Bothies in the Lake District. It is basically a wooden shed guyed down to prevent it from blowing away. Inside are very basic amenities and a sleeping platform. Perfect for a night out on the fells if you don't want to carry your own shelter.

Lingy Hut Bothy

Knott (as opposed to 'The Knott', in the Far Eastern Fells) is the highest fell on today's route, at 710 meters. It also has the least impressive summit of the 4. No trig point, bench or wind shelter. Just a small pile of stones.

'Knott' summit

From Knott, Great Calva is due South and looks impressively steep and mountainesque in its profile. The path continues westwards and then turns due South to climb up between Little Calva and Great Calva. 

Great Calva (left), LIttle Calva (right) & Skiddaw (background)

Little Calva isn't a Wainwright but I thought it might be worth the small detour onto its summit. It wasn't. 

Little Calva Summit
A good path now heads straight up onto the summit of Great Calva. This is another fell with impressive summit features including a large cairn and great views in all directions.

Great Calva Summit

It was now a case of tackling the steep descent off the eastern face of Great Calva down a heather invaded path which winds its way steeply down to join the Cumbria Way. It was then another 4 miles following the River Caldew back to Mosedale.

The path down the west face of Great Calva

The bridge over Grainsgill Beck

The Cumbria Way

Nearly back at Mosedale

So that's 202 Wainwright's done and dusted. Just 12 to go, over 3 hikes. Should be finished by the end of summer.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

VW Camper Van Tour Part 2

Since I last posted about 'Skippy', our 1979 VW bay window camper (you can see that post here), we've done a few more upgrades and modifications which I wanted to share. The van was on wedding duty today and so we got her tarted up and cleaned and I did brief video which you can see below.

Weddings are something we started doing last year. We have a relationship with 2 local companies who have similar vintage camper vans which they use exclusively for weddings and other events. 

Skippy with friends, Mary (left) and Dusty (right)

Skippy is used mainly for camping but we can also use her for weddings and so we act as an additional van if needed by one of the 2 companies. If you are interested is hiring Skippy, or one of the other wedding vans, I will put their websites below.

Chase the Sun 

Broughton Wedding Cars

On Duty !

The first upgrade we did last year was to have the original steel wheels (which were getting pretty rusty) sand blasted and powder coated to look like new. Demon Wheels in Preston did this for us and they did a superb job. We are really happy with them. They look great with the original chrome hub caps and the while wall tyres.

Baby's got new Shoes ...

The next major upgrade was to have all the seats and the mattress reupholstered. This was done by Phil Dixon at Kew Coach Trimmers in Southport. We chose a lovely cream and grey pattern which matches the door cards. 

... and new Clothes

Phil did an excellent job using top quality materials which look like new. Again, we've been really happy with the result.

The Finished Interior complete with Original Furniture 

The other few jobs were just minor bits and bobs. We always struggled with fridge space on anything more that a 1 night trip and so we bought the Indel B TB18 compact fridge/freezer which sits perfectly between the 2 front seats. This is great for drinks and along with the Vitifrigio C39i we now have plenty of fridge space. 

Just Chillin

And the great thing about these 2 super efficient 12 volt compressor fridges is that they both are powered continually by the 180w solar panel on the roof which charges a large gel battery. And we still have plenty of capacity to charge phones, use the internal lights and power the radio. Which essentially means we have no need for an electric hook up when camping. Great freedom !

At Bug Jam, Santa Pod 2023

Camping in the Lake District 

The final upgrade last year was related to a problem I had with the wiper motor fuse frequently blowing. After a discussion on the late bay forum I found that this was a fairly common problem, and would need a replacement wiper motor, which are very hard to come by. 

Someone on the forum had designed a modification kit which used a VW Golf wiper motor as a much more reliable alternative. And so I ordered the bits, carefully followed the instructions and now have a perfect 2 speed wiper motor which is much quieter and has already paid for itself in the number of blown fuses saved !

And that's about it. Skippy is looking fine and we are looking forward to a great summer of camping and weddings. I have no plans for any major upgrades in the foreseeable future. I do keep toying with the idea of getting a diesel heater, and that might be the next project but otherwise its just the usual service and maintenance jobs. She is probably going need her underside wax oiling again at the end of the season. Keeping the rust at bay is of course the number one concern with these vans !