Showing posts with label tarp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tarp. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pimp my Tarp

I've really taken a liking to the tarp and bivvy set-up recently. The weight saving is obviously attractive but I'm finding I really like the exposure. The simplicity of just gazing up at a star studded night sky, watching passing satellites and occasional meteors until drifting off to sleep is a truly magical experience. Of course this is all well and good if the sky is clear and the weather is calm and dry. Any suggestion of a dodgy forecast and I will take the tent or the trailstar. Anyway, in anticipation of some nice balmy summer nights I have been trying a few different tarp configurations in the back garden. Here they are :-

I have used the 2 'lean-to' configurations a few times now and they work well but with both set-ups there is a large area of unsupported silnylon which has a tendency to sag as it collects condensation. Using the 2 lifter points solves this problem and so the last time I camped out I looked for suitable sticks along the walk, but as is perhaps typical when hiking in the high fells, I didn't come across anything suitable. A fellow 'twitterer' had previously suggested taking 2 bamboo canes as they are light & fairly strong. So I recently spent an hour in the garden fiddling with my 3 favourite tarp configurations but with the addition of two 3 foot bamboo canes as lifters. These 3 short videos are the result and although I've yet to test these 'pimped up' tarp set-ups in the fells I reckon they should do the job nicely.

The tarp can be pitched in a whole variety of different ways to suit the conditions and using hiking poles, trees, sticks, boulders etc as anchor points for the guy lines. The 'A-Frame' set-up seems popular with many folk but that blocks my view of the sky and doesn't provide much wind protection from the side. As I do most of my camping in the high fells, it is wind resistance that is of most importance to me and the 3 configurations above provide adequate shelter, with the 'flying V' being the most sturdy.

The tarp is the 'solo tarp' from It is 9 foot x 5 foot silnylon, weighs 278 grams and has lots of attachment loops around the perimeter (16 in total) plus the 2 lifter points.  

Here are a few videos of the bivvy (and tarp in 2 of them) set up in the Lake District mountains.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

An Eskdale Wander and Wildcamp

Date : 17th & 18th April 2015
Start/Finish : Jubilee Bridge, Brotherikeld, Eskdale.
Wainwrights : Green Crag, Harter Fell, Hard Knott
Distance : 13.3 miles
Height Gained : 3455 feet
Social Hiking Interactive Map : Click Here

The route: Anti-clockwise from the cross-hairs

I knew this was going to be a great little trip. The omens were good as I drove over the Wrynose and Hardknott passes without even seeing another car. One of life's little pleasures. 

So I set off from near Jubilee Bridge heading for Green Crag. Perusing the map, the Birker Force waterfall looked like it might worth a detour and there did seem to be a vague path of sorts which climbed up along it. I soon found the waterfalls and the path which was indeed vague and required the use of hands and feet at some points.

Penny Hill Farm ... complete with spring lamb and mum

Old Lower Birker Farm ... being renovated into a rather nice pad 

Quintessential Lake District -  A moss covered dry stone wall

Views towards Scafell

Birker Force

Views from the top of Birker Force

 From the top of the falls it's an easy ramble along boggy ground towards the crags. There are many crags around this area, with Green Crag being the highest and so I decided to visit a few of them along the way.

Low Birker Tarn

Crook Crags (left) and Green Crag (right)

Views over the Eskdale valley from Crook Crags

Green Crag from Pike Crag

Green Crag summit view back towards Eskdale and Harter Fell

From Green Crag I headed for Harter Fell but took a minor detour over Dow Crag (no not the Coniston one - that would be a detour!). The ground is really wet in places around here. I had, until now, managed to keep my trail shoes dry ... but no longer. I finally succumbed to wet feet.

Next stop ... Harter Fell

The lovely Eskdale valley from Dow Crag

A local on Harter Fell

Harter Fell summit

From Harter Fell I made a bee line for Hard Knott just pausing to collect water from Hardknott Gill along the way. The wind was quite a bit stronger than the insignificant wafts that were forecast so I looked for a sheltered spot and managed to find one with good views of both the sunset and the Scafells. Like I said, the omens were good for this trip :-)

Hard Knott from Harter Fell

Pitched up on Hard Knott with views of the Scafells

The eagle eyed among you will note the deliberate mistake that I have pitched the tarp 'inside out'. This is because I wasn't using the 2 lifter points in the middle of the tarp (I forgot to bring 2 short bamboo canes for this) and so instead used them on the inside to attach my little tent light.  

The rudimentary tarp pitching video

A nice view of the sunset

 It was a cold clear night. I spent a long time just watching the night sky which was pitch black and bursting with stars. I watched the space station pass over, saw many satellites and a few shooting stars. It was a mesmerising scene from the comfort of my sleeping bag. This is the great selling point for tarps but of course, being a certified wimp, had there been a hint of rain forecast or indeed any other such inclement weather then I would have brought the tent or the trailstar instead. Tonight though, it was perfect for a 'roofless' night under the stars. I forgot the bivvy bag (schoolboy error!) and so needed to wear my down jacket and insulated trousers to stay warm as the temperature got down to just below zero.

Apart from a bit of wind (the weather that is, not the effects of my delicious Fuzion chicken tikka masala) it was a quiet night. I woke to frosty surroundings and a crispy tarp. I was up and away by 6am and onto Hard Knott summit to watch the sun rising over Cold Pike. All along the ridge towards Lingcove Beck are stunning views of upper Eskdale and the Scafells. It was a joy to watch the sun first touch Scafell summit and then move its way slowly down to illuminate the whole huge massif in an orange glow. My futile efforts with the camera really didn't do justice to this majestic scene.

Sunrise over Cold Pike from Hard Knott summit

Hard Knott summit view back to Harter Fell ...

... and over to the Scafells

Scafell and Scafell Pike
  At the end of the Hard Knott ridge I followed the path down along the gorges and waterfalls of Lingcove Beck. 


 It always amazes me how the old Lingcove packhorse bridge stays up. I have no idea when it was built and a quick google search was unrewarding but it looks like it has seen a good few decades and will likely see many more.

Lingcove Bridge

... defying gravity

 From here its a lovely quiet walk following the course of the River Esk back to Jubilee bridge. Only here did I see another person since leaving the car the day before.

Back to the road and the start of the Hardknott Pass

Kit List

Shelter : Backpackinglight solo tarp (278g) & Integral Designs solo ground sheet (140g) 
Mat : Exped SynMat7 UL LW (595g) 
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 Talon 44 (1.18kg) 
Fluid : Deuter Streamer 2lt Bladder (185g) and 600ml Sigg bottle (100g empty) + Sawyer Squeeze filter (84g), 100 mls milk, coffee  
Food : Fuizion Chicken Tikka Masala & Rice, Buttered Bread, Supernoodles,various sugary snacks.
Bits & Bobs : headtorch and spare batteries, Iphone + Anker 5800mHh battery,  victorinox knife, map & compass, basic first aid kit and Petzl e-lite, spork, various fold dry bags, flint & steel, plastic trowel.  

Camera : Panasonic DMC-LX7 & lowepro case.  

Clothes : Ron Hill wicking T-Shirt, Rab 100 wt fleece (250g), Montane lightspeed jacket (160g), TNF Meridian Cargo Shorts (190g), ME beany, Rab phantom grip gloves, sunglasses, Buff, Innov8 short socks. PHD wafer down jacket (about 200g). Montane Prism insulated pants (295g).
Trail Shoes : Merrell Moab Ventilator (680g pair)

Total weight excluding water = 8.5kg


If you've made it this far then how about some summit panorama video's from Harter Fell and Hard Knott.



Ok thats it. Shows over. Move on now.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Wild Camp in the Loweswater Fells

Date : 27th & 28th June 2014
Route : Day 1 - Loweswater to Starling Dodd. Day 2 - Starling Dodd to Loweswater over Hen Comb
Wainwrights : Burnbank Fell, Blake Fell, Gavel Fell, Great Borne, Starling Dodd, Hen Comb
Distance : 12 miles (19.3km)
Height gained : 3744 feet (1141 meters)
Time Taken : Day 1 = 6 hours. Day 2 = 2 hours

Social Hiking Link : click here

The Route : anticlockwise from the car park by Loweswater

 The long summer nights have pro's and con's in the wild campers calender. Con's are the hot sticky ascents, midges and ridiculously early sunrises. Pro's however are the lighter packs, longer walks and then enjoying late sunsets sat out in warm weather (hopefully!). As my working week finishes at Friday lunch time it also means that I can be in the Lakes for 3pm and still enjoy 7 hours of walking before making camp. That was the plan for this walk. I set off from Loweswater at 3:30pm heading along the tops towards Starling Dodd. I wasn't sure how far I'd get as this was all new terrain for me. 

The start of the walk : Carling Kott straight ahead

 Almost as soon as the path meets Loweswater, a track lead up through the pines eventually emerging on a col between Carling Knott and Burnbank Fell. The path then skirts along the Loweswater side of Burnbank Fell. I kept walking until the the steep gradient up to the summit on my left looked a little less severe. There's no path and so it's a case of picking your way upwards through the grassy tussocks. 

Burnbank Fell through a dirty camera lens

Nice spot to admire Loweswater and Grasmoor beyond

 The summit of Burnbank Fell is a wide grassy expanse. There's good views over to the coast but otherwise nothing too exciting. It was then a pleasant stroll along a grassy path to Blake Fell and then Gavel Fell. 

Burnbank Fell looking towards Blake Fell

Blake Fell summit shelter

Gavel Fell looking south towards Great Borne

Rain streaks over the coast

 From Gavel Fell the scenery becomes progressively more interesting as the Crags of Great Borne are approached and the lovely secluded Floutern Tarn comes into view. A short deviation up onto Floutern Cob provides the best view point. 

Looking towards Great Borne

Floutern Tarn from Floutern Cob

 A steep path follows the wall up to the summit plateau of Great Borne. The lovely Ennerdale Water is not in view from the summit but a 2 minute amble to the western side resolves this issue superbly. 

Great Borne summit looking south to Starling Dodd & Red Pike

Great Borne summit panorama south

Great Borne summit panorama north

Ennerdale Water from Great Borne

Ennerdale Water from Great Borne

 It was now 8pm. There would be no problem reaching Starling Dodd before sundown and despite suggestions of an impending downpour the weather was holding up nicely. On the way up to Starling Dodd summit the sun even came out. 

Heading up Starling Dodd

Starling Dodd summit looking towards Red Pike

Sun lights up Pillar
Looking over Crummock Water towards Grasmoor

About an hour off sunset from Starling Dodd

 It was now time to find a place to make camp. There was still an hour before sunset so I decided to head back towards Great Borne where I'd spotted a nice flat grassy area just above Floutern Tarn. 

Pitched up just above Floutern Tarn

The Trailstar's inaugural pitch

Sun Setting behind the cloud layer

Room with a view

 This was my first time pitching the Trailstar in the fells and I was pleased that it went up nice and easy, thanks mainly to some expert advice from experienced trailstar users on twitter (namely @munro277 and @outdoorsMH). Overall I was really impressed with the room underneath. It was a novelty to be able to cook under this huge shelter with no windshield required. My only mistake was pitching on a slight slope (well it looked slight at the time!) which meant my mat kept slipping off the ground sheet towards the entrance. Just as well the grass was soft & dry so I abandoned the sheet, put the rucksack under the foot end of the mat and Voila!, problem solved (well, improved anyway). I took a bivvy bag with headnet but there were no biting insects so it stayed in the rucksack.

 Thankfully the weather stayed dry overnight and the wind was minimal. I was up at 5am to catch the sunrise. A bank of cloud was moving slowly northwards, lapping over Grasmoor. It must have been a spectacular sight from up there.

Sunrise over Grasmoor ...

... and over the Trailstar

 I was packed up and away by 6am. It was a steep descent besides Red Gill over which I spied another wild camper just packing up besides Floutern Tarn. Although I didn't know it at the time, this was @hillwalker66 who had camped in a lovely spot just by the water. 

Floutern Tarn under Great Borne in the morning sun

The cloud bank moves over Grasmoor summit

 My route then followed the wall up to Hen Combe where the views are a little restricted as it is sandwiched between the higher fells of Mellbreak and Gavel Fell over valleys to the east and west.

Hen Comb summit panorama west

Hen Comb summit panorama east

Glimpses of Buttermere from Hen Comb

Grasmoor over Mellbreak

The way back to Loweswater from Hen Comb

Mellbreaks less often seen side

Loweswater from Little Dodd

Darling Fell and Low Fell

 So another 6 Wainwright's ticked off and the Christenening of the Trailstar. Will hope to be out again for another wildcamp in a few weeks. Not sure where yet but most likely some of the northern fells. 

Wainwright Count = 142/214

Kit List  

Shelter : Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar (570g) 
Pegs : 5 x 9 inch Easton, 5 x 6 inch titanium scewers, 1 x MSR blizzard stake (doubles as a trowel) 

Mat : Exped Synmat UL 7LW (595g)   
Bivy Bag : Mountain Laurel Designs Superlight Bivvy (200g)
Sleeping Bag : Rab Alpine 400 (970g)  
Pillow : Backpackinglight - Backpacking Pillow (62g) stuffed with Montane Prism 2 jacket.  

Stove : High Gear Blaze titanium stove (48g)  + Primus 100g Gas Cart 
Pans : Evernew Solo-set (pot & mug 250g)  

Rucksack : Osprey Talon 44 (1.09kg) 

Fluid : Deuter Streamer 2lt Bladder (185g) + Sawyer Squeeze filter (84g)  

Food : Fuizion Chicken Dansak, Buttered Bread, Supernoodles,various sugary snacks, coffee, cup-a-soup.  

Bits & Bobs : headtorch and spare batteries, Iphone + Anker 5800mHh battery, tent light,  victorinox knife, map & compass, basic first aid kit and Petzl e-lite, long handles titanium spoon, various fold dry bags, flint & steel.  

Camera : Panasonic LX7 & lowepro case. 

Clothes : Base layer = Rohan Ultra Silver long sleeve T (95g) & leggings (80g) (used in sleeping bag instead of a liner), Ron Hill wicking T-Shirt, Mountain Equipment Ultratherm jacket (275g), The North Face Meridian Shorts, Montane aero cap, ME beany, TNF 'E Tip' gloves, sunglasses, Buff, Bridgedale socks.  Thermal = Montane prism 2 jacket (423g) - doubles as a pillow when packed into its own pocket. Shell = ME Firefox jacket (320g) & trousers (295g). 

Trail Shoes : Meindl Respond GTX (820g pair)
Poles : Black Diamond Trail Compact (488g pair)

Loaded rucksack weight = approx 8kgs (excluding water)