Tuesday, October 19, 2021

A Tour of our Vintage VW Camper Van

Well its been a while since I've posted a camping / hiking video. Lots of reasons. Covid, work (healthcare), kids - basically a lack of time. I have however managed to finish most of the outstanding jobs on our camper van and I thought I would share the results before I wrap her up in her cosy cover for the winter. 

                See the video below

So let me introduce you to 'Skippy', our original Holdsworth conversion 1979 VW type 2, bay window, 2 litre air cooled camper van (called a ‘late bay’ by fellow ‘dub campers’). 

She is 42 years old and officially a historic vehicle, meaning no road tax and no MOT needed (although I always get her MOT'd anyway). We bought her about 6 years ago from a local lady who had 3 vans that she hired out for weddings etc. Skippy was surplus to requirement at the time and as we had hired her for 2 previous holidays, and knew her well, we decided to bite the bullet and buy her. 

The front of our bay window camper

She was is reasonable condition when we got her. The engine & gearbox had been recently replaced and were in great condition but there was some bodywork rust bubbling through in the usual spots and the interior was starting to look a bit tatty. We therefore decided to spruce her up. We wanted to keep as many of her original features as possible and so we renovated, rather than updating her. 

She's a pop top with a sliding side door

We started the work 3 years ago and since then she's had all her underneath sealed, rusted panels replaced and welded and a complete re-spray in baby blue. The pop-top roof was really tatty so we've had it removed and completely renovated with new canvas and head lining. She's been rewired and had a new split charge system fitted (a system which charges a separate 12v leisure battery in the engine bay and also allows for 240v hook up at camp sites). This powers the new interior LED lights, the sink tap and the radio. The system also powered the fridge but we found it was flattening the leisure battery in about 2 days (unless we used 240v hook up - which we wanted to avoid). We therefore decided to fit a 180w solar panel to the roof and this now charges a separate leisure battery in the van which is enough to power the fridge continually as well as a few 12v USB ports. 

This is the original Devon interior from 1979

We have removed, sanded down and re-stained all of the original wooden furniture and then re-fitted it over a newly tiled floor. All the door cards and interior panels have also been replaced. In fact the only jobs now remaining are to have the seats recovered, fit some new curtains and have the original rusty wheels sand blasted and spruced up. Then she will be ready to take camping next year.

The new floor & renovated interior furniture 

Of course there are always other jobs to do with a van of this age. I also want to fit a gas heater so we can use her in winter and a separate bottle fridge between the 2 front seats, also powered by the solar panel. 

For a more thorough tour, see the video at the start of this post. 

Part 2 of the camper van tour, where we have done some further upgrades including reupholstering her and renovated the wheels can be seen here.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Bowfell - Mountain Profile

Height: 2959 feet (902 meters)
Area: Southern Fells

Bowfell is the 6th highest mountain the Lake District. It's pyramid shaped profile stands at the head of the Great Langdale, Eskdale and Langstrath valleys.

It forms part of a continuous horseshoe ridge of high rocky ground from Crinkle Crags at the south eastern end to Slight Side at the south western end, with Great End and the Scafell Massif occupying its northern apex.

Angle Tarn sits in a glacial corrie under the steep eastern crags of Bowfell. A cluster of much smaller tarns called '3 tarns' (but varying between 1 and 5 bodies of water depending on weather) nestle in the col between Bowfell and Crinkle Crags.  

Bowfell is most commonly climbed from Stool End Farm in the Great Langdale valley via the 'Band', or as part of a ridge walk from Crinkle Crags. It can also be climbed from the Eskdale or Mosedale valleys from where its steep gully scarred southern aspect (Bowfell Links) can be best appreciated.

Bowfell Walks :-

: from Oxendale via Crinkle Crags
from The Band & Climbers Traverse (and then on to Scafell Pike)
from the Band & Climbers Traverse in Winter

Bowfell Summit View Panorama

Crinkle Crags and Bowfell over the Oxendale valley

Bowfell Links from Shelter Crags, at the northern end of Crinkle Crags
Bowfell and Esk Pike from Esk Hause

Bowfell over Angle Tarn

Great Slab and the Boulderfield from Rossett Pike

A Classic Lakeland View - The Great Slab on Bowfell

Bowfell Summit, looking south over Crinkle Crags

Bowfell summit panorama west - towards the Scafells

Bowfell summit panorama east - towards Langdale

Friday, December 25, 2020

My Top 10 Best Lake District Mountain Photographs

 I can’t get out and up into the fells at the moment for reasons explained in my previous post and so I’ve been trawling through my photos from the last few years and have selected my favourite 10. I thought I would stoop to the title of  ‘Top 10 Best ...’ as I read somewhere that this is a favoured search term on google eg. ‘Top 10 Best Smart Phones’, ‘Top 10 Best Oil Tankers’, ‘Top 10 Stickiest Glues’ etc. So here we go. Drum roll please.

In no particular order ...

1) Let’s start at ‘Lakes Level’ with a lovely Autumn scene looking over a glass calm Grasmere towards everyone’s favourite mini-mountain, Helm Crag and its bigger brother across Dunmail Raise, Seat Sandal. A circuit of Grasmere on a fine day is always a joyous affair but particularly so in autumn when the trees are at their very best.

Grasmere with Helm Crag & Seat Sandal

2) This is Side Pike on the path up to Lingmoor Fell. I love this view, with the dry stone wall, the heather and the Langdale Pikes in the background. It’s a lovely little fell within 30 mins walk from Blea Tarn. Well worth a visit at any time of year but even better in late Summer when the heather is in bloom.

Side Pike in late Summer

3) Another low level view. This one in winter from the old Walna Scar Road on a walk up to Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man. The view is looking over to Wetherlam and when the sheep turned round to look at me, it made for the perfect Lakeland winter picture.

Wetherlam in Winter

4) This next picture was taken from the summit of Grasmoor in the late evening during a summer wild camp. The light seeping through the clouds was just stunning and reflected beautifully off Loweswater and the Irish Sea. 

Loweswater Gold

5) Next is another winter scene. This is Dow Crag (left) and Coniston Old Man (right) from the same hike as picture 3) was taken. It looks quite calm and serene but the wind chill was around -15 degrees C as it was blowing a hoolie! 

Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man 

6) This next picture is of Ullswater with Gowbarrow Fell and the Great & Little Mell Fells in the background. The Ullswater Steamer and its wake sets the scene nicely. The picture was taken on a hike of the Deepdale Horseshoe in late November.

Ullswater from Thornbrow End

7) This photo was taken from the summit of Bessyboot and looks down the Borrowdale valley over Derwent Water and towards Skiddaw in its lovely winter apron.

Snowline on Skiddaw

8) This picture was taken on a winter hike of the Kentmere Horseshoe. I had hiked the route clockwise so the view is looking back over the ridge I had just hiked. The scene appears almost alpine with the 3 peaks of Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick in their winter coats.

The Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick Ridge

9) This is the view that will reward you if you make the easy climb up onto Rannerdale Knotts by the banks of Crummock Water. In fact you don’t even have to make it to the summit as this picture was taken from a small promontory about half way up. The view is of Mellbreak, a stunning mountain dominating the western shore of the lake. 

Mellbreak over Crummock Water

10) One the of best winter hikes in Lakeland must be the classic route up Helvellyn via Striding Edge and Swirral Edge. I was lucky to have a perfect calm, cold winters day for this hike. The view is looking back along the route I had already hiked, along Swirral Edge and towards Helvellyn.

Helvellyn over Swirral Edge

11) I know I said the top 10 best photos but having just shown shown you Swirral Edge in winter, it would be remiss of me not to show you Striding Edge from the same day. So this is the view that greets you as you stand at the start of this magnificent arete just before you take the plunge. Just stunning!

Striding Edge & Helvellyn

So that’s its. My 'best 11' fell photos of the past few years. Hopefully more to come in 2021 if this bleedin virus does one!  

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Lock Down Ramblings

 This has been the longest time I have not visited the Lake District in 20 years. The current pandemic has no doubt imposed similar restrictions on many others but as the rules and regulations have ebbed and flowed over the past 9 months I have made the decision to just stay away. This is partly due to my perspective as a health care worker who has seen first hand the devastating effects that the coronavirus can have on some people, including previously fit & healthy individuals like myself. I have also started seeing the worrying longer term effects of the virus in some people. This was highlighted recently when one of the first Covid patients in my hospital, who was applauded out of critical care in March, died recently from multi-organ failure as a result of so called 'Long Covid'. This really is a nasty virus that can potentially leave life changing symptoms in its wake. It would be foolish to risk contracting it through unnecessary risk. 

 In healthcare we consider the individual risks and benefits of each treatment option and when I consider the risks of me travelling to Lakes (for myself and others) weighed against the benefits (for just me), I cannot justify travelling out of my region for pleasure. Of course each persons risks v benefit decision will be individual to them and I am certainly not trying to impose my choices on others. But I would urge careful consideration, caution and good old common sense. Hopefully it won't be too much longer before the situation changes. The encouraging vaccine news over recent weeks has provided a light at the end of the tunnel and being a healthcare worker does have its advantages in that I am likely to be one of the first to receive the injections (and probably then help to provide them!). 

 And so instead, I have been trawling through old photos, video's and routes and updating the blog, including a new domain name. So welcome to summitandcamp.com. I've also added many new YouTube video's of summit view panoramas with all the view points labelled (I'm hoping to get all 214 eventually) and 3D Fly-Through video's of some of the classic Lakeland routes that I have hiked. Again, I am hoping to increase these over time. There are 2 new pages on the blog dedicated to these niche videos. 

So no trip reports or wild camps for the time being. The mountains will always be there, and their absence will no doubt enhance our appreciation of them when normality eventually resumes. Stay safe.  


Thursday, May 14, 2020

An Ode to the Summit Slug

A while ago, I wrote this post about ‘Summit Slugs’ (aka ‘summit hogs’) and my general feelings about them. The response was overwhelmingly positive, which was reassuring, as I thought it might just be me being grumpy. But I am clearly not the only one who gets annoyed by this behaviour, as can be seen in this thread on the ‘walking forum’ where the post was discussed at length. 

Despite the current Covid-19 restrictions being slowly lifted, the sensible amongst us will be following Mountain Rescue and lakedistrict.gov advice, and staying away from the region. Of course, there are those amongst us who will interpret the guidance to suit their own agenda and will no doubt be hiking the fells regardless this weekend. Which got me thinking of our old friend, the summit slug. Maybe, just maybe their days are now numbered. Maybe the idea of stubbornly occupying the busiest footfall area of a hill will no longer seem attractive to them. Maybe there is now a clear moral reason, in addition to common courtesy, to stop this behaviour and finally pour salt on our slugs. 

Anyway, here is my ‘Ode to the Summit Slug’. Let’s hope some of them read it !

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Playing around with Tarps in the Garden .... again !

22nd April 2020

It's been funny year. I had planned to complete the Wainwrights before turning 50 in June. I'd booked off a number of days in March and April, plus a week at Easter and another in late May. That should have been plenty of time to climb the remaining 35, especially as most of them are clumped together in the Northern Fells. That was the idea anyway. Unfortunately though, a particularly stubborn virus with grand ideas of world domination has interfered with my carefully laid plans. And to add insult to injury, the recent weather has been glorious. We are now 4 weeks, or is it 5, into the Covid-19 lockdown. I lose count. Being an NHS key worker has thankfully spared me from the boredom of weekday 9-5 lockdown but there was no escape from my planned Easter week off. So having completed my list of garden chores I thought it would be a good time to update my old tarp pitching video on YouTube from 2015. Since then, nearly all my wild camps have been under a tarp and I've become much more adept at pitching them. I've learnt which shelters work well in the Cumbrian fells, particularly on windy summits where I seem to find myself more often than not. So here is my updated video showing, in my humble opinion, the best 5 tarp configurations using 2 trekking poles and my 9x5 foot silnylon tarp (the solo tarp, £55 from https://www.backpackinglight.co.uk/).

The A-Frame and the Cave are probably the least useful for my needs, the former being only suitable for really calm weather and the latter as a 'hunker down in a storm' shelter. Others may find them helpful though. The A-Frame would be the best option for a sheltered woodland camp and can be pitched between 2 trees instead of trekking poles. The Cave would be much more useful with a bigger tarp, but that's not really my thing. 

The other 3 shelters (the lean-to, the 'closed end' lean-to and the Flying-V) are my favourites and ones I use most. They can all stave off the wind which is usually my primary objective, and they all represent what wild camping with a tarp is all about for me. Wide open vistas, a real feeling of space and an open view of the sky. One of the best things about the tarp and/or bivvy is being able to lie supine in the comfort of a down bag and slowly allow your night vision to soak up the celestial arena. To fall asleep under a pitch black sky studded with countless stars and bisected by a glowing milky way that is hardly ever seen in 'urbandom'. To have wandering satellites, distant galaxies and streaking meteors for company.  You just don't get that experience in a tent. Of course its not always like that and I've had plenty of camps where the weather has unexpectedly turned for the worse. Where wind and rain have rattled the tarp and sleep has been sporadic, but even those experiences are special. Yep … I must admit that I've really fallen for the tarp. 

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Deepdale Horseshoe

Date: 29/11/2019
Start/Finish: Bridgend/Patterdale
Wainwrights: Birks, St Sunday Crag, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Hartsop above How
Distance: 10.5 miles
Max Elevation: 2864 feet (Fairfield)
Total Ascent: 3415 feet
Time Taken: 6-7 Hours

The Route - Anticlockwise from Bridgend
It was 10 years ago when I last hiked this route. On that day I was clagged in the whole way round and saw nothing. I'd made a mental do it again in fair weather and well …. it was fair weather, so it was time for 'The Deepdale Horseshoe round 2'. This is a classic route. Tougher that the Fairfield horseshoe although not as far. I'd walked it clockwise 10 years ago and remembering the scary descent down Cofa Pike I decided that anti-clockwise would be more prudent, and that does seem to be the most popular way to tackle it.

A 10 minute video of the whole walk


Black Crags


Views over the Grisedale valley

Frosty ground on the path to Birks

The onwards route to St Sunday Crag
I missed the path up onto Birks so had to take a slight diversion back up to its summit.  


Views to Helvellyn from St Sunday Crag

St Sunday Crag summit

Mist and glare over the Deepdale valley

The onward route to Cofa Pike and Fairfield

Grisedale Tarn

Cofa Pike
It's a steepish scramble up Cofa Pike, unless there is an easier route that I missed. The use of hands was required at certain points.

The Deepdale Valley

Dollywagon Pike, Nethermost Pike and Helvellyn

Looking back over St Sunday Crag

Grisedale Tarn

Fairfield summit views

The path to Hart Crag

Looking down the Rydal valley to Windermere

The head of the Deepdale valley

Hart Crag summit views towards Dove Crag …

… and back to Fairfield

The Deepdale valley and the forward path to Hartsop above How

Views back over to St Sunday Crag

Hartsop above How summit view 

The forward view back to Bridgend ...

… and the backward view to Hart Crag

Sun just setting on Angletarn Pikes and Place Fell

Nearly back, in the fading light

When I did this route 10 years ago it took me around 5 hours. Today it more like 7 hours. This may be because I'm now 10 years older and less fit … Or it may be because the ground conditions were quite icy and careful foot placement was required. I'm going with the latter ….