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Monday Mini-Adventure

The sun has been shining! Time for a mini-adventure to try out our ‘new-to-us’ tents before deciding which one I will take to Arran. With Teen 2 along for the adventure we headed up to Hodge Close, near Coniston. An intersting and slightly spooky old quarry which we’ve been to a few times before but we’d never been up to the two little reservoirs just above the quarry itself. What a great place! The pictures can tell you the rest…

P.s. think the blue ‘Lightwave’ tent wins the honour of being my home for a week on Arran! Not quite a stealth wild camp tent but feels so much roomier than the Banshee and is lighter in weight.

The kindness of strangers…

I’ve mentioned in previous posts about the possible need for a different tent to take around the Arran Coastal Way, the smallest tent I had was a great little Eurohike one which had never let us down but weighed in at over 3kg. I’ve spent weeks wading through Ebay to find a half decent one that I could actually afford, that was a more reasonable weight of 2kg or less, and failed miserably. In a last ditch attempt I put a shout out on some Outdoor Gear Facebook pages just asking if any one had one they were upgrading, chucking out, or willing to sell. I thought I would get back some snidey comments about never finding anything for my budget but how wrong was I!?

I had a whole host of helpful comments about where to look, giving advice of what to look for, offering tents for sale as close to my budget (which wasn’t much!) as they could go. I was extremely grateful for all offers but the one that blew me away was a lovely lady offering me an older tent, still in great condition, which she just wasn’t using anymore. At first I didn’t catch on and kept asking for the price but it turned out she was actually offering it to me for free!! WOW !! Not just any old cheap tent, an older model Lightwave T1 Cylq… not only that, she posted it to me and wouldn’t let me pay the postage either! She had upgraded and wanted someone to make good use of her old tent and obviously thought I might be a likely candidate.

BUT…the story doesn’t end there readers (!) The day it arrived I had another message from someone else offering me a older Vango Banshee 200 for ‘cheap as chips’ money! I didn’t want to appear greedy so explained I had just got one but that my son would love it so we could go wild camping. So now we will have two great little tents to go adventuring with. So, so happy!

The kindness of strangers… x

The Dovedale Round – Wainwrights, Birketts, Hewitts and Nuttalls (and lots of swearing!)

More recently I’ve shied away from doing any higher level walks due to health and worry about keeping up with other people (I’m a plodder!) So when a group of Home Ed friends said they were doing The Dovedale Round I wasn’t convinced. However, Teen 2 decided he wanted to give it a go, and being assured it wasn’t too steep, off we went.

Of course, if I’d been a bit more sensible, I would have checked the contour lines on the map beforehand but maybe that would have put me off completely!

We followed this route description (Walklakes – Dovedale Round) but did it backwards, so in theory we had the steepest part first and then a nice gentle wander along the ridge on the way back (yes, this was advised by the same person who said it wasn’t too steep!) The route takes in High Hartsop Dodd, Little Hart Crag, Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Hartsop Above How, Gale Crag and a few other lumps and bumps – 5 Wainwrights, 6 Birketts, 3 Hewitts and 3 Nuttalls…phew, no wonder it was tough!

The younger and fitter ones in the group seemed to have boundless energy and made it look easy while I had resorted to counting 40 steps, stopping, 40 steps, stopping (my strategy for coping with tough hills!) There were a few choice words along the way muttered descreetly to myself. The really steep descent on a loose stone path at the end was almost my breaking point – but WE DID IT!

The sun had shone all day, not a drop of rain, just a cold wind on the tops so almost perfect walking weather. The views were absolutely amazing and getting up high was fantastic, even through all the pain! After all the moaning and groaning, I’m really glad we did it, just goes to show how much more our bodies are capable of than we think they are. Teen 2 was a star, always checking back with me to make sure I was ok, making sure I knew about loose rocks and wet slippery bits.. proud mum moments!

Down but not out…

I haven’t been out much this last week or so, the weather has been pants here and work seems to have taken over my life! When the sun has decided to put in an appearance it’s usually been on days when I’ve had to be taxi-driver for the teenagers. All in all, frustrating and I’m tired and grouchy (had you guessed!?)

Anyway…a quick update on how I’m getting on with getting bits and pieces for doing the Arran Coastal Walk in May. Firstly I’ve picked up a nearly new Down 2-3 season sleeping bag which is fantastic and a nearly new pair of Craghoppers Kiwi Pro-Stretch trousers which are as comfy as all the ladies who rave about them said they were! I have a new pair of walking shoes (don’t really like boots) from Karrimor on their way and I’ve decided I really need another tent…3kg is just too much weight to carry. The rucksack we have is not ideal but this will have to be last on my list of things I can afford, so that would be a bonus.

So, things are ticking over, my birthday is in three days so fingers crossed a tent appears!!

New-to-me – Big Agnes Insulated Air Core

I’m soooo happy!! I’ve been looking for an affordable sleeping mat which wasn’t the size or weight of a small family car for a while. After getting a bit too used to my lovely thick self-inflating one I take when family camping, I really didn’t think I would find a comfortable, lightweight and compact one that I could backpack with that was within my budget.

I sighed as all the ones I watched on Ebay suddenly went from 99p to astronomical prices in the blink of an eye and gave up on my dream of owning a Thermarest. It was then that Mr.Gnomead spotted someone selling a Big Agnes mat on one of the Facebook selling pages… not Thermarest so I wasn’t too impressed! However after looking at these online and for the price they were asking it was worth a shot.

It’s a 3 season pad, has Primaloft Insulation layer with a comfort level down to -10c, inflates to 2.5″ thick, has a water-repellent coating, thick 40 denier fabric and packs into a carry sack the size of a nalgene bottle and weighs approx 800g… what’s not to like? and only been used twice since new!

So… I am now the proud owner of a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core for not very much money (compared to second-hand Thermarests) and the best thing of all is that it is super easy to inflate, and really comfortable for a side-sleeper like me…Yay!

Just like this one!

The moral of this story is…if you are on a budget, be patient, don’t get your head stuck into what you ‘must’ have and be willing to try other makes, and buying second-hand means you get better quality for a fraction of the price of new.

One more thing knocked off my dream list…

Staveley – Potter Tarn and Gurnal Dubs Circular

It’s been amazing weather in the Lake District this week so after being inspired by the brilliant film ‘My Big White Thighs’ I decided this was my chance to get in early with a wild swim, walking up to a tarn that had been recomended by a friend.

The first part of the walk is a bit of a climb and I’d woken up feeling decidedly rough and wobbly. I know I said in my last post that I would take enjoyment over endurance anyday, but I guess sometimes endurance wins, or maybe just my pure bloody minded stubbornness!! It was a struggle but I was determined to get that swim at the top.

Up and Over…

With a bit of quiet swearing and a lot of self motivating(!), I made it up to Potter Tarn and had the place to myself while I had a drink and listened to the birds. This tarn has an interesting concrete dam which you can clamber up on. Apparently this supplies Croppers Paper Mill in Burneside and the present water level is around half of it’s 1990 level, which is when the dam was lowered. The outflow runs down to Ghyll Pool further down the hill and then goes on to Croppers.

I reached Gurnal Dubs just as another swimmer was donning their wetsuit (ha ha wetsuit??). She insisted it was lovely so the game was on. I found a secluded spot and was just about to whip my leggings off when she appeared around the bend with her partner following her along the bank… nearly got more than they bargained for!! After a little chat they went back to their beach and I swiftly changed and went in for a dip. .. oh my lordy, lordy it was COLD!! I did manage to swim for about five- ten minutes but then I stupidly decided to dunk my head under … I’m sure my brain froze for a second, I’m so glad I had my woolly hat when I made a quick exit. Amazingly though I did feel better than I had all morning!

Beautiful Gurnal Dubs
Woolly Hat – Forced grin!
Mini Trangia behaved itself today – hot drink needed!

A hot noodle pot and hot coffee later and I headed back down to take the Dales way back to Staveley (another little bit done!) This is a lovely part of the Dales Way running right alongside the river.

A shaky start but ended up being a great day, so glad I carried on.

The whole walk route can be found here: Staveley Tarns Circular

Endurance or enjoyment?

I read a post on one of my favourite Facebook pages the other day where a lady was asking about completing the Arran Coastal Way in less days than the suggested six/seven because the daily mileage didn’t seem high enough (slightly paraphrased!) I think I was tired and grumpy and my hackles rose just a little bit. For a brief moment I felt as if my efforts weren’t quite good enough. I am planning to take the whole six/seven days, take in the scenery, explore the caves, swim in the sea and plod along happily… I got over myself!

I’m a 46 (ahem) year old mother, staring the menopause straight in the face, a dodgy hip and 17 years of hypothyroidism under my belt. I never have been and never will be super fit, super energetic and super enthusiastic about notching up as many miles in a day that I possibly can… and it doesn’t matter.

It’s so interesting reading other people’s posts and blogs, finding out about their adventures and their plans, some I would jump at given the chance, and others I would run a mile from (if I had enough energy!) Everyone is different, with different bodies, different opportunities, different wishes and that’s what makes the world go around.

My plan to walk the Arran Coastal Way on my own, wild camping, carrying all my equipment may be a drop on the ocean for some people but it’s a biggie for me, one that makes me nervous and excited at the same time. The reasons are many, life is short and it’s too easy to get dragged along in the everyday of ‘getting by’. So, enjoyment or endurance? Personally, I would choose enjoyment every time.