We have had quite a week so far, starting on Monday 24th May, which was a public holiday in Britain, catching us out a little as our planned bus legs were not available. So we got my mum to drop us off at Flint station at 8:00 am, rather than catching the buses to Mold and Chester.
From Flint we took a train to Chester, then to Warrington Bank Quay, changed onto the train to Lancaster, and then on to another to Barrow in Furness, and finally to Ravenglass on the Cumbrian Coast. Interesting train journeys, and relatively quick.
We then transferred onto the Ravenglass and Eskdale narrow gauge railway for the trip to Dalegarth in Eskdale (about 7 miles and 40 mins away). This was great fun, and the second time we have used a narrow gauge railway on this trip!
At Dalegarth, we buckled on our rather heavy packs (19kg and 14kg for me and Lynn respectively) and hiked over the fells from Eskdale to Wasdale Head, via Burntmoor Tarn. It was a lovely day, topping up our sun tans nicely, and dropping us off at the national Trust campsite in Wasdale, at the foot of Scafell Pike (highest mountain in England).
We camped over night, feasting on Beans and Creamed Rice for our evening meal! Our new VangoAlpha 200 tent worked quite well, but is very small for me (1.83 metres), especially as both Lynn and I have broad shoulders, so it is quite narrow for us too! Kept us dry and warm though.
Day 2, Tuesday 25th dawned a bit grey and changeable, but looked good enough for a walk, so we used the HollowStones route to climb ScafellPike. The walk up was mostly nice, with good views until near the top. It’s a bit steep and rocky on the path, but quite easy going. Near the top, the weather closed in in, and it was cloudy, windy and very cold. The wind chill must have taken it to sub zero.
So we set off down the mountain down the Corridor Route, where it quickly warmed up again, and we enjoyed quite an exciting walk down, as this route has some quite exposed ‘scambles’ along it. We didn’t bother going all the way to Sty Head tarn, turning straight down to Wasdalehead and back to the tent. John and Debbie, withRachel and David (their kids) were camped nearby, so we had a cup of tea with them while we caught up, and the dined on beans and sausage and more creamed rice.
Camping recipe number 1 – put a square of Lindt 70% dark chocolate into each serving of creamed rice and allow to melt and mix in. This is a superb variation on creamed rice.
Overnight it rained very heavily, and the tent performed very well again. It was still raining in the morning, so rather than hang around and go for a day walk and get a lift out, we decided to walk out from Wasdale, so set off about 10:45 from the camp shop, back up to Burntmoor Tarn, where we stopped at the abandoned lodge for some Irish stew. We had a couple of navigational issues on the way over, as the cloud was well down, and the paths were all running streams, so it was very easy to miss path junctions etc. But common sense and experience got us back on track. However, our packs are just not water proof, and a lot of our gear was not in dry bags, so our packs slowly filled up with water, and by the time we were starting down from the tops, they both weighed 3-4 kilos more than when we started. Next purchase – dry bags!
At Dalegarth station I enjoyed some Cumberland Sausage in a bun, and Lynn some soup to warm us up, and some hot chocolate, before enduring a very cold ride back to Ravenglass in the outdoor coaches of the R&ER. Fortunately, when we got to Ravenglass, the campsite turned out to be quite comfortable, and the weather wamed up, so we managed to get most of our clothes mostly dry, using spin driers, tumble driers and radiators before going to sleep.
Day 4, Thursday, was a bit grey and overcast when we set off, but the journey up the Cumbrian Coast on the 7:42 train to Carlisle was a magnificent couple of hours, including passing the Nuclear Waste Disposal plant at Sellafield. The train was full of plant workers, who really are just a bunch of normal people commuting to an ordinary job, and were nice people to talk too!
The ride to Glasgow central through the Scottish lowlands was a bit ordinary, but very pleasant, and the walk from Glasgow Central to Glasgow Queen Street gave us a glimpse of what Glasgow is like (at least in the centre!).
The 3.5 hour ride from Glasgow to Fort William was spectacular in parts, but was a bit grey and drizzly all the way. Incredible stations in the middle of nowhere, where grizzled trampers with huge packs got off and disappeared into the mist! Fort William was also grey and dark feeling when we got there, so we bought some supplies in case the camp shop was shut, then trudged the 3 km to Glen Nevis campsite, where the camp shop was fully stocked with everything! The campsite was wet but we found a spot and piched our tent, and managed to feed ourselves with pasta salad without getting too wet. the weather seemed to keep on improving all evening.
Day 5, Friday 29th, dawned bright and clear, with a forecast of more of the same all day! So we got our gear together, an extra 1.5 litres of water and a huge amount of food, and set off for the summit of Ben Nevis. BN is 1344 metres high, but has a major path all the way to the top, making it a strenuous but easy walk, so we were joined by about 500 day trippers (not an exaggeration, may have actually been more) climbing in tee shirts with an anorak and sneakers and a bottle of spring water in their hands!
The walk up was so beautiful, the views breathtaking, but unfortunately our camera packed up at about 1000 metres, so we have very few photos, but many memories.
There was about 1-2 metres of snow on the top 50 metres of the mountain, so as we were poorly equipped (by our standards) we didn’t linger, just a quick kiss to celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary, then off again to walk down. The nice easy walk on ‘paved’ paths on the way up, became a hobble on uneven rocks on the way down, as the ‘pavers’ were just stones embedded into soil, so were not the easiest to negotiate. I actually got a blister on my toe near the bottom. Anyway, 8 hours after setting off, we arrived back at our starting point, very satisfied but absolutely knackered! 4 hours up, 4 hours down, not bad for a combined age of 104 years!
It remained a beautiful day until we went to bed at 22:30, and we managed to get all our gear properly dry in the sun, ready for the trip out.
Day 6, Saturday, started with a taxi ride to the station in Fort William, to catch the 7:42 to Glasgow. The weather was a lot better, so the scenery was even more spectacular. At Glasgow we caught the train to Aberdeen, where we were picked up by June and Alan, Lynn’s aunt and uncle, who are looking after us for a day or so before we go to Wales on Monday. A day of R&R sounds like a good idea!