Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Wild Camping in Buttermere - A Summary

The Pitch on Fleetwith Pike
So, I'm back from my first wild camping experience and I thought it would be useful (probably for nobody in particular and most likely just for me!) to do a post about the experience, the lessons learnt and the whole thing in general.

I wanted to be a bit more prolific with the posts whilst in the hills but as predicited a mobile signal was intermittant. Additionally, it takes a bit of discipline to stop what you're doing and fumble about with a tiny phone to write a post. Note to self: Must be more disciplined!

I think for a first trip it was a success, and that includes the fact that I learnt a few serious lessons as regards the equipment. I set out with the mindset that I'd do this on my budget, with whatever gear I could get away with and I achieved this in all respects. However, (and now I have to eat humble pie) after carrying my fully loaded pack for a day and hiking around the hills, I'm seeing that lightening up a little would have it's benefits. I'm not about to try to get my base weight down to that of an anorexic calender girl, but I could shave some weight in terms of lighter gear and being a bit ruthless with the luxuries! On this trip, I took 3litres of water in total (I know, a real idiot) and I think in the winter/ spring months I would need to carry no more that 1 litre at a time and just bring my water filter for peace of mind. I think I had water paranoia at the time! This alone would save me around 2KG. At this point I should prob point out that I didn't bring my DSLR with me in the end. One test haul of my pack decided that for me instantly!

So what else? Well I could also save around 1.5KG on replacing my Berghaus Anteaus rucksack with a specialist lightweight pack like those available from Golite and such like. They're relatively inexpensive at the moment and I could go for a 60 litre Golite Gust pack for around £50. These two changes combined could save me around 3.5KGs!

The other area where I think space and weight is the biggest issue (as well as my tent) is my sleeping bag. Mine currently weighs in at 2KG with the stuff sack. To do something about this I need to spend some serious money, but once again I could be looking at approx a 1.5KG saving if I considered a lightweight down-filled bag. These bags are around £250 and I don't think I'm ready to commit to the lightweight movement this much just yet! Besides, I could have a Terra Nova Voyager for that and save myself over 2KGs!

In summary then on the weight issue, I think I'll go for the lighter pack and less water solution with a little more compromise on the weight of my food for the next trip and see how this pans out.

All things considered, I've got this feeling of wanting to be back out there again - soon! It was a liberating feeling just to be out there, especially knowing that we we're constrained by time in the same way most walkers are. There were no dramatic sunsets or sunrises on this occasion but I guess there is plenty of time for that and its more motivation to get out there again.

All in all an excellent trip and we're already planning our next one as the weather improves. Back to the maps and the researching again for another destination. If you are thinking of doing this, get out there and you won't look back.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Fleetwith Muppets

We're here and we're set up and ready for a cold night on the hill. The day went to plan apart from the packs were far too heavy. We're cooking our evening meals now as the light fades and the stove and cooking system is working perfectly. So, food to eaten (including some chocolate) and then its bed for me! More on how the night went in the morning!

The First Leg - Buttermere to Red Pike,

So we're high enough out of the valley in Buttermere to get a signal so here is the first post. We arrived last night about 9.40 and made it to the bridge hotel for a few cheeky
pints before closing. We spent a few giggley moments re-organising our packs and settled down for the night. The youth hostel in Buttermere makes the logistical process behind this trip so much easier. We ordered packed lunches last night to save time and its not bad value either. We collected these and set off carrying what feels to me like my own weight on my back. It feels strangely relaxing to be setting off into the amazing landscape and as usual its a humbling experience whatever the weather. The scree of red pike awaits

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Some early lessons...

Over the last two days I've been making the final preparations for my first wild camping trip. My primary concern was arriving at the situation where we're up in the fells and I find I've forgotten something crucial - like my sleeping bag. Having packed everything into my rucksack I have a new concern, it is one that I'm sure plagues every wild camper at first, and this is weight. I've tried to only bring the essentials but it feels like I'm carrying the sherpa! One lesson learned - must buy lighter and smarter equipment. There is still chance for me to prove this can be done on a budget though and I suspect even the items I deem 'essential' now could be stripped out, but we'll see. I'll be posting some pics and text on this blog over the trip (providing I have a signal) so check back over the next few days for some ridiculousness!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

More Than Just Another Friday Night

The mist creeping across Buttermere

Somehow, despite my incessant pestering and generally being a little twerp, Paul went ahead and committed himself and so last week we finalised the details for our first wild camping trip. The date is set and Friday 14th March (all being well with the weather) will see us spend the night 2500ft above sea level whilst suppressing our whimpers for mummy with White Russians - the drink of choice for the discerning wild camper - don't you know! If its good enough for The Dude, His Dudeness, you know, El Duderino - it's good enough for me!

After all this time of craving the opportunity to go wild camping and spending sleepless nights planning it - I don't think it has quite hit home that we're going yet. The plan as it stands is to leave work and make our way over to
Buttermere YHA on Thursday 13th - drop in to The Bridge Hotel for a few swift Buttermere Ales and get some kip ready for the early start the next day. The plan is to head up Red Pike early Friday morning and (having filled up on a good old YHA cooked breakfast and collected our pre-ordered packed lunches) follow the same route Charl and I followed back in February.

I test packed my new
Baughaus Antaeus Rucksack tonight - just to er...... well fit the 'BIOFIT' system under load, and I have to admit that for a cheap bag its pretty comfy to carry. I guess I had around 15KG inside it (this is an extreme test weight) and it sat nicely on my hips and walking up and down the stairs felt quite balanced. One more problem solved.

Stormshield hydration bladder with Microban tastes like how I imagine drinking from a condom might taste. Of course this is just speculation because of course I haven't tried this....honest. I think I'll have to grin and bare it though as I can't see there is much I can do about this and perhaps with time it will wear off?

After a few Black Russians the other night, Paul was introduced to my collection of alcohol stoves. The room was a bit
erm....spinny at the time but even so I got the distinct impression that he didn't trust them one bit! Despite whatever plans he has though, I shall be field testing the Nion 2 and the Isofly with Heineken pot setup and I'll try and post some video of my home tests with the stoves, cooking some spaghetti bolognese flavoured Bean Feast - with the aid of the pot cosy, of course. This is most likely what I'll be cooking as my evening meal whilst out wild camping on the 14th as it's filling, healthy and fairly calorific for the weight - provided you're not a 'gram weeney'!

All in all I'm excited and now we just need to get there and hope the weather isn't wet or too windy. I'm sure the dude will adide.