Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Illgill Head and Whin Rigg

up on top of the screes, not getting too close to the edge

I had a great time mixing up camping and running at the weekend.  The weather was great, very mild and I thought I should try camping when it's not so great.  My main objective for today was to camp in the rain.  I know it sounds daft, but I wanted to practice getting my tent up and down when conditions weren't ideal.  I was also planning to run-camp-run again but the weather the next day was so bad that I decided to leave it at run-camp (I am supposed to be having fun after all).

Here is a map of the run the night before:

Here are my notes from my tent on the first night:

"10.40pm and I'm all set in my tent.  I had so much fun on Friday that I thought I would try camping again.

Kirk Fell from the car park
I'm at Wasdale Head, camping at the Wasdale Head Inn campsite.  £5 per night and great facilities, modern toilets and showers and a pub!  I have resisted the temptation to visit the pub this evening but might swing by in the morning to see what breakfast is like.

I had a late start tonight.  I finsished work just after 5pm and then got caught in some traffic, arriving at Wasdale Head for about 6pm.  By the time I had signed in, paid and got changed into my running gear, it was about 6.20pm.

There were various options for this evening's run.  The best would have been an ascent of Kirk Fell, around to Pillar, on to bag Steeple and Red Pike and then down the Dore Head scree back to the campsite.  I knew that I could only do this option if I had plenty of time and didn't want to attempt it in low cloud.

Another option was an ascent of Kirk Fell and then back down Black Sail Pass.  This would obviously be quicker.

the route goes up over the trees on the left over the screes
which are in the middle of the picture.
When I got to the Wasdale Head Inn and saw the cloud around Kirk Fell, I opted for a safer option: a run over the top of the screes, coming back along the road.  Although the screes were also in cloud, I felt more confident navigating over them and thought that it wouldn't matter if I ended up running back along the road in the dark.

path liable to flooding
From the Wasdale Head Inn, I took the footpath along to the NT campsite.  There is a sign that says that the path is liable to flooding.  Too bloody right!  There were several large puddles to negotiate and two river crossings but I emerged relatively unscathed at the campsite.

At Brackenclose, the mountain rescue landrovers were out.  I recognised a work colleague operating the radio.  I don't think he recognised me and I didn't hang around due to the soon to be fading daylight.

Passing through the campsite, I picked up the path along the wall that leads up towards the top of Illgill Head.  As the ascents evens out a bit, and the wall bends around a depression, the true top is seen and there is another few hundred metres of climbing to do.  Here I left the wall and headed south to the summit.

There is a nice gentle grassy saddle between Illgill Head and Whin Rigg, a bit muddy in parts but overall a delight to run on.  The cloud came down at points but I was able to make my way over the path towards the pools just before the ground rises again to reach the summit of Whin Rigg.

The track splits in several places and it gives the option of venturing very near to the edge.  I did this for a while.  It really is an amazing sight looking down the screes into Wast Water.

Whin Rigg is about a mile away.  From here, there is an option of a gentle or steep downhill to the foot of the lake.  I took the steep way, cutting down to the path alongside the impressive Greathall Gill.

moody Wasdale tops from Illgill Head shelter cairn

grassy saddle looking over to the Irish Sea and Seatallan, Middle Fell and Buckbarrow

grassy ridge run

down to Wast Water

from Whin Rigg

steep descent down to cross at Lund Bridge

Lund Bridge
At the bottom of the descent, I crossed a few fields and then across Lund Bridge up to the road.

It was about four miles along the road back to the campsite.  The light was fading at this point but not enough to need to get my headtorch out.

As I ran along the road, the Wasdale Mountain Rescue team passed in convoy."

I later learned that they had been out to a double incident around Piers Gill.

all calm at the bottom

Wasdale's amazing screes.  They continue at this angle for another 250ft down into the lake

Wasdale Mountain Rescue leaving
"The run along the road was pleasant enough, my mind was on getting my tent set up and getting settled.

The tent setting up routine is much smoother now.  I did it without the back up of having my car nearby.

I've also managed to pack better, meaning that there is some spare room in my bag.  Some of this will be taken up by additional food and clothing needed for an extra day but it will make packing easier if I am able to get everything in without a squeeze."

I had a veggie hotpot for dinner.  A bit unusual, it was like mashed potatoes with vegetables.  After a coffee, I settled down and wrote this."


morning campsite
My plan for the morning was to take on the first route I had looked at.  I woke up to heavy rain.  I did want rain.  I set about organising things and did a good job of packing from inside my minuscule tent.

I then put my waterproofs on and put the rest of the tent away.  When I stepped outside, I saw that the cloud was very low.  Very very low.

I had a little run over to the toilets and back, just to prove to myself that I could have run and then decided to not bother running this morning.

In summary, I'm pleased with the refinement to my camping set up, packing etc.  I had a good run last night and a good experience camping.  No more long runs now before the GL3D.  I'm as ready as I can be and I'm looking forward to it.

wet and cloudy campsite

the screes this morning

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