At last, our weekend away finally arrived! One that was originally meant for Scotland, and for 6 of us, but none of that was to be. Instead, Sarah and I headed for the Lake District to take on the Helvellyn range from north to south via two wild camps, Scales Tarn and Grizedale Tarn.
Not much of what was originally planned actually panned out; one-by-one our compatriots dropped out for various reasons, complacency had us alter our first wild camp spot, and that damned south-westerly wind that has plagued our winter, tried to blow us off the ridge. Plus my Buffalo still hadn’t arrived so to remedy this, I popped into The Climbers Shop in Ambleside where, after weighing up it’s benefits over the Arc’Teryx Atom SV, I purchased a Mountain Equipment Fitzroy as a replacement insulating overlayer, but more on that later.
We made a super-early start on the Friday, (05:11 train from Sheffield), so as to make it to Ambleside in time for it’s awakening. We changed only once, in Manchester, and had reached Windermere just before 08:00. After purchasing a 3-day bus pass we set off for Ambleside, where we arrived after around 15-20 mins. We arrived well before anywhere was open and all this early morning travel had left me gasping for a coffee, so we replenished our spirits at Esquires, (some decent coffee there methinks), opposite the cinema.
We had ordered some New-Matic Grivel G12’s from Adventure Peaks, but upon arrival they had not them in stock, so G10 New-Matics had to suffice. We weren’t planning on doing anything so technical anyway. By the time we were sorted it was pushing 10:00, so being on ‘holiday’ we decided that another refreshment stop was in order, cue the pints of Hoegaarden! The lateral thinking afforded by such nutritious beverages had us check Sarah’s crampons, which turned out to have an extender bar fitted thus didn’t fit Sarah’s boots at all! We finished our sustenance and made haste, back in the direction of the Adventure Peaks store. Conveniently, it was shut for 5 mins, at least 10 in actuality but we were eventually sorted out. Anyhow, this kerfuffle was followed by a humid bus ride to Keswick, some sandwiches and another beer, before grabbing the bus out to the White Horse Inn at Scales.
We had intended to have a decent meal here before heading out early to our intended camp site at Scales Tarn. It turns out they stop serving food at 14:00! We’d arrived at ca. 14:15. Foiled, so another beer it was then, and not a very good one either. Balls!!!
Now for our next change of plan, for the sake of time and effort, we decided it would be best to camp on the other side of the main road. Leaving the pub, we walked back along the A66 until we could pick up the relevant path on the opposite side of the road.
Mountain Equipment Snowline -17C:
Not to be confused with the new, super light version, (Snowline SL), this bag is pretty awesome. The bag’s water resistant outer is made from ME’s proprietary sleeping bag fabric, Drilite Loft. This is capable of keeping spills and mild leaks away from the vetted, 750g, 93% Hungarian goose down which has a fill power of 750 cubic inches. The inner lining is super soft against the skin, double baffles on either side of the zip serve to prevent heat loss, and a drawcord pulls everything tight around your head, neck & shoulders, making the Snowline a very comfortable place to be!
n.b. Fill power is a measure of the down’s ‘loft’. It relates to it’s ability to trap air within its 3D structure, thus the higher the value, the more air is trappable in the down, and the more air is trapped the more it can be warmed by your body heat, thus contributing to the bags overall warmth.
Mountain Equipment Kongur jacket:
This heavyweight jacket, (my version now last season), has regularly been touted as bombproof, persistently being named as best waterproof jacket in many tests. I have to agree with those results, this thing has performed admirably, barring the inevitable water ingress at the cuffs and hem, (where the cuff meets your inner sleeve, and where the hem drawstring soaks up water), this jacket has kept me pretty much bone-dry, even during a 12-hour summer washout on Scafell Pike in the Lake District.
Being a 3 layer Gore-Tex Pro shell fabric, (with reinforced/higher denier face fabric panels in the relevant places, i.e. shoulders, arms and hips), this epic waterproofing and durability must inevitably come with somewhat reciprocal breathability, (it can get hot and sweaty in here when reasonably active!), however, water resistant pit zips and the double, (inner and outer), storm flaps on the main zip, mean that substantial venting is available which I find to be quite useful!
There are 4 external pockets, two being big enough to take an OS map, and one containing a plastic whistle attached to a section of cord! The double storm-flap with it’s drainage channel, is a boon when you’re active and generating masses of heat, allowing you to unzip the jacket fully whilst doing up the hook & loop fasteners, this keeps the rain and wind off/out and dumps heat and moisture at the same time.
- Darker material indicates the reinforced areas. See double storm flap on main zip also.
Mountain Equipment Eclipse Hooded Zip Tee:
Mountain Equipment, a favourite brand of mine, have been around for some time and have been involved in many pioneering expeditions, thus they have a great deal of experience and expertise when it comes to producing functional kit. This piece is a testament to that and one that I prefer to reach for in the majority of situations in some context or another.
Take the hood/collar design for example, the zip is offset and guarded, so as to not abrade the user’s face. The collar extends to the bridge of the nose at the front and the hood extends from the top of the collar, (thus can be folded down/away if desired), and the whole thing results in a balaclava-style covering for the head and face when zipped up. Very versatile, due to the number of different ways that the hood/collar combination can be used, and though it might sound gimmicky, it actually works well and makes life somewhat easier, (like only the best tech can!).
- See balaclava-style hood, thumb-loops, green & grey grid-fleece body-mapped fabrics and deep zip.