A room with a view....
I have always wanted to go wild camping and the bank holiday weekend just gone gave my husband Michael and I the perfect opportunity. Knowing the Lake District would be at its busiest we decided to go to the West of the Lakes. The area that has only one road in and one road out. It only got electricity 15 years ago and has some of the roughest climbs in the lakes, Wasdale.
Wasdale, the wildest of the valleys in the Lake District, is the remote and beautiful area between Gosforth in West Cumbria. Past Wastwater, England’s deepest lake and up to the mountains Great Gable and Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain. So it was perfect for my first wild camp adventure….
Wasdale is also the home to the fell running legend Joss Naylor (MBE) AKA The King of the fells and the Iron Man. Joss grew up in Wasdale on his family farm and has set some of the most incredible records in Fell racing. His fell running achievements include successive peak bagging records within the Bob Graham Round * (See bottom of this blog for a list of his amazing achievements).
He considered the 72 peak Lakeland circuit as his own greatest achievement, setting a record which stood unbroken for 13 years. He was appointed an MBE for his services to sport and charity, and is included as one of Britain’s top 100 sports personalities in the 2007 book Best of British: Hendo’s Sporting Heroes, by sports journalist Jon Henderson.
The legand himself Joss Naylor
Joss has such an amazing record and makes running in the clouds sound easy! But something else impresses me about Joss, growing up Joss had a back injury that left him immobile. He didn’t take part in much sport growing up, Left school at 15 to help out on the family farm and at the age of 20 had an operation on his back. Six months later he jumped over a metal wire on the farm and landed on a piece of slate sticking up which resulted in him wearing a straight jacket for six weeks and doctor advising him to never work on the farm or run again.
But Joss didn’t let this stop him. At the age of 24 he was asked if he would like to run in the Mountain Trail, an 18mile race in the fells. So he said yes, (as you do) and the rest, as they say is history!
The determination and belief in himself, his ability and his health lead him to lead a happy and outstanding athletic life. Just amazing don’t you think? Despite being told he couldn’t, he decided he could and did! We are more capable than we think, or are sometimes told by ourselves and others….all we have to do is believe.
“There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do”
I have had the pleasure of meeting him once at the Mountain festival in Keswick in 2015 with my husband the night before we ran the Brathay Marathon around Lake Windermere which defiantly inspired me to enjoy the next day’s race:
What a modest and grounded man with a wicked sense of humour. I was looking out for him on our visit to Wasdale but didn’t see him.
Visiting Wasdale always makes me think of Joss and his amazing determination. Maybe running was his turning point in his Health and Wellbeing. It gave him confidence in his own body and enabled him to live a life he thought was once impossible. Maybe this was his way of practicing mindfulness. Of being present, in the moment and in his happy place. This was his way of connecting with the here and now.
Wasdale also always inspires me, personally. It is such a beautiful place, almost magical and mystical. It really is rough, rugged and wild up there and there is something so challenging and exciting to me about getting to the top of those huge mountains!
So after our 3 hour car journey we arrived in at Wasdale Head. Our bags packed with our tent, sleeping bags, mattresses, cooking stove, food, clothes and water. This was us at the start of our adventure and I was so excited! Not only to be having the quality time with my hubby and the outdoors but alto to be turning my phone off for the 24hrs, I always find this really refreshing too.
Just outside ‘The Inn’ at Wasdale Head
Turning my phone off is something that I try to do each night at least an hour before switching my mind off to go to sleep and I also like to have days where its turned off too. This gives me the chance to totally switch off from social media and allow my mind time to get lost in the moment and drift away. Something that I feel is so important and if you don’t do it at the moment, then try it.
So from Wasdale Head we headed up Kirk Fell and in true style my husband decided to lead us up a challenging scramble just to mix it up whilst using his favourite phrase ‘It’ll be ryte!’. I do have a fear of heights which has increased with age and scrambling up the side of the fell did challenge me but felt great once I was at the top. I did however have a few choice words for him during, I’m not going to lie!
Our scramble…trust me this was steep!
Us at the top of Kirk Fell…and this was the view:
Playing in the clouds!
From the peak of Kirk Fell we headed round ‘windy gap’ which is just below Great Gableand it was windy to descend to Styhead Tarn which over is above both Wasdale and Seathwaith. The tarn was our resting place for the night:
Michael working hard to peg the tent in…I am supervising here 😊
Now this was a room with a view! Within half an hour we had our home for the night set up and the water boiling for a brew, which lets face it, always feels great doesn’t it? Following our brew and welcoming by the ducks and sheep around us, we added the water to our mac n cheese which was amazing! And check out the fab quote on the package:
I love this quote. It really made me smile as I sat eating my tea outside the tent. We also had a little bottle of Red each to enjoy as the sun set…magic!
Our sun downers ….. Perfect
This really was one of my favourite meals with my hubby. Simple and perfect. Just us two, outside with the essentials. Wine is one of my essentials.😊
This has to be one of the most mindful sleepovers ever. It really is so peaceful up there. Being that close to the water the sound was so relaxing (and I needed the loo…a lot but that was ok!), I could hear the birds, the wind and light rain on the tent and the clouds were stunning. I had such an beautiful nights sleep up there. Sun rise was stunning and after our morning brew and brekki we packed our home up and set out again to summit the highest peak in the UK, Scarfel Pike.
Good morning world!
Mountain pose in the mountains....so amazing!
There is always time for yoga, and boy was it beautiful up there! Mountain pose facing a mountain was just amazing and with the surroundings and wind against my face it made it so refreshing. Yoga outside brings so much more to the practice. If you haven’t tried it please do. Go outside and take it all in. Enjoy.
So we were ready to go and there was just one more thing to do…check the route…..
Our check Nav before climbing 😊
After just over an hours climb (and scramble may I add) we reached the top! Unfortunalty the clagg was down and so we didn’t get a view and we didn’t stick around too much either as the weather wasn’t great. But nevertheless, it felt fab to finally climb this peak, its been on my list for a while:
Top of Scarfel Pick…At the moment…we were the highest people in England…Ha😊
The decent back down to Wasdale Head was long, slippy and busy…but it was nice to see the view again once we got out of the clouds and take in the enormity of the mountains we had climbed. We both reached the car with a sense of pride and excitement at the thought of returning back to see our little furry friend Freddie when we get home!
I wanted to share this with you as it reminded me of the importance of trying new things, trying that thing that you keep meaning too do. On our very first date, Michael and I talked about wild camping and it was so nice to finally make time to do it. It reminded me of the importance of stepping out of the day to day and switching of, not just technology but your mind.
I also wanted to share Joss’s story. How brave he has been and how he trusted his bodies capabilities to live the life he dreamed of. Life is too short to not be happy, to not feel good in your body and to not be the person you want to be. Life has so much to offer us. Yes, it might look different for all of us but we still all have choices. Life is still there for the taking…whatever that looks like for you.
Look at what you do have, instead of what you don’t have. Look at what you can do instead of what you can’t do (or you think you can’t). Believe in yourself. Be grateful. Step out of your comfort zone even though it’s scary and plan that trip. Say yes to that event. Trust in yourself and the process. And watch the magic unfold.
*Some of Joss Naylor’s incredible achievements:
- 1971: 61 peaks in 23h37m
- 1972: 63 peaks in 23h35m
- 1975: 72 peaks, claimed to involve over 100 miles and about 38,000 feet of ascent in 23h20m
His other fell running achievements include:
- 1973: The Welsh 3000s - the 14 peaks of Snowdonia in 4h46m
- 1974: The Pennine Way: 3 days and 4 hours
- 1983: The Lakes, Meres and Waters circuit of 105 miles in 19h20m
- 1986: (age 50) completed the Wainwrights in 7 days
- 1997: (age 60) ran 60 Lakeland fell tops in 36 hours
2006: (age 70) ran 70 Lakeland fell tops, covering more than 50 miles and ascending more than 25,000 feet, in under 21 hours.
So we were ready to go and there was just one more thing to do…check the route…..