The summit of Skiddaw, which in good weather would provide amazing views of the surrounding area has the same kind of visibility by metre you’d get at a party in Snoop Doggs house on 420. You can see pretty much jack shit for about twenty metres in every direction.

The Author

Forgotten Something. Like your brain?

Im at the train station about to buy an early morning sausage sandwich which at the price might be made from unicorn meat when I realise the one thing I haven’t packed and probably the most important is no longer in residence of my pocket. What’s more is I should probably be eating healthier considering I’ve got an Ultramarathon coming up in the near future. Only thing is the trains coming in ten minutes so it’s not like I can nip back home to pick it up. Plus the trains pre booked because it’s pretty expensive getting to the Lake District otherwise. I’m just going to have to use contactless payment on my phone, which isn’t ideal. Images of the contactless limit being reached and me having to eat foraged berries flash before my eyes. I better get my forgetful ass onto this train though, i’ll have to fix all that when and if it comes to it. I could always ring my mate Bracken who’s into bushcraft and ask him for some squirrel hunting tips i suppose. Maybe I could throw my phone at them and stun them. I expect they would have some kind of nutty taste to them.

I spend most of my train journey to Penrith stressing out and scouring Google to find out how much I can hammer google pay before a card machine beeps at me and asks me to put the card I don’t have with me in it’s face, and I finally arrive in Penrith which is three miles outside the lake district and then catch a bus into Keswick which is in the Northern lake district. Despite having got off to a terrible start, I’ve never been to this end of the Lakes so I’m looking forward to it.

Getting onto the bus I manage to enjoy what turns out to be one of the most scenic bus rides I’ve ever seen, as we head into the fells of the Northern Lakes. Then again to someone like me from Birmingham not being on a bus that smells of wee and having countless weird people come sit next to me when I clearly want to be left alone is a refreshing change in itself. And I relax a little despite the constant mental beating myself up over how I can pack so much gear that will literally keep me alive in the mountains but for some reason I can’t remember the most basic bit of urban survival kit also known as ‘money’. The bus stops quite a lot along the way It to pick up people over the age of 60 and I wonder if this part fo the lakes is kind of what the religious might describe as ‘gods own waiting room’. If you are going to pick a place to retire though what a lovely place to do it, unfortunately everybody else apparently had the same idea. But I’m not here for the relaxing dog walks and bingo nights, I’m here to learn how to patch up people who forgot to grip the side of the mountain tightly. My outdoor first aid course starts tomorrow and despite being something I have to have to go onto my eventual mountain leader qualification, I’m really looking forward to it.

As we approach Keswick I load all my kit onto my shoulders, and there’s a lot of it which only makes me regret having a faster trigger finger, as my bus swings right past my bed and breakfast and about half a mile up the road into the town.When I finally heave myself and my 100ltr kit bag, and day pack off the bus I trudge on up the road like a pack mule. It’s all good exercise I guess, and when I eventually reach the bed and breakfast in this case the aptly named ‘Babbling Brook’ and ring the bell one of the owners comes out to meet me. “Hi! Are you here to drop off the bags?” she exclaims. Not having a bit of clue what she means I reply, “Excuse me, what? No I’ve got a booking” “Ohh! I’m sorry I though you were one of the bag sherpas!” she says. Ok so actually apparently I look like a bag sherpa, and I can I can kind of see why she thinks this, I’m carrying most of my bodyweight in baggage for various activities. She is however super friendly and after realising I don’t have Nepali blood in the family she gets me booked in. Following that, I heave myself up three flights of stairs with my baggage and I’m starting to understand how ants must feel carrying stuff back to their nests.

The room is really nice, like a boutique hotel andI reckon it’s the landlady’s work, It just can’t be the husbands, it’s way too nice. If the dude had done it out it would probably have a playstation in it, and a beer fridge not lovely wallpaper and big mirrors. Or maybe I’m just saying what I’d do with it. At this point you might be asking why I’m in a B and B and not sleeping in a bush or something, and the answers pretty simple.

The main goal of this weekend apart from general mountain-bashing is my 16 hour outdoor first aid course which I need towards my Mountain Leader Training and eventual qualification. Because of this I feel like I need to get decent sleep and actually be paying attention. Something that I can barely ensure with a nice comfy bed, and far less chance if I was sleeping in a tent. Anybody who has ever had to do a first aid course for work reading this will know that trying to pay attention through an 8 hour course is a struggle. Admittedly the fact I’m interested in this first aid course because it’s far more relevant to me will help. The only thing is, on similar courses for work I’ve been seriously tempted to take a hydration pack round to Starbucks, and get them to fill it with expresso.

After having cookie monster moment over the free biscuits by my kettle I get settled into the room, by which I mean Iiberally spread my hiking gear over all four corners of it. Then I decide that rather than chill I’m going to go off and hike around Derwent Water and get some photos. I’ve got a new camera and I haven’t had much chance to use it over lockdown, because there’s only so many lego action shots you can do. I call the one below ‘Winter navigation error’.

It’s not long before I’ve made it down to the water of the lake and feel instantly happy, now it’s sunk in I’m at least a hundred miles away from Birmingham. Derwent Water looks moody but epic under the low, dark clouds and it’s still pretty warm but it doesn’t look like there’s much chance of rain. and because of that part of me want’s to see if I can hike around the entire like, right now. I stop this train of thought though before it causes an accident because I know i’ll do it and then i’ll be tired tomorrow. Also I want to take the opportunity to have some food I haven’t had to cook on a tiny camping stove. As if to cement the deal further a small black cloud of insect bodies begins to envelop me as the midges close in, looking for the places on my body that’ll itch most if they bite them. Along with the wallet, add ‘midge spray’ to that list of things I’ve forgotten to bring. By the time I get away from the lake I’m beginning to wish I’d packed a small flame thrower. I head back to the bed and breakfast to get my stuff together for the course tomorrow.

After a pretty good night’s sleep and a decent breakfast I head off for Castlerigg Hall where the course is being held and end up turning up pretty early. Slowly a small group of people who are clearly outdoorsy or just homeless start to arrive. Everybody looks like they are going somewhere the moment the course is over. I think I’m the only one here by actual choice as everyone else seems to be from some kind of outdoor pursuits business.Regardless of this we quickly get introduced to each other and before long we are outdoors simulating someone who has had a climbing accident.

All I can imagine going through the volunteers head is probably ‘why did I wear my expensive jacket?’ but lucky for her after a short self conscious silence the first person steps forward into the role play and tentatively asks ‘hi are you ok? Can you hear me? My names (whatever it was) ‘I’m going to try and help you’. Looking for danger we all look up at the invisible cliff to see where in thin air she may have fallen from to get wrapped up in this climbing rope that appears to have come from nowhere. Being as we are seriously relying on imagination here I wonder if maybe she’s an Indian shaman who’s had a rope accident? And my childish mind makes me glance over to the bushes to see if I can spot any of her imaginary cobras slithering off into the bushes.

Next up is a role play using a CPR doll, this guy has apparently been out running and collapsed “What’s the medical emergency, what’s caused him to collapse?” the instructor asks. I reply, “He’s lost his arms and legs, that might be the reason!” And despite the room having a chuckle I get the kind of forced small I see my staff use when a customer says to them “there’s no price tag! Must mean it’s free!!” Anyway on that note he sets us about trying to bring these quadriplegic mannequins back to life.

The Horrifying Story Of ‘Rescusi-Annie

I cant help thinking as I give this inanimate object that has the unpleasant smell of a mountain bike inner tube the kiss of life, how apparently her or his face was modelled on the face of the body of a dead young women fished from the river seine in Paris in the 1800’s. That feeling you are basically kissing a rubber mould of an actual dead person doesn’t help on top of the hospital like smell they always have. The story just get’s more creepy when you dig deeper and find the reason her face is still around is because the pathologist on the case apparently really liked her face so he made a plaster cast of it. Which really if you think about it is close to some fringe necrophillia. Following this the mould became a death mask you could buy all around France. As the story goes (just in case you aren’t creeped out enough by this point) someone asked a toy maker to create a CPR doll. He was stuck with what to do for a face until he found the death mask in his grandparents house. And some of you reading have kissed this mould of an actual dead person who was found floating down a river. Now I’m not religious I don’t believe in heaven but if it did exist imagine this lady asking god what her legacy on earth was “did I amount to anything lord?‘”yes my child you are immortalised as the murder victim face of a CPR doll that reeks like a condom factory, oh and the face you were pulling at death looks like you are having a poop”

Walla Crag

When the course is over for the first day I decide I’m going to head straight out for an evening hike. Most people at this point would chill after having a long day learning but I have all my gear with me so I head up to Walla Crag.This fell looks down onto Derwent Water. I’m assuming the trail with a pretty much straight off the side drop I find is ‘Lady’s Rake’ as it’s described as a ‘precarious rake’ and ‘the only breach in the crag’ but there’s a lovely set back rock platform next to the path so I decide that I’m going to get my tiny MSR stove out and cook dinner here.The view is so epic I don’t realise I haven’t taken the plastic pot the stove comes with off the bottom of the stove pan and just stuck it directly on the Pocket Rocket (called that for a reasons) jet like gas flame. As I’m firing off photo’s the not so pleasant smell of burning plastic reaches my nostrils. Looking down at my stove I can see plastic now running down the sides of the burner and flames erupting around it. Shit. I end up spending the next 15 minutes ensuring I ‘leave no trace’ by picking the melted plastic off the rocks. Luckily the plastic pot bit isn’t essential and I still get my less than gourmet meal on. It’s only a pot of tuna and a stove pan full of instant noodles. But I’ve saved myself the hassle of having to try and get into a restaurant, and I’ve got one of the best views in the lakes. A view so good I almost set myself on fire apparently.

The Rockery Of The Dead

Day two on the first aid course and I’m now thinking about all the situations me and the guys have been in where I might have had to use these first aid skills. Everything considered it’s pretty lucky we have got this far without any major issues considering some of the dumb stuff we get up to. It’s instilled what I hope is a healthy paranoia and incentive to be prepared in future. Though I do hope I never have to pack a blood clotting bean bag into a hole in a friends leg ever. Realistically though the most common injuries are dislocated hips and broken / twisted ankles, even though the course leader still manages to fit in a few slides of peoples brain fluid leaking out of their ears.

There’s lot’s to learn today but the thing that stands out is when the instructor breaks us into groups and lays down another role-play scenario. In this situation we are one of two fell runners (for those who don’t know the term these are the guys who run full pelt up and down mountains, like they have steel joints) and you’ve just got back to the car and have realised your mates vanished. Heading back up the hill / mountain you find them sprawled near some boulders. Given this briefing the guys playing the friend who’s collapsed arrange thenselves into what I can only describe as the rockery from hell. Bodies piled into the rocks and undergrowth like puppets with their strings cut. Our guy has chosen to coil himself round a bunch of rocks in some impossible angle for a fallen fell runner. Which might have seemed clever at the time but not so much after we have to move the body onto ground which just so happens to be peppered with brambles. Whoops!

The next scenario I only discover when I return from the loo due to drinking about a litre of coffee to help me pay attention. I walk back to the wooded area to see loads of course attendees waving sticks at each other threatening all sorts of kebab based fatalities to any who might want to help them. It’s actually quite convincing so I take a step back with the intention of letting them all take each other out in woodland warfare. At least that way the victor will be tired and they will be easy to finish off. It takes a minute but from listening it turns out this is this is drunk / diabetic patient role play. Eventually all the actors pretend to pass out on the floor and I think what I’m getting from this is wait for them to go unconscious and they they are less of a problem. And don’t take your drunk diabetic mate out on a mountain. Overall though the course is brilliant and I’m feeling way more confident about patching myself and others up when I get out there again which incidentally is going to be tomorrow! We finish off and I get my gear ready to go, heft my heavy luggage onto my shoulders and head out after saying my goodbyes.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

I start heading towards the campsite which is incidentally all uphill which is going to be a great work out with all the weight I’m carrying. Looking at my GPS (yeah I’m cheating) I notice my path is going past the ancientstanding stones which overlook Derwent Water, Castlerigg Stone Circle. It’s not long until I find a bench which seems to know exactly how people are feeling on the hike up the hills towards the stone circle, it’s legend reading “rest your bones on the way to the stones”

Eventually I reach the stones which are pretty busy, and it’s easy to see why too. The stone circle here is generally thought to have been created around 3000bc and could be the oldest in the entire country. Nobody is sure exactly what they were used for but you can see why they were placed in this spot, on a natural plateau with a 360 degree view over the surrounding area. The view from the stones on a day like this which is pretty clear is amazing, Derwent water stretches out before you and the mountains loom in either side, casting a focus on the stones which in turn cast your gaze towards the epic landscape and make you fully take it in. In my head I can imagine a solstice ritual here, with dusk drawing in and torches lit around the circle. The whole circle is made up of 38 stones which are free standing, of which some reach up to three metres high. It is an awesome place and it definitely has its own atmosphere, and it makes you take in nature and the landscape.

Night Kayaking

I eventually make it to the campsite I’m staying at and set myself up, and it’s not long before my mate Andy arrives too, we get the tent’s set up, head out and grab some food then decide to take the inflatable kayak out for a test. Which means we are probably, at the time the only people standing in a waterside carpark pumping up a kayak in the fading light. The high pitched wail of the cheap plastic foot pump echoes down the street until I finally get the thing fully pumped up and we head off towards the lake. After a bit of effort we cast off and after a few metres into the lake and after a bit of effort cast off, and before long go totally out of synch and start spinning in small circles.So here we are, two weird dudes doing kayak donuts on a lake in the dark.

One thing that’s become seriously apparent is these inflatables seem to turn on a penny and getting our paddles in synch is really difficult, then again the instructions for this say it should be carrying a small child in front and an adult in the back. Andy doesn’t weigh hardly anything but you couldn’t really pass him off as a small child. As we paddle out into the fading light I wonder how How me and my mate Matt (who easily tips the scales on this kayaks weigh limit) didn’t drown in this when we took it for a test run on the river severn. As we row out deeper into the dark we decide to sit and chill with our beers and sit and appreciate the silence for a while until I realise that if it does go fully dark we are going to have no idea where we are going, so we paddle back to shore and to relative safety.


Despite still waking up feeling like my skeleton has been rearranged while I’ve been unconscious, I’ve managed a pretty amazing sleep considering I’ve been in a tent. We head out and grab breakfast and then to the start point for the route I’ve planned up Skiddaw towards my mountain leader log. We get lost enough to end up in the town over which isn’t great but at least it helps us establish that we were actually in the right place originally! Part fail and part learning experience. We begin my route up the beck to find the whole area has been taken over from rhododendrons and we can’t visually find out exactly how far we’ve gone. We re establish where we are exactly and the fact that the drop off the side of the beck would probably turn you into mush, and all is good until we find the crossroad of paths has faded or just isn’t visible. A slight adjustment has us literally pulling ourselves up the steep sides of the beck valley by our hands, clutching at Heather. This was meant to be a recce really to see if my route would have worked and yes, we do appear to be following it but I definitely haven’t taken into account the steep sides of the valley. I think I will next time. “Hey if you proper mess yourself I can fix you now!” I say to Andy, who if it wasn’t Andy would be far more worried by this statement.

After heaving ourselves up the side of this slope by bits of heather the ground gets slightly less steep and we take a moment to get our breath back. I make a mental note this definitely isn’t the way to take a group in future. Oh well, at least I know this now. I notice something small moving towards us on the ground and a tiny bird appears out of the mist. It doesn’t seem to be the least bit bothered by us but it’s not flying off, and as there’s nothing I’d consider here that could give the thing cover I’m wondering if it should even be up here. And if it is a ground nesting bird there’s nothing close you’d expect it to nest in. It seems to be an older chick, and later we identify it as a European skylark. I’ll spend the rest of the day wondering if it was just kinda doing it’s ‘thing’ or if it ended up becoming food for something larger.

We establish that we are exactly where I’d planned us to be and on the right bearing when the summit cairn of ‘Little Man’ finally manifests itself out of the mist ahead up above us. I’m pretty chuffed my navigation is better than it used to be despite a few challenges, the mist being one. And that I haven’t accidentally walked us off a cliff or anything. Admittedly I’d never lead a group this way because they’d probably fall down the ghyll and die, but at least I know that its a bad route up now. Better mark that on the map.

Not All Who Wonder Are Lost. But some actually are.

Me and Andy take a moment to check where we are after coming down off the summit of little man, our next point is to be the summit of Skiddaw however we can’t really see anything, especially the fences so we can’t handrail off them. A hiker and his girlfriend come running over to us ‘Are you lost?’ he asks helpfully. ‘No we are ok mate we are just re confirming the exact point we are” (we know where we are but not how far we are going to walk. “Where are you heading?” he continues I reply “up to Skiddaw then we are heading back down” he replies “Oh Skiddaw is back behind you!” he says pointing at Little Man .Me and Andy both know that was little man and not Skiddaw summit. Which we both point out we are pretty damn sure he’s got that wrong. The lads just added his own confusion into the mix, and helpful as he’s trying to be he has even less clue where he is. We thank him for trying and I decide the weathers too bad to risk getting it wrong, so against my best ideals I whip out the GPS. And its just so happens we are exactly where we thought we were. The lad and his girlfriend are literally heading in the total opposite direction to where they think they are going. Luckily we catch up and point this mistake out to them, and then leave them to it heading up to the summit of Skiddaw in the mist.

The Skiddaw Summit

The summit of Skiddaw, which in good weather would provide amazing views of the surrounding area has the same kind of visibility by metre you’d get at a party in Snoop Doggs house on 420. You can see pretty much jack shit for about twenty metres in every direction. This is somewhat less of what Wainwright saw when he visited the place “The summit is buttressed magnificently by a circle of lesser heights, all of them members of the proud Skiddaw family, the whole forming a splendid and complete example of the structure of mountains, especially well seen from all directions because of its isolation” well that sounds amazing, at least better than fog. It’s so bad up here I don’t even bother taking a photo, as far as anyone could tell I could be standing next to a bollard on a foggy morning.

Escape Route Fail

So an escape route is something you’d mark on the map for if you need to get down off the mountain in a rush but safely. And it’s always good to check to make sure you recce your escape routes to see if they work, which is what we are about to do. Partly for the experience and also because after being out with no views in the rain and wind by this point I think we both just want to get to the nearest pub and get some food in. We both decide we won’t use the two escape routes I’ve marked on the map, instead we are going to use another that looks far quicker than the others. This ‘way down’ rapidly becomes a route that would clearly be a great route up. For descending though, It’s a total ball ache. It is quite a quick way down, quick doesn’t always mean safe though, and the path down rapidly becomes steeper than we had expected, made of deep piles of sharp and very loose slate. I spend most of my time trying not to fall over on this with the voice of my first aid instructor in my head saying ‘imagine the sort of laceration injuries you’d get from falling palm first onto sharp slate!’ what’s worse is the guy is part of the local MRT (Mountain Rescue Team) and I’m going to look like a right tit if they have to turn up to sort me out after two days being taught by him how to fix other people! We manage to work our way down slowly, and the terrain becomes easier and before long we are in a nice warm pub.


I hope you found my blog useful or entertaining, any donations given go towards more adventures and therefore more blogs and equipment reviews! Donation is voluntary, and you can donate as much or as little as you wish, or not at all.

Thanks for reading and your support!

I hope you found my blog useful or entertaining, any donations given go towards more adventures and therefore more blogs and equipment reviews! Donation is voluntary, and you can donate as much or as little as you wish, or not at all.

Thanks for reading and your support!

I hope you found my blog useful or entertaining, any donations given go towards more adventures and therefore more blogs and equipment reviews! Donation is voluntary, and you can donate as much or as little as you wish, or not at all.

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