Getting High on a Saturday Night
It wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, but this weekend I spent a pleasant evening wild camping in the Lake District. Under the stars and the plastic sheets of a tent next to a stretch of water almost 500m above sea level. An ideal setting once accustomed to the noisy inhabitants - a gaggle of geese that occupied the island in the middle of Angle Tarn.
Not strictly legal, and recently in the headlines after landowners overturned the right for campers to spend the night on the wilds of Dartmoor, there is now no area in England where you can freely and rightly pitch for the night.
Without doubt there have been and will be individuals who don't respect the countryside code of leaving no trace, shutting gates, sticking to paths, keeping dogs on leads, etc, but when the majority of people do follow these principles, I find it a real shame that a basic right of pitching a tent in the middle of nowhere cannot be carried out.
The late afternoon trip didn't have the best of starts after I left my phone in the car which I hadn't realised until almost an hour into the hike. A retracing of steps and we were on our way again in the warm mid-spring sun. Plenty of walkers were on their way down to Patterdale after spending a day in the mountains as we continued our ascent. A father and son ahead of us looked to have the same intention, climbing ever higher through the brightly-lit peaked surroundings. Another hour on, and we had reached the still waters of Angle Tarn.
A handful of other tents were already set up as we surveyed the banks for a decent location. The tarn is around 5.9 hectares in size however so it certainly wasn't a squeeze as we finally laid down our rucksacks and erected our home for the evening. Dwelling sorted, onto dinner and my second error of the trip. The gas canister I had brought did not fit onto the burner head leading to a feeling of dread at the prospect of cold curry for dinner. Fortunately the kindness of strangers came to our rescue in the form of a spare and compatible gas canister. We finished our (hot) dinner with a couple of beautifully sweet tarts from Rise bakery in Barnard Castle, and as the light and heat of the day faded, we moved under canvas for the night.
A pleasant night (thanks to ear plugs) in a gorgeous location that felt far from civilisation and the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It's a wonderful feeling waking up in such a natural, tranquil place not least in the knowledge that a good portion of a planned trek has already been conquered. Breakfast consumed, tent/sleeping bags and all trace of rubbish packed we progressed to The Knott (739m) before descending to Hartsop and back to Patterdale.