It doesn’t often happen that when you plan something a long way in advance, everything falls into place and you’re blessed with the most perfect conditions you could have wished for. Back in October though, we were lucky enough that one of those rare occasions occurred.
I had been trying to sort a trip with Pete and Rosie from online WideOpen magazine for a while, but with all of us leading busy lives, it just didn’t happen through the Summer. We pencilled in a date for late October, and in my mind I was already envisaging murky grey wet days and a shortish ride with the emphasis on searching out some of the Lake District’s best tea and cake.
As the date drew closer, the weather forecast looked suspiciously optimistic. Bright sunny skies, a daytime temperature of 17-18 degrees, and an overnight one of no less than 15. Anyone who has visited the Lake District knows that the forecast in October does not often look like that! With the promise of exceptionally clear skies, and the the tail end of the Draconid meteor shower, there was no other option….we HAD to plan a 2 day epic taking in a bivvy somewhere high to make the most of the opportunity!
With vehicles parked at either end of our route, we set off from Glenridding, tackling the beast that is Helvellyn for a warm-up. You could have been forgiven for thinking it was the middle of Summer as we sweated our way up in the warm sunshine and sat enjoying spectacular views on the summit in nothing but short sleeve shirts and shorts. A classic Lakeland tech-fest descent followed, before we headed over another pass on one of the few trails in the Lakes I’d never actually ridden before. It was a hideous ordeal of a climb none of us probably want to ever repeat! Thankfully the dry Summer meant the ride from the top was rideable, I don’t want to imagine what it would have been like if it was wet! Needless to say, this trail won’t be featuring on any of our tours in the future!
A long ride out through a valley eventually brought us to the pub in Borrowdale, hours after we had planned to be there, all feeling fairly ravenous and suitably tired. Bikes were abandoned outside as the priority became devouring large quantities of food to fuel us for the next leg of our journey.
We left the pub in darkness, working our way up to yet another pass. It was a long old slog, but the mild temperatures and incredible starry skies took our minds off the effort required to reach the top. It was amost 10pm when we finally made it to the spot we had picked to bivvy, a truly epic day out! Lying cocooned inside bivvy bags, we watched meteors overhead, and the clearest views I have had for ages of the Milky Way and billions of stars above, before sleep came to weary eyes and bodies. It was a pretty special spot to spend a night.
The next morning brought the return of drizzly and windy weather, and feeling the effects of the previous day’s epic, we were all keen to take the shortest route to the cafe. This was still a good few hours of slippery sketchy fun away though! We slithered our way down rocky steps and along rough tracks, dreaming of bacon sandwiches (even the vegetarians amongst us!), and weren’t disappointed when we got there.
Like all good epics, the story didn’t end there, as we returned to one vehicle with a flat tyre, and a realisation that the keys to the second were in the other van we had left at the start of the route the previous day!
All in all it was a great couple of days and fantastic to share it with others as enthusiastic and keen for an adventure as myself.,,,the Lakes never disappoints, especially when conditions are as perfect as this!
All credits for the fantastic photos above go to Pete Scullion, cheers Pete!