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Last-Minute Camping in the Lake District

Ella at Wast Water, The Lake District

It started off as just a typical Saturday. Woke up, had breakfast, watched TV, went on my laptop, had lunch etc. The day was an exact replica of every other Saturday that I’d experienced recently. Work has been relentless, constantly asking me to go above and beyond with my abilities. So, when the weekend comes along, I’m exhausted and can barely heave myself out of bed. However, doing virtually nothing comes with drawbacks, especially when you have an uncontrollable yearning to see the world and can’t stand to sit still. My mood was low, to say the least. I knew why; one of the reasons was that I hadn’t been away for a while. My last trip was to the Seychelles, and as magical as that was, that was 6 months ago now.

I sat at the kitchen table, resting my head on my hand, sighing. That’s when my partner turned to me and suggested, “Why don’t we go away for the night? Have a road trip.”

I felt my heart leap inside my chest, a shred of excitement. For a moment, I wanted to scream yes! But then my anxious side starts to kick in and starts asking logical questions. Are either of us up for driving? Can we even afford it? What if we just argue the entire time? I proceed with my day as usual and don’t think anymore of it. My partner suggests things like this sometimes, but we always later decide against it. Why would today be any different?

An hour later, I walk in to find my partner on his laptop. He turns to me, an excited grin on his face.

“We must leave immediately.” He says.

He explained the plan. We were to pick up a tent and go camping somewhere. The camping shop shut in little under an hour so we had to act fast. Before we left, we quickly decided on where to go. I suggested the Lake District, looking at google maps which told me it would take roughly 1 and a half hours to get there. He quickly searched for campsites and managed to book us in. It was only £10 per person – great! We told the campsite we’d be there for around 8pm.

We raced to the camping shop, arriving with only 20 minutes until it shut. We picked up a tent, sleeping bag, torch… the whole thing! Now all we needed to do was pack and head off.

The Journey to Wasdale Head in The Lake District

When the time came to set off, it was 7pm. I put the campsite’s post code in my phone. 3 hours to get there. What? I thought it was only going to take an hour and a half? Turns out, we managed to book a campsite in one of the furthest reaches of the Lake District which doubled our journey-time. So, we weren’t set to make it until past 10pm, by which time it would be getting dark.

2 hours into the journey and we were both getting irritated. Since leaving the motorway, the roads had got extremely narrow and we must have been driving at an average speed of 20mph. We were both complaining, two complete grumps.

“Why did we have to book the furthest campsite? It all looks the same!” I remember my partner snapping.

At first I held my temper but as my bum started to get sore, I turned crabby too, moaning about how ridiculous the roads were and complaining about every driver we passed. We’re a fun bunch, aren’t we?

Despite my temper, I couldn’t help but admire how scenic the place was. We drove through deep valleys, carved by ancient streams. Rolling hills stretched out for what looked like an eternity, dotted with shrubs and sheep. Rivers ran parallel to the roads in places, trickling peacefully by.

Then, 10 minutes before the end of our trip, the highlight occurred. We juddered over a cattle-grid to see sheep lying across the road in what can only be described as a road-block. The sheep started to get up, eyes wild with fear. All but one sheep, that is. A small black sheep swished its head sassily, trotting straight towards us. It’s pace increased and I saw challenge in its eyes. Then the sheep tucked its head into its chest and head-butted our car. I couldn’t even feel the impact but you had to admire the little sheep’s courage. Not feeling so brave anymore, the sheep started running off and we were able to continue our journey. I’m sure the little sheep felt very proud of himself as we drove away. I bet he thought he’d scared us off.

Flock of sheep at night at Wast Water, The Lake District
The sheep! I sadly didn’t manage to get a picture of the little sassy one

We were approaching the end of our journey. I hadn’t seen any civilisation for miles so we were sure in the wilds! After not having anyone driving behind us for a while, someone suddenly appeared, driving close to us and making me feel under pressure. I put on a burst of speed and managed to drive straight past our campsite. The driver behind us drove into the campsite. This would be okay except for the fact that the road was incredibly narrow and as I drove down, there were no turn off points. Just great.

My partner sighed and said, “The woman at the campsite said don’t miss the turning as it will be ages before you can turn around.”

I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not but either way, I was feeling very stressed and fed up. Every time the road widened slightly, I attempted to turn around. Finally we arrived at a spot where I managed to, after about a 20-point-turn. Finally, we arrived at the campsite, just as the light started to escape from the valley.

We had to pull up and pick up an access card from the shop in order to get our car through the gates. We picked up the card and I drove us to the gates. Winding down the window, I reached for the access card, only to drop it down the side of my seat. Shit. My partner shot me a look that said, seriously? After 5 minutes of fumbling around, I finally managed to find it and in we went.

On the leaflet which we picked up, it said that we wouldn’t have been able to enter the campsite if it was past 11pm. It was 10.45pm! That was a close one.

Fortunately, we had an inflatable tent so setting it up was relatively easy, even for someone like me who had never put up a tent in her life. It was the dead of night, however without light pollution, we could actually see surprisingly well. At 1am, we finally settled down for the night.

Our tent at Wasdale Head campsite in Wast Water, The Lake District

My First Time Camping in The Lake District

I slept pretty fitfully that night. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring pillows so we were both struggling to get comfortable, getting neck-ache and sore ears. But probably the worst thing was the wind. There was like a force 9 gale outside! At first, I’d thought we’d gone a bit overboard with putting every single peg in the ground to tie our tent down, but listening to the fierce wind, I was glad we did. Irritatingly, we’d tied a little tag to our tent which showed our booking but it was blowing around crazily, slapping itself against the tent, right over our heads. Then there was me. I always need to pee. I tried my best not to because I didn’t fancy walking around in the wind. However, my bladder got the best of me and I had to. I unzipped the tent and stepped outside, only to find it was light outside! Was it that early? I hadn’t even got to sleep yet!

By the time I finally got to sleep, the dawn chorus was all around us and light was seeping into the tent. Some cows had even joined in and the sound of nature lulled me into sleep.

I felt like we had a huge lie-in. However, when we woke up it was only 9am. Despite a bad night sleep, I didn’t feel bad. I actually felt refreshed!

I was finally able to get a good look at our campsite and it was beautiful. The campsite was nestled between towering, craggy peaks on three sides and a large blue lake on its final side. The site looked pretty quiet, with the odd tent dotted around. There were also many trees which made it feel natural. I can’t comment on how it compares to other campsites as this is the first I’ve been to, in the Uk anyway, and obviously excluding festivals!

The area we were staying is an area called Wasedale Head. Our campsite was just at the north of the lake, Wast Water, beside the peak, Scafell Pike. At nearly 1,000 metres in height, Scafell Pike is the tallest mountain in England. People journey across England in order to climb this majestic peak via one of its numerous hiking routes. One of the most popular hikes is climbing Scafell Pike via the Corridor Route.

Scafell Pike is one of many stunning peaks in the area. Another option is hiking Fleetwith Pike, which stands at 648 metres in height.

Our tent at Wasdale Head campsite in Wast Water, The Lake District

Only now, in the daylight, did I finally see what colour our tent was. It was a lovely vibrant blue with a yellow stripe. It was a good-looking tent, if I say so myself. I remember at one point my partner striding across the campsite. “Something terrible has happened!” He exclaimed.

My heart dropped. “What?”

“Someone has copied our tent!” He teased.

Sure enough, only a few yards away from our tent was an exact replica. What were the chances of that?

We cooked a yummy breakfast on a little gas-stove. It took probably an hour to cook the sausages, egg and mushrooms. All the while, I was sitting, shivering in the relentless wind. I half-wonder if the wind was cooling down our food and so making it take longer to cook. Breakfast was delicious – well worth the wait!

After breakfast, we packed our tent up and began our long journey home. We decided it was going to be more relaxing than our journey down as we were going to stop off half way to make lunch.

Wast Water Lake

Driving parallel to the lake with jagged peaks looming either side of us was a spectacular sight. We’d have to have been crazy not to stop off for some photographs. We pulled over and exited the car only to almost be knocked off our feet by a fierce gust of wind. As soon as we left the safety of our car, a thin but relentless drizzle started pelting us. The joys of British weather, eh?

I didn’t let it stop the photos. In fact I threw my coat down in the car and embraced the remarkable scenery around us. Sometimes you just have to have fun, no matter what the weather. The drone was a step too far however. Our lovely drone was all charged up in the car but the wind was just too severe to fly him. I was nearly getting blown into the lake so the drone wouldn’t have stood a chance.

Mountains at Wast Water, The Lake District
Ella on bridge over river with mountains at Wast Water, The Lake District
Sheep and mountains at Wast Water, The Lake District

Lunch Beside A River in The Lake District

After getting cold and soaked outside, we continued our journey home, constantly looking out for placed to cook our lunch. We knew we wanted to stop somewhere scenic but the wind was becoming a problem so we had to make sure the area was also sheltered from the wind. Finally, we found a suitable area. I was grunting and groaning in the car, reluctant to step back into the cold, however, my partner finally convinced me.

It was a beautiful spot. We pulled the car up at the side of the road, dashed across the tarmac and vanished down the verge on the other side. We skidded down the grassy slope, heading towards a secluded area of flat, nestled above a raging river. The slope up toward the road acted as a wind-block, keeping us sheltered from the worst of the gusts. The roaring of the river was raging in our ears as we set up our stove and chairs. It was still cold but I could feel myself cheering up.

2 hours later, our food was ready. Finally. It had been a struggle using only one hob. Once our pasta sauce was cooked and heated, we then had to cook the pasta. Whilst the pasts was cooking, the sauce had cooled right down, so we had to switch them and so on. It’s a tricky business!

After filling our bellies with our well-earned meal, we continued our journey home, marking the end to our little camping adventure.

River and forest in The Lake District
Ella by river and forest in The Lake District

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Sunday 31st of December 2017

One of the best tourist places in lake is home to many lakes.

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