What can we do on a Bank Holiday Monday with a 6yr old?
Watch Tv? Go to the park? Sit in a god awful indoor play area and watch kids going up and down slides? Or maybe hike up the side of a mountain in the Lake District? No Contest - Bags packed, best friend and his dad invited, and off we go!
Destination - one of my favourites for those who want an easy hike with a descent altitude from which to enjoy the pleasures of mountain hiking - Pike O Blisco. (Or later known as Pike "of" Blisco). Official Altitude 2,313ft. Located between the valleys of Great Langdale and Little Langdale, its relative isolation from neighbouring fells together with slopes falling away immediately from the summit in all directions mean it has excellent views.
Our route from Wrynose Pass, plotted in Google Earth from my Ambit3 peak looks like this.
Ellas friend Carrick (Also aged 6) and his father joined us for todays adventure. The weather report was dry, but with quite a low cloud base. We picked them up at 8:30am and headed north on the M6, hoping to avoid the bulk of Bank Holiday Monday traffic. This proved quite successful, and after the usual 8 toilet stops, a few "I feel sick" detours and another 2 toilet stops, we parked up on Wrynose Pass by the "Three Shires Stone" at 11am and donned our boots.
It looks pretty bleak, and the wind howling down the valley had us all feeling cold immediately. Ive done this route a few times so I know once we get into the valley we will be sheltered from the worst of it by the flanks of "Cold Pike", so we needed to get in motion and out of this open valley.
But first, the kids tuck into one of my wife Mandy's home backed cakes. Baked especially for this occasion. They are given the choice of carrying the others to the summit, or having them back at the car when they finish. They opted to leave the rest in the car so they didnt get "Squished".
With the kids suitably calorie laden, we set off. The path ahead from the car parking slot is pretty bleak to say the least...
But a short and easy ascent soon warms us all up and the kids start to come to life as the terrain starts to feel really remote and I explain to the kids that this isnt "fog" its the "Clouds" (Which was true of course, this route really does start just on the edge of the cloudline today)
The path upwards is well trodden and all pretty easy underfoot. Care is required as its wet so it can be very slippery but its still a nice easy route this one, definately a nice one for beginners as it has everything you need to enjoy the remoteness that the Lake District has to offer. Also, with it being a less well known area, even now on Bank holiday Monday - other people are few and far between.
Yet another toilet stop? Or where they playing hide and seek? I will leave the viewer to decide... LOL
After a nice easy mile or so, you come to Red Tarn which, oddly, I didnt take a photo of, but at the head of the tarn you turn hard right and the real ascent up Pike O Blisco begins.
The kids seemed to enjoy this bit. I know Ella certainly does, she has been here before and had already chosen the more scrambly direct route up and was looking forward to it.
Here she is having completed the first section where we stopped for a quick three minute breather. Ella has had earache all week so she wore her balaclava for most of the day. Its an interesting garment, it seems to succesfully stop all sounds containing loud words like "Ella" and "Stop" from reaching her ears at all, but lets through quiet phrases like "Anyone want a sweet?" and "Look at the lambs over there" just perfectly. Technology eh?
The journey upwards continues...
As we near the summit, the wind changes a little and the cloud starts to swirl around us. Im hoping it doesnt completely destroy the great views I know this summit can offer. It would be a shame for Carrick and Dave to miss out, as Ella and I have been here before in better weather.
Thankfully - It didnt. I Love the views from up here looking back across the langdale valley.
I took quite a few images up here... the weather and cloud doesnt spoil them too much, in fact, it enhances some of them. I always love looking down on this farmhouse. What an awesome place for a dwelling!
Here are the three stooges looking rightly very pleased with themselves.
Im not sure what Ella was doing with this pose... it seemed to continue every time I pointed the camera at her. I suspect some superhero is to blame and the balaclava has brought it on. Maybe she is flying through the clouds on some rescue mission? LOL
Ella at the summit with the langdale valley behind her.
The summit plateau of Pike O Blisco is quite flat with two prominent peaks. I personally prefer the other side for hanging around on as it affords more wind protection so we head across to it. It never ceases to amaze me where you find sheep in the lake district! What makes them want to scramble up to a windy summit to eat exactly the same grass they eat lower down in the shelter? I guess they would ask the same as us idiot humans who have no real reason to be up there at all!
We found a nice place to shelter behind these craggy rocks, and the light was improving by the minute so I grabbed this nice image.
And then we got out my "four" man emergency shelter and all climbed inside for lunch. This is my favourite image of the day. lunch in the clouds. Just perfect... but no way will four men ever fit in here comfortably!
These things warm up incredibly fast no matter what the weather outside is doing. Its really nice sitting in here warm and dry and listening to wind and rain howling outside. There are even two windows to look through.
Carrick and Dave at the 2nd Summit cairn after lunch.
And this is an image of the official summit, as viewed from the second cairn where we had lunch. This fellow enjoying the summit made the image for me.
I turned round and found Ella taking an image. She had a little cry when her battery went flat after just one image. Sadly it hadnt been charged despite me keep reminding her to do it. I guess spare batteries for her camera are another thing to add to my checklist.
Sadly, its time to go. We have quite a long hike back to the car and I am conscious of getting stuck in Bank Holiday Monday traffic en route home which as we all know, can be horrendous! This is us stoood in the small gulley betwen the two summits. This is the way down....
As luck would have it, the weather on the way down, was significantly nicer than the weather on the way up...
Ah.. Red Tarn, there it is again... the perfect waypoint to head for on your descent.
The route back is uneventful. The kids are in high spirits and its not a tiring descent as the angle is very shallow. We still have the odd stop to climb on rocks etc though of course.
There are plenty of little becks and muddy puddles to overcome. It all adds to the interest of the walk.
As does managing to get an image of Ella after we sat down near some sheep and they didnt take flight. Ella was very pleased. She loves sheep as you can probably tell. She even took her balaclava off so as not to scare them. Sadly, she dropped it straight in a muddy puddle and handed it to me to be carried back to the car. LOL
As far as Ella is concerned, the very best part of the trip is this little stream. I dont know why, but thats kids for you, she loves it and asked if it had a name. Im reasonably sure it hasnt, so we have named it "Ella Beck". She is very happy with that fact!
Just after "Ella Beck". The car parking slot comes into view and you know your nearly back.
We take a small detour to a small cragg ive always wanted to wander across to as I thought there might be a nice view of Wrynose Pass right over to Hard Knott. In the right light, I think there is an awesome image to be had here. I will be back with my SLR!
Back at the car, we grab an image of the kids at the "Three Shires Stone". There are stones in the floor marking where the three shires used to meet. The kids are pointing at two of them.
Already dreading the traffic, I opt to take us home the long way, through the very little travelled Duddon valley. Its either that, or Bowness and Windermere and we know at 4pm that might well be horrendous. So we head the other way and turn left at Cockley beck.
After driving for some 20 minutes, I spot a bridge and fierce waterfall which turns out to be one I have wanted to photograph for a very long time, but on two previous attempts had never managed to find. "Birks Bridge". We are due a little leg stretch anyway, so out we get out for a few shots and a play near the waterfall.
Its a fabuluous place and seems to have a wierd green colour all of its own. This is another place I will return to without kids so i can climb down and capture something special with my SLR. This place is begging for some long exposures!
For now, the little G7X will have to do...
And that was that - traffic wasnt too bad and we made it home for 6:30pm with two very tired but happy kids. (And tired parents too truth be told) I will end this story with a little Weather report Ella and Carrick made at the summit.
All images in this blog were taken with my Canon G7X point and shoot pocket camera. My camera of choice when hiking any distance. The Canon 5D3 SLR stays at home and only comes back with me if I come across any location really worth coming back for with time on my hands to make the best of it.
Here is a little Suunto movie of the trip, showing the route via Google earth.
And some data aquired by the Suunto Ambit 3 peak watch too. Interesting for ascent, descent and mileage etc. (calories are pretty accurate as I wear the Suunto Smart HR monitor too.)
A little about me:
For as long as I can remember I have been passionate about landscape photography. I love nothing more than leaving the house at 4am and heading to some distant landscape with a view to capturing an awesome sunrise during golden hour and then staying out shooting all day until night falls and trying to capture an incredible sunset... this escalated into a love of hiking.
Sometimes it's very successful, as you will see from this website, but other times its extremely frustrating and I just spend 12hrs getting cold, wet and downhearted with the weather, but that comes with the British climate and makes the great captures all the more satisfying.
My equipment centres around the incredible Canon 5D MK3 Body which is a fantastic camera by any standard and with a resolution of 22mp allows me to create very large prints with no loss of detail, and I have the amazing 18mp high speed Canon EOS 7D as my backup body... just in case of disaster! If hiking any distance, or with long, hard ascents I often just take the awesome Canon G7X, a 21mp pocket camera that is almost as capable as my 5D MK3.
I hope you enjoy reading my trip reports and looking at my images. If you would like to hang any on your wall and its not part of my main gallery (A trip report image for example), please feel free to drop me a line and I will upload a high resolution version to the main gallery for purchase.