Author Topic: TR - Levers Water wild camp  (Read 847 times)

richardh1905

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TR - Levers Water wild camp
« on: 14:35:20, 12/08/20 »
Levers Water wild camp - 10-11 Aug 2020

A sultry afternoon walk over Wetherlam, followed by the mother of all thunderstorms and a sublime wild swim.

I've been resting an injured knee this last couple of weeks, and had planned to lay off hill walking for a while, saving myself for a planned family trip to the Highlands next Sunday. But I felt as if I was going a bit stir crazy, and had to get out into the hills, despite a weather warning for thunderstorms....

Map on my blog HERE
Viewranger route HERE

I left the car in the decent sized free car park at Tilberthwaite, north of Coniston, and was on the hill by 1515. My rather ambitious plan was to climb Wetherlam, Swirl How,  Old Man of Coniston and Dow Crag, and then drop down to camp at Blind Tarn.

Rather than climb up through the quarries as I did the last time I was here, I decided to take the well made miners path that climbs up the northern side of the gill. I could hear the sound of heated shouting and a quad bike being revved vigorously, so I climbed up onto the hillside with caution – but the farmer had got the escapee sheep under control and back out on the fell by the time I arrived on the scene. In fact, I probably helped him by driving them further up the path as I climbed.


The green fields of Tilberthwaite, with Fairfield and Red Screes beyond

The going was slow: it was hot, despite there being not much sun, and humidity levels were exceptionally high. I had a heavy pack and was still favouring my knee, so I really took my time climbing up above the gorge into the open valley beyond.
I met a few people coming down off the hill, they were interested in where I was going to camp, but for some reason I felt a bit reticent about letting them know, and was frustratingly vague – perhaps all the bad publicity about Fly Campers has made me unnecessarily defensive, as their interest was genuine.

The valley above the gorge contains some old copper mines, but the path led above these, and I couldn’t be bothered to drop back down the hill to have a poke around. There were more mines at the head of the valley; a delightful spot, with a scattering of mature larch trees. Less delightful was the sight of some stone steps directly tackling the slopes of Birk Fell, and the ramparts of Wetherlam Edge, which looked intimidatingly steep – does the path really go that way?


Wetherlam Edge

After having a peep at the disused mine, I tackled the staircase, which was well constructed and wasn’t half as bad as I expected, and the view back down the valley gave me an excuse to take a photo break.



The stone staircase petered out and I soon crested the brow of Birk Fell, my efforts rewarded by lovely views of the hills to the north – the Langdale Pikes being the stars of the show.


Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Pike O'Blisco, Langdale Pikes


From here my route took me south westwards, the pleasure of walking along a level ridge tempered by the sight of Wetherlam Edge rearing up ahead. I couldn’t really see how the path weaved its way in and out of the crags that defended the fell.


Wetherlam

So I set to it – having to put my hand to rock on several occasions. The scrambling would be easy in normal circumstances, but I was weighed down by my pack and my heartrate soared in the heat and humidity – I was a bit of a mess! No option but to struggle onwards, taking the easy line wherever possible, and eventually I broke out through the crags onto easier summit slopes.


Summit view - Scafell range left.

What a relief to reach the summit! I dropped my walking pole and threw off my accursed pack, and just sat for a while admiring the view. I took a look at my watch and realised that time was marching on – it was 1750 – it had taken me two and a half hours to cover just over 2 miles! Time for some much needed sustenance – a battered but delicious Higginsons chilli jam pork pie: just what I needed.

To my west were Black Sails and Swirl How. I still entertained thoughts of continuing on over Swirl How towards Blind Tarn, or perhaps dropping down to Seathwaite Tarn for the night, but the climb of Prison Band was playing upon my mind. I angled westwards towards Black Sails before realising that the main path misses the top, instead skirting above the steep ground above Greenburn Beck, a remote valley that is, I suspect, rarely visited. Black Sails, despite being quite a prominent top, fails to make it onto Mr Wainwrights list, which perhaps explains the lack of a path up to the top. In the heat I took the easy way and followed the path, beginning to think of cutting the walk short and spending the night in the Greenburn valley below.

As I descended towards Swirl How with the prospect of the climb up Prison Band ahead, in all likelihood every bit as bad as Wetherlam Edge, I caught sight of Levers Water below me to the south, a jewel amongst the crags, and I decided there and then that that was where I would spend the night. Surprisingly I had a good signal, so I called my wife to let her know about my change of plans, and started picking my way down the path into the valley, a relief now that I had made the decision.



Levers Water proved to be too tempting.

I dropped down from the path into what is charmingly called The Prison, a boulder chaos below forbidding crags, and followed the beck down towards Levers Water, eventually crossing it and finding a delightful pitch above the lake.


The bouldery chaos of The Prison

Up with the tent, and then time to relax and take in my surroundings.




Levers Water reflections

After a walk down to the shore followed by a simple evening meal, I settled in for the night, barely in my sleeping bag at all as it was so warm and humid. I must have dozed for a while, because I woke up to the sound of distant thunder as it was getting dark. The tent was being lit up every few seconds, so I opened up the zip to enjoy the show – at this stage all I could see were flashes of sheet lightning, and it didn’t seem that threatening. I must have dozed again because when I awoke it was quite dark, and the thunder was closer. The flashes were more intense, and if anything more frequent, and I began to realise that I was not going to enjoy a good nights sleep!

Closer still the storm came, and I started counting the seconds between the lightning and the thunder, to gauge how far away it was, difficult as the flashes were so frequent. Then the rain started, gently at first, and the storm intensified – by now I had done up the zip so all I could see was an X-ray impression of the tent seams every few seconds. Particularly intense flashes momentarily blinded me, and I was only counting to ‘Two’ before being pummelled by the following peals of thunder, which echoed off the cliffs above and left me feeling quite dazed. I began to wonder what on earth I was doing there. Thankfully I remembered that I had packed some foam earplugs, and these helped, although it was a long night, truly a humbling experience.

The storm must have petered out some time after 0300, as I awoke at 0520, the only sound being that a small bird calling. I contemplated having a lie in, but I could see flashes in the sky over towards Yorkshire, and there were still some dark clouds around, so I decided to pack up and get out whilst the going was good. I was on my way at 0615.


Leave no trace

After all the rain I did wonder whether I would have difficulty in crossing the stream, but it proved to be no bother, and I angled down to join the path that skirts the eastern shore of the lake, the weather improving all the while.



At the foot of Levers Water there is a well made weir across to the stone built dam, the weir proved to be easy to cross, and I enjoyed a snack on the broad grass topped dam. Whilst I was crossing the dam, the sun rose above the ridge to the east, and thoughts of a wild swim entered my head – the water looked so inviting.



There are some old copper mines at the southern tip of the lake; the crushed spoil from these making a small beach – the perfect spot for a wild swim! The water was deliciously cool and the swim was sublime – possibly the best that I have ever had, and it certainly made up for the tough night. It was hard to drag myself away.






After this refreshing interlude I climbed past the nearby copper mines and dropped down into Boulder Valley to the south.


Coniston far below


An industrial landscape

Boulder Valley certainly lived up to its name – I don’t think that I have seen so many huge boulders before in Britain, but the star of the show was Low Water Beck tumbling over the cliffs above – this is not even marked as a waterfall on the map, but was quite spectacular after all the rain.


Low Water Beck cascading over the cliffs

From here the walking was easy, level paths cutting across the hillside leading me to the car park on the Walna Scar Road. I met several people heading out on their ascent of the Old Man, some well prepared, others less so, and said ‘Hello’ to some people sitting beneath the awning of their motor home – their idea of wild camping I suppose.
I returned to Tilberthwaite via the Walna Scar Road, Coniston village, and a new bridleway that runs parallel to the busy Coniston to Ambleside road, nice easy walking giving me ample time to reflect upon my latest outing, one that I will not forget in a hurry, that is for sure!







The bridleway running parallel to the busy Ambleside road
« Last Edit: 08:19:31, 13/08/20 by richardh1905 »
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karl h

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #1 on: 16:20:05, 12/08/20 »
What a brilliant adventure Richard, thank you for sharing with us. O0
I've never had the "pleasure" of camping in thunder and lightning  ;D


The area of trees around Birk Fell Man is a lovely spot, it's so nice to see mature trees so high on the fell side
show your love for Lady Nature. And she will come back again.
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #2 on: 17:51:58, 12/08/20 »
What a brilliant adventure Richard, thank you for sharing with us. O0
I've never had the "pleasure" of camping in thunder and lightning  ;D
The area of trees around Birk Fell Man is a lovely spot, it's so nice to see mature trees so high on the fell side
Thanks Karl  :) 

I've experienced a Pyrenean thunderstorm whilst wild camping, and this one was on a par with it, worse in some respects as it went on most of the night, whereas the Pyrenean one only visited us three times and then left us in peace.

I was quite taken by that valley below Birk Fell when we walked up Tilberthwaite Gill a few months ago, and have been keen to return. Nice to see some trees up high, even a non native species like larch. In my opinion, the fells would be enhanced if they were allowed to become truly wild, but this would require a severe reduction in sheep numbers.
« Last Edit: 17:58:03, 12/08/20 by richardh1905 »
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April

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #3 on: 18:30:48, 12/08/20 »
Fab report and pics Richard  O0


I was getting hot just reading the part about your climb up Wetherlam Edge  :)


We have been out in a thunder storm on Hard Knott Fell before. I remember we were laughing a bit but also quite fearful of what might happen. We'd just managed to get in the tent before it tipped it down.
"Who would've thought...... you are light and darkness coming through" words by Tim Armstrong

Ridge

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #4 on: 19:30:17, 12/08/20 »
Great report sounds like you had an exciting time. Definitely looks like cutting the route was a good decision.
Love the Wetherlam summit shot and the sunrise. O0

Florence Lamb

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #5 on: 20:18:01, 12/08/20 »
Enjoyed your report Richard, fab photos, and as for the bonus of a wild swim, wow - that's right up my street. 

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #6 on: 20:29:29, 12/08/20 »
Fab report and pics Richard  O0
I was getting hot just reading the part about your climb up Wetherlam Edge  :)
We have been out in a thunder storm on Hard Knott Fell before. I remember we were laughing a bit but also quite fearful of what might happen. We'd just managed to get in the tent before it tipped it down.

Thanks April - too much detail I know, but the entire back of my rucksack was saturated after the climb up Wetherlam Edge - good job that I put my sleeping bag etc in a drybag. And when I weighed myself after getting home, I found out that I actually lost 2kg !

Not sure that I fancy being on top of Hard Knott Fell in a thunderstorm - rather too exposed for my liking  :o
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #7 on: 20:31:33, 12/08/20 »
Great report sounds like you had an exciting time. Definitely looks like cutting the route was a good decision.
Love the Wetherlam summit shot and the sunrise. O0
Thanks Mark - yes, a good call - but forced upon me as I don't think that I could have got up Prison Band given the state that I was in!


The sunrise was a bit of a surprise, as earlier there had been storm clouds to the east.
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #8 on: 20:32:45, 12/08/20 »
Enjoyed your report Richard, fab photos, and as for the bonus of a wild swim, wow - that's right up my street.


Thanks Florence - Levers Water is highly recommended for a swim, especially early in the morning as I had the entire valley to myself. :)
I didn't want to leave.
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April

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #9 on: 23:14:55, 12/08/20 »
And when I weighed myself after getting home, I found out that I actually lost 2kg !


 :o  Bloomin 'eck


Not sure that I fancy being on top of Hard Knott Fell in a thunderstorm - rather too exposed for my liking  :o


We were below the summit near Border End as I recall. I've been trying to find a TR of it on here but can't. The thunder and lightning didn't carry on for that long and certainly nowhere near as dramatic as Monday nights storm but it did tip it down for hours.



"Who would've thought...... you are light and darkness coming through" words by Tim Armstrong

Dodgylegs

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #10 on: 23:28:30, 12/08/20 »
It's about time you had your own TV show Richard! O0


Really enjoyed your adventure... was the swim good for the knee?

watershed

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #11 on: 07:35:23, 13/08/20 »
excellent report Richard.
You could write a book!
Felt that I was walking it with you.

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #12 on: 08:16:14, 13/08/20 »
It's about time you had your own TV show Richard! O0


Really enjoyed your adventure... was the swim good for the knee?


Thanks Dodgylegs - I did appear rather unflatteringly on BBC Scotland's Adventure Program once, I was one of the tail enders up Bealach na Ba on the first running of the cyclosportive event of that name, in a sweaty dishevelled state, and a bored reporter thrust a camera in my face and asked me how was it? "It was murder" was my reply, and I got my 5 seconds of fame, much to both my delight and horror!


Glad that you enjoyed it - my knee seemes to have survived the experience, perhaps the swim helped. Looking forward to our trip to the Highlands now!
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #13 on: 08:16:47, 13/08/20 »
excellent report Richard.
You could write a book!
Felt that I was walking it with you.


Thanks Watershed - I'll keep the reports coming!  :)
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Levers Water wild camp
« Reply #14 on: 08:27:51, 13/08/20 »
:o  Bloomin 'eck


That's what I thought - or words to that effect. I could do with losing the weight, mind. :D

Quote
I've been trying to find a TR of it on here but can't.


That is one of the reasons that I have decided to create my own website on Wordpress - if nothing else, it acts as an index to TRs published on here, and the TRs that I have copied onto the website (most of them now) are backed up for me to enjoy when I am in my dotage!
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