The Cumbria Way- Day 3: Descent from the crags to Langdale

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Looking out from our tent across the fells from Wet Side Edge

Wet Side Edge to Old Dungeon Ghyll, Great Langdale

When I poked my head out of the tent, the landscape was transformed, veils of cloud hung low in the valleys and between the summits, swirling and changing as the weather came in from the west.  It was still early, so I sat outside the tent, wrapped in my sleeping bag and watched the panorama.

Within a few days I had decided that I hate cooking with meths. Before we left I made a small meths burner from two coke cans, which works well (and is incredibly light), but it’s so difficult to gauge the amount of fuel needed.  This morning the water needed boiling well to purify, and I underestimated the amount of fuel, so turned to the trusty Pocket Rocket to do the job properly.

Around 7:30 the weather changed as a giant cloud bank started to overtake the mountain and spill down onto Wet Side Edge, threatening to obscure the path down. We packed-up quicly, concerned that the correct path will become difficult to find. If in trouble I knew our location and could follow some bearings down to cairns and other features on the way. We descended rapidly and stayed ahead of the weather, taking time to admire the cloud breaking over Swirl How and eddying among the crags below.

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Breakfast stop after a rapid descent from Wet Side Edge (to the right). The summit of Swirl How is engulfed in cloud.

Once down, we stopped for breakfast, listening to the calls of shepherds on the slopes across the valley. Occasionally we would see groups of sheep cluster and surge, and pick-out the dogs rounding them up, we never saw the people though. These voices, the sound of the sheep and the landscape reminded me of times travelling, were we woke to hear the goatherds in the valleys if the Atlas and Caucauses.

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The trail winds through Great Langdale towards Old Dungeon Ghyll

Much of the day was spent walking through pleasant lowlands, through Little Langdale with its lake, and round into Great Langdale valley where we stop to buy supplies at Chapel Stile.  Having survived largely on tortillas, salami, cheese and dehydrated meals for the last few days, we were glad to find some fruit, and we stood outside of the store eating pears and nectarines, the juice dripping everywhere. The extra food put our pack-weights up again, and I am reminded of how unsustainable it is to carry such heavy and bulky loads. Barry’s pack in particular is huge and he sometimes struggled just to pick it up.  All I have read over the past year has made very clear that the lighter the pack, the better the experience. After trimming our kit down to a minimum, I think we will have to revisit our ‘big three’ to make any difference.

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