The original plan was to see the new year in from a tent in the Lake District, ideally with a nice beer after a good bit of mountain biking. However, this got delayed due to slightly less than ideal conditions… 97mph winds and hail!
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of camping whatever the weather, but without the right gear it was agreed to attempt to pitch and sleep in a tent in such weather, all for fun, would be a bit foolish!
So with a marginally better forecast (we weren’t going postpone it twice), we headed towards Coniston. Having set off a little later than expected, we arrived in the Lakes at about midnight and headed up a small track to a wild camping spot for the night. Now it may be worth expanding on the term ‘small track’… as this feels a very generous term for the path we drove along, it was more of a series of slightly muddy slabs/rocks! Anyways my car, a noisy but trusty Nissan X-Trail had no issues. We found the driest spot to pitch the tent and started setting up. My first job was to move the car, so we had better light to set up the tent, I jumped in checked both sides behind me, absolutely fine – the better part of the track even! So I popped the car in reverse and promptly backed into the biggest hole possible!
To cut a long story short, I had well and truly got the car stuck…both back tires were in the hole so far they couldn’t touch the bottom and the front wheels were now on very boggy grass– sh*t!
Many attempts later I was still in the same position – this required a different tactic! We unloaded the car (bikes, climbing gear, camping stuff, etc.) and set to finding the largest stones we could to fill up the hole, then with a massive effort on Tom’s part pushing, we managed to get it out!
Next covered head to toe in mud, in the wind and rain, we pitched the tent as best we could given one of the poles broke with the wind and settled in for the night. Over the night the winds picked up considerably more than forecasted, at 3 am I was still awake slightly concerned the tent was about to lift off and blow away!
Come morning everything was still in one piece, but with much less sleep than planned and still torrential conditions we decided against the mammoth mountain bike route we had planned which was quite exposed and headed to Grizedale to play about on the North Face Trail.
This was so much fun, I haven’t had the chance to take my bike around one of these tracks, and it was an excellent opportunity to practice some more technical riding. Even better the weather turned around, and we had a lovely afternoon in the sun to dry out!
Sunday we got up early and headed out on the mountain bikes to ride up Nan Bield and Garburn Pass. This has to be one of my favourite rides to date, encompassing the three key elements of a true mountain bike ride – pushing it, falling off it and carrying it.
The route certainly tested me; the middle section has an hour long carry up a very steep frozen stream, to what I had repeatedly been reassured was an epic downhill section. I have to admit I very nearly lost my cool when I got to the top, knackered, to see the downhill was way beyond my current capability… This meant proceeding to carry my bike – now downhill – not amused! Luckily my mood improved as this eased off to some fantastic single track and cross country riding. I got back to the car exhausted, very muddy and a bit smelly but really happy with the weekend!