Posts tagged ‘backpacking’

November 6, 2015

Above the clouds on the Whinlatter Horseshoe

by backpackingbongos

Being a sad hill bagger type I noticed a clutch of unclimbed Nuttalls, Wainwrights and Birketts on both sides of the Whinlatter Pass. Rather than doing a series of there and back day walks to collect them I planned an inelegant backpack that would take them all in. For want of a better term I have called it the Whinlatter Horseshoe. Well I thought that it was a horseshoe shape until I actually traced it on a map. It turned out to be the shoe of a psychotic Shetland pony.

Total distance – 31 kilometres with 1840 metres ascent

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(Click to enlarge)

Day one

The footpath sign was correct in indicating that it was a no through route. The right of way simply stopped at the edge of a field with no way forward. It had however done the job of depositing myself and Reuben within access land at the foot of steep slopes that would eventually lead us to the summit of Ladyside Pike.

It was a climb done in thick murk, there was no wind and a total absence of a view. Every now and then I could hear the traffic as it made its way up and down the Whinlatter Pass. Otherwise it was simply exercise with the absence of external stimuli. That was why it was extra special after all the exertion to see the final summit cone against the blue sky, mist slowly being pulled aside.


The air on the summit itself was warm and crystal clear, a different world from that just a few metres below. A sea of cloud was spread below my feet to the west. Strangely though everything to the east was clear, the valleys visible. The Whinlatter pass itself seemed to be the dividing line.


The way ahead was along a snaking ridge and up to the summit of Hopegill Head. The mountain looked unobtainable from this angle, sitting above a band of cliffs that I would have to climb. I was not sure if this would be possible with Reuben in tow, he is not the worlds most proficient scrambler.


Getting closer to the final pull to the summit, things looked even trickier.


The climb turned out to be very easy, especially with the rock being warm and dry. I’m not sure that I would want to descend when there is a layer of ice though!

The cloud to the west was consolidating, becoming thicker and rising and falling up the hillside like waves on a beach.



The summit of Hopegill Head is a beautifully airy place. I took off my pack and perched by the tiny summit cairn taking in the scenery. It was late in the afternoon during the first weekend of October and I was sitting on the summit of a mountain in warm sunshine. What had initially looked like a very average day on the hills was quickly turning out to be one of the best.


The ridge to Whiteside looked too good to miss, even though it would involve doing it twice as a there and back.


The walk along its twisting path and over various minor summits was sheer delight. It was even better on the way back to Hopegill Head as the setting sun began to cast everything in an orange and then pink glow.



Back at Hopegill head the sun put in a dazzling light show as it began to sink into the line of cloud spreading towards the western horizon.




I sat until the sun finally dipped, the temperature immediately dropping, both myself and Reuben’s breath rising in the cool air. I had planned to camp high, my map showing water just to the south east of Sand Hill. Unfortunately the watercourse was bone dry when I got to it during the last of the fading light. Plan B was to descend to Coledale Hause and climb a little way along the stream to the south. It was dark by the time we reached the Hause, the climb being done by torchlight. I eventually found a reasonably flat platform on which to pitch the Wickiup. Reuben did his best to help by trying to get inside before it was fully pitched. He went off in a huff to bed down in some long grass after I told him he was just adding to the challenge of pitching in the dark.

With the tent fully pitched he was soon quick to make friends again when invited inside to get comfy on his mat and blanket. He feels no shame in wearing his fleecy pj’s, snug and warm he let out a grunt of contentment and was soon snoring away. It was not that long before I joined him in the land of nod.

Day two

Fell runners must be insomniacs as a pair of them passed my tent soon after dawn, with more passing whilst I was eating breakfast. It was a clear morning with the cloud low in the valleys, however it steadily rose whilst I was packing up. By the time we left we were in a cold and grey world with limited visibility.



It was a trudge back up towards Hobcarton Crag, visibility reduced to the eroded path that I was following. Suddenly blue appeared above me and I broke out above the cloud for the second day running. Hopegill Head just about had its head above the clouds, the ebb and flow threatening to crash over its summit.


Our next destination was Grisedale Pike, it’s conical summit not being as successful in holding back the fluffy surge.



The best view of the day was towards Skiddaw which looked like an isolated island.


We were engulfed again on the summit of Grisedale so we dropped down to the north to find a quiet spot for a mid morning snack. The rest of the day was spent in a miserable combination of damp fog and limited visibility. Hobcarton End was bagged before a long knee breaking descent through the forest to the summit of the Whinlatter Pass.


I had carefully planned a route through the forest on the other side. However I failed to realise that Whinlatter is a major mountain biking destination. My planned ascent route turned out to be a fast downhill bike track where those on foot were prohibited. I took note of the signs as to walk up it would mean the quick demise of Reuben, myself and any descending mountain biker. Instead we trudged along the road for a while before climbing over a gate close to a disused quarry.

What then followed was a steep, highly vegetated struggle through deep heather and bracken. I was simultaneously pulling myself up with fistfuls of the stuff, whilst often falling sideways after some tufty section meant I lost my balance. Reuben however did not mind it one bit. At one point I’m sure that he was even smiling.


Once on the hill we picked up a path to Whinlatter Top and did a there and back ascent of a couple of hills. I had planned on camping somewhere near Barf but laziness soon got the better of me. After picking up water from Drycloffe Gill the Wickiup was pitched on Tarbarrel Moss.


The rest of the afternoon was spent reading and brewing, the sun putting in a brief appearance at the end of the day.


Day three

This time it was mountain bikers who were up at the crack of dawn. A trio decided to spend a while chatting loudly close by (I later found out that there was a bike trail nearby, they had stopped at the summit). You really are never far from people in the Lake District! There needs to be some bylaw that states if you are not wild camping you are not allowed on the fells before 9am………..

We had soon bagged Ullister Hill and were on a series of lovely paths through the forest en-route to Seat How. This allows you to tick a Birkett off the list, but strangely it is not even a hill in its own right. It’s simply an area that has not been planted by forestry. It does sport a cracking view back to Grisedale Pike though. The good thing with obscure hill bagging is that you visit places you would not usually bother with.


Barf was our next objective, via a series of forest paths and tracks. At one point I was very pleased when I overtook a trio of teenagers on mountain bikes. I was on foot with a backpack and wobbly belly. Breaks in the trees gave views down to Bassenthwaite Lake and across to Skiddaw, its head stubbornly in the clouds.


Although Barf is a small hill it is rugged enough to have bits that you can fall off. The views are also outstanding. It was then another descent followed by a climb to the summit of Lord’s Seat. I timed my arrival perfectly as a gaggle of ramblers had just finished their lunch and were about to leave. Reuben was wearing his panniers so we both suffered the indignity of a mass of pensioners taking his photo using ancient forms of technology.

Lord’s Seat is aptly named as just below the summit to the north is a natural rocky seat that provided respite from the cooling breeze. A perfect spot to sit for a while and finish the contents of my food bag.

The walk over Broom Fell, Graystones and Kirk Fell was an easy one, these rolling hills not having a huge amount of character. The day was leaden and overcast but a few beams of sunshine managed to pierce the clouds every now and then.



The descent from Graystones to the valley bottom is a steep one, my knees and thighs were sore by the time I got to the bottom near Scawgill bridge, not a route that I would like to repeat any time soon.


Back at the car park I did my good deed for the day, picking up a discarded crisp packet. It was covered in dog shit. Thanks for that.

October 18, 2015

Feeding the midges – backpacking Bilsdale

by backpackingbongos

It’s fourteen years since I last backpacked with my mate Rich. In 2001 we scampered up the Munro’s of Knoydart without pausing for breath, heavy packs on our backs. Time is cruel to the human body as this time we wheezed up much smaller hills, faces red and contorted, sun reflecting off grey speckled hair, waistlines not as trim as they used to be. However I’m pleased to say that the threads of conversation remained the same, as puerile as ever.

Total distance – 27 kilometres with 1040 metres ascent

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The car was left at the village hall in Chop Gate. It has a strange pay and display system which involved dropping a pound in a box and then taking a sticker from a roll which you display in your windscreen. The stickers had run out so we left the car wondering if some officious person with a name badge would come along and slap us with a fine.

It was early afternoon in the middle of September, the sky was blue and the sun hot. It was hard work climbing the slope up Cold Moor, especially for Reuben who was panting heavily in the heat.


The top of Cold Moor presented us with a view that possibly far exceeds that of any other 400 metre hill. The long moorland escarpment drops suddenly to the flat plains below, a patchwork of fields stretching to the far horizon. Despite the heat the air had the clarity which you usually get on a crisp winters day. It was good to sit there for a while, a cooling breeze drying sweaty backs.




We picked up the Cleveland Way, descending and then immediately re-ascending to the Wain Stones. They were busy with climbers and walkers that afternoon. We passed a young German couple backpacking with two dogs wearing panniers. Reuben was also wearing his, containing such luxuries as dog PJ’s, a soft blanket and gravy bones. This naturally meant that we struck up a conversation. It turned out that they were spending a long period of time in the UK. Backpacking with no fixed plan, dropping into farms to see if they could pick up work as they went along. They were thinking of walking up to Hadrian’s Wall but would see what happened along the way. We were just out for the one night which left me with a pang of jealousy.




The Cleveland Way gives a grand promenade as it heads east, a good path with numerous ups and downs to get us panting. We passed a couple, the bloke giving Reuben and I the filthiest look possible. I don’t think I have ever seen a face full of horror, fear and hatred like that before. Sometimes I think that I imagine these things, but Rich who was following behind confirmed that the bloke looked like he was going to attacked by a bearded man and his Staffy.


Approaching Round Hill we had both ran out of water and Reuben’s tongue was dragging along the ground. Maiden Spring is marked on the map, a possible source of water, although we did not hold out much hope considering how dry everything was. Obviously it was pointless both of us trudging over to it so I heroically looked after the packs whilst Rich dutifully walked over with our empty bottles.

Our destination for the night was Farndale, on the other side of a stretch of moorland. I find parts of the moors in the National Park a boring and featureless monoculture. We walked along a track that is good enough to drive a car along whilst an unbroken sea of heather spread to the horizon. The only wildlife was the numerous red grouse challenging us from both sides of the track. It felt like walking across an industrial grouse farm.

The best parts of the National Park are the numerous dales, woodlands and moorland edges. We left the security of the track near Bloworth Crossing and stumbled across deep heather, bog and tussock to the head of Farndale. With the sun going down we found an idyllic spot in which to pitch. Idyllic until the midges found us. They were so bad that I needed my head net to preserve my sanity. Poor Reuben had a reaction to them and his face around his eyes swelled up. He retired to the sanctuary of the tent early whilst we cooked outside. It was only once the sun had set and the temperature had dropped that they finally disappeared.

Later that evening whilst we stood outside chatting we spotted four bright torches heading our way. Naturally I initially assumed that it was four burly farmers who had come up to evict us from our pitch. It turned out that they were Mountain Rescue off for some night navigation on the moors (we found this out after saying that we hoped they did not get lost!).

It was one of those nights where the condensation was copious, everything was dripping by dawn. This however did not deter the midges who were up and waiting for us as we emerged. Poor Reuben’s face swelled up a second time due to the onslaught, Rich and I ate breakfast whilst walking around as quickly as possible.



We packed up sopping wet tents under a rapidly clouding over sky and saddled Reuben with his panniers. Farndale is a lovely secluded valley, a place to return to in the spring when the daffodils for which it is famous are in bloom.


To return to Chop Gate we had to walk across the grain of the land. A series of north to south valleys had to be crossed with moorland separating them. We climbed out of Farndale, legs complaining on the first ascent of the day to immediately descend into Bransdale. One thing that was becoming evident was that away from the honey pot areas the North York Moors are surprisingly quiet. We met the only hikers of the day in Bransdale.


Crossing the valley we had another climb, this time onto Bransdale Moor. For a while we had the pleasure of a narrow path before once again we picked up another vehicle track. This eventually dropped in a series of ugly hairpin bends into hidden Tripsdale. This is a lush valley full of trees, just beginning their first blush of Autumn. It would be worthy of exploration in winter as the rest of the time it is choked with bracken.



We were then faced with yet another climb onto moorland, this time Nab End Moor. The wide open Bilsdale was soon at our feet, the view ahead into Raisdale.


We were quickly back at the car, the skies getting ever darker, the promised weather front had finally reached the east of the country.


October 11, 2015

On high empty rolling hills – a backpack south of Peebles

by backpackingbongos

Between the towns of Peebles and Moffat sits an area of high rolling hills. A constantly shrinking island of wild land circled by wind farms. The hills frequently raise their heads above the 800 metre contour, a place where you can often sit in solitude with just sheep and moorland birds for company. There is only one road that crosses these soft velvety heights and that is the single track one between Tweedsmuir and St Mary’s Loch. I was keen to explore the land to the north of this road, an opportunity to tick off a batch of Donald hills (hills in lowland Scotland that exceed 2000 feet). With it being the first weekend in August it was also an opportunity to avoid the silly season in the popular National Parks. The trip to Sarek was only a couple of weeks to go, so it was also a good reason to stretch my legs and try out the new Hilleberg tent.

Total distance – 46 kilometres with 2350 metres ascent

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(Click for full size map)

As this trip was a couple of months ago I thought that I would do a photo post with some captions instead of a full trip report.

P1090595On the steep ascent of Black Rig, looking down to the grassy track up Mill Burn.

P1090598Climbing the final heathery slopes of the Scrape. The views across the Manor Water are to the hills around Hundleshope Heights.

P1090600The Hilleberg Enan pitched at the headwater of the Drumelzier Burn at the 630 metre contour.

P1090603The Enan is probably the easiest tent I have ever pitched. Up in a couple of minutes and a perfect pitch every time no matter how uneven the terrain.

P1090604Descending to Taberon Law, the Culter Hills on the horizon. The eleven turbines make up the Glenkerie wind farm, the proposed extension has thankfully for now been rejected.

P1090607The huge bulk of hills between Dollar Law and Broad Law, rising to over 800 metres. From this angle they reminded me of the Cheviots.

P1090613A fine cairn on the lower slopes of Dollar law.

P1090618Another view of the Culter Hills, this time looking down the length of the Stanhope Burn.

P1090622Having previously climbed Dollar law I missed out the summit sticking instead to the Thief’s road. The track is slowly being reclaimed by the moor. The body of water just visible is the Megget Reservoir.

P1090623Continue walking in this direction and you will cross some fine wild hills, eventually coming to Hart Fell before descending to Moffat. Peebles to Moffat is a walk I fancy doing one day. It’s a shame they are not linked together by public transport. Instead you would need to go in and out of Edinburgh, or use two cars.

P1090624Looking back at Notman Law. The grassy sections on these hills give easy walking, the rest is heather or tussocks.

P1090626An excellent pitch right at the head of the long and remote Manor Valley.

P1090630Looking down the ravine of Bitch Cleuch, Bitch Crag just out of sight.

P1090631Foulbrig is aptly named, an area of bog and tussocks, crossed so I could get another tick by climbing the small bump of Deer Law.

P1090632Looking back across Foulbrig,the bulky hill on the horizon is Dollar Law.

P1090634Tussocks are Latin for Hell.

P1090636This weathered stone contrasted sharply with the newly constructed track that I crossed soon afterwards, a jarring scar on the landscape.

P1090638The summit of Birkscairn Hill. There was a brief lull in the wind and rain that had battered me on the climb up. The shower was so violent that I expected flashes of lightning and bangs of thunder. Thankfully there were neither.

P1090644The passing storm did provide a great rainbow though.

P1090646An hour later and I was pitched in the sun at the head of the very scenic Glensax, a glen that would not be out of place much further north in the Highlands.


P1090649I I half expected to see leather face from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre run out of this farmstead. An atmospheric building in a beautiful spot.

P1090652Looking back to the head of Glensax.

P1090653Looking north down to the lower reaches of the Glen, heather in full bloom.

P1090655The hills were full of Cloudberries which sadly were not fully ripened. I only found a couple that I could eat.

P1090657Steep heathery slopes led me to Stob Law, the final hill of the day.

P1090658Hundles Hope, with Peebles just out of sight on the right hand side.


P1090663Across the Manor Water to the first hill of the trip.

October 7, 2015

Mountains, Marshes and Mosquitoes – Arctic Sarek 2015 (part 6)

by backpackingbongos

Part one.

Part two.

Part three.

Part four.

Part five.


Day Six – 27th August

Day 6

It felt rather novel laying in the Hilleberg Enan listening to the sound of wind and rain. I felt warm and snug and it was an effort to remove myself from a warm down filled cocoon. We had pitched in an exposed spot the night before, the tents shrugging off the stiff breeze. We both emerged into a world transformed from the past five days. The blue skies had been replaced by sodden grey clouds sitting heavily on the surrounding peaks. Although much of the views were now hidden the change in weather gave more drama to the landscape.




Rather than dropping down to the reindeer herders hut to pick up the path we simply climbed over a saddle behind a low rounded peak. On the horizon we could see the line of metal posts that we had followed on the route out. It gave us something to aim for whilst the clouds teased us with their presence, often reducing the view ahead.



I was glad that we had previously done this route in good weather as it would have been tough not knowing the terrain, the highest parts were totally clagged in. We remembered to leave the line of posts at the correct place, just after a large snow bank blocked our descent route. The rain had made it slick and icy and we detoured around a significant portion of it. The way ahead was indistinct, we lost the sketchy path, doing our best to aim for the same spot where we had crossed the river a few days before.


We managed to arrive at the exact spot, getting over the now faster flowing water with no difficulties. The next test was to cross further trackless ground to find the snow bridge over the next much wilder river. I was pleased that we navigated well, finding it on the first attempt. Once again it was slippery, patches of ice hidden amongst the snow. From a distance the snow looked like it was covered with blood but I think that it must have been some sort of algae.



Once past the snow bridge we picked up the good path that took us all the way back to Parek. We passed a solo backpacker who was not too keen on stopping for a chat.


After such an exposed walk it was good to see the Parek bog below us once again, although I was not that enthusiastic about having to walk it again the following day.


We found a great little camping spot at the top of the tree line at around the 800 metre contour. Whilst pitching we were passed by a young German trio heading up into the mountains. With it being late afternoon and the weather closing in I’m not sure that they made a wise choice. Any camping spot up there would be exposed and the weather was forecast to get worse. We attempted to sit and cook outside but spots of rain saw us retiring early to our tents.


It hammered it down all night and the wind blew in big gusts (according to Chrissie) but I managed to sleep through the worst of it.


Day seven – 28th August

Day 7

It was wet and windy the following morning, not the most ideal conditions in which to break camp. One of the nice things about the Enan tent is that it is easy to separate the inner from the outer and pack it away dry whilst undercover. Chrissie had to come to the rescue when a big gust of wind meant that I got my fly sheet tangled on the local vegetation. It was clear that it was going to be a damp sort of day.

As we descended through the forest the path was running with water, vegetation dripping on us we brushed past. There are numerous small streams unmarked on the map, most of which we had not even noticed a few days before. So much rain has fallen that even these meant wet feet when crossing, one proving tricky. My mind turned to the upcoming large river crossing between two lakes, it turned out that Chrissie was also thinking the same thing, although neither of us initially voiced this.

The first bit of fun came at a marshy section prior to the main river. On the way out this had been crossed by a wooden platform which was now detached and floating on a large flooded area. There was no way that we were able to get across. Luckily a detour around the edge of the marsh and a bash through some trees got us to the river itself.

It was huge! The wide and placid river we had crossed a few days before had burst its banks, the wooden triangles showing the way across now hidden. There was no way of knowing how deep it was without giving it a go. On the positive side it flows between two lakes so there was not much of a current, at the very worst we would have to swim!

Chrissie was very unhappy about the situation and was convinced we would both die. Although I was nervous about the whole thing I pretended that it was nothing to worry about. Hopefully that rubbed off. Anyway it’s not like we had much of an alternative!

A few minutes later we were stripped down to our underpants, wearing boots and waterproof tops and big rucksacks. With the rain pouring down we must have been a bit of a sight. The crossing took what felt like an eternity, the rocks being slippery and the cold water coming up to our waists most of the way across.

You have not lived until you have emerged from a freezing cold river, soaked from the waist down whilst heavy rain falls from a cloudy sky. Here are a couple of photos showing what we managed to cross. Can anyone tell which brand of trousers Chrissie is wearing in the photo below?



Rain fell for the rest of the morning as we crossed long sections of bog, thankfully protected by duckboards. The weather matched the mood of the landscape.



Our goal for the day was the campsite where we spent the first night of the trip. This would then leave us with only a few kilometres the following day, so that we did not have to rush for the early afternoon bus. This time we were the first to arrive and had the pick of the best spots, although that still meant pitching on bare earth, the best way to get a filthy tent. It was another evening where the weather drove us inside early, some of the showers proving to be particularly enthusiastic.


It was around dusk when the ‘fun’ started. Our tents got invaded throughout the night by an army of Arctic Voles. They were brazen little things, waltzing into an open porch in plain view. I actually had to smack one to make it run away! The end result by morning was a pair of stressed backpackers with chewed tents. Luckily they did not feel the need to chew the flysheets, they were more interested in joining us in our inner tents. I ended up with one small hole in my inner whilst Chrissie ended up with two much larger holes. One must have joined her during the night as she found a chewed bag inside the tent at the opposite side to the holes they had made.


Day eight – 29th August

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We were both a little battle weary by the time we packed our soaking wet tents into soaking wet packs, put on soaking wet waterproofs and set off down the trail to Kvikkjokk. The few kilometres passed quickly and we were back at the STF hostel with a couple of hours to spare. We picked up the bag of clean clothes we had stored there and paid about £5 each to use the shower. After wearing the same clothes for eight days it was nice to have something clean to wear.

The lunch at the hostel was good, setting us up for the long bus journey to Murjek, followed by the train to Luleå.

I have to say that I am totally smitten with the north, three journeys to Swedish Lapland and I am already planning the fourth. Where to go next is the question? The possibilities are endless.

If the demand is high enough I might do a short gear shakedown post, what worked and what didn’t, that sort of thing. On the other hand I might not.

September 26, 2015

Mountains, Marshes and Mosquitoes – Arctic Sarek 2015 (part 5)

by backpackingbongos

Part one.

Part two.

Part three.

Part four.

Day five – 26th August

I was up and out of my tent by 7.00am. Chrissie was up before me, standing looking down at the river, her face full of worry. It was clear that she was not keen at attempting to cross the river and I was careful not to push her into doing something she was not comfortable with. I would be lying to say that I was not disappointed, being keen to see the two lakes further up the valley, nestled amongst mountains of sheer black rock. However we had come to Sarek as a pair and that means compromises. Continuing the planned route was out of the question (an extra person and a rope I reckon would have got us safely across). I therefore set about persuading Chrissie into doing an alternative high level route I had cobbled together the night before.

Day 5

I had traced a line through areas where the contours widened out, linking together several shelves amongst steeper ground. The scale of the map is 1:100k and lacking detail, conditions under foot being a bit of a lottery. I was hoping that none of the steeper slopes would be covered in snow. Chrissie was willing to step into the unknown with me and give this mountain alternative a try. The only other viable route was to return the way we had come, neither of us really fancied that. It was still early when we left our campsite.


The initial climb was up slopes covered in dwarf willow, this was eventually replaced by grass as the hillside got steeper.



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We eventually got a glimpse of the snout of the huge glacier which was responsible for spawning the river we could not cross.



The originally planned route involved crossing the Njoatsosvagge river and valley and climbing steep slopes to a lake high on a plateau. This lake Goabrekjavraj soon came into view and it was clear that it would have involved a bit of a slog to get up there.


We were now on the far side of the mountain range that had originally dominated our view at the beginning of the trip. From the forest to the south they offer up their gentle side. From the north they are composed of fearsome pinnacles of rock and glaciers hanging at improbable angles from steep dark rock.

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From our lofty position I gazed into a long high level valley that runs parallel with the upper reaches of the Njoatsosvagge. Late August and much of it was still covered with snow. I imagine that it gives a wild and lonely through route to the north, perhaps one to try on my next trip back to Sarek.


It was satisfying to sit on a mountain top at over 1300 metres whilst north of the Arctic circle. For the first time on the trip it was cool enough to pull on some warm clothing and there was not a mosquito to be seen. The weather was beginning to turn as forecasted, cloud bubbling up and covering the highest peaks.


I have to say that the scale and majesty of the place was almost overwhelming. With cloud building over the dark jagged peaks there was a sense of menace in the air that I have not felt in Sarek before. It was clear that we were now in serious mountain territory, miles from civilisation and help if anything went wrong. It was at least three to four days of walking to get to a road. A place to truly feel your own insignificance.



We would often find ourselves skirting large patches of snow, unsure of what was beneath them. Water was running everywhere and we were afraid of walking across a small hidden lake covered in soft snow.

Bagatjavrasj is a large body of water which was mostly free from snow and ice. It was difficult however to tell how far the snow bank on the western side extended into the lake. There were large sunken craters that indicated that much of it was not above dry land. We gave it a wide berth.


As we got closer to the wall of mountains they took on a truly terrifying appearance. Climbing them would be well out of my league, at least without someone who really knew what they were doing. The pinnacle of rock above was mesmerising.


The vegetation was scarce, the ground covered by boulders and gravel, the odd patch of moss and lichen eking out a living. However even in such a brutal place there is beauty, tiny little flowers were thriving wherever they could find shelter.


The outflow from the lake was surprisingly wide but thankfully shallow, we got across with dry feet after a large amount of rock hopping.



We had probably the most spectacular lunch break of the whole trip. A rock bench next to the icy crystal clear waters as they rushed down the mountain. The sun was warm enough to remove boots and socks and dry them out a bit. I got my stove on and made noodles, a hot lunch always satisfying when out backpacking.


Nothing can beat sitting in the sun eating a tasty lunch and looking at a view like this.


We crossed another river and followed it downstream for a while. On slopes high above the far bank we spotted a group of backpackers make their way slowly across a snow field. They returned our waves and soon disappeared amongst the rocks of the endless plateau.

Glacial moraines towered above us, their slopes steep and loose. It took a bit of effort for our tired bodies to make the climb. Gaining height the plateau behind made us feel like specks of dust on the landscape. Gently rolling rocky hummocks as far as the eye can see. A vast desert reaching to further snow capped mountains. It was good knowing that there are small signs of life in the shape of tiny flowers in an otherwise alien land.



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Our route took us along a wide rocky shelf, steep slopes above and below. We entered a large boulder field of unstable rocks, each one wobbling underfoot as we took a step. Progress was slow and tiring, a slip would mean both pain and disaster. I was glad that I had good old fashioned leather boots on my feet. I don’t think I could have made it across in trail shoes.

After what felt like hours we descended steeply and sighed with relief when we felt grass beneath our feet. We could relax for a couple of miles of relatively easy walking above a series of deeply incised spurs that jut out above the valley below.


The cloud was sinking ever lower through what had become early evening. Every now and again we would be enveloped in mist and a few spots of rain began to fall. We pulled on our waterproofs for the first time in five days, not bad for Sarek which has a reputation of being wet.

I was not one hundred percent sure about the planned descent into the gorge of the Ruopsokjahka, the map was not giving much away. All I knew was that it would be steep. Some Jedi map reading meant that we managed to descend into the only section that did not have cliffs or near vertical walls of vegetation. The skies opened, heavy rain making everything slippery just at the wrong moment.

We got across the river and pulled ourself up through sopping wet Dwarf willow on the other side. At the first flat bit of ground we got the tents pitched. After more than twelve hours on the go we were wet and tired. Wind whipped over our exposed spot, ragged clouds drifting not that far above us. Summer in Sarek had ended.

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