Tarn before breakfast.

    The new sleeping bag is a big bonus.

    It’s not compact or light – but we’re in the van so it doesn’t matter.

    Last night was around 5 degrees – but we slept like logs and woke if not quite toasty, then not shivering either.

    Van life gets better with experience.

    The wind comes in gusts. You hear it half a mile away rapidly whipping up all in its path. Then whoosh – it hits the van, we rock about and Polly whimpers in the Poodle Club. And just as quickly it’s gone again.

    Pre-breakfast stroll.

    You know all the good advice about taking to the fells? Eat, take food, take drink, know where you’re going, tell someone where you’re going, be equipped for changing weather – the list goes on.

    Come on Polly – if I made it through you definitely can.

    So for our first walk today I only intended to give Polly her toilet opportunities. But then there was a path, that led to another, that led to a hill, that led to a tarn and within an hour we were a long way from home.

    Looking back to yesterday’s climb.

    Side Pike gave a super view across to the ghyll we’d walked up yesterday. Blea Tarn offered glimpses of sheer glory when moments of sunshine opened up the views.

    There were times when clambering down high crags that I was hugely grateful to be accompanied by a fairly intelligent Poodle. Lifting Polly’s 20kgs down to solid footing is OK and so much easier than it would have been with the Doberman I so desire.

    Blea Tarn

    A couple of hours later, and approaching mid-day, I was in need of food, drink and all those other things I should have had before setting off. It was brilliant though. And as we approached warmth and food the van had never looked so good.

    Big van, small roads, steep hills.

    Driving Archie up a 1 in 4 is OK.

    How steep? How Narrow? How slippery?

    Throw in switchback bends, sheep, streams meandering across the road, and very tight hedges and it starts becoming more fun. Try descending similar hills, with huge drops to the side, and you can be surprised just how hard getting out of second gear can be.

    All that glacial geography makes sense now.

    There’s a loop of only 7 or 8 miles from Skelwith Bridge through Great Langdale, Little Langdale, and back around to Skelwith again.

    Is Archie really that much bigger than a T5?

    In that short drive you’ll see some of the best mountain scenery England has to offer.

    Park up and you can cover vast and varied distances by foot. If you want to be pampered there are smart hotel options. You can camp. Or, like me, best of all – sleep in your van in the car park of the wonderful Old Dungeon Ghyll pub.

    Van life.

    Van life – takes preparation, concentration, and it costs, but the rewards will leave you grinning whatever your age.

    There aren’t many trees up here anyway, so sad to see a dead one, dramatic though it is.

    Leave a Reply