Best Backpacking Days #1 – Calfhow Pike to Great Mell Fell

A look back at some stand out days of backpacking. Today we go back to August 2014 and the Eastern Fells of the Lake District. This was part of a multi-day effort to finish off the Eastern Fells.

An orange glow in the sky and tint on the surrounding fells greeted me when I stuck my head out of the tent. As the sun rose, the colours became washed out but I could see a lot more fells. I made a slow start, but this was no hardship – it was good just to enjoy being out on the hill at the start of the day before anyone else came up from the valleys below.

The walk up onto Clough Head was straightforward and the matter of a few minutes effort. I enjoyed the view for a while before dropping off the fell aiming for the Old Coach Road, where a short way along I bumped into a couple of friends.

I still had a long way to go to get to Great Mell Fell, my chosen target for the day, but I could at least see it. I wasn’t hurrying though, and stopped off in Dockray for a pub lunch.

Heading up onto Gowbarrow Fell, I was on familiar territory for the rest of the day, having done this part of the walk in reverse only a few months earlier. But I was a bit more sure of my route this time and avoided some of the more tortuous ground encountered the previous time. It was a bit of an uninteresting slog across to and over Little Mell Fell, but this fell very much in that part of the day when I’m happy to just put my head down and grind the distance out.

The climb of Great Mell was tiring, being at the end of the day, but a lovely way up with trees thinning out on each side the higher I got. It was a bit too breezy at the very top for comfortable camping, though, so I dropped back down a bit to the last of the trees and found an almost flat spot nearby.

A pleasant evening was spent in the tent watching a slug walk along my trekking pole for entertainment, while I hatched my escape plans for the next day, given the weather was due to take a turn for the worse.

This was a fairly typical example of the type of backpacking day that I like with fine weather throughout, great views, a leisurely pub lunch, coupled with just enough hard effort to make it feel like I’d got the most out of the day. The day started with a great camp and ended with another, and really what more could you ask for.

Best Backpacking Days is an occasional series of short posts looking back on past walks. They’re in no particular order, and have been drawn randomly to keep it fun. The series features backpacking in the Lake District, Scotland, Wales, Dartmoor, and even the South East of England.

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