Best Backpacking Days #2 – High House Tarn to Sampson’s Stones

A look back at some stand out days of backpacking. Today we go back to September 2014 and the Southern Fells of the Lake District. I orignally blogged this as part of The Four Valleys Walk.

I’d arrived in the Lakes the previous day and headed out from Keswick to Borrowdale and climbed over the Glaramara ridge as far as High House Tarn. A doorless shelter meant I had a good view of the drizzly mist I’d be spending a good part of the day in. It wasn’t a fast getaway!

The camp at High House Tarn

I’d already decided that if the wind was bad, it was really wet and I couldn’t see much that I’d scrap my planned route over Scafell Pike and Scafell and simply drop straight down into Eskdale from Esk Hause. Which is what I did.

I’d never really explored Upper Eskdale properly, and so was looking forward to doing just that. My route took me down the gorge where the newly formed River Esk descends to the valley floor. As things flattened out a bit, there was much switching of sides to maintain the driest feet possible. This is my favourite way into/out of Eskdale (now), and on this occasion the driving rain and low cloud obscured the view of the valley until I was at the bottom.

Heading down the infant River Esk from Esk Hause #sh

And then it all opened out and I could see far down the valley. The tops were still shrouded in cloud, and I knew I’d made a good decision to forego staying high in favour of being sheltered and actually seeing something. And moreover I was in no hurry and could amble along and soak up the atmosphere at my own pace.

And so I decided to stop early, and spend the night in this great amphitheatre. I found in a bend of the river near Sampson’s Stones, put the shelter up and settled in for an afternoon just taking in the scene.

A camp in upper Eskdale

I’d long dreamed of exploring this valley and camping somewhere remote in its upper reaches to enjoy the majesty of England’s highest mountains surrounding me, but the reality was damper, mistier and more precarious than I’d imagined it would be.

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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