If you’ve read one of my recent posts you’ll know that I’ve decided to try and explore some of the areas of the UK I’ve not yet visited, especially the numerous Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB’s).
So starting off with one that needed no planning (and got no planning), my first overnight trek of the year took me to Arnside & Silverdale for a gentle 35km of sea and woodland.
It was quite littereally a last minute decision to grab a night out before January ended, and being only an hour or so drive from home it was an easy option. I simply packed a bag in the morning, bought a map on the drive up and then set off to wander around for a couple of days. A couple of days ranging from sun to high winds, rain, sleet and hail.
Parking at Arnside I basically just decided to head anti-clockwise and wander around the edge of the area, trying to get a flavour of what makes it unique, and use some of the high ground to enjoy the extensive views over Morecambe Bay.
In the AONB website’s own words……’the area covers approximately 75 km2and is renowned for its wealth of plants, birds and butterflies. The area boasts an extraordinary range of diverse habitats, and the mosaic of stunning limestone pavements, low limestone hills, ancient woodlands, mosses, orchards and meadows, along with an impressive coastal setting affording magnificent views over Morecambe Bay, make this a truly special place.’ After my brief time there I can say that it’s well worth a visit.
I had no real plan of where to camp for the night, but it was always going to have to be somewhere hidden away. Hence the choice of tent. My original thought had been Warton Crag with fine views over Morecambe Bay, and when I got there in the early afternoon it would indeed have been a decent spot. But it was too early. It wasn’t until the light was fading, and after hunting around for illusive water that I eventually hid away in the trees in Yealand Hall Allotment.
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable little trip to start the year off, plenty of variety, and somewhere I’d never have thought of going if I hadn’t decided to spread my wings in the UK a bit.
Distance : 35 km
Altitude Gain : 886 m
Overnight Camp : Stealth camp in Yealand Hall Allotment
Weather : Day 1 – Sunny, but extremely windy and bitterly cold. Frequent flurries of hail and sleet / Day 2 – Wet, Wet, Wet
Highlights : The views from Arnside Knott and Warton Crag, and the limestone features in Underlaid Wood.
I took a couple of very old pieces of equipment on this trip after feeling nostalgic whilst tidying up my gear room. Along with them I took a significantly more recent piece which I think I wont be feeling quite so nostalgic about in years to come.
Phoenix Phoxhole tent : Purchased in 1984 for my LEJOG trek and 32 years old now. Back then it was my home for 56 consecutive nights, though how I ever managed that I have no idea. At only 40 cm high you need to be a yoga master to get in and out, and dressing or packing requires subtlety and a lot of indecent groaning. It’s seen lot of use over the years and had a couple of small repairs, but the single skin Gore-Tex still works perfectly, never letting in the rain and never forming condensation. Gore-Tex just seems to work on small tents. Back in the day it was feather light at 1.1 kg, but I shudder to think how much more living space you can have for the same weight today. Still, it holds a lot of memories and I’ll never part with it.
Mountain Equipment Snowline sleeping bag : Yes, it’s overkill even for a UK winter. But boy was I snug and warm. It’s one of the original ME bags made in the UK, and now 25 years old. Cleaned twice and re-stuffed once during its lifetime, on the last occasion having the down sifted, any clumps removed and the weight topped back up. At 1.35 kg it’s no lightweight, but who really cares when you’re only out for one night. I was toasty and that’s all that mattered.
Gossamer Gear Gorilla rucksack : I continue to have a love hate relationship with this pack, and in all honesty we’re at the point of getting a divorce.. It’s extremely comfortable to carry and the side and front stash pockets are great, but that’s really where the accolades stop. It leaks like a sieve and the shoulder straps and hip belt drive me crazy by constantly slipping (the webbing is terrible). Packing the first few items also frustrates me no end. If you have anything at all in the lid pocket it’s a struggle trying to keep the throat open while you pack things. It’s almost a three handed job. I think the Gorilla and I are beginning to fall out.