Arnside & Silverdale : 2 Day Trek

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.

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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.

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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. 

The Walk

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.

Equipment Notes

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.

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Arnside & Silverdale : 2 Day Trek

  1. Nice one. Have you thought about replacing the straps on the Gorilla with chunkier webbing. I’m thinking of doing that on my Mariposa for the shoulder straps (the hip belt doesn’t slip). Even hand sewing, it shouldn’t be difficult. If you’re looking for a Gorilla replacement, the ULA Ohm is quite close in capacity and function.

    • Yes, must admit it’s mainly the shoulder straps that slip……..constantly.

      To be honest I’ve had a play with a number of roll-top type UL packs over the past 12 years, and the only ones that have really impressed me have been my ULA Circuit and a Haglofs LIM 45 (no longer made). But I’m about at the stage of stepping back and looking for a more traditional pack with a decent top pocket. The rest of my kit is pretty light so adding 300g or so back to a pack weight to get a good stable carry would be a sacrifice I’d be willing to take. There’s a tipping point with packs where further weight saving doesn’t really pay off and actually becomes negative. It’s interesting that the latest packs from Osprey, Haglofs and Six Moons Designs are all a bit of a step back from the lightweight direction they’d been taking, and instead looking a bot more at comfort and stability.

      So if you have any ideas of a decent 45-50 litre pack, 1000-1400g, with a top pocket, side wand pockets, back stash pocket and a stable back system……let me know. (Crux AK50 and Aiguille Dru 50 are possibles, but I’d need to add a back pocket; Montane Grand Tour 55 would be better if it had a single back pocket; Litewave may be worth a look though again no back pocket and only the Ultrahike has a long back length)

      In the meantime I’ll have a look at replacing that webbing. I spent the weekend trying my hand with a sewing machine so the tools are ready !

      • Lightwave Ultrahike is probably the most comfortable I own. If you want a front pocket, add an Exped Flash pocket. The downside is no hip belt pockets. The other pack worth considering is the Exped Lightning. 1.1kg for a 60l pack with a proper back system (but no top pocket, use a dry bag?). I have the Thunder 70 (same back system, but with a top pocket), but haven’t tested it yet. There’s a Thunder 50 as well.

    • Ah yes, the pegs. There was so much leaf mold in the wood that the ground was as soft as the proverbial.. But it was also an incredibly sheltered spot. It was a wild night but you’d never have known it tucked down beneath the yew trees, lovely and quiet. So the tent pegs never really got tested. Besides, that tent would have a job blowing away with me wedged inside it.

  2. I had a Lightwave Ultrahike, John and thought it good. It also has taped seams so whilst not completely watertight does keep most of the rain out. I sold mine simply becasue I was a bit too tall (even though I got the long size) for the hip belt to be fully effective. The proceeds of the sale went towards my Arc Blast.

    The Arnside / Silverdale area is lovely. I had wondered where you would stealth camp. Yealand Hall Allotment? You must have been very stealthy to get away with that one!

    • Yes it wasn’t exactly deep in the dark woods. But late in the evening I was sure that a couple of dog walkers stopped right next to the tent for a chat and they never even saw it! Then again I was sure that during the night my walking poles got blown over and dropped on the tent, and then at 3am the wind picked up and ripped the back end of the tent off. Needless to say when I got up in the morning the poles were still upright and the tent in one piece. You have the oddest dreams on an excess of fresh air.

  3. We went for a walk around Arnside and Silverdale this year we really enjoyed this place. I love hiking in the AONB. We want to do some long walk now. I think your blog will be useful for us.

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