I think winter is my favourite season, a proper winter that is, not a damp rainy winter the likes of which this time of year usually inflicts on the UK. Winter adventures this year have however been limited because of an opportunity to head to Australia and New Zealand with work, a chance that was far too good to miss.
Now back in the UK and with late February and March delivering cold conditions in spades I was keen to get out for a bit of winter wild camping. Most of my friends think I’m crazy camping in winter but I love it, its certainly nicer than camping in the rain. Temperatures below zero actually help keep kit dry compared to that horrible range between about freezing and +8 where its pretty impossible if its raining.
This does come with the caveat that you have to invest in a really good sleeping mat and bag to keep out the cold. I was also keen to try out my new shelter, a MLD Trailstar, a tarp like shelter from a small U.S manufacturer I had picked up just before Christmas and used for my trip round New Zealand. The Trailstar uses walking poles for support and is lightweight, but has a big footprint, is very weather proof and obviously well ventilated. I don’t intend to review it in any depth as many others already have.
I pitched for the night above Derwent Water hoping to get some morning photographs over the lake towards Skiddaw from the Surprise View Lookout. Snug in my sleeping bag with a big bag of tea and a book I was able to slowly drift off to sleep with the winter winds whistling over the tarp. This is what I like about winter camping, the feeling of being warm and comfortable whilst being surrounded by cold crisp air. I slept well getting a good 10 hours sleep before the pre-dawn light began to diffuse through the tarp.
Roused from my bag and with a warming coffee in hand the wind had dropped to virtually nothing leaving Derwent water almost mirror still. I spent a couple of hours at Surprise View and nearby Ashness Bridge, the sunrise didn’t clip the top of Skiddaw like I had hoped but I’m pretty please with the images I captured.