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Buttermere Wild Camp

What can I say about my Friday night this week. Well, it was far afield from any I've had before. For starters, I used leaves as toilet paper and ate a travel sachet of pasta Bolognese - in that order.

My day began with an early start. At 7am sharp I sprung out of bed with an eagerness never before seen on a usual working day. After a hearty breakfast of Marmite on toast and a cup of tea, I set off down the road towards Lancaster Bus Station. The only weight on my shoulders being the 40L rucksack carrying food, drink, spare undies and my bed for the night.

At 8:15am the 555 pulled out of the stalls and the M6 lay ahead. After a short stop in Kendal, I was on my way to Keswick where I would have to change buses for Buttermere.

On arriving in Keswick, one thing became clear. Every family and their dog was going to be in the lakes this weekend. I had 30 minutes to kill before the 77 would take me on to Buttermere. The bus station’s Booths was carnage. I grabbed a bottle of water and headed back to the bus stop. It was only 11am but the sun was already beating down and I was hit with that warm wall of air that you get when walking out of a supermarket in Spain.

After a short wait in the shade of the bus shelter, a little old Stagecoach pulled up that read: “Buttermere (via Honnister Pass)”. I’d never heard of the place we’d be driving through, and little did I know what a treat I was in for.

The 77 bus ride from Keswick to Buttermere is probably the most scenic journey I've ever been on. The tired diesel engine drags the vehicle uphill through the winding roads, before meandering down Honnister Pass. A one-track serpentine with endless spectacular views on either side.

After a good hour, I was happy to say thanks to driver and use my legs. I'd been told that Buttermere would be busy, and it was. No where near as bad as Keswick though, luckily. I had a quick look at the Welcome sign. Bleaberry Tarn - that's where I decided to head to. Hopefully there wasn't going to be many people up there. I followed the path which took me past the stony beaches of the lake, before turning off right into the woods and up a stone-stepped trail. A welcome bit of shade.

After a sweaty and intense leg workout, I was out of the woods and in the sun. I contemplated heading back down and cooling off in the lake. But no, Bleaberry Tarn would surely be a better swim. As the path got steeper, the views of Buttermere and Crummock Water were almost worth it themselves.

While walking up I bumped into a couple who were on their way back down. I asked how how much further to the tarn and was told I still had a 'fair climb' to go, but the lady's hair was wet so I thought it must be close.

Once I got over the brow of the hill I could see what looked like nature's Mount Rushmore, with gigantic green bulges sticking out of the earth as faces. A short walk further and I was on the banks of the tarn. Just as I'd hoped, I was completely alone. It was close to 30 degrees so I didn't wait in stripping off and dipping my feet in. After a few minutes of resting my legs, I decided it was time for a swim (and a wash). The water was crystal clear and pretty chilly. It took my breath away as it rose up past my waist, but was just what I needed.

Being in this beautifully clean and remote water made it easy to understand why people go wild swimming. The only audible sounds were a few distant bleats of sheep. Apart from that, silence. That was until four fighter jets shot up from the valley below and over my head, trailing the loudest noise I've ever heard and sending me in to a near state of shock.

I eventually started to feel cold so navigated my way out of the water over an extremely slippery set of rocks and sat to dry off. Looking up at the peak of Red Pike, I was tempted. However, I didn't fancy what looked like a steep scramble as the path winded out of sight towards the top. Not while it was so hot. I headed back down and enjoyed the same views I had done on the ascent. My mind now was on something to eat, and somewhere to sleep.

Once back down I enjoyed the shade of the woods whilst looking for a couple of nicely spaced trees. After an hour or so of trying not to break my ankles in the various animal holes and loose rocks I found a pair.

Tea time was a simple affair. A sachet of pasta barely touched the sides, followed by a second course of tinned sweetcorn. Home Bargain's finest £1 Chorley Cakes completed the meal. At this point I was absolutely knackered.

After eating I decided to have a wander back up the hill to catch the sunset. A very short but steep climb was worth it for the expansive view of Lake Buttermere as the sun was setting. I sat on a rock and watched as the light faded over the lake.

At this point I really was knackered, so I started to get ready for bed.

I woke up to bright sunshine yet again

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