High Street and The Bungalow

Bank holiday Sunday. I've been away on holiday for a couple of weeks so not had chance to get up any mountains, but I'mo  a mission to get to The Bungalow, a former shooting lodge that was constructed in 1910 by the Earl of Lonsdale (of Lowther Castle) for a visit by Kaiser Wilhelm to the Martindale deer shoot. It looks like a couple of hours from Patterdale over Beda Fell and from there I can head up to HighStreet if the weather is fair.

Driving over Kirkstone Pass from Windermere I get a great view of the full length of High Street

Driving over Kirkstone Pass from Windermere I get a great view of the full length of High Street (the ridge in the bcakground from L-R)

I'm lucky in finding a free space in the lay-by at Patterdale outside the hotel and it's a short walk across the beck to the start of the bridleway.

But after only a few hundred yards it gets tricky to pass. The 'Fix The Fells" team are working on replacing the path and as it stands theres no way I could get a pony up here.

It's not long before the mountains and valleys reveal themselves to me.

But the weather is turning fast. The forecast had said 50% chance of rain but the higher I go the wind picks up and visibility gets much worse. At the top of the first fell the ground opens up and I'm presented with 4 different routes. I study the map and take what I think is the path over Beda Fell, but after 20 nervous minutes I realise I've taken the wrong path and I'm confronted with the decision to re-trace my steps or carry on and find a different route to Martindale and The Bungalow. I can pick up a bridleway at the south end of High Street and get to Martindale that way so I decide to go ahead.

The wind is getting harder and the rain more persistent but around a couple of more corners I'm rewarded with the sight of one of the most magical tarns I've seen.

Angle Tarn

Angle Tarn

There is no-one around. It feels timeless and I'd never have seen it if I'd gone the way I originally planned. What an amazing place this would be to take the pack ponies and camp out.

A leave the tarn and head past the south end of the Nab. Behind a wall I come across a bright orange survival tent. There are voices inside. Over the wind I shout if everything's OK? Two womens' voices giggle and say all's well so I carry on my way. I start to see the way-markers - the piles of stones built up by passing walkers as my friends. In the mist it's easy to miss a turning point so I feel a sense of relief when I hit the next pile of stones knowing that I am where I think I am on the map.

The wind and rain take a turn for the worse again but I've committed now so decide to keep on, only stopping to record a few seconds of video.

Wind noise so bad here's a translation: "It's so windy and rainy that I can barely stand up... I need to get to some shelter"

But there is no shelter now. With visibility down to about 50 yards I hear voices way before I can see anyone and thats saying something in this wind. Two men are coming down off high street. We exchange pleasantries about the wind and rain and check in with each other on my map as it wasn’t a well marked path I took, and I don't want to end up the wrong side of high Street. The two men have come from Shap. They ask how long its taken me to get here. I set off at 1.30am and it's now almost 2.30pm.

I’m now checking in with compass every 10 minutes to make sure I'm on track and then for a moment the mist clears and I see that I'm on the west of The Nab.

The Nab from the Soiuh East

To my right is a long steep drop down the side of the fell and as the mist closes again I have no reference points, After another half hour I finally get some re-assurance in the form of a sign on a fence. "Use style and follow wall" it says. I take the advice happily.

After a while the wall stops dead. I am on Martindale common and there are routes down to my left, but I'm not sure if I've missed one or not in the mist.

Then out of nowhere I see the red roof of The bungalow at he foot of the Nab and I make my way down, very happy to have made it down without incident.

The red roof of The Bungalow constructed in 1910 by the Earl of Lonsdale (of Lowther Castle) for a visit by Kaiser Wilhelm

With my feet on tarmac now I stop for a rest and to change my socks. My Gore-tex boots are soaked. I wring my socks out and put on a clean dry pair, wrapping my feet in plastic bags before I put on my boots. A drink of water and a banana re-energise me and I set of again.

I've been going about 4 and a half hours now - way longer than I had planned and I am getting tired. But I have to make it over Beda fell to get back to the car. I figure it's maybe another hour and should be easier going.

But through the bridleway gate the bridleway isn't obvious. I check the map against all the reference points I can see but there's no bridleway to be seen so I have to head up and make my own way through the bracken. And then out of nowhere I get a pain in my groin and I find it hard to move my right leg. 

The Nab from the North West as I traverse Beda Fell

Stopping every 20 paces or so I keep on going but it hurts like hell. I have no mobile signal and there's no-one around to help so I just have to keep going. I see a family of red deer maybe 50 metres away but they are gone before I can get my camera out. I'm having moments of trying to work out a plan B . "What if it gets worse and I can't walk any further?" I say to myself, but the instinct to keep going kicks in and the bridleway appear in front of me. As I make it to the summit where Beda Knot allows the bridleway to switch over to the west side I get some relief - the path starts to go down and the walking becomes easier. Maybe it's not a groin strain but cramp? - I've been going full on for hours in the wind and rain. I'm soaked to the skin but thankfully not cold. 

Another 20 minutes and I am back to the fork where I went wrong 5 hours ago. The clouds part and for a few moments the sun shines down on Patterdale. I take it slowly down the steep path, slipping a couple of times and as I hit the road I feel like I've been through an extreme  Army training course. I have never been so glad to sit down in my car and get into dry clothes.

High Street - that was an adventure. But if I hadn't had the adventure I would never have discovered for myself the magical Angle tarn and I am already working out logistics for another adventure there with my ponies - but hopefully without the wind and the rain!