Spare annual leave led my boyfriend and I to plan a spontaneous camping trip to the Lake District this weekend – three nights in the National Trust’s Wasdale campsite next to Scafell Pike.
My boyfriend is an experienced camper and usually goes to *shudders* fields without toilets or showers. Madness, I know. He was horrified when we got to my car after work and he saw the amount I’d packed, including a literal kitchen sink (what else were we going to wash up in?) and an air bed.
If the trip taught me one thing it’s that my little Citroen C1, Charlie, is not made for the Lake District roads. The poor thing wheezed up the steepest of slopes leading the clutch to burn (totally not the driver’s fault…!)
Without a doubt, Wasdale is the most beautiful part of England I’ve ever been to, if the most difficult to drive around. The Lake our campsite was next to was at least three miles long, surrounded by mountains that looked three miles high! Each morning we would unzip the tent to blue sky and the towering Scafell Pike looking down on us.
Of course we had to climb it. Weighed down with backpacks full of cheese cobs, chewits and as much water as we could carry, we set off on the 978m assent. I’d describe myself as fit, I run and go to the gym a few times a week, so I, naively, thought Scafell would be manageable. Oh how wrong I was. I honestly think it was harder than the half marathon I ran last year. I found myself gasping for breath in a way I would after a long run, and I was only walking. Never have I been in so much pain after a leg day as I was when I woke up the morning after.
Agonisingly, I mistook a point of the mountain for the top, not once but three times. Three times I thought I’d summited. Three times my heart was broken. Towards the top the cloud had thickened to the extent that anything over the edge of the mountain was a thick white fog. It felt almost dream-like. The rocks beneath our feet had also paled in colour, making other walkers stand out more in their fluorescent windbreakers.
Getting to the top was great, but to be honest I was more interested in when I was going to eat my cheese cob, so we headed straight for some shelter.
We took a different route on the way down, and though I have since been told I hugely exaggerate the difficulty of the climb the way I remember it, I’m going to write it anyway.
We took a somewhat off piste route down, and ended up climbing down rock faces that led me to begin composing my interview for when we were featured on Mountain Rescue. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like Bear Grills as I watched myself heroically scaling the falling rocks. We scrambled down about 80 metres of crumbling rock, but our dare was overshadowed by two men who followed us, practically skating down the rocky slope using their walking sticks like ski poles. Meanwhile, my hands were covered in red dust from clutching so tightly onto the rocks as I descended – dust I wanted to smear on my cheeks in lines to feel like a proper explorer. Maybe it wasn’t as hard as I thought…
What made this trip particularly different was the fact that on our campsite there was absolutely no signal, no WiFi, nothing. At first, I did keep checking my phone and sighing at the words ‘No Service’, but within just a few hours I didn’t miss the mind-numbing Instagram scrolling and the memes I’ve seen a million times. It was annoying not being able to even text my mum to say we’d arrived safely, but it felt special to be so far from home, in the middle of no-where with no contact with the outside world, with Dom. All that said, I did spend an embarrassing amount of time on my phone catching up with posts I’d so tragically missed during the trip…
All in all, a perfect weekend. Horrifyingly, I must admit I am now considering going camping with Dom in a… field without a toilet or a shower. It was so liberating living without the handcuffs of social media, though I did seem to post photos of every single sunset and sheep…