You try carrying 136 hamsters!

Or to put it another way…

181,437 wasps

5,443,108 ants

Hmmm… maybe that’s not the best way of expressing the effort. Suspect if I was carrying wasps or ants I’d have been up Haystacks a darned sight quicker than the five hours it took! To put the effort more into context how about…

.003 of an elephant

.00015 of a blue whale

Nope, that still doesn’t do it. Sounds like I’d be carrying an elephant’s toenail or a blue whale’s eyelash. Take it from me, carrying 36lbs all 2,000ft up Haystacks in the Lake District is not something to undertake light heartedly… as mate Terry and I did on Tuesday 23-Aug after a ‘light’ lunch of a pint accompanied by a burger and chips from The Fish Inn at Buttermere. Meal pretty average and I should have realised service and civility were an extra charge when half the chips were deposited in my lap and I had to remind the barman I was still waiting for my pint following a barrel change some 10 minutes after serving.

Have in the past pondered about always travelling light, and to drop anything that didn’t fit in my Scaramanga leather satchel. But this was serious and no time for principles. Out came the trusty rucksack, though even it’s reasonable capacity was soon used up with food and water. Hurrah for bungee ropes! More bits and pieces were attached to the outside. The thought did cross my mind… what if, half way up, the whole Heath Robinson contraption fell apart and I was left to carry everything in one hand whilst mountain climbing with the other! And then I knew I might be in trouble when I tried to pick the thing up. Almost fell over with the awkwardness of the weight.

Didn’t help much when Linda, going through her mental checklist of things that just might be helpful, identified I hadn’t included the first aid kit or the map. Pity she didn’t think about matches!

So after my 5 hours plus drive Terry and I sauntered off towards the destination of the Innominate Tarn on top of Haystacks for an overnight camp… a long held wish of Terry’s he revealed after our escapade last year.

The afternoon was warm and excess clothing was soon stripped off as we worked up a good sweat climbing slowly but surely upwards, stopping often to admire the view and recover our breath.

Arrived at the tarn before 18:00 and set up tents followed by a much needed cup of tea. Sunshine and stillness made the tarn surface like a mirror and after a three course meal of a salmon and bean starter, lamb hotpot and artisan bread followed by several helpings of Terry’s 28yr old single malt whisky we retired to our tents about 22:00.

I dropped off immediately, only to wake about 02:00 as the disadvantages of my chosen tent site, with its slight incline, became apparent. Kept finding myself in a heap down one end of the tent floor. Popped out for a pee hoping to see a starlit sky, denied us just before retiring because the sky was still light. Still no luck since there was now cloud cover.

It certainly was dark though… the blackest I’ve ever experienced. With my head torch guiding me I must have been visible to every rabid sheep for miles around… another Pitch Black experience as I desperately tried not to think about the more serious issues raised by the film Black Sheep.

Oh, and it was cold too… this was no time for the silk dressing gown and pyjamas. But in spite of the thick sleeping bag borrowed from Mel plus daytime clothes and fleece, it was decidedly nippy. Maybe didn’t help that I was sleeping straight on the tent floor, no foam cushioning for me! So on went the cagoule as well.

About 03:00 a gentle wind breeze started rolling off the surrounding hills. By 04:00 it was coming down in strong gusts making the tent flap like it was panicking to go home… know the feeling mate! Shortly after the rain fell and I found the tent wasn’t fully waterproof.

Terry slept like a log and I did manage to get a few hours sleep, but from about 05:30 I was fully awake and peering through the tent entrance at the rain falling over the tarn.

By 08:00 Terry had the gas stove going again (thanks goodness he’d brought a gas lighter) and after tea and bacon rolls and everything then packed up we set off back towards Buttermere via a different route with patches of blue sky breaking through the clouds.

We were soaked by the time we arrived back at base, the rain returning when we had about a mile or so to go. A steamy lunch of tomato and chilli soup and a pint at the much more acceptable Bridge Hotel and then back on the road. I stopped off just near Leeds for an hour’s snooze and arrived home at 19:00.

Strangely I seemed to have put on a couple of pounds in spite of the huge effort… been checking ever since to see if there’s a hidden bungee rope still strapping something to my back.

More images of the adventure below. Click any to enlarge.

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