14 September 2012

Three nights and no shower ....

Apparently, it’s been the wettest summer for 100 years. Not since records began though, that was 1910 – makes you wonder what 10/11 were like …..

The campsite on a clear morning.
So it was with some trepidation we were eyeing up the approaching dates for our second Fix the Fells upland camping holiday at the end of August. Always popular, these holidays involve a group of hardy volunteers working to repair upland path erosion, with the essential difference that at the end of the day they stay on the hill and camp overnight, for three nights. We’d already had one this year where it miraculously didn’t rain so surely we couldn’t be so lucky again, could we? Well, most of the time yes .....

The sort of view you only get when you're on the hills for the night!

As usual, two of our rangers camped up there with them. Myself and Sarah from the upland path team walked in and out to site every day, an important role as we can bring up forgotten sleeping bags, extra food etc if needed. The first few days weather weren’t too bad, with a particularly fine evening for the campers on the first day and any rain on the others only coming in when everyone was safely tucked up in their sleeping bags for the night.

Probably won't need any more food - leader Di with the supplies before setting off.

The last day however, was a bit different. I woke at home to the sound of rain lashing against the window and it didn’t stop all morning. Sometimes on these holidays this last day is quite productive with everyone working till early afternoon before heading down to civilisation. By the time Sarah and I got to site this time though, all the tents were packed up and the work site was having a last tidy up – everyone was ready to go. It didn’t leave much for us to do but turn round again and head back down, but there were plenty of heavy bags and equipment for us to give a hand carrying so it wasn’t a wasted trip.

Big splat of mud, right in the face .... brilliant!
Despite this rather hurried departure, the holiday was pronounced a great success by all involved. The volunteers all had a great time and were exceptionally cheery – just a bit wet – and we were very pleased with the progress made on the path. The baton will be handed over to the upland path team in September too as they’ll be going to the same site with another working holiday. They’ll not be camping though.

Just goes to show that bad weather may be able to stop play, but it’ll only ever delay the ongoing work of looking after our precious upland environments.

Posted by Rob Clarke, Community Ranger at High Wray Basecamp volunteer centre.