small lake in the Lake District

Camping in The Lake District and Glencoe

Summer had creeped in during the first Covid lockdown of 2020 in the UK.

As rays of sunshine started bathing the country ever so more brightly, our freedom from lockdown had also started to spread across the country, allowing for overnight stays and travel.

So the 4 of us decided to use this opportunity for some staycationing camping adventures in the Lake District and up in Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands.

As we were driving up from London, naturally the first stop would be the Lake District.

Unfortunately in England and Wales camping in the wild isn’t entirely legal. There are designated camp spots within the Lake District that you can pay for, however these don’t really feel wild, remote, or adventurous and are too artificial and tame for me. I like to camp with the feeling of truly being in nature.

The rule in most places is, leave no trace, do not cause too much trouble and most of the time you’ll be left alone. Even if you do get caught, it’s just a warning, telling off and inconvenience of having to pack up again and move.

However in Scotland, the Land Reform Act (2003) allows for wild camping anywhere that is not private land, which is awesome!

After 4 hours of driving we arrived in the Lake District to a spot Sharif and I discovered on a previous camping adventure.

small lake in the Lake District
Scenic start!

This spot is great as it has a small lake which is refreshing for morning swims and a thick forest nearby that you can pitch up your campsite, hidden away from sight.

The forest is incredibly lush and thick, with soft ground perfect for sleeping on. If you get deep enough you will truly feel like you’re in the wild!

Forest and fallen over log
Lost in the greenery
Tents in the forest
Tents up!

At night, you may hear some terrifying wind that starts off sounding like a gentle wave getting louder as if a tsunami is headed your way. In this specific area it’s not much to worry about. This is a phenomena called Katabatic winds. It occurs as we are downhill from a mountain which is connected to this hilly forest area. Pressure gradients and circulating winds cause a strong downforce of high density wind to rush down. In certain scenarios they have been at hurricane force level, and if you’re familiar with the Dyatlov pass incident, a Katabatic wind was the most likely cause of that tragedy. However this is the rare occasion, don’t freak out!

As with all things outdoor, do not go out camping in severe weather as this could amplify the Katabatic wind, causing things to fall on you.

The next morning we took a plunge into the lake for a refreshing wake up rinse.

Zach swimming in the small lake
Trying not to shiver in freezing water…

Don’t be fooled by the air temperature. It’s always cold in these lakes!

We then set off to Wasdale head to begin a climb up Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain (3rd in the UK).

Wasdale Head
Wasdale Head

This is the place to start from if you’re going for the corridor route – the one I find has the best mix of scenery, challenge and length.

Corridor route up Scafell Pike
It can get quite busy!
Stream waterfall formed by Scafell Pike
Small waterfalls from the streams formed

The rock formations and features are quite incredible to look at. It would make for some great rock climbing!

Rock cliffs near the summit of Scafell Pike
Direct sunlight gives it scenic exposure
Large boulder formations on Scafell Pike
How could you not climb this!?

Scafell Pike has something called a false summit, which can be quite annoying and disheartening ! The true summit is about 20-30 minutes from this false summit.

Scafell Pike view
Summit views

On a clear day you can actually spot the Isle of Man from the summit, far in the distance.

Before leaving the Lake District, we went to a diving spot called Black Moss Pit. It’s a 40 minute hike from a camp site called Stonewaithe. I’ve been here when its rained heavily causing the water levels to rise considerably and creating a strong white water current which I’d be hesitant to jump into. Luckily this was one of those times when the waters were calmer, and perfect to dive into. Its really cold so bring towels and get ready to warm up!

Black Moss Pits
For those of you brave enough to jump!

The next day we went to check out Rydal Caves. It’s completely wild so there’s no tickets or barriers, you just hike up to it and explore to your hearts content. Depending on how much its rained there will be pools of water restricting parts of it.

Inside Rydal Cave
Rydal Cave

Close by to these caves is a town called Buttermere, and from there you can hike to a waterfall called Scaleforce.

Scaleforce Waterfall
Scaleforce

Here you can be a little adventurous. On the left, carefully you can climb up two ledges to get to the main waterfall at the back. Be warned its extremely slippery and to traverse to the other ledge after you initially climb requires walking through ankle and knee deep pools of water. It’s worth it though as you have this wild untouched place all to yourself!

Pool of water up Scaleforce
After you climb the first portion
Logs in front of Scaleforce
The second obstacle

One more ledge to climb past those tree logs and you’re there! The video below shows you how wild and untouched it is.

The Lake District has a lot to offer, but it was time to head off to the beautiful Glencoe in the mighty Scottish Highlands. Although we were weary the weather was starting to turn with Storm Ellen approaching from the West.

The drive up was windy, wet and rough. We were mostly safe , but the winds weren’t so merciful to everyone….

Turned over crashed car
Don’t underestimate crosswinds on motorways

Around 6 hours later we finally began entering the Scottish Highlands, with our final destination being a hidden valley in between the three sisters in Glencoe.

Glencoe
Glencoe, what a beauty!

You can park right opposite the three sisters on the A82, which is incredibly convenient for hiking and overnight stays. Its free too, love Scotland!

The Three Sisters, Glencoe
The Three Sisters

The hidden valley is actually called The Lost Valley and rightly so. Its quite tricky to navigate and climb through, if you have a GPS watch I recommend using the hiking navigation feature. To find it, you have to climb across the valley at awkward points where there is no visible path and requires some scrambling to progress through some areas! Takes around an hour to do.

Storm Ellen was starting to batter us at this point, we were getting drenched but our spirits remained high!

Zach in waterproof hiking gear
No such thing as bad weather! Bring the right gear!
Hiking along the path to the Lost Valley
Carry on!
Scrambling
And scramble on

There’s a part where you have to cross over, and it can be problematic if it’s been raining a lot as the water level rises. There’s some rocks near by that you can hop over, although again if the water level rises some of them get submerged.

Attempting to cross some water
Planning our route across
Crossing point
May require some outside the box thinking to get across!

Another thing to be careful about is getting too close to the edge to look over into the gorge. An incident happened a few years ago where the edge gave way and someone fell to their deaths sadly. Especially if its been raining it can make the mud soft, so don’t get too close to the edge.

Sharif staying safe
Smiling despite damn Midges!

A steep hike up and you’ll enter the mystical Lost Valley. Formed by the colossal weight of the ice that could not escape during the Ice Age as the ice caps flowed into the sea.

Lost Valley entrance
Entrance to Lost Valley
The team admiring the lost valley of Glencoe
Admiring the Lost Valley

You then have this entire valley to yourself, perfect for setting up camp! It’s an enclosed valley so the only way back is the way you came from.

Lost Valley dried river bed
Note the circular rocks on the bed

You’ll notice circular smooth rocks on the bedding which indicate this path has been subject to flash floods and flowing water. Do not set up your camp up on that path!

It’s also a great place for getting that new album cover shot.

Joe and Sharif posing for that new album cover
Dropping that new album cover

Storm Ellen picked up her pace and really started battering us. So we had to cut our Scotland trip short, and headed back to the Lake District to wrap things up and break the long drive back down to London.

Waving goodbye
The journey coming to a close…

We found a spot along Wast Water lake that also has a nice swimming area to relax by.

Sharif and Izzy going for a dip
Never too cold for these two!
Wast Water Lake
Wast Water Lake

Unfortunately it’s too exposed and we got caught by rangers who told us to move. As it was getting dark, and our old spot by the forest was too far to drive to, we had to go to the designated camping site by Wasdale Head that was near us. By this time we’d enjoyed our wild camping experience, so it wasn’t too bad a way to end having facilities at a convieniance.

Camping is a great way to adventure and explore the outdoors in the UK. I can’t wait to go straight up to the Scottish highlands and spend more time camping there this year! Hopefully no storms this time!

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