At the moment, a 3 or 4 night mission to the North West Highlands of Scotland is off the cards for various reasons but I simply had to get away for some sort of wild brown trout fishing. The Lakes is a natural choice with plenty of tarns in high up places and yet not too far from Leeds. Finally, an excuse to start poring over maps again! I wanted a 2 night mission with night 1 at a campsite and night 2 wild camping next to a tarn or back on the campsite if conditions went to shit and after much vigorous poring eventually settled on Wasdale as my destination. In fact, the campsite I chose was the only one I could find with room for me and even then it was only for one night. As always, the admin involved for a weekend away camping and fishing was truly terrifying and took up an entire morning.
I finally arrived at the campsite at about 4pm after a frustrating drive over the passes (Wrynose and Hardknott) which I normally enjoy but seemed more awkward this time. I pitched my Helsport Fjonfell 2, knocked up a brew and read for a bit before heading into the village for a pint and some food. Unfortunately one of the pubs was closed and the other was only service food to residents so I resigned myself to a pint from their own microbrewery closely followed by another. I retired to the campsite to indulge in some noodles, crisps and chocolate, and read some Bill Bryson. Truly I am staring down the barrel of old age. There was some brief excitement when the RAF came over at midnight whilst I was having a piss, either a Hercules or A400M – not sure which as all I saw was the lights but it was pretty low.
In the morning it rained. It rained whilst I had my morning brew, it rained when I went to buy some breakfast/lunch, and it rained when I ‘struck camp’. There was no let up, nor was there any prospect of any easing off until Saturday. Nevertheless I came here to fish a tarn and fish a tarn I will so I drove out to the parking spot and set off walking into the hills, in the rain. But not before ringing up to find alternative accommodation for the night – I’m no mug! I love wild camping but 24 hours of relentless rain is not my idea of fun, I’ve done enough furious self-challenging to not feel too bad about wimping out this time.
All the faff, the admin, the driving, the rain, all of it becomes insignificant once you set off walking and start enjoying the moment. Back on a mission, finally! It’s about 3 miles of steady uphill all the way to this tarn which was pitched just right at my post lockdown fitness with a bulging pack full of water, pies and crisps, the essential elements to support life. The views back down in the valley were lovely but ahead loomed an ascent into cloud which meant I would not get even a glimpse of the presumably stunning scenery around the tarn.
By the time I got up there I was cold, wet and hungry and had to shelter behind a rock and deploy my fleece, hat and gloves – classic July weather :-). I then proceeded to demolish a steak pie from the Sawmill in Nether Wasdale which was a real morale booster! I also remembered I’d packed a flask of tea, a last minute decision back at the campsite. Miserable scientists have proved that drinking tea doesn’t warm you up but fuck me, it sure feels like it when you are cold and wet.
Fishing, that’s why I’m here right?! It took some time with cold handy pandies to build a new leader and put on 2 flies (Kate McLaren point Bob’s Bob fly on the dropper). I plotted up at the first bit of bank covering deeper water and had a chuck. Within a few casts I had an offer then another, and before long had landed a lovely little brownie.
As always, the pressure is off now I’ve caught, I’m not going to blank! It’s not all about catching fish but…I’ve just spent an hour and a half marching into the hills in the pissing rain to fish here so it was nice to actually meet the residents.
There’s not really a lot more to tell about this tarn other than I landed a few more trout, lost a few more and had a goodly amount of offers. Nothing of a size to get excited about but I couldn’t care less, they are just perfect little creatures. I reckon I fished for about an hour and a half at most before deciding I had done what I wanted and could head back down to civilisation. In a way this has worked out well as I have a good excuse to go back on a day where I might actually see some of the surrounding hills.
My accommodation for the evening was a static caravan at a very reasonable rate which I promptly draped in wet clothing and other paraphernalia, and then proceeded to consume a hearty evening meal of Scotch egg and pot noodle washed down with some ale. I love wild camping, I really do, and I can’t wait to get some in but I’ll be honest I had practically zero regrets about bailing.