Trails and trials of the writer who walks
Propped open my tent flap last night and lost myself in the stars. The morning brought a velvety red and orange blanket, still framed by the open tent flap.
Leaving the outer door open seems to be a good way to reduce condensation on fine, cold nights and avoid waking up to a damp sleeping bag. My Terranova Laser Comp has extra vents at either end which can be looped up, but I must be a particularly heavy breather. The sleeping bag supplier (Mountain Elite) was very helpful when I phoned to ask about ways of avoiding this dampness. The bag (Western Mountaineering Ultralite) is made of waterproof material, he said, but even small amounts of dampness on the outside add quite a high weight percentage to the ultralight-weight fabric, and that’s why the lofting is not as effective when it’s damp. When I first got it, I put the bag inside my Gortex bivi bag, thinking that the two bags could breathe together, but it didn’t work. The sleeping bag became very damp indeed. I didn’t dare tell this nice young man on the end of the phone (well, that’s how I imagined him), that I’d actually cooked my supper in the porch of the tent with the flap closed and therefore filled the tent with steam, as if my heavy breathing wasn’t enough for it to cope with.
Highlights today were the super clear skies and the Strathmore Arms.
Middleton-in-Teesdale no longer has a pub open all day and the campsite nearest the town centre, Dale View, is shabby and midgy, so I planned to pitch further up the river after a rest stop. It’s a pretty town and I really enjoyed a Guinness and black pudding pie, eaten on a bench outside the deli. After the pie, and a bit of re-stocking at the Co-op, I continued a further 2 ½ miles up-river to the footbridge near Low Force, then crossed fields following a footpath up to the road. Turn left, and about 300 m further is the delightful Strathmore Arms (closed on Tuesdays), with Low Farm campsite (basic, but peaceful and empty) just a few metres further down the road. Bliss.