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The Lake District is a very beautiful part of
the north west of England. My Dad has been going there ever since he was
12 years old, and the very first time I went was when I was just five
weeks old, I went with my Mum and Dad, (I can’t remember much about it
though, I was rather small at the time) My Dad took me up Helvellyn on
his back and apparently I also went up Blencathra, shame my Dad can’t
carry me on his back nowadays! Some of the hill walking is quite
strenuous for my little legs!
In August 2007, my Dad and I went on a camping expedition for two weeks to this lovely part of the world, we had an absolutely wonderful time. it was great fun. We went in my Dad’s Land Rover or “Landy” as I call it (my Dad and I are both Land Rover fans) we stayed on a little farm in the Naddle Valley three miles south of Keswick, the site itself was rather basic, my Dad said it had not changed much since he first went when he was young, that is just what he said was needed for my initiation into the real outdoor world of roughing it and self sufficiency, affectionately known as camping, and he wasn’t wrong either.
We pitched our little three birth tent on one of the farmer's fields right away from the road and next to a little brook, (which I accidentally fell into one morning!) I made friends with the farmer's granddaughter called Becky who was 7, she was very lucky because she had a horse and two sheep dogs, as well as living on a real working Lakeland Farm, in one of the most picturesque valleys in Cumbria - too wonderful to describe. I also met and made friends with Emma Jane who was 9, and a lovely family from Lancashire who had three children called Sam, Ben and baby Amy, they were especially lucky as they live near enough to come and stay many weekends, as it was not so for them.
The tent we took was a bright orange Land Rover Flexi-dome Igloo tent, which was built by Khyam especially for the tough Land Rover G4 Challenge, to go to the ends of the earth. It had a double coated flysheet with 5000mm hydrostatic head for added weather protection and included a very tough stone protection ground sheet, in other words it was quite suitable for an English summer in the Lake District. It only took about three minutes to put up, which was useful as it usually rains or is dark, whenever anyone tries to put up a tent my Dad told me. It was meant to be for three adults but we found it a little cramped with just the two of us, and all our camping equipment!
It was very cosy in the tent at night, we had our warm sleeping bags with liners and when it was raining heavily outside and the wind was blowing the tent flapped hard, and the guy ropes howled, it felt as if we were going to blow away, or turn inside out, but fortunately that didn’t actually happen.
The field we were camping in had a slight slope down towards the beck, so I kept sliding off my inflatable bed and onto my Dad during the night which wasn't ideal, especially after a hard day on the fells and a disturbed night with the rain, it came to a head when my Dad's bed developed a slow puncture and he ended up sliding off his bed too, and spent the night sleeping with his face pressed up against the far side of the tent, while I slept soundly!
We woke up very early to the sounds of nature all around us in the form of the Herdwick sheep bleating on the fells, and the cattle crossing the beck, taking themselves to the farm to be milked. This happened every morning at exactly the same time, I think nature must have endowed the cows with a system for telling the time!
It was hard to get dressed and undressed in the tent, as there wasn't enough headroom to stand up in, and when we finally did get dressed in the mornings, we couldn’t get out of the tent without getting absolutely soaked because of the condensation on the top of the inner tent and when we went out through the igloo entrance the rain from the night before went straight down the back of your neck too, and your knees got wet and muddy as you crawled out on all fours. I soon found a great solution this this tiresome problem by making sure my Dad was the first to go out each morning!
We cooked all our own food on the two stoves we took with us and we boiled water from the brook afterwards, to do the washing up. The farm itself isn't on mains water, it gets all it water from a local spring coming down from the fells behind. It did give you a dodgy tummy if you drank the very clean looking water from the brook without boiling it first, not something you did twice I might add. The hardy locals can cope without having any problems. My Dad even had a problem with the spring water which came out of the taps in the farm.