Saturday 4 October 2014

This time the rain came: filming Backpacking In The Lake District with Terry Abraham

Camp on Seathwaite Fell

Our luck with the weather had to end sometime. This was my third trip with Terry Abraham to film Backpacking in the Lake District. The previous two trips, involving five camps and seven days walking, (see posts for June 22 and September 6), had been in fine weather with much sunshine and warmth, no rain and little wind. We could film anywhere, sit outside in camp and sleep with the tent doors open. Indeed, we could have managed without tents at all (and Terry did use just a small tarp on the first trip). For this final trip it all changed.

View back down Grains Gill
We set off from Seathwaite to head up beside Grains Gill and Ruddy Gill to rejoin the route near Sprinkling Tarn. Clouds swept across the sky and there were hints of rain and only brief touches of sunshine. As we climbed the breeze changed to a cool gusty wind. 
Terry catches the quad copter after its flight
Tony assembling the quad copter
At Sprinkling Tarn we found Tony Hobbs and his friend Claire who’d passed us on the way up while Terry was filming. Tony had brought his quad copter, as I believe it’s called ('drone' is the popular name - Tony calls it a chopper). This was the first time I’d seen one of these devices though Tony had already done some work with Terry for the forthcoming Helvellyn with Mark Richards video with it. Demonstrating how the copter works Tony launched it into the air above the tarn. I was startled at how fast it shot into the sky and how quickly it was almost out of sight. I was also impressed at the views from the camera, relayed onto a screen, and how easily Tony could direct it. I was less impressed by the loud buzzing noise, like a giant wasp. I wouldn’t like to encounter this in the hills very often. I wonder what the local ravens, which were never very far away, made of it. 

The quad copter successfully brought to earth Tony and Claire set off for Styhead and descent back to Seathwaite. Terry and I headed on a faint sometimes boggy path across Seathwaite Fell in search of campsites and, hopefully, somewhere sheltered from the wind where we could record me talking about backpacking and the route. Campsites were soon located with grand views down Borrowdale and of the surrounding fells, especially Glaramara and Great End. The wind was gusty but not strong enough to be a concern. The hints of rain had so far come to nothing. We were not successful in finding anywhere to record where the wind wasn’t too noisy though (planes passing overhead didn’t help either) so we abandoned that idea. Just in time too as it started to rain as we returned to the tents and the wind began to strengthen. I recorded gusts up to 26mph before retreating under cover and getting the stove going. The rain and wind both increased over the next few hours with some ferocious blasts and heavy showers rattling the flysheet. I slept intermittently until late in the night when the wind eased and I fell more deeply asleep. 

Camp on Seathwaite Fell with Great End in the background

Waking at dawn I peered out to mist drifting past the tent and a fine drizzle falling. Everything was damp. At 600 metres we were just in the base of the clouds and the views came and went. We now had a plan for doing the recording – in a quiet room in the Rohan shop in Keswick! The wonders of mobile phones had enabled Terry to contact Rohan and arrange this from camp – we could after all see Keswick so a signal wasn’t that surprising. A quick breakfast and we packed up and headed down the steep slopes of Seathwaite Fell. The rain came on stronger and waterproofs were needed as was care not to slip on the wet grass and greasy rocks. Down in the valley we strode down the track to Seathwaite and then the road to Seatoller and the bus to Keswick. Dripping and damp we stumbled into the Rohan shop where hot mugs of coffee awaited us. Thanks folks! Two hours later our work was complete. Now Terry has all the editing and production work to do and then the video will be complete. It should be available later in the month.

View from the tent at dawn

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