Eskdale Dubfest 2017

At last the season has started properly with our annual trip to West Cumbria for the Eskdale Dubfest held at the campsite in Boot, run so brilliantly by Martyn Merckel and his team. The site has recently left the Camping and Caravan Club and joined the Cool Camping world, which seems like its natural home.


We drove up on Thursday, on a grey day which was threatening to dump a lot of rain on us before long. Sure enough, we came through a heavy downpour on the way up, but it wasn’t actually too bad when we arrived. It didn’t take long to check in and get set up before, inevitably, the rain began in earnest.

We hunkered down, happy that the season had finally got under way.

Simon arrived shortly after us, in his lovely van, Skooby, and we set off to the pub for an early evening meal, a few beers and a much needed catch up.

The Brook House Inn has a great selection of beers (and even more whiskeys), a welcoming atmosphere and a lovely choice of food. Equally important, was the fact that it was warm and dry and an escape from the rain outside. We ended up staying longer than we’d anticipated because of the rain (or was it Alison’s insistence on just one more pint of cider? I’ll leave you to guess…)

Friday morning was grey too although it cleared enough to allow us to fit a walk in. We headed into Boot to check out the old mill then followed the path uphill until we came to a National Trust Farm.




The path continued through the gated farmyard at Gill Bank Farm (complete with “Dogs Loose” sign).

We’d kept Boris on his lead and the Farmer was in his yard as we went through the first gate. I asked him which way the path went (he pointed without uttering a word) and then suddenly a Border Collie appeared from nowhere, brushed past Alison’s legs and went straight for Boz, who let out a yelp, in what we thought at the time was simply surprise. It was only when we got back to the site a few hours later that we discovered he’d been bitten and was bleeding from a wound on his side.

Martyn and his team let me have some Savlon to put on it and we kept an eye on it for the rest of the weekend. My recommendation, if you’re walking through Gill Bank Farm, would be to take a big stick with you…

The rest of the walk was great though and we even managed a picnic in the sunshine.

Guinea Fowl



By Friday evening, all our friends had arrived (apart from Jane & Alan who were travelling down from Scotland and arriving on Saturday) and we headed out to the pub – the Woolpack Inn this time and super busy it was too. We managed to get a seat in the Pool Room, although the Pool table may have been moved a little to fit us in!

We’d planned a longer walk on Saturday, with Simon leading the way up to Birker Force and Low Birker Tarn. The rain held off and we had exhilarating views towards Scafell Pike, and down Eskdale to Hardknott Pass and the Roman Fort.

Being in places like this and looking at the stunning views are the nearest this atheist gets to spirituality – if this doesn’t make you feel glad to be alive then nothing will.


Simon, our expedition leader

Low Birker Tarn

Boris, in his natural environment

Saturday night gave us a brilliant sunset and a meet up back in the Brook House Inn.

Sunday was a much brighter day, although a sleepless night with Boris (who’d eaten too many sheep treats up on the fells the day before) and two nights of loud late night noise from one of the neighbouring vans, had left us a bit tired.

There’s a clue as to which van it was in this video:

We all gradually left the site, keeping our fingers crossed that we wouldn’t get stuck in the muddy ground. The Brazilians have never let us down yet and, whilst some other T5s and T6s needed a tow, we all drove off unaided.

The drive back over Birker Fell and through the Duddon valley was spectacular in the sunshine.

We stopped off at Yew Tree Barn at Low Newton for some lunch and a mooch around before getting home around 3pm. Another perfect start to the year and a fantastic opportunity to meet up again with a group of great friends.

There’s a full set of photos here: FLICKR

Simon’s Blogs with his mind-blowing photos are here: Wast Water Blea Tarn Birker Fell

Things we’ve learned:

It isn’t always Boris who causes trouble
Jane’s cakes get better and better
Moira’s got more purple than Prince
We’ve all learned how to salvage an Italian Cruise Ship
Gill’s happy for her children to be locked in a cage with Crocodiles (or Sharks, we’re not sure which…)
Trying to help a stranded motorist can be injurious to your clutch
New cameras aren’t always as intuitive as you’d hope, are they Simon…

I'd love to hear your thoughts, so grab a pew and I'll make you a brew - Hobnob or Bourbon?

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