« I'm Chris Kemper, and this is my blog

My time at Buttermere

13 Oct 2015

TL;DR I went to Buttermere, it was awesome, see you there next year.

Friday the 29th of June 2015 is when the journey to Buttermere began. I was at work and was getting picked up after I finished, so we could make the two and a half hour journey down there. It's safe to say I wasn't really prepared, I'd gotten my tent back from my dad's, but not checked it, I had no waterproofs, you can see where I'm going with this.

Anyway, I figured it was worth checking my tent to make sure it was alright, which probably wasn't the best idea. Thanks to the way it had been put away, the poles were on the top and I could see snapped elastic, oh boy. After debating whether or not I had time to buy a new tent (I totally would have) I packed it away, grabbed the rest of my stuff to and headed over to a nearby church to get picked up.

I was traveling down with a couple of friends of mine, Dave and Ruth, who also happen to be a couple. Ruth was driving down, and Dave had the lovely task of drinking with me. We put on the CD Dave had carefully put together for the trip, filled up my protein shaker with beer, and we hit the road.

Yes, I did say protein shaker with beer, and it's a brilliant idea! My particular shaker holds something like 450ml, which was more than enough to house the cans of Stella I was drinking. This means that your beer now has a lid, but if you leave it on too long the lid will pop off, because gas build-up is a thing.

When you're drinking beer or any other alcoholic drink for that matter, soon enough you need to break the seal (have that first toilet break) and Dave and I were no different. We stopped at a pub for a toilet break, and the looks we got walking in there were brilliant. Part of me wasn't sure what was going to happen, like if they had all stood up in unison and walked towards us, I wouldn't have been shocked. Luckily though, none of that happened and we were soon back on the road.

A still from a vido I took mid-journey

Once we got closer, we needed to stop again and check with a local to make sure we weren't going over Honister pass. For those unfamiliar with the pass, it's a pretty hilly road to say the least, although if you do decide to tackle it, you get rewarded with some lovely views.

After some beautiful scenery, we finally arrived! We'd managed to secure a spot on top of a hill at the site, which we'd been eyeing since last year. We parked the car close to the bottom of the hill and finally said our hellos. In the camp already were those driven by my cousin Andy, who'd left about an hour before us. In the Lexus, we had Andy driving, his lady friend Fay up front (I call them Fandy) with Kane (my brother) and Kyle (he's just Kyle) in the back.

Lake Buttermere

With the hellos over and done with, it was time to get set up. Now it was finally time for me to see how bad my tent actually was. If it had've been in perfect shape, the tent would have contained two poles made up of seven smaller poles, connected with elastic. I could see elastic, but the poles were not connected. On my first inspection I'd thought there wasn't enough poles, but it seems I was wrong, they were all there, just not connected. I thought putting the tent up without the elastic would be horrid, but it wasn't actually that bad. Once it was up I picked a spot and pegged it down as needed, because at that moment the weather was too good to be wasted putting up tents.

Where we decided to set our tents up, away from the crowds

At this point our party was nearly complete, we were just waiting on my brother's friends. Due to space issues, and the fact my mam didn't come along this year (she was missed, very much!) we didn't have enough seats for everyone. To solve this, Kane's friend Andy (yes, another one) had roped his dad into dropping him, Berty and Sam off. We saw they'd arrived so I went down to help out, we grabbed all their stuff and headed back up to the camp. We had two more tents to put up, and both owners didn't know what they were doing, so I helped them all get set up, and finally we were done.

The site itself was centred around a main marquee, a beer tent, a burger van and a tea truck, with a large amount of space reserved for landing paragliders, and of course, the beautiful lake. We had to head over to the beer tent to get our wristbands and pay for the Friday night's camping, so we paid out £25 and could finally relax.

The main area where most people were camping

The main event for the actual Buttermere bash was on the Saturday night, so Friday we decided to go to the nearby cave. Now this cave isn't really a cave, it's a more of a tunnel, or just a tunnel. I actually saw the sign for the cave the next day in the light, and it said something along the lines of "Come and look at a natural cave (ok so maybe it's a tunnel, shhh)" which I thought was brilliant. It's quite a nice walk over there, and the views by the lake at night are something else, it's so peaceful. I tried to get pictures, but my iPhone just couldn't do it justice, but you can trust me, the moonlit lake surrounded by mountains is beautiful.

I was a few protein shakers in at this point (beer filled, of course) as were the rest of us, but Dave sadly seemed to be a little bit worse off. As you explore the land around the lake, it's all public footpaths, but in the dark we happened to miss a gate through a fence. On the way over, all was fine, but on the way back, Dave had forgotten the barbed wire on the fence and sadly hurt his hand and bum. He couldn't just keep quiet, so he ended up shouting "owwww, I've hurt my bum!" when it happened. He was fine, he was just drunk, you know how it is.

The now 10 strong group headed back to camp to ready ourselves for the first night, which meant I could finally check out how bad my tent was. Turns out it was pretty bad, there were a lot of burn holes in it from previous camping trips (not mine I might add, my younger brother) including holes in the sides, and one in the roof. Luckily for me though, the weather was pretty good on the first night, and if it did rain, I didn't notice. Mainly because unknown to me I had pitched my tent in a ditch, and a sleeping bag with no roll mat is only so thick.

After what could barely be classed as sleep, it was finally the main event, Saturday. A good few of us said we didn't want to waste the day at camp like we did last time, so it was time to explore. At around 12 or so, after a trip to the burger and tea vans, we headed off. Like good explorers, we'd packed plenty of liquids, this liquid just happened to be beer. We were now a team of four: Dave, Ruth, Kyle and of course, me. Fandy had decided to stay at camp, and my brother and his friends had their own thing going on.

We'd planned to head up to a waterfall on the other side of the lake. I hadn't actually climbed the waterfall before so I was rather excited to get started. But before that, we decided to go and grab a beer at a pub in a nearby village, and to get there we have to go through the tunnel cave. We all had a laugh remembering where Dave had hurt his bum the previous night.

The pub was called: "The Fish Inn" and it was just what we needed. We had a couple of bowls of chips with our beer (thanks, Ruth) and after more beer (Dave was a bit hungover and was taking his time) we finally made tracks towards the waterfall. It was a bit of a mission to get to the base of the waterfall, but we got to see some picturesque sights on the way.

There were a few small bridges on the route to the waterfall. One of them had a basket near the steps and I could see a sign on said basket. I was hoping it was going to read "Pooh Sticks" and it did! If you don't know Pooh sticks, then I can only assume you haven't read Winnie the Pooh. Either way, the game is simple. You need a bridge over a river, and a stick for everyone that's playing. You stand on the bridge and drop your sticks downstream at the same time. You then cross over to the other side of the bridge, and the first stick to come through wins - easy.

Pooh sticks!

We all had to have a go, so we had a few games. I can't remember who won exactly, but I know it may have been everyone but me, I deffo didn't win. The sign also mentioned about being nice to other families and not taking too many sticks but in our case the basket was empty, so I topped it back up and we carried on.

Finally after another short walk, we arrived at the base of the waterfall, which meant it was time to climb! I may have been a little excited at this point, so I powered ahead and started heading up, grabbing various pictures and footage as we went. On the way up, we found a relatively flat part next to a log, where we decided we'd leave our extra stuff, and hope it was there when we got back (Spoiler Alert! Everything was still there) so we dumped it all and headed up.

I kept scampering up the waterfall, so I could sit and enjoy the view while the others caught up, and shout words of encouragement, or shout "Wheeeeey" should anybody fall over, which they did ha. When the others caught up this time, I decided to be more sociable and didn't scamper off. We found another place to stop off that was nice and flat, and just really damn relaxing. We chilled out for a while, but I wanted to carry on, so with permission to leave them behind, Dave and I headed further up, leaving Kyle and Ruth to chill.

One of the many pictures of the waterfall I took

The problem with climbing a waterfall is that, unless you have a way to measure how high you are, or you can actually see the top, you have no idea where you're climbing to. We kept climbing up to the next level, then seeing there was another level after that, and so on. On the journey there was an overturned tree. Its roots were covered in rock and it'd clearly been blown over - they must get some strong-ass winds! After a few levels we realised we'd been gone a while, and that getting down would take us longer, so going much further would've been a dick move, so we decided to take five then head down.

We'd finally gotten high enough to break the tree cover, so we could really admire the view, and it really was beautiful, and so peaceful. We also spotted all the supplies needed to build a fence. We couldn't work out if this was for a new fence, or to repair an old one, but either way knowing the land is being maintained is a nice thought.

Before heading down, there was something that had to be done. Dave started stripping off, and asked me to take a picture of him. The picture in question was taken from behind, with the scenery as the main focus, it just so happens Dave's ass was out. After showing him the photo (after he put his clothes back on) he asked me if I wanted one too. He knows me so well. I decided to stand on a wall for mine to make it a bit different. I've gotta say, standing naked, on a wall, up a waterfall, is pretty damn magical.

After admiring the view for a little while longer (the scenery, not the asses) we headed back down the waterfall. Going down is always harder than going up (whey..?) so it took us quite a while, plus we seemed to have opted for the super-slippy, super-unstable route on the way down, which made things extra fun. The journey down wasn't anything amazing, and we eventually met up with Kyle and Ruth, and we all had a nice chill.

We'd picked a nice flat spot to relax, it worked out really well for us and we ended up staying for a while and just enjoying ourselves. We were out of the campsite around 5 hours, so it may well have been a long time. There was a rock in the middle of the stream and I joined Kyle on there. The sound was amazing, the water just rushing past, it was so tranquil.

After we got bored of relaxing, we ventured down the rest of the waterfall. This was most un-eventful, except for Kyle falling on his ass (I tried to get a video, but missed my chance) which was pretty funny, and I got a picture which was nice! After the joy of seeing Kyle fall over, we were soon back on the ground, and thirsty. It was time to head back to the pub for a beer.

Kyle after he'd fallen over

Once we got to the pub I thoroughly enjoyed my pint. Although I'd had a couple of cans on the journey, nothing beats a nice, cold, refreshing pint (if I didn't have a drink while writing this, I'd probably be salivating, but I am on a plane to Benidorm) and we all enjoyed ours. No food this time, so we had our beer then headed to a nearby coffee shop to grab ourselves some much needed caffeine. As a regular coffee drinker, I generally have at least one or two a day, and the latte from this coffee shop was my second.

Dave had mentioned to me that he wanted to make a video with various bits of footage from the trip, so I'd been on video overload trying to get as much as I could. While I was filming, I saw a sheep just casually walking along a wall. It was pretty impressive I have to say, I also got a picture...

A sheep that just didn't care about where she walked

Other than the sheep on the wall, the walk back was pretty dull. When we arrived back to the camp, everybody was around the fire. Unknown to us, while we were away there had been quite a severe accident involving one of the paragliders, who had to be rushed to hospital. From what I was told, they came down to land, but just before touching down they were caught by the wind and dragged back into the air, where the paraglider stalled, resulting in a horrible landing. I don't have any more information on this, but I really hope whoever was involved is alright, and wasn't seriously hurt.

After a bit of relaxing, I decided to have a nap. The last few years I'd been to Buttermere, I'd always not really done much on the Saturday night, and this year I wanted it to be different, so hence the tactical nap. It didn't help my case that I barely slept the night before, but I ended up sleeping so long that everyone had started heading to the music tent without me. So I sorted my shit out, and headed on over there.

The music in the tent was so good. There's always a good mix of easy going music, mixed with Ska and rock, so it's just all really awesome music to dance to. When I found everybody else, I also found my friend Lucy, who I ended up dancing around with, while her boyfriend kicked some ass on the dance floor. I can only describe Yohan (Lucy's boyfriend) as a dancing windup toy, you just wind him up, and watch him go. He was throwing some serious shapes and rocking some serious moves, which just added to the Buttermere experience.

I had no concept of time while we were in the tent. As the bands came on, I just kept dancing. Eventually though, the bands stopped and the silent disco started. At this point, I was actually alone. I'd ventured back to the tent to grab another drink, but in doing so I'd lost everyone, so I tried to find them. We have a code phrase we use when we lose a friend, which is just shouting "OOORRRRUUUU" as loud as you can (think Fosters advert, the word is awesome) but after walking round the whole campsite, I couldn't find anybody.

I figured I may as well hit the silent disco. I had nothing else to do, and thanks to my epic nap, I wasn't really tired, so I decided to head back to the tent and grab some money for the silent disco. The entry cost was only a fiver, but a £10 deposit was required. I had £10 in my pocket, but I'd managed to lose it somehow. I didn't drunkenly spend it either, I just genuinely lost it, so I figured it was bedtime after that. When I eventually got back to the tent, I ran into Kyle and Dave who had been looking for me just as long as I'd been looking for them.

We all decided to have another drink, so we wandered over and sat in the beer tent. This was fine for a while, we had no issues and were just having a laugh, but then a girl called Louise tapped me on the shoulder. I've got to say, this kinda stuff never happens to me, so I was loving all of this. Anyway, Louise wanted to congratulate us on our awesome performance, especially me, as I was the lead singer, apparently. I've made peace with the fact that I'm not some insanely hot frontman type, so having someone think I was, for whatever reason, was quite fun. So Louise had come over to get a picture with us to show all of her friends that would be "Soooo jealous" that she got to meet 'us'. I'm so glad Louise didn't ask me what 'my band' was called, because I have no idea who actually performed at Buttermere, I just know they were all awesome, and I most certainly wasn't the lead singer from any of the bands.

A shot of the 'band'

So as you can see, I took the pictures, and I took Louise's email to send her the pictures (I did as well, and explained things) because I couldn't send her them then as her phone was dead. Although the whole thing was quite funny and enjoyable for us all, my favourite part has to have been when Dave tried to say "Oh yeah, I was the drummer" (he plays drums) and Louise instantly shot him down with a "No you weren't" and carried on talking to me. Kyle tried the same kind of thing with the ukelele (he does play it) and actually got away with it, so Dave's face was brilliant. Building on our success, we decided to get a bar shot of everybody that fancied it.

A group shot in the bar, I have no idea who most of these people are.

After we got the group shot, we were out of money and beer, so at around 2am or so we decided to call it a night and headed back to our tents. That night was horrible. Wind and rain constantly, you just couldn't sleep in it. My tent was only just coping, and, I had to keep moving around to make sure I didn't get wet from the water coming in. My brothers tent was flooded, and a few of our friends'. At one point, Fandy even went and slept in the car.

The morning was horrible, nobody had slept well at all. I had enough money left for one last coffee, so I went to the coffee truck to get my caffeine fix. After around an hour or so of being back, I'd pretty much packed everything I owned and was ready to leave. To be honest, I was just looking forward to taking my tent down so I could throw it away, and I'm glad to say that tent is now in the bin.

After a lot of pretty much nothing, Ruth tried to pull her car off the hill where we had both parked, and moments later, it was stuck. We had a huge mission to get the cars out (yes, cars, Andy's got stuck too) and we ended up being towed out by a very nice gentlemen. If I see him next year, I'll buy him many beers. We were suck for ages though and tried everything, including a lot of pushing, trying to dig out the wheels, all sorts. The ground was really swampy and we were fighting a losing battle, so the tow was very needed.

We headed back in our respective cars, but the whole group didn't leave. Kane and his friends Berty and Andy had to wait for my mam to go and collect them in 'The Prof' (Kane's car's name, my mam bought him it from my friend Jonny, to inspire him to pass his test) and take them home. Kane actually had a seat in Andy's car, but gave it to his friend Sam as he was having a really bad time and needed to get home. My mam called me to ask for directions a couple of times, but ended up getting lost, which meant that Kane and the guys weren't picked up for a good two hours after we'd all left.

When my mam eventually did pick them up, a big milestone happened. The Prof was very close to 100k miles, and Kane was driving when the dials eventually rolled over and hit that magic 100,000. This is a big deal, and Kane got to hit this huge milestone in 'The Profs' life, and make his first of many more memories in his car. They eventually arrived home some four/five hours after we'd originally left Buttermere, which must have sucked.

I had such a good weekend, and I'll be there again next year. So if you're there too, be sure to say hello :)