The setting sun cast a brilliant golden light across the trees, radiating warmth and gentle glowing colours. I was sitting on a small gravel beach on St Herberts Island watching the sun set behind Cat Bells across the open expanse of Derwent Water. My shelter was pitched on a small patch of ground just above the beach, home for the night, perched in the middle of one of Englands largest lakes.
I had been planning this camp for a while, the islands are obvious from the shore and easy to get to, making them an inviting target. I had visited with my kayak before, noting a couple of nice pitches to hide away on, the idea of wild camping on an island somehow added an extra bit of wild feeling to the adventure.
Leaving the car in the Kettlewell park, I inflated my packraft, threw my rucksack into the bow, and pushed off over the still surface of the lake. It was late afternoon and the wind was virtually still, just a few shallow waves disturbing the surface of the lake.
It was just over 2km of paddling out to island, the lake was busy with other craft, canoes, SUP, and small sail boats all enjoying the warm afternoon sun. As I approached the St Herberts it was obvious I would not have the place to myself, a couple of tents were visible amongst the trees near my preferred camping spot, but after a bit of an explore I was able to find a secluded little patch of the island to land on.
With the packraft out the water I quickly set up camp, then to work up an appetite I waded out into the lake for a swim. The water was gloriously warm yet also cooling and refreshing; I got carried away and ended up swimming right round the island which felt like almost a km.
It was a wonderful feeling that evening after the sun fell behind the hills, tucked up in my sleeping bag enjoying a can of beer whilst listening to the sounds of the lake as twilight faded no night.
Morning dawned cool but with the sun the temperature quickly began to rise. The lake was virtually mirror still, with my packraft appearing to glide across a smooth clear blue sky. A very special adventure.