Tag Archives: Lake District

WordPress Challenge : Dense

This is me – it’s the day before my 50th birthday (February 2015).  We had just arrived for a weeks walking to celebrate this momentous time!

We are in The Lake District, on a fell (mountain) called Loughrigg which is near Ambleside.  At only 1099 feet (335 meters) it’s about as central as you can be, is fairly easy to get to on foot,  and, on a clear day, enjoys great views in every direction.

What I’m admiring is a temperature inversion – as well as the distant snow capped higher fells.

An atmospheric inversion, which is also called a thermal inversion, happens when temperature increases with altitude, instead of the normal decreasing temperature that occurs as altitude increases.

The result is that valleys appear to be covered in a dense cloud while higher areas are bathed in sunshine.

In all the years we’d been walking in the hills this was a first.

Dense

Advertisements

On the edge of something big

We have spent many years exploring the Lakeland Fells.  Green valleys, lakes of all sizes and the mountains, what’s not to love.

People have said to me “doesn’t it always rain?”.  Well maybe we’ve been lucky or maybe we’ve just got on with it and ended up enjoying ourselves whatever the weather.  I tend to remember lots and lots of sunny days with only the odd wet or windy one.  As this blog grows I hope to prove that the weather up north is, believe it or not, often very nice indeed.

This post is all about a ridge. The sorts of thing that struck fear into our hearts when we first ventured out onto the footpaths of the Lakeland fells. The sort of place that we would never have dreamed we would explore.

Now the thing is that I’ve always been a bit short of those vital triggers that tell any normal brain that certain activities might be a bit dangerous, ever since I could stand or possibly before that!  Tim, on the other hand, has always made sure that he (and now we) ‘live to see another day’ – he has a sensible survival instinct. For that I thank him.

Our first proper ridge walk – September 1999

September 1999 – Tims 40th year.  As long as the weather was good we would do Striding Edge and so we did.

From Glenridding village the path takes a gentle but continuous path upwards to a place called ‘Hole in the wall’ – which is now a stile over the wall.  Once there (after about 1 1/2 hours walking) you get a glimpse of the ridge and the top of Helvellyn, the third highest mountain (fell) in the Lake District.

The photo below was taken close to the hole in March 2010.  I’m sat on ‘the wall’ and the wall leads right onto the ridge and up onto Helvellyn which is the plateau beyond that.

image

 

Its decision time at this point.  People stand and stare at the scene trying to take it all in if it’s clear, trying to imagine it if it isn’t !  As you can see the weather in March 2010 was perfect but we didn’t have crampons with us and Tims survival instinct told us that it would be far too dangerous to attempt – the rock being thick with ice, so we took a snowy route up onto another nearby fell that day.

Back to September 1999.  It was also clear and with dry rock and no wind it was safe to proceed.  It’s no fun in mist, fog or rain and we had actually turned away from this very point earlier in the year to save it for another day.  Oh my goodness were we disappointed.

So up we went. Now this airy ridge has a bit of a reputation for being quite scary and when you come across a plaque ‘In memory of Robert Rooking of Patterdale who was killed on this spot on 28th day of November 1858 following the Patterdale Foxhounds’ it might not help your nerves if you’re feeling a bit jittery.

However, even though there are fairly long drops on both sides there is a rough track just below the crest if it all gets a bit much.

This is the view we had back in 1999.  A photo of a photo – no digital back then.

image

We were up early to do this walk and I can’t see anyone in this photo but as we were making our steady way across we were joined by other intrepid explorers – all of us heading for ‘the top’.

Now right at the end there’s a down climb of about 10 feet on a bit of rock known as a Chimney.  It’s here that a small crowd can often be seen waiting in a bottleneck.  Thankfully not too busy when we were there – we crouched down and climbed, facing into the rock.  It’s a shame we didn’t take any photos at this point because it was quite a moment.

Finally we had a scramble up the head wall of Helvellyn to the top.  It was here, where there is another memorial, that my legs went to jelly.  Even so I think we practically skipped to the cairn and trig point on the summit and enjoyed the view. You can see the ridge over my shoulder on the right.

image

 

The first of several thrilling ridges for us.  Here we are – fashions come and go but mountains generally stay the same!

image

 

These boots are made for…

Of all the clothing and gear we use today to enjoy our walking adventures my walking boots are, perhaps, the most important.  My newest boots are pink and I love them!

My home is Norfolk – a big flat county with big skies, beaches and lots of waterways.  We’ve done lots of walking here (as it’s nice & local!) but these pink boots were not made for marsh and sand, they were made for rocky ground.

For this we travel ‘up North'(and then West a bit) to the beautiful Cumbrian Mountains (called Fells) of the Lake District.  To an area that Tim and I have now been exploring extensively, on foot, since the early 1990s.  It’s a place that changed us.  A place where our choice of footwear became really quite important…..

image

April 1995 – Wellington boots and trainers

We had no idea when we first went to the Lakes, on our very first exploration, which followed a path up onto higher ground.  We were following a route in Loweswater, which is a quiet spot in the western lakes, from a small guide book.  It was basically a circuit of the lake but included the romantically named ‘Darling Fell’.

It was Easter, the sun shone, lambs skipped in the valley, both lake and sky were beautifully blue in early spring sunshine.  The mountains to the south and east looked impressive but we only had a small climb to Darling fell summit.  The climb was worth it for the view.  However on the way down Tim split his new trainers and I really struggled in my wellies.  Walking got just a bit more difficult.

Darling Fell had fooled us.  Even a small hill can do that.

We eventually limped into The Loweswater Inn – our half way point.  The place was heaving with happy walkers all enjoying the local food & drink.  It was here that our eyes were opened to the world of well equipped (and booted) walker.  Smiling shiny faced people with maps and backpacks – we wanted to join that club!

Within a day or so we went to the shops to buy our first boots and we became smiling shiny faced people too.

Here is a photo of Loweswater with Darling Fell to the right of the lake.

image

I have to add that there is nothing wrong with trainers or Wellington boots – just the terrain you use them in.