Tag Archives: Lake District

Xanadu : Weekly Prompt Weekend Challenge

As close as I could get, not close enough for real.  Our favourite place, The Lake District.  

Oh my goodness it must be utterly peaceful now.  How we miss the chance to visit.  Here’s hoping for an opportunity by Autumn, when, hopefully this is all over.

I hope the colour on the wall meets the challenge to match the colour of Xanadu. 


Stone wall with sign pointing to Ambleside

Weekend Challenge – Xanadu

Plots, Plagues and a Packhorse Bridge

17th century England – a turbulent time of gunpowder plots, plague and devastating fire.  Our history books are full of information from this era.

If you lived in the countryside you might think life would have been peaceful and safe.

The valley near Little Langdale, Cumbria as we approached Slaters Bridge

But areas like the Little Langdale Valley, shown in the above photo, included lots of copper and slate in its stoney ground and men worked long and hard in dangerous conditions to get to collect it. Initially this would have been farmers then quarrymen or miners.

Transporting it over rivers or streams would be done by mule or horse and bridges were built with local materials – low enough for the packs on the backs of the animals to miss the sides. Packhorse bridges can be found all over the county in remote areas and In other parts of the country.  They are now very useful for walkers and hikers.

Slaters Bridge, crossing the River Brathy between Tilberthwaite and Little Langdale, Cumbria – 17th Century

Slater bridge from one side of the river

Tim and I have explored the high fells of the Lake District in Cumbria over many years and we still appreciate the history of the place especially when we come across structures that have survived for over 400 years.  We often stop and think about the feet that would have crossed a path or bridge – horses and men.

Last year we spent a happy hour or so having our picnic lunch and taking photos around this bridge.  One side has several large slate slabs which crosses the water, the other side has the narrow arched bridge.

Slater Bridge – a large slab of slate smooth with age

Me half way across Slaters Bridge

Enjoying a picnic lunch in an amazing location

Of all the bridges we have crossed this one is a bit special.

W/P Challenge ‘The Bridge’

March madness? The Lake District revisited

I’m sure I could hear a helicopter and it was close. That thud thud thud of rotor blades. I was puffing a bit and Tim had just disappeared over the snow cornice just below the summit, out of sight.  Deep breaths. ‘Are you ok?’  I shouted. No reply. ‘Are you ok?’ I shouted again.  “Yes, use the holes for your hands and feet, I’ve kicked them to make them bigger” came Tims voice. It was at this time that I realised that it was my heart that I had heard and not a helicopter. Now that it was all quiet I better get going.

March 2019 – The Lake District

Sometimes it’s good to go back to your favourite holiday haunts. A week at the end of March in Cumbria seemed like a great plan so off we went.

Tim and I have enjoyed so much walking in this area I need to write a book.  For this posting, however, I’ll share a couple of days that took our breath away.  Let’s take a look at Striding Edge and Jacks Rake.

1.  Striding Edge, ridge to Helvellyn

I’ve talked about this ridge in a previous post – the link below takes you to it if you want to see a few more photos.

On the edge of something big

Getting up high in the mountains is generally an easy thing in clear weather.  Find a route, follow a path, take your time, take a map.  Striding Edge is best done on a calm day, set off early and turn back if the weather turns nasty.

Leaving Glenridding early in the morning we gradually left the houses behind.  Once off the Tarmac our route followed close to a Beck (mountain stream).

In the photo below our route is on the far left of the peak, slightly shadowed.

On a sunny day it’s a pleasure.

Once you reach the brow the mountain scene really opens up and it’s time to decide what you’d like to do and where you’d like to eat your packed lunch.  Our choice was take the ridge on the left, scramble along it for a couple of hours then get onto the summit of Helvellyn.

Helvellyn (with snow on top in the photo below) is the third highest peak in the lakes there are several routes up, most of them far easier!  Tim, in this photo, is making his way up onto the ridge itself.

Photography – we love it.  However we’ve found that recording our adventure on film is quite a bit of fun too.  So, as we crossed the ridge we filmed the whole event on a GoPro action camera.  Film making takes time though and our stomachs needed a snack so we stopped for a few minutes.

It is possible to walk along the crest in most places but there’s also small pathways on either side. You need both hands if you want to scramble about  – as this photo shows.

We eventually found ourselves at the remains of a cornice.  This is a snowy lip on the edge of mountains.  You can see it here as we got closer.

This is how I started this post – with my helicopter heart rate.  I pulled myself together and climbed up, following in Tims footsteps up onto the flat summit, my crawling/staggering steps being filmed as I came into view.

Phew – it was quite a morning.  After enjoying our lunch near the top we made our way down, basking in the surprisingly warm sunshine as we went.

2.  Jacks Rake – route up to Pavey Ark

Sometimes I really wonder how we ever got into these high places.  Our parents didn’t take us, we didn’t visit on school trips or took guided holidays.  But here we are, in our middle years and now fairly experienced walkers in these wild areas.

One place that is somewhere special is The Langdale Valley.  Here you can enjoy the mountains of the Lake District in a variety of ways from simply gazing up while having a pint or scrambling along a rock face.

We have enjoyed both.  Today though we would take on Jacks Rake – a route that quite honestly can look terrifying.  The red line shows the route in the picture below.

Its a grade 1 scramble which means using hands as well as feet (sometimes elbows and knees) to climb but if you are fit and healthy and wear good walking shoes or boots and appropriate clothing anyone can do this.

I won’t describe the whole route taken to reach the foot of this climb but it is really enjoyable following Stickle Ghyll, which is crossed twice to reach Stickle Tarn.  If you find yourselves in the Langdales, and only want a short walk, park at the New Dungeon Ghyll car park and take the path behind the buildings here.

All this is merely a warm up if you plan to climb the rake or go up any of the mountains that all come into full view.

A rocky path is followed around the tarn to a faint path with large boulders the size of small cars and scree.  Up we go then.

The photo above shows Tim almost at the start of the rake.

At the rock face itself we packed away our jackets and sticks got the action camera out and started the climb.  The terrain is, well, it’s rocky but as you can see there is a groove or channel that makes you feel slightly more secure than you might imagine.

We were doing this on a Sunday and even though we had set off early we were joined by other intrepid scramblers, most of them in small groups of twos or threes.  Most of them quicker than us so we let them pass where there was room.  I like to think that we are not slow, we just like to stay safe and enjoy the day. You can see some people who passed us in the shot below.

As you can see there are a few flat sections or are they ledges that allow you to walk along like a normal human being! And then some sections that don’t.

As long as you keep going up the view gets more and more impressive.  I’m actually filming and photographing Tim at the same time here and even though he was smiling I don’t think Tim could quite believe his eyes…..

Anyway, here we are almost at the top. Stickle Tarn below us and beyond that the Langdale Valley.  You can’t actually see the path that runs alongside Stickle Ghyll or the car park from here.

We did stop a couple of times to admire the view or discuss Boulder negotiating.  Here is Tim almost at the top.

And then there is one last clamber before its all over and you find yourself with masses of space and feeling exhilarated.  Now to find somewhere to eat our sandwiches!

I would urge you to add this to your bucket list. Go, just go.


Thanks Sue & GC – I think this fits into your latest photo challenge of Comfort    in my case out of our comfort zone…..

Photo Challenge Comfort



Superhero in red

This time last year Tim and I were about to start a weeks holiday in The Lake District.  The forecast was for snow and very cold weather but we were prepared.  We had our Microspikes!

Here I am on day one of our holiday, on the western slope of Skiddaw (Lake District mountain), sporting my new Kahtoola Microspikes.

The great online reviews that we had read were all true and we felt like everything was possible in our non slip, extra traction foot wear.

The weather turned out to be truly amazing all week, snowing at night and sunny during the day, and I wore those spikes every day.

I added lots of photos to a post about this trip which can be seen here :-


Something I didn’t mention in that post is that on our way down from Skiddaw summit we passed several walkers struggling downhill and uphill.  One lady, on her way up, stopped us and asked how we made it look so easy.  We explained it was our new spikes.  Then she said she actually had a pair with her but didn’t know how or whether to put them on, having borrowed them from her daughter.  Tim immediately insisted on helping her out.  Here he is doing just that….

After this she plodded upwards for a few steps then stopped, turned and gave us a thumbs up, big smile and thank you.

My hero, in red, in his red microspikes. Doesn’t need a cape or superhuman strength – he just always strives to help whoever, whenever and wherever he can.

Keep safe in the snow and ice and buy a pair of Microspikes

Photo Challenge RED


WordPress Challenge : Out of this world


The summit of Skiddaw at 3,054 feet : felt like being on the moon

A week in the Lake District – February 2018

This week we have been set a challenge by WordPress to share a familiar scene — a place you frequent, a face you know well, an activity you engage in regularly and make it look out of this world.

Anyone who knows me and Tim well will know that we have spent a good deal of our time (holidays) in the Lake District.  Boring people with our little adventures or maybe inspiring people to visit this beautiful place.

We have walked up, across and down all of the fells and it has shaped us. Learning about the land, the rock, reading maps and walking uphill!  Walking in the mountains in our fifties is actually easier than it was in our thirties which is incredible but true.

So, for this challenge I share more than the one photo I have added at the top which really felt ‘out of this world’.

For us it is a place we know well but on this latest trip it looked a little more snowy and magical than on previous visits.   We climbed high every day.


Ullock Pike – a ridge walk on the way up to Skiddaw


On Skiddaw summit – it’s a popular place


Grisedale Pike summit : time for lunch.  Looking to the western fells.


Skiddaw range, with the Pennines in the far distance


Near Haystacks summit


The town of Keswick way below and Helvellyn range to the right

The river at Grange after snowfall

Thinking about a trip to the Lake District?  I am happy to help with any questions, it’s like our second home.


Now over the last few days at home we have been visited by some truly Siberian conditions, as has most of the country, so snowy scenes are currently very familar.  But back in early February, on holiday, we were loving it!

Out of This World

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.


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.



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.


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.



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



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…..


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.


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