“The fleeting hour of life of those who love the hills is quickly spent, but the hills are eternal. Always there will be the lonely ridge, the dancing beck, the silent forest; always there will be the exhilaration of the summits” Alfred Wainwright
This blogs a bit of a weird one to write, as at the start of the year I was in Singapore when the first cases of covid were announced there. It felt surreal at the time and I don’t think I imagined it would hit the UK in quite the way it did. On my return, considering every other country practically had Hazmat guys on the borders I was just met with the UK governments immediate response which was…….a poster.
Anyway I guess that leads us to where we are now, after growing plants (yup not an adrenaline rush) and month’s in fact from my job we might as well make the most of it while that moron Boris is letting us go on holiday.
After some deliberation with my mate Bracken (that’s his name I’m not talking about one of my plants) we decide we are going to start in the Windermere area and work our way from there. Right now just any time away from the inside of a house will be amazing. It is however going to feel really weird, going on holiday during a global pandemic. And I have to admit I do feel slightly awkward doing it. This is mainly because things are starting to resemble a disaster movie, but far less exciting.
After a less than comfortable journey, three hours on a train wearing my military grade (seriously) face mask I arrive in the village of Windermere. Bracken meets me and it turns out Bracken’s actually going to wild camp (and he thought I was too) but…well time to check into my Bed And Breakfast). I get a nice welcome at the Green Gables Guest House and the strange but slightly reassuring provided door seal on my room and the weird smell of an ozone disinfecting machine. Which is a bit medical but considering everything probably a great idea.
I get myself out of the door and we hot foot it to Ambleside where everyone seems to have forgotten we are in a pandemic. Nobody but us two are wearing masks…but that’s their problem. I’m pretty sure I’ve had the My-shaRona already and I don’t fancy round two anytime soon.
We head up the small valley that takes us to one of the fells so favored by Wainwright, namely Wansfell. Crossing fingers for the view described by wainwright. We pass a very picturesque waterfall and head on upwards, and the way rapidly becomes steep. We are both still pretty fit but it becomes rapidly apparent that both of us have lost some of that fitness over lock-down. On the way up we see a few wishing trees (which you seem to get in any magical part of the UK) apparently an old custom to fight illness.
There’s a number of people on the way up who clearly haven’t done this before. Which is cool as it just shows how many people have got into being outside during the pandemic, (apart from of course those who think it’s OK to ruin beauty spots who deserve to be fed to rabid stoats ). We stop at the top and get a bit of shelter from the wind to whip up some lunch. In my case some Summit Macaroni and cheese which is awful but probably the least awful camping food I’ve ever tried, if that’s an recommendation.
An American woman can’t believe we are just sitting in the rain boiling up some food on the top like nothings happened . Well at least that’s the impression we get in-between the big gasps of air she’s taking between trying to talk.
I like to tell you about the lovely view from Wansfell but…in typical lake district style we have about ten meter visibility in the morning cloud.
On the way back down to Ambleside we find some wild raspberries and get a free snack to keep us going.
Now it’s back through the town and across to Loughrigg Fell. We also need to keep an eye out for somewhere Bracken can wildcamp safely away from people and the weather
We make our way up a trail you can see on the map but not in real life and come out on the way to the top of Loughrigg. It’s and interesting fell pock marked with dips in the land and small ponds, along with less than interested looking lakeland sheep. It’s soaking up here but after months locked in its just good to be outside!! It’s not a hard hike at only 335m meters. Only thing is here at the top I’m doing one of these press-up challenges for a friend and my cousin who have both volunteered me. So here on top of this windswept rainy fell, I get on my hands and toe tips and smash out twenty press ups.
At this point I’ll be leave my plant named friend behind to wild camp, and part of me is sort of jealous he’s going to get to spend the night up here. Considering the typical lake district weather I’m looking forward to a warm shower, decent food and a few pints of beer. Only thing is it’s a decent slog back from Loughrigg to where I’m staying in Windermere. As well as this the weather decides to turn as the light fades. Luckily I’m pretty waterproof and after a short walk I’m straight into the priest hole (not like that its a bar/restaurant). I’m pretty relived to get a table as I’m pretty hungry by this point, and as you can imagine finding food anywhere in Ambleside during the pandemic with everything having to be booked is pretty difficult. where they serve me up an excellent Pheasant Burger (it’s a bit random but very tasty) it’s definitely fresh as I think I’ve managed to find the only one that’s still got lead shot in it (but hey you kind of sign up to this if you like eating game meat).
It’s a bit weird eating in a place with all the doors open and being served by people wearing visors but I guess this is going to be normal from now on. I don’t usually write about places I eat in the blogs but these guys were great. I hope they are surviving through these unusual times! Definitely worth checking out http://www.thepriesthole.co.uk/
Eventually I manage to get my tired and slightly tipsy ass out of the pub and I get some time to reminisce about my failed attempt at the Windermere One Way swim . Even though I’m vowing in my head I’m going to return to swim the vast, now grey waters of the great lake in front of me, I’m glad I’m not in it right now as the light dims and the rain strafes the surface of the water.
Eventually I arrive, soaked through at the bed and breakfast jump in the shower and as I’m watching the bits of the lake district that decided to hitch a free ride swirl down the plughole I quite glad I’m not stuck on top of Loughrigg right now (even if I’ll be missing the great early morning view across the lake……….