England Through My Eyes #9
August 31, 1999
I grabbed a sandwich from Ambleside as a late lunch and we drove to Elterwater (a village) for a walk in Langdale. It’s a lower level walk, about 3 hours. Paul found a good value B&B at Keswick and we would be
staying there for the next few days.
What to do at the Lake District is really dependent on the weather. Every morning we dropped by the tourist office to check the latest weather forecast pasted on the door. For 2 days, the clouds were heavy and low (hovering at about 500m only), only patchy sunny spells, no rain. We intended to do Scafell Pike (highest in the Lake District), Helvellyn (2nd highest but it’s Striding Edge on the way up that lures me, not recommended for people who are afraid of heights) and one near Buttermere, but they are all over 900m.
In other words, you will be walking (climbing rather) in the clouds, misty and no views. Even Cats Bell near Derwentwater was covered by clouds. So, we ended up only with 2 nights at Lake District and headed east to Yorkshire Dales on the third day instead as the forecast for the next few days was not promising. Somehow, other activities such as visiting Wordsworth’s and Beatrix Potter’s houses were never high on our agenda.
Other than the Langdale walk, we did Borrowdale and a shorter one to Aira Force (force = waterfall) near Ullswater too. Each has its unique highlights and pretty spots. Langdale is most varied and exciting with Colwith Force and Skelwith Force; Borrowdale has River Derwent. The Lake District is truly a beautiful walking country, it is not breathtakingly spectacular, but serenely idyllic. It’s tough to take a snapshot that will do justice to its beauty. It will look so plain, so dull (blame the weather). You just have to savour the moment.
How’s taking a walk like?
Tramping over green fields littered with droppings from the sheep (forget about avoiding them ‘cos you will end up staring at your own feet all the time), breathing the fresh country air (with an occasional hint of animal waste if you’re crossing the field), saying hello to the sheep (I often did that, they would look puzzled, then you laughed, then probably they would wonder what is this creature or idiot trying to do), crossing barn yards (it’s on the public path), going through field gates, kissing gates and dog gates (and marvel at the various designs and how the locks work), getting the boots dirty (and hands too when going up or down some boulders), taking sandwich lunch with a view, be thrilled by the waterfalls, greeting every passing walkers (you don’t really come across them too often), listening to the whistle of the wind and rustle of the leaves (shhh, it’s that quiet), navigating through some very rocky paths (esp. if they are in between 2 crags), eating wild blackberries, be enchanted with the reflection on the lakes or rivers, cheering when the sun shines through the clouds……….etc. Just release all your senses, rejoice over these simple pleasures from nature and tell yourself that life is beautiful.
The serene beauty of the Lake District has its treacherous side too. A bench outside a remote youth hostel, which we sat on, was donated by the family of a victim. They were on their way to this youth hostel when their teenage son had a fatal fall from a nearby crag. Paul already saw rescue teams rushing into the hills twice over the weekend.
I was very lucky. Not only did all encounters with these internet friends turn out well (I was really apprehensive initially, well, anything could happen), I got to travel in a car and went to many places that I thought I would not get the chance to visit. It was so much more convenient to self-drive in the Lake District. There are valleys and passes where it looked so barren, like wilderness. When we were driving through the Kirkstone Pass (464m), the clouds were so low that as if we were driving into it (or maybe we were already in it).