Easter holiday hiking in the Lake District

Easter bank holiday weekend. That’s the perfect opportunity to continue my exploration of England’s. Since I’ve moved here 4 and half years ago, I’ve mostly visited the south: Cornwall, Stonehenge, Oxford, etc. Now time to go North, I’m heading to the Lake District. It takes me almost 8 hours to get to the lakeside town Ambleside on Thursday 24th of March after work, against the 5 hours it should have taken. But I’m glad to drop my bags into my hostel room and pass out, looking forward to exploring the area tomorrow.

When I open the curtains, the sly is blue and there is no cloud to be seen. There is no time to lose, i’ve got to hike some 20km to an area called Wasdale Head, through England’s highest mountain range. Don’t get too excited, Scafell Pike and its 978m shouldn’t be too demanding.

Scafell Pike mapBut only half an hour after my departure, the sky is no longer blue and my route is up there in the clouds.

DSC_0097 2-1I start the climb of Bowfell, a steep and gradual ascent to 902m which gets me closer to the clouds…

DSC_0102-2… which I reach at about 570m.

DSC_0103-3I am surprised to find small lakes this high and in this fog, but it makes for a quite special landscape, like from another world.

DSC_0104-4At this point the temperature has plummeted, it’s humid, winds have picked up and the visibility is poor. Although I’m not too concerned about today, I will have to come back in the next couple of days and the weather is supposed to get worse. I am staring considering turning back as I continue further into the clouds.

DSC_0106-5But on the way up, I overtake kids who keep going without complaining. FFS, and I’m thinking of turning back? That’s a good kick in the butt and my mind’s is made, I’ll keep going and work out the way back when the time comes.

The temperature can’t be far from 0 degrees now, there are more and more patches of snow around and the cairns are the only indicator to find my way.

DSC_0107-6At the summit, it seems I might be breaking out of the clouds as a piece of blue sky appears.

DSC_0113-9Now for the first time since I got to higher grounds, I can see where I’m heading.DSC_0115-11DSC_0121-15It also reveals stunning view over the valley to the south.

DSC_0117-12Over on the other side I finally get a glance at the landscape, where I come from…DSC_0122-16… what’s around me…

DSC_0123-17… and what’s in front of me, Scafell Pike the highest peak in England (still a bit in the clouds)…

DSC_0124-18It’s not very long until a reach the view and begin the final ascent.DSC_0125-19

Once up there, the weather is absolutely miserable again, freezing and windy. The gusts make me lose balance. But on the bright side, the view is breathtaking… right!?DSC_0126-20I’m not staying here too long, there is a beer waiting for me in the Wasdale Head Inn so I begin my descent, fortunately outside the cloud.DSC_0131-22I haven’t long more to go, and I have a visual reference of my arrival point being lake level at the tip of the lake, hidden by the botom right hill on which I’m on. DSC_0138-25The time to sort out the camping spot, and I’m sat at a pub’s table, a beer in my hand… a well deserved treat!

The night itself is proving anything but calm. The wind has picked up and is blowing strong onto my tent. Other than the noise it makes, I can’t help but think of my tent taking off… Not a stupid thought though since that’s exactly what seems to have happened to my neighbour in the middle of the night. I got woken up by one of them shouting: “Get up! It came off!”, repeatedly. After hearing the noise of the fabric flapping in the wind, I do not know the conclusion of the event other than that the tent had disappeared when I got up (fairly early) in the morning.

The conditions are even worse, a lot more windy than yesterday but constantly raining. I head out and explore the lake just south of the camp site for a couple of hours. The path is a bit slippery and it’s not very enjoyable. I’ve an idea to pass the day. I’ll buy a book in the shop (about mountaineering of course) and spend all afternoon in the pub reading, eating and drinking local beers. 🙂

Even better, near the fire place…

DSC_1795I sit in the corner table at the back, left hand side of the picture.DSC_1796Really lovely! DSC_1798Comes the evening and the time to head back to my tent. It has rained all day so the ground is very wet . When I enter my tent, I realise that water has penetrated through the underneath. Not much, but enough to soak my bag. Hopefully, that’s it and no more will come through. Also, the winds haven’t died down. I spend an equally bad night as the last and happily see the sun come up which is the sign for me to head back to Ambleside.

Only an hour after being up, I begin the hike back. I’ve selected a route which avoid the high peaks and should be less exposed to winds.The pub disappears in the distance and msotly into the clouds…

DSC_0140-27But half an hour into the hike, I find myself losing balance because of the strong gusts. In fact, I am stuck against the rock face just above a pretty steep slope, hands on the ground. That might sound a bit hazardous but I’m glad I was alone cause that’s just laughable really 🙂

But higher I am pleasantly surprised to find a lovely tarn.

DSC_0141-28As I continue to ascend, I get once again closer to the clouds.

DSC_0143-29And another larger tern (they’re actually really useful to locate myself and continue on the right path)

DSC_0144-30Now I’m coming dow, it’s hailing and the wind blows it into my cold and wet hands… painful

DSC_0145-31Another tarn (it’s called the Lake District after all) and a sheep in the wild

DSC_0148-33Shortly after that I can see the valley where I’m heading to. Once I’m back down, it’ll be flat until my car.DSC_0151-34The rain starts to fall heavily and it’s an hour and a half later that I reach my car… completely drenched…

Well, it’s been anything but a sunny weekend. But I’ve really enjoyed being somewhere else, outdoors and away from the daily routine. Even yesterday, when I did nothing but read a book in the pub was extremely relaxing. Now I’m pleased I’ve finished and I enjoy a good burger with a beer without any guilt at all. The little I’ve seen of the Lake District looks nice, I can’t wait to come back to see the rest, hopefully on a sunny day.