Sploshing about in The Lakes
12.07.2007 - 12.07.2007 14 °C
Drive around 7 hours north of London and you'll reach the Lake District. Home to the stately Lake Windemere, rolling green hills, England's highest mountains and the lodgings of a certain Ms Beatrix Potter. We set off one lovely English summer day (read rain, rain and more rain - this was The Weekend that South West England seriously flooded) and pulled into Windermere late Sunday afternoon. After negotiating more than our fair share of tourist coaches, stuffed Peter Rabbits and shops selling Kendal Mint Cake (more on that later), we reached our self-catering digs. Sure, they were also part flooded, but it added to the "we're all in this together, so grab a bucket and start bailing" vibe. Quite cosy really.
Four days goes remarkably fast when you're dodging rain storms long enough to dash up mountains, but I pride myself in saying that I embraced my Northern-English roots, not to mention a pair of rainproof trousers and a ski jacket (yes, I went to the shop and bought a ski jacket in England in the middle of 'summer'), and hiked up those hills like it was 100 degrees in the waterbag. As we were practically the only ones brave/stupid enough to be out tramping about, we saw lots of gorgeous sights - lambs frollicking in fields, cygnets bustling after Mummy Swan, even the lettuce patch left for Peter Rabbit in Beatrix Potter's own garden at Hill Top. Ooh, and I have to say, we stopped in for a refreshing ale in Beatrix's local boozer - a mere 10 steps from her front gate. She could totally have staggered home, no need for a cab. She must have loved the convenience, and what a perfect way to soothe the writers' block.
And I can proudly report that I climbed my first mountain. OK, so it wasn't exactly Everest, but it was called High Pike and was, well, very high. It was driving rain for the first half the way up, when I recall whinging to Mike, "Um, I'm really not having very much fun". He tried to shut me up with the aforementioned Kendal Mint Cake, a white, sugary, mint-flavoured mass used by Sir Edmund Hilary on climbing expeditions and native to the Lake District. Italy has pasta, France has croissants, the Lakes have Mint Cake. It tastes a bit like the middle of an After Eight, so it really is the least painful part of climbing up a mountain, quite pleasant really. Anyhoo, after quite a few hours of clambering, scrambling and moaning, I made it to the top, and it really was worth the effort. An amazing view of the whole district with no-one to share it with but Mike, a few curious sheep who probably couldn't believe a human wanted to go to all the effort to gatecrash their high-altitude paddock, and some bird of prey, circling the skies, most likely saying to eachother, "Damn, I really thought she was going to bite the dust a few miles back. There goes lunch".
After four days of hiking, climbing and dodging rain showers, we were completely exhausted and ready to curl up by the fire to read about pesky bunnies, silly geese, motherly hedgehogs and naughty little kittens. Thank goodness for the genius of Miss Potter - a balm to young and old alike.
I did it! Me at the top of High Pike