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Friday, 16 April 2010

In the Lakes, day 1 & 2

What an amazing four days I've had in The Lakes, I stayed at Patterdale Youth Hostel near to Ulleswater. I had a steady drive there on Monday, after taking two dogs for a walk before I left. With the price of fuel at the moment I didn't go more that 60 mph, preferring to trundle along at 55mph with the lorries, much better fuel consumption. The hostel cost me £47.85 for three nights self catering, so I took my coolbox with enough supplies to last.

I arrived about at about 3pm and had a walkabout to check out the area and to find the meeting place where I was to meet up with the walking forum members the following morning. I was immediately in awe of the scale of the mountains, they seemed to be towering up in every direction, hard to imagine what it would be like on the top looking down. I was soon to find out.

It was a gloriously sunny day and I had my shorts and teeshirt on. This is a couple of views of Glenridding looking across Ullswater. It is a very popular area for campers and walkers because there is direct access to Helvellyn, where I am going tomorrow. Patterdale is just 20mins walk away so I could leave my car there for the four days.

Click on the photo's to make them bigger, then click again to make them gigantic

If you look across to the other side of the water, that's where I walked on the Wednesday, more of that later.

You meet all kinds of people in a hostel, that's what I like about them. You can be on your own all day and there is someone to talk to at night. My first night in the ten bedded room and there was only three of us in it, so we all had our little corner to disappear into. After my makeshift dinner, something simple I don't spend ages faffing about as you know, I sat in the lounge reading magazines. I was having trouble staying awake to be honest. Two couples sat in the corner chatting, one of the women came over to me and said they would like to sing and hoped it wouldn't disturb me. She asked if I would like to come over and join them. I told her to carry on, but declined their invitation. For the next hour I was treated to 'Uncle Tom Cobbly and All', over and over again, with great in depth discussions about the words and their meanings. I lost the will to live and went to bed, ha ha.

Next morning I was up early becoming increasingly excited about my day on the mountain. What would I need to take, will it be warm or cool? I was rather hoping the weather would be kind to us so optimistically I didn't take great bundles of clothes. In the first few photo's you can see why I wish I had.

I met up with seven guys from the forum :0) Hey, I was the only woman, and they were all younger than me, can't get much better than that. As you can see there was a lot of mist and fog and wind, which hung around for a good part of the day. There were some clear patches where we had to whip out the cameras pretty sharpishly to take a few snaps, before it was all lost in the swirling mist.

Half the time I didn't know where we were, but I had a feeling we were on Striding Edge, that was one of the most difficult routes across to Helvellyn, but the mist was all around us so thankfully I couldn't see the bottom. If you imagine a letter 'V' upside down, /\ like that, with a scramble up massive rocks at the beginning, and a scary scramble down at the other end. It was probably just as well I couldn't see the bottom.

You would think people had better things to do, but no, when we got to the top of Helvellyn it was like a mororway service area, and Striding Edge was the M1. Amazing how many people were there, all very jolly of course. Me eating my sandwich.

Yes, that's my feet in the snow, it was freezing cold, one of our group kindly lent me a pair of gloves because I hadn't taken any, I didn't think I would need them.

Hey, wait for me guys . . . . .

Aha, the sun has tried to make a break for it, this weather is so unpredictable. A few moments to whip out the camera and capture a nice view before it disappears again. This lake is called Red Tarn, on one side is Striding Edge and the other Swirral Edge, we went all the way round it.

If you look very closely at the photo below you can just about make out three or four dots walking along the path at the bottom, they are a long way down from here.
This is Swirral Edge, I think ;o)

We have completed the circle and this is Red Tarn from another angle. The thing about walking up high is that the scenery changes every few steps, you have to keep getting your camera out

I'm not sure where I am on this photo, we went up and down that many times. I think the guys wanted to get in as many peaks as they could, and I was happy to follow. In fact I felt like I was being dragged a few times, but that is exactly what I wanted. I like to push myself that bit further, out of my comfort zone. If you carry on doing the same things day in day out, month after month, life can get a bit boring.

Off we go again, I'll follow you.

Here are the team, two of them split earlier, for a different route.

We're on our way back now, my legs were beginning to buckle a little bit under me. The pain in the muscles in my upper legs was agony, especially on the downhills. I have never done so much climbing in one day before. No point in moaning though, just get on with the job.

When these are the views you are rewarded with it is worth every step.

There's only one way to experience the height and that is to be there, the photo's don't do it justice. When you look down you wonder how on earth you are going to get back down to ground level, it seems such a steep drop. But the hills are covered in paths that you cant see untill you are up there. There is a way down from here.

Only one thing left to do, a pint in the pub, boy was I gasping for that! I am a happy bunny, and the verdict is that we have walked, or should I say scrambled, stumbled, slithered on bums, nearly fifteen miles in ten hours. Now what will my legs be like tomorrow, because I want to do it all again, on another route.


  1. I've been up Helvellyn a couple of times in the last forty years, but I've never done Striding Edge. It just looks a bit too 'hard core'.

    Nevertheless, the views in The Lakes are always astonishing... unless they're obscured by clouds, of course.

  2. just stunning, who would ever go abroad with a country as beautiful as ours to discover!

  3. Muttie LOVES Helvellyn (wonderful, gothic name) and did Striding Edge herself with a wee bit of an 'OMG'. Sounds like you had fun.

    Milt x

  4. Beautiful views. Sounds like it was tiring but well worth it.

  5. Cracking stuff - and interesting to see how much snow is left over.
    I'm looking forward to the other two days.

  6. Fab pics Ilona, and especially when enlarged! I wish I could climb so high but the legs won't do it now and real steep climbs have always given me nauseous migraines even when I could climb. The last time I climbed to any real height was in the Alps in Slovenia and I was faint and vomiting near the top when I was passed by two chattering elderly ladies in light summer sandals carrying their handbags, mortifying in the extreme. I always used to see women near the peak in white sling backs - have you seen any of those?

  7. Well it looks like people can't go abroad at the moment with that big volcanic dust cloud hovering above us. People should consider staying in the beautiful UK, they might be pleasantly surprised. A holiday is what you make it. If you go in the right frame of mind it doesn't matter where you go.

    Jane, I did see people dressed in the wrong clothing, trainers, but no sling backs. Teeshirts and short leggins, they must have been freezing. I can't stress enough how important it is to have the right gear, conditions can change in a few minutes.

  8. Fantastic pics again. Envy your stamina. My asthma will not let me do outings like that anymore. But I used to go hiking in the Alps with my dear old dad. Good memories! You certainly have come back with loads of that now!! Well done to you!!


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