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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Life: the Lake District

I absolutely love camping.

Ullswater - you can see our campsite nestling by the lake
I love the simplicity of it - waking up to a hopefully(!) beautiful morning, cooking on a stove and basically enjoying all the simple pleasures in life. My life is so dictated by technology these days - my mac, phone, kindle etc, that's it great to go away and forget that the rest of the world exists and that lack of signal really doesn't matter!

For me, one of the most annoying things about living in London is how tiny our flat is. This means literally no storage space which I find is a great excuse for not owning an ironing board, but also incredibly irritating when you want to store camping equipment.

Luckily, M's parents live in Manchester which is just over half way to the Lake District so it all worked out very nicely. We collected all the gear, and had a nice long break at theirs to break up the hugely long 5 and a half hour drive.

When I was younger I did an Outward bound course on Ullswater. I still remember this as one of the best weeks of my life - endless canoeing, rock climbing, abseiling, raft building, wild camping, river scrambling.....all against the beautiful back drop of the Lake District. I was therefore very keen to return to this part of the lakes.

We chose a campsite in Glenridding called Gillside Farm, mainly because it's a great place to start from for the huge Hellvelyn walk. Hellvelyn is the second highest mountain in the Lake District at almost 1000m high.

We decided to tackle Hellvelyn on our first day. The print out of the walk specified that it was 'hard' and yes it was, it really was.

Here are some pics of the scenery we passed on our walk. M painstakingly tried to teach me about glaciation and how the tarns (lakes) were formed.

Just before you reach the peak of the mountain, there's this crazy part called 'Striding Edge' so called because it's literally just a narrow ridge with no discernible path which you have to scramble along and sometimes even rock climb with your hands. Both sides of the ridge fall steeply away. As I said, it's pretty damned scary.

The picture below doesn't really represent its narrowness. We were far too busy avoiding falling off the side to take pictures where it narrows but you can kind of get an impression if you look towards the background of the photo.

the start of striding edge
Striding edge from a side view
There were lots of wives berating their husbands for bringing them up there, but personally I loved it. It was so exciting and the view at the top was incredible.

Isn't that tarn amazing? I have no idea what makes the water look like that

Success! Summit reached

5 hours later when we returned to camp, it was time for dinner. I cooked a variant on egg fried rice. A really great day, only slightly marred by the fact that our air bed got a puncture so we ended up sleeping on the stony ground all night. Although I've been rained out of a tent twice in my life (in Wales and Cornwall - singularly the two most unpleasant nights of my life), so compared with that, sleeping on the floor really wasn't that bad.

We spent a total of 5 days in the Lake district hiking, visiting cute the cute local towns of Keswick, Grasmere and Ambleside (all highly recommended).

One particular highlight was stumbling across this gorgeous tea garden which was so isolated and would only ever be found if you went on this particular walk. The kind lady served us a pot of tea for two for just £2 - such amazing value.

We spent our last day canoeing on Ullswater.

It was such a lovely week - I love exploring England when it's at its best.

Have you ever visited the Lake District?

What's the best walk you've ever been on?

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