It’s not often these that my legs get to hit some serious hills, so when we recently took a week long break in the heart of the Western Lakes, you can bet I was chomping at the bit to get out.
Our little cottage nestled just outside of Bassenthwaite afforded a superb view of the accompanying fells and hills, with Skidaw providing the looming focus.
With Wednesday set as ‘my day’ I eagerly reviewed OS mapping and examined the Ridge line heading up towards the top.
Groaning, the alarm sprang to life at 4.30am, the world outside remained dark as I attempted to carry a well rehearsed nightime nija manoeuvre so as not to wake anyone, with porridge consumed and trainers fixed to my feet, I left adventure dog at home due to the humid temperature outside and off I set into dark morning.
The world outside still bathed in a dark blue hue, I ran the short distance into Bassenthwaite winding my way through the still sleepy streets and threading out onto empty country lanes that held no names, the little hamlet of Burthwaite passed quickly before crossing Walk Mill Bridge.
I passed one local out walking their dog who seemed to eye me with suprise, I bid good morning before stopping to admire the inversion which held sway over Bassenthwaite and the outer edges of the lake.
I hoped onto the footpath near to Barkbeth Hill and followed the steep hill towards Ling How and the start of a relatively short but sharp ascent towards the top of Skidaw.
It has been some time since I have had the pleasure of any meaningful hill and my legs definitely reminded me of that fact. It wasn’t long before I was bringing out the ‘win sticks’ to provide me with some extra momentum upwards.
As I climbed The Ridge, I stopped periodically to take in one of the most amazing views behind me, the inversion had shifted little and continued to emerse the valley below in a mysterious and otherworldly aura.
I noticed behind me and quickly gaining ground on me, a solitary walker, I took this as a race and set off determined to beat my unknown foe to the top, after all I can’t let a mere walker beat now can I.
My particular route seemed to vear away from the main throng of day walkers, the path made up of boulders and small craggy outcrops with loose shale in betwee5kep me alert and on my feet. With a rather severe drop either side this was the place to be miss-placing my step. My walker foe appeared to have slowed on the final steep ascent of Ulock Picke and once summited I took off running along The Long Ridge.
This equally nifty ridge line gave me that all important Kilian esq feeling as my feet danced across the boulderous pathway. I was thankful of the now downward path that took me towards Carl Side tarn, the local sheep hangout now found, it looked a tad rough for me so I plodded on, happy that I had massively increased my lead over my opponent.
From here however, the landscape took a decidingly upward slant, the path became almost vertical as my win sticks dug in deep to move me forward, I stopped briefly, drank water and ate some breakfast before making my final push to the top.
I edged over the Ridge and onto Skidaw proper, the sun rising and desperately trying to burn off the haze from the morning. I touched the trig, took some photos before taking in the hazey views all around me, a mom and son were bid good morning and I began to descend down towards Sale How a more boggier route it would seem. I did consider cutting across as per my usual routine but opted for sticking to actual paths today.
I passed by a large house sat smack bang in the middle of open and dramatic countryside. I learn later that this is a YHA and can be privately rented, no road access so a brisk walk in but what a place to stop.
I hoped onto the Cumbria way and headed North East towards home. I took a dip in a cooling stream before coming to the conclusion that my my inner thighs where now chaffing some what, I took some moist moss from a near-by bank and strategically placed it, instant relief, along with sitting my hot arse in every river I came across certainly helped.
The path was easy to follow and required no navigation from me, I was soon coming upon Whitewater Dash Falls and what a site to behold, it never ceases to astound me the power of these waterways, carving out the landscape.
A few people were passed along the way as I headed along pathways leading to disused mines and rolling farmlands, crossing a road I passed by Peter House Farm and followed the conveniant White dots painted onto trees and walls.
Fields crossed and cows avoided, I entered into Bassenthwaite and took the opertunity to eat some rather delicious plums overhanging the pathway, I loved last year, wandering and eating wild berries and fruits and these were super sweet. The village was a little more alive now, people wandered around and children played.
My few hours up Skidaw reminded me why I love the wilder places, routes that are a little more dramatic to run and walk. Having been absent from my home turf for a prolonged time, I definitely miss this landscape, ancient, bold and dramatic and complete with thousands of years worth of history.