Often when I’m on the way up to a mountain summit, I think “what am I doing here?!” Everything seems to be a blur because I’m so out of breath. But soon after I arrived home, I would question “why didn’t I open my eyes wider and look around harder?!” And everything is actually a blur because I just can’t remember all the details: how the path winded, how the view unfolded, how the summit seemed miles away and I could never make it, but appeared all of a sudden.
Oh lovely memories of fell walking.
I decided to go on Skiddaw after I read the March issue of Country Walking magazine. There are so many fells and lakes in the Lake District you can’t really blame me for going there again and again. At the end of the magazine, there is a map of “the Wainwright’s”, i.e the 214 most prominent hills in Wainwright’s pictorial guides. There is also a checklist of them all, for people to keep track of their progress. I wasn’t really interested in the checklist, since I had no intention to walk them all. But I just opened the magazine to that page again and ticked the summits we once stood on. There are six of them. I’m pleasantly surprised.
It took us a few hours to get to Keswick. Train from Newcastle to Carlisle first, then another train to Penrith. The bus stop for going to Keswick is just outside Penrith train station, X4 and X5. A single bus ticket from Penrith to Keswick is about £6.50. The journey took about 40 minutes.
It was a sunny but windy day. We had homemade sushi rolls for lunch on the chair outside Keswick Tourist Information Centre. I never knew sushi was such a good picnic food. After you roll it up, just leave it in the cling film. When you’re hungry, you can just peel the cling film off little by little and bite from the top of the roll. If you can be bothered, you can even drip soy sauce on the top. My Japanese friends might be horrified by now, reading how I treated such dainty food in such a barbaric way. I apologise. But they taste equally good.
While my mouth was busy with our lunch, my eyes were equally busy looking around. A very hippy looking man sharing fish and chips with his little dog. The famous Old Keswickian in the background. A young couple with huge rucksacks talking in a foreign language (i.e not English or Chinese), checking things on their phones. A older sister carrying her little brother, charging about. A little girl with a sulking little face getting wrapped tightly by her mum. Countless dogs wagging their tails and their barks echoing in the market square. About five outdoor shops in sight.
We set off from Town Hall (Tourist Information Centre), walked down to Derwent Water, passed Hope Park (a father playing mini golf like a child), passed Piers (the luxurious National Trust house you can rent on Derwent Isle in the middle of the water). Keep following the path and you’ll end up on Friars Crag with a memorial to John Ruskin. The sign along the path instructed us first to see ducks (plenty) and then to see dear (none).
There were some amazing trees.
We gathered there must have had a lot of flooding recently. The turf seemed to be newly put down. A few trees uprooted, lying on the ground in a sorry state. Loads of trees were submerged in the Lake, almost till the top.
Tree lovers :)
We crossed B5289 and entered Great Wood. We saw pretty hostile looking Walla Crag and skirted along the bottom of Castlerigg Fell. We could have gone on top. But because of the same reason, always the same reason, lack of planning (and too many bags), we didn’t. Lesson 1: no matter how much I read in advance, there’s always information I miss. Lesson 2: fell walking generally takes less time than I expect. You really can go a long way in a few hours time. I’ll have to bear those in mind for next time. Another lesson we learnt is that driving might not be a bad idea after all. So we don’t have to plan everything around bus and train timetables!
Next time – we were on Skiddaw!
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1 NIV)