Ullswater is one of the Lakes in the Lake district and so my lead in to today’s A to Z blogging challenge. The Lake District in the north west of England is, as the name suggest, dotted with watercourses amongst the mountains. The largest lake in England – Windermere – is here Many of them are called ‘… water’ which doesn’t really do justice to these deep brooding expanses of water.
I first visited the Lakes in the late 1960 with the Boy Scouts camping near Kendall. I have a vivid memory of climbing up Helvellyn – the ‘hell’ in the name seeming apposite as the wind howled and the rain beat a horizontal path to my face. And this was the height of summer in July.
At the top there are several ways off, one by the romantically named Striding Edge. However this day, with a sheer 1000 foot drop off one side, the mad men who were attempting the ridge were quite literally clinging on with their hands.
But as we sheltered behind the cairn at the top, the clouds dispersed and the summit peeked though to glorious blue skies and sunshine with the misty swirl dropping away below our feet, like the breath of a monster being sucked away.
These mountains are hit by the westerly winds from the North Atlantic creating many a green carpet up the flanks of the hills and mountains until the rocky tops appear. There are many ways up and across to the likes of High Street, Scarfell, Kidsty Pike and on.
In 1995 Dad and I and a couple of friends undertook the Coast to Coast walk. This was the idea of the greatest fell walker we have had, Alfred Wainwright. His Pictorial guides to the Lakeland Fells with their curiously off beat descriptions and beautifully hand drawn maps have sold millions.
Wainwright plotted a walk that set off from the cliffs at St Bees Head on the West Coast of England, crossed the Lakes and the lowlands from Catterick before climbing to the Yorkshire dales and crossing the Yorkshire Moors ending at Robin Hood’s Bay. 198 miles which took us 12 days and was, by common consent the best of the many walks we undertook together.
And there were two days when the walk was utterly blissful, both through the Lakes. The first ending at Ullswater took us, once again over Helvellyn. The second and which was blissfully sunny took us from Patterdale near Ullswater to Shap, right on the edge of the Lake District. That day was special for several reasons, the weather and beauty if the scenery apart.
I saw, for the only time so far, a golden eagle soaring on the thermals as I caught my breath on the top of Kidsty Pike; a new expression – the ‘knee-popper’ – entered the family lexicon that day for the climb down to Haweswater – it took such a strain on all our kneecaps to stop ourselves hurtling out of control down the slope that it felt as if our kneecaps had come loose; I learnt that bright sunshine was called ‘Hitler weather’ by some Germans because of the good weather that seemed to attend his speeches, military assaults etc; and we ended the day in a youth hostel at Shap with about 20 other walkers and I vowed never again to share one room with so many people intent of breaking the decibel record for aggregate snores.