U is for Ullswater

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It’s only small but for some reason Grisedale Tarn is one of my favourite of the lakes

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.

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Helvellyn with snow still atop in June

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.

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Angel Tarn between Patterdale and Shap

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.

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Kidsty Pike – a tough walk to the top

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.

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Dad and Sherpa Ernie on the Coast to Coast walk – on top of Helvellyn

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.

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Haweswater with Kidsty Pike behind

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.

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Dad somewhere in the Lakes

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Technically this is just outside the Lakes at the Nine Standards above Kirby Stephen. Oh and that’s me.


About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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18 Responses to U is for Ullswater

  1. noelleg44 says:

    What a spectacular journey, Geoff! The scenery is breath-taking. I used to love hikes- sadly my two replacement knee joints don’t allow the long ones any more.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. willowdot21 says:

    Love those socks!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rgemom says:

    Beautiful!! Every post of yours this month is making a journey to England more and more a “must do”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely bit of nostalgia there. Funnily enough, my first experience of the Lakes was as a scout in the mid-70s. We camped near Coniston Water in the middle of summer. A week in, there was rain overnight, at which point we discovered that we’d camped in the middle of a dried out river bed. Gave us a lot of confidence in our scout leaders!

    I’d never heard of a tarn until we came across one on the Old Man. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen – and I marvel even now that it had such an effect on an 11 or 12 year old boy. Whenever I go to the Lakes I am blown away by its presence and I question myself as to why I don’t go more often. Thanks for the reminder. I think it’s time to plan another trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Autism Mom says:

    What a beautiful place! Reminds me a bit of home. Another location on the Bucket List!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is gorgeous. I don’t remember the Lake District. I’m so sad I missed it. I think I’ll pretend I didn’t read about the sunny weather so I may continue to enjoy said weather.

    What say you again? A golden eagle? Do they live exclusively in the UK? I’m not sure we have them though I’ll be on the lookout for them when I visit the Lake District. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Not sure about exclusive but quite a few pairs in Scotland and a couple in England in the Lakes. Sorry about spoiling weather for you. I thought it tasteless too but as a writer we need these things…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Charli Mills says:

    Beautiful walk, so open that you can see. Your Dad looks absolutely blissful looking over the Lakes. I have a golden eagle that nests not far from the house. When one fledged he hung out here, peeping like babe yet he was so huge! Then he killed a rabbit and ate it on my garden post; he claimed his adulthood and was gone.


  8. Annecdotist says:

    Pretty impressive spotting that eagle, Geoff. I also really enjoyed that stretch from Patterdale to Shap, although it was one of my longer days (as I did it in just over a fortnight) and I got lost a couple of times.
    Ullswater used to be the bit we’d visit for a camping weekend from Newcastle – and find the area’s swarming with Geordies!


  9. roweeee says:

    Geoff, that walk sounds like quite an achievement. I’ve struggled to even reach the letterbox most of this week and now that the rain has returned, things aren’t looking good. I have finally managed to catch up on your posts and before the end of the challenge so that I guess must make me very well-travelled! I’m looking forward to taking things easy for a few days but something tells me, that I won’t. I have been putting quite a few things off until “after the challenge”. xx Rowena
    PS Love that photo of your Dad!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thank you Rowena for making the effort to follow me along. I’m very appreciative.. And you undertake those physical challenges with your own challenges which puts one my foot in front of the other stuff seem facile – well done. I’m off to read about zoos!

      Liked by 1 person

      • roweeee says:

        I think putting one foot in front of the other is not as straight forward as it sounds. I really admire my husband and how he keeps going to work day in day out when things at home are so complicated. My biggest struggles at the moment seem to be organisation and keeping track of what’s going on a school. It’s an absolute nightmare. xx Rowena

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        You keep sharing a lot of smiles which is a real gift. Bottle it and you’ll be rich!

        Liked by 1 person

      • roweeee says:

        Thanks, Geoff. Got to get these books I’m working on out there. I know they would do well and I can also speak in public and do the whole motivational speaking thing. I’ve done a few talks but need to get that side going as well. There are a lot of writers out there but thank good ness speaking in public is one of the the most common phobias. I spoke at International Women’s Day locally a few years ago.
        However, it’s hard to get it all together. So much going on with the family but that also fuels the writing too. I really struggle to juggle the creative brain and every day life and I know the chemo made it worse but you do need to be able to function. The mad professor thing doesn’t go down well with school or scouts. Fortunately, people tend to know what I’ll like now and we laugh my latest mix up off. Yesterday, I turned up a week early for the Mother’s Day breakfast at school. But then was able to runinto the choir teacher who told m,e I’d missed a note and money so managed to get that in. Thank goodness I’ve got the blog to show can get something right!!

        Liked by 1 person

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