The Lake District has now joined Hildesheim airport as a place I can go to clear my head and achieve things. This summer I drove up there to Keswick. I didn’t have many concrete plans on the way but did know I wanted to bag a few more Wainwrights. My attempts on these fells was weather dependent and so the first day seemed more appropriate to visit parts of Scotland I missed out previously.
The day started with a small walk up Castle Cragg. This is the smallest of the Wainwrights and number 214. It’s not even a mountain being slightly less than 1000ft, but it is 300m which makes it ok?
While driving to Portinscale the surface of Derwent Water was lovely and smooth and an almost perfect mirror.
As the weather wasn’t meant to hold out all day I then headed to Scotland to see some things that had been recommended to me the last time I was in the North. I drove to Lockerbie to see the memorial to the people who died in the Pan-Am 747 bombing in 1988. While on the way I saw a sign for the Ukrainian Prisoner Of War Chapel, I turned to follow these signs but when I got there the place was closed. Which was a shame, I had expected to learn some snippets of history about which I was unaware.
From Lockerbie I drove to Eastriggs and the Devil’s Porridge Museum. This museum had been recommended to me when I was at Carlisle Airport and I have to say it disappointed. It was housed in a new building and very lovely and all that but it just left me feeling a bit “meh”. I had lunch there, which was perfectly fine, but the museum itself just lacked something. I’m not sure what. I did learn that pretty much the entire coastline from Gretna to Dumfries was used to produce explosive during the first World War. After the second World War the area was used to produce plutonium for the UK’s nuclear bomb effort. It was the decommissioning of this Chapel Cross powerplant that I witnessed.
On the drive back to Keswick I drove past the Skelton radio transmission station. It has the UK’s tallest structure and is used to transmit VLF signals to the UK submarines.
A big day now awaited me. I planned an assault on the top two mountains in England. I had chatted to experienced fell walkers and planned pretty well. I got up early and drove a crazy route to Wasdale Head at the end of Wast Water. I grabbed a coffee-to-go in the village shop in Gosforth and got ready for the day’s walking. The main plan was to get up to a saddle near Scafell Pike, decide whether to skip up to Lingmell and then go up Scafell Pike and Scafell. There were plenty of opportunities to remove myself from the mountain along the way if I felt not sure.
Lingmell [number 29] was pretty simple to walk from the saddle and the whole world looked very desolate and calm, almost at peace with itself. Mind you, Sellafield was looming in the distance. I climbed the rocky barren waste of Scafell Pike [978m] [number 1] and at that point was higher than anything else attached to the earth within England. It was while up here that I looked SW and saw a blanket of cloud.
I was above the majority of the clouds and was a little worried about visibility. I managed to get to Mickledore and I wasn’t too happy with the conditions but I met another chap who was heading up Scafell and so we joined together for the waterfall climb up to Foxes Tarn and then Scafell [964m].
Scafell [number 2] was encased in cloud and I couldn’t see a great deal. After lunch I headed down by a westerly path and headed towards Burnmoor Tarn. It was a very pleasant walk back to the car park.
It’s nice to see trees and colour again after you’ve been “at altitude” [I’m def not serious there]. I had a cup of tea at the Wasdale Inn and then returned to Keswick via the same stupid road. It was single track, hilly and had sheep everywhere. It was also used as a rat run by locals on their way to or from work.
The next day was a rest day. Although, I would say that I’m definitely getting better at this hill walking lark. I felt good and could have climbed again. But I had plans. I went to see Aira Force waterfall, I have no idea how to pronounce the first word. I don’t care. It was a short walk from the car park next to Ullswater to the waterfall. It was quite an impressive sight, as it had rained overnight.
It was very green at the waterfall. Very pretty. I then met some work friends in Bryson’s tea room in Keswick. It was nice to chat and catch up. I don’t think we spoke much of work, which is a good thing. After that I bought my Scafell Pike mug and headed to Cockermouth to see what it was like.
The rivers through Cockermouth were quite impressive, they were flowing steadily through the town. No wonder it flooded terribly recently. I visited Wordsworth House, where the poet William was born. It was reasonably interesting. However, the fact that the flood waters were marked almost at head level made me very impressed with how the town had tidied up. I had lunch at Beatfords tea room. That evening I had dinner with Penguin and Mrs Penguin at the Inn On The Square. They sat us around the corner and out of the way as we were dressed quite poorly for such a lovely looking restaurant/hotel place.
On my last full day in the Lake District I decided to conquer Blencathra. I parked nice and early in Threlkeld and walked to the NE end of the mountain. My plan was to climb along Sharp Edge but when I came around a corner and saw it looming, sharp and in fog, I decided “screw that” and just headed up the rather plain and boring ridge route to Blencathra [number 14] and the other two prominences. The views were stunning. It was a shame about the clouds, but the sun shone through breaks and the rain showers drifted over the valleys. Utterly gorgeous.
On the way down I completed part of a Whatsapp! annual challenge and enjoyed the views as I descended into the valley towards the A66 and back to my car. There’s a certain level of clear headedness that comes from being on your own in the mountains. I really love it and am starting to think that I might actually be ok at this fell walking stuff.
On my last day in Keswick I breakfasted at the Filling Station Cafe and then wandered to the Lake side as I hadn’t been there so far and I enjoyed the wander through town.
I was now heading to Bradford for a music festival. The traffic on the A66 was terrible after an accident so I took the scenic route to Kendal and then across Yorkshire to Bradford. It took two hours, but was a nice drive.