Monday, 31 March 2014

We woz lucky....

      All our camping gear was packed ready for spending a weekend at Wold Farm, near Flamborough, on
Content in our cosy corner - our first camp of the year...
Yorkshire's east coast, but a last minute check on the internet revealed the site wasn't open until Monday - the day after the weekend. An email to the site owner, asking if we could come anyway, failed to get a reply. We assumed that meant 'No'.  Instead, we opted for a favourite site in the Lake District and were jolly thankful we did. The weather on the east coast turned out to be cold, grey and grizzly whereas Langdale languished under warm, sunny skies when the temperature rose to a balmy 19ºC. The Langdale site is also a working farm, so we shared it with sheep, geese, hens - and cockerels competing for which could crow loudest. As regards pitches, we were somewhat spoilt for choice. It's hard to make up your mind when you're the only ones there and, like the hens, have free range.  We opted for a sheltered corner we judged would likely catch the most sunshine - morning and evening - pitched the tent, filled our water bottles, got out the chairs and settled down for a brew. We'd arrived.

Racing my shadow under that craggy fell.......
     In truth, we didn't do very much, but probably a little more than I should have done given how I'd undergone a fairly serious operation less than two weeks before (nurse's opinion, though not necessarily mine). However, it wasn't long before a craggy fell towering into the boundless blue lured us from our chairs and had us tramping upwards towards its cairn and Trig point at well over a thousand feet. A family group with a couple of energetic children were rooted at the summit. Naturally, the kids wanted to play but every time they set foot away from their parents they got shouted at.  We didn't stay long!  By 11.30 we were eating lunch and wondering what to do in the afternoon.  We never go anywhere we can't run. Cornwall and the Canary Islands are our warm weather training camps whereas places like Switzerland, Scotland and the Lake district are used for hillwork, for putting strength and stamina into our legs. Or that's the plan.  On this occasion I chickened out of hill running being more in favour of a flatter circuit around the tarn adjacent to the campsite. And very enjoyable it was too. Wrapped in hills, serenaded with intermittent birdsong on a daffodil dotted trail with Canada geese bugling their welcomes beside the sparkling water proved a real tonic that transported me miles away from the smell of hospital wards.  It's good to be a runner.
       Sunday proved a classic example of Rabbie Burns' lines - The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang
Angle Tarn, and a wee bit of snow on the hills....
aft a-gley - and they sure did.  I'd foolishly set my heart on climbing England's highest mountain - Scafell Pike - but in my weakened decrepit state failed miserably. Nevertheless, it felt good to be back in high and lonely places with wheatears, meadow pipits and skylarks for company as we toiled up the much refurbished Rossett Ghyll. Conservation workers have done a first class job of making the rocky path more amenable to the trekking hoards. Amazingly, of the many thousands of interlocking stones that form the trail I never came across one that was loose, tilted or rocked about. After 1,700ft of climbing I'll admit to feeling pretty knackered by the time we reached Angle Tarn, so was soon rooting around in my befuddled brain for a Plan B - or maybe C.  There was no way I was going to make it to Scafell Pike. We eventually decided on a route considered the easiest option, viz. traversing round the back of Rossett Pike and descending by Stakes Pass back to the valley floor. It was a good choice because that path too had undergone much conservation work making for a faster descent than we'd anticipated, down to the bridge over the river where we stopped for a bite to eat and a belated swig of juice.

Back down, crossing the river below Stake Pass...
     A runner jogged past and spoke briefly, making me a little envious, until he dropped to the ground a few hundred yards beyond us and failed to get up. We watched for a while but he stayed sat down until I became a little worried. After a while, some walkers passed him by and had a quick word to ask if he was alright. He assured them he was and was just changing into something warmer before proceeding on his way. Well, it was sure taking him a long time. One of the walkers said "He didn't look like a proper fell runner". I'm not sure how he came to that conclusion but funnily enough, I'd thought the same thing. "He was far too polite to be a fell runner" I'd said to my wonderful partner!  We left Him. I hope he was OK. Back at the Old Dungeon Ghyll car parking area I was a bit embarrassed when two gentlemen addressed me by name while I'd no recollection of ever seeing either of them before. They knew me because they live in the same town as me and both members of the same athletic club as me, Longwood Harriers, and were familiar with my exploits. Even when they told me their names I'd to shamefully admit I'd never heard of them.  I hate getting in those situations when people seem to know all about me and I'm clueless about them.
Lakeland icons - Pike o' Stickle and a Herdwick sheep...
  In spite of an early departure to avoid traffic the journey home was very much a stop/start affair, and very annoying it proved to be. Miles and miles of highway had been coned off, and a 30mph limit imposed, when nothing at all was going on in the way of work, nor any hint of work ever having begun. Nearer home there was another mile long queue of traffic at a set of traffic lights where again, nothing was apparent in the way of work.  Maybe they're just practicing, getting ready for the usual holiday disruption. After all, it's not very long to Easter.....   
       Instructions given to me by nurse on leaving hospital was to drink a glass of water every hour to flush the system, something I'd very much neglected to do while sweating around the hills all day with just a half litre of electrolyte juice in my sack - which I hardly touched.  I reckoned that was a perfectly good reason to visit our local hostelry in the evening to restore the status quo with some of the best water I've ever tasted. It's refinement is due to the expertise of a certain gentleman called Timothy Taylor who has a processing plant somewhere in Keighley.  I'm not sure what he does to it but it's much nicer than the ordinary insipid stuff and slips down the throat much easier. Before, during and after a delectable roast beef dinner I reckon I made up for around eight hours worth of missing fluid. I'm sure nurse would be very pleased with that......


  1. Lovely post.

    As you go into Langdale the scenery is just superb. The Lake District is just beautiful's a shame your journey home was a stop/start affair.

    All the best Jan

    1. You're right Jan, I'd forgotten how beautiful Langdale is, how mountains give us inner strength, how tumbling becks can wash our cares away, a nice escape from the modern world.
      I often think of O'Shaughnessy's lines in such places
      "We are the music-makers,
      And we are the dreamers of dreams,
      Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
      And sitting by desolate streams......."

  2. haven't been camping for years and I do miss it, but there are almost no places here that allow dogs and how can we go away without taking our children?

    I would also have been looking the the highest peak to climb, good on you, next time it's back to the top for you,

    1. You're missing out CD. We love camping and seem to have done it all our lives. Much of ours is wild camping, alone in wild and lonely places, by the sea with seals for company or up in the hills among the deer...

  3. Ah the beautiful scenery on the Lakes - you have made me think about taking a camping trip soon... Hope you are feeling fully recovered soon.

    1. I'll bet those kids of yours would love you to take them camping Liz - back to beautiful Scotland maybe? Highly recommended.

  4. Glad to hear you are doing well and recovering. Camping does sound lovely. I also miss it! It'll be a while here however, it's snowing again. As for hydration, I always consider good beer a good substitute ;) But your nurse knows better than I.

    1. Thanks Celeste, I can feel strength returning daily as sap rises and Spring brings everything back to life again.
      Nurse's instructions were to drink a glass of water every hour which was a bit difficult in the Langdale hills. Normally I drink wine but was in need of quantity last Sunday, so chose beer. Two litres of Merlot would have done me no good at I'm sure nurse would agree.

  5. I love to run on vacation and would love to run right into your photos. Or at least hike there!

    1. Tina, our running clothes are the first things we pack when going on vacation - and we never go any place where we can't run. That's how sad we are!