The Lake District

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Tuesday 29 April 2014

The Lake District

Between 2008 and 2011 we sadly didn't take any overseas adventures as life got in the way a bit, finishing studies, new jobs etc. We did however get some respite and started to discover a place where we could satisfy our desires to be living the outdoor life, but just on our doorstep. Despite having lived in the North East of England for 3 years, our love affair with the Lake District didn't really begin until we moved all the way to Cambridge in 2009. We'd taken a few day trips to the Lakes from Durham during my PhD, but never spent any significant time there. But as the saying goes, "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" and this was certainly true of the landscape of the north.

Our time in Cambridge was relatively short, just under a year, but during that time we made 3 trips to the lakes, taking full advantage of the Travelodge £9 per night room sale. We'd drive all the way to the Lakes and then spend a week moving between Penrith, Kendal, Barrow, Carlisle and Cockermouth Travelodge depending upon which had a a sale room available.

We'd bought some of the Pathfinder walking guides and set about ticking off at least 2 walks every day on our trips there, often in completely different parts of the Lakes. Our holidays sometimes felt more like a walking camp, but in just a year we ticked off most of the big peaks in the Lakes and got very familiar with all of the Lakes and Valleys.

When we moved back to Durham in 2010 the love affair continued. At first we started with day trips, Esther often driving all the way to the Lakes and back on a Saturday or Sunday with a walk thrown in for good measure. When we got a bit more organised, we again booked in advance several Saturday night £9 Travelodge rooms so that it broke up the driving.  By now we'd ticked off all of the long walks in our guides and were planning our own walks on OS maps. We'd both spend the week just waiting to get away again and feel the fresh air on our faces, up in the hills where you couldn't hear the cars any more or have to worry about your inbox piling up. We never did work out just how many days we would spend in the Lakes in a year, but at least 30, and many more in some years. 

Over time we developed our hiking skills and we got more and more adventurous. In 2012 we did our Mountain Leader Training course based in the Borrowdale valley and by 2013 were happily camping wild in the Lakes as often as we could. Our favourite trip might involve driving over on Friday night, or Saturday morning, parking the car in a quiet layby and then heading up into the hills. We'd camp when the sun set and get up soon after it rose again. By now we'd also upgraded from our cheap, cold hiking gear to more durable, warm and lightweight packs so we could make the most of our experience. During the day we'd often swing by a youth hostel so that I could make use of the toilet facilities which I couldn't be without for too long and was really grateful to the understanding staff.  If the weather was very bad sometimes we'd dry off in the hostel as well before heading back into the hills to camp. After 2 or 3 nights in the hills we'd get back to the car tired, smelly and happier than we'd parked up a couple of days earlier. 

Over the years we've had so much pleasure from the Lake District's unspoilt corners and fells and hope that this will continue for many years to come. In my opinion, you can't beat the freedom of a good walk. 

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