Yet, as the weeks passed and clearing out took longer than we'd hoped we did start to feel a little bit trapped. As some of our 'traveler' mindset faded it became harder and harder to make some of the needed decisions to get rid of old, sentimental and nostalgic things. This also started to cause some tension between the two of us as well because, as I will write about soon, our experiences of clearing out were very different as individuals who had very different opinions about what was and wasn't important.
Crossing the border into Cumbria, after more than 2 and half years since our last visit, felt like a homecoming. Cruising into and then among the fells and crags of the Lake District in our temporary, mini-Homer felt so natural it was almost a non-event. So normal. Had we ever really been away from this stunning part of Britain that had been such a frequent escape just a handful of years ago when we were such different people living such a different life? Following the A66 westwards towards Cockermouth we then then turned south to make our way to the banks of one of our old favourites, Crummock Water. On previous visits we had walked a loop of Crummock and Buttermere and tagged on a climb up and down Haystacks as well to form a mammoth hike, but not today.
Waking far more rested and relaxed in the peaceful Cockermouth Travelodge we decided to take as much time as possible to enjoy our room, with an idea in the back of our mind that we'd be camping tonight. Heading out just after lunch to an intermittent drizzle our spirits were still high and we both decided that a little rain wasn't going to put us off our planned walk, an easy stroll around Derwent Water. We parked at the foot of Catbells and set off, wearing our waterproofs already as we expected a few more showers. What we didn't expect was the sudden onset of an incessant power shower drenching which after almost an hour with no let up did eventually beat us back.
Sunny skies greeted us this morning and after 2 good nights sleep the prospect of our first real hike was on the cards. We didn't want to drive too far so we decided to get back to Ullswater shortly after midday and try one of our old favourites, Place Fell. At just 600 or so metres high this was the first Lake District walk we'd done together after we'd moved to Durham many years ago and always remained special to us. The sun was hot as we set off on the initial climb to Boredale Hause, with incredible views along the valley to the Kirkstone Pass and the surrounding tops (Hellvellyn, St Sunday's Crag, Raise etc.).
Having enjoyed our walk so much and with such good weather we decided that conditions were ideal to try our first night wild camping in almost 3 years. So after a brief stop at mini-Homer 2 to pack up our overnight bags (and a visit to Patterdale Youth Hostel so that I could irrigate) we set off back to Boredale Hause. By now it was about 7.30pm so we had the trail entirely to ourselves and even though we'd already come this way once today the novelty hadn't worn off at all. Arriving at Boredale Hause we soon found a nice quiet and flat spot away from the main trail to pitch our tent and start getting ready for the night. Any concerns we'd had about being rusty making camp were unfounded as we found our muscle memory easily popping up the tent, unpacking and making our nest in double quick time. Having eaten there wasn't much else to do except enjoy the sunset until the sun dipped below the distant tops and it started to cool and we retired to bed. What an amazing day.
I love camping and sleeping in the hills but hand on heart my first night on an airbed in a tent after so long is always a little restless, even though I know after a few nights getting used to it I'd be sleeping like a baby. I'd dropped off easily enough but with such light skies had struggled to sleep after 3 a.m. Yet for me sleeping in the hills is so invigorating I was still bounding with energy when it was time to get up soon after 6. Esther had also had a slightly unsettled night, but by the time the tent was down and we were all packed up we decided in the crisp, still morning we decided it was a perfect time for another hike to enjoy the stillness. Also, since Boredale Hause was such an ideal starting point to revisit another one of our old favourites, Angle Tarn, it would have seemed a shame not to walk the loop past Angle Tarn and Hayeswater back to our car near Brother Water car park. As we traversed the empty trails, high above the mist formed in the valley below we could easily have been the only inhabitants on another planet. It was fantastic and we took our time.
By the time the children were in bed and we'd had a good long talk with Mike and Claire it was hard to believe 11pm had already passed. Having woken on the fells in the early hours and now almost 20 hours later to still be awake and full of energy is something I can only put down to the magic of the Lake District.
Day 5 - Homeward Bound With A Fresh Resolve
Waking up in Mike and Claire's living room in time to enjoy breakfast together, including flying a model airplane on the green outside their house before school, we were both a little sad to know we were heading back to Durham. Our time in the Lakes had been such a nice mixture of rest and activity it felt like we had rediscovered ourselves again. Our visit to the Lakes had been short, incredibly varied and unplanned in many ways it also exactly what we had needed. From the two tired people arriving, struggling slightly with the prospect of finally letting go of our Durham base and the work needed to do the final packing we'd found a new energy and enthusiasm to start the next stage of our adventures.
Driving back across the A66 we realised we had renewed our incitement to complete the building of our simple, lightweight lifestyle so we didn't have to waste energy making daily decisions about possessions we don't really need anyway (where is it, should I pack this etc.) and just enjoy life without the unnecessary holding plans and decision in our heads any more.
WRITTEN 17th JUNE 2016
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