Posted by: sweetpea | August 1, 2006

A long weekend in the Lake District

Last weekend was the first ever “York Hikers” trip. It was the first ever because before last weekend “York Hikers” didn’t exist, it came about because a group of us wanted to go and camp at this particular campsite in the Lakes and they only took bookings from official groups. So “York Hikers” was born, and after a fantastic weekend, I think it will live on for a long time and create some real history rather than the stories we were making up about when it was founded etc.

I set off with little Steve at just after 8am on the Saturday, and after a pretty straightforward journey we arrived at Great Langdale campsite in the Lakes. Being the first to arrive we got to choose our site, and pitch our tents in the best spots. We then headed into Ambleside for some lunch, bumped into Nik who’d cycled up from Grange (the crazy person that he is!) and headed back to the campsite to hopefully meet up with the others at 2pm. Eventually almost everyone had arrived and pitched their tents so we headed off for a walk.

Nik suggested a walk up to Stickle tarn so that those of us brave enough could have a swim. The walk itself was surprisingly easy I thought, despite it being pretty much a steep climb all the way and in the heat too. It was a relief however to reach the tarn, and it wasn’t long before most of us were in. I rather surprised myself because I’m usually a wus when it comes to swimming outdoors in this country, but the tarn was surprisingly warm, pretty much like the Med in Italy! After a bit of a swim we all got out and dried off, all except Steve C who took a little longer on account of having to rearrange himself and we were all pretty amused by the sight of him standing there in his grey Y-fronts clutching his nether regions…….:-)

Stickle Tarn

On the way back down to the campsite Nik and I were stopped in our tracks by the calls of a bird of prey, but it took us ages to actually find where it was coming from. Eventually Steve C spotted it flying out from some rocks, and it turned out to be a Peregrine Falcon leaving its nest amongst the rocks. It was a pretty good spot, although the others took the micky for the rest of the weekend! By the time we reached the campsite, the rest had arrived and we headed off to the hikers bar for some food. The food was not that great, but we had loads of fun playing some salsa tunes on the glasses and tables, so much so that we got told to shut up. We also had fun with Nik’s camera and a lighter. Rob stood using the lighter to write in the air whilst Nik took a photo on a very slow shutter speed. The first few times didn’t work because Rob ran out of time, but the final one was fantastic, and Kim was very funny running in slow motion behind!

I went to bed early and had great difficulty getting to sleep without my chamomile tea, even with ear plugs in; in fact I didn’t get to sleep until everyone else did at 1am! So I was pretty miffed on Sunday morning to be woken by the crows at 6am. I decided to make it known that I didn’t get to sleep because everyone was talking outside my tent in the hope that it would have an effect. I didn’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, but at the same time I knew that if I didn’t get enough sleep I’d feel pretty grumpy for the whole weekend.

Sunday morning we headed into Ambleside after a lazy breakfast, wondering around the shops and having a bite to eat. In the afternoon we headed to Grizdale forest where we’d booked to do ‘Go-Ape’. I was definitely feeling more apprehensive than excited at the prospect of doing an assault course high up in the trees, but by the end I thoroughly enjoyed it and was hardly nervous at all probably due to the fact I’d done ‘Aerial Extreme’ last year. I think my favourite bits were the Zip wires, although most of it was good fun. Suzie was impressive walking across a rope bridge without holding on, and Ned did really well despite his fear of heights. I think the worst bit was the cargo nets simply because it was very tiring. In the evening we headed back into Ambleside and met up with the final 2 members of our group for a wonderful tapas meal at ‘Lucy4’. Finally it was back to the campsite for an early night ready for the big walk the next day.

Monday morning we were all pretty organised and ready to set off just before 9am. I will have to look up the exact route we took, but I think it’s pretty similar to this. We headed up the Langdale Valley (I’m assuming that’s the one) to where it starts and then took the path up to Ankle Tarn, stopping quite a few times on the way up, and again at the lake to refill our water bottles. After Ankle tarn we carried on up until we reached what must have been Bowfell buttress where we stopped for lunch and to discuss the reminder of the walk. Most of us decided to continue up to Scafell Pike, but Annabel and Steve C decided to shorten the walk and head over Esk Pike and Bowfell, and back down to the valley.

After splitting, we continued upwards over the rocks to the summit, a bit of a hard slog but well worth it. The views were pretty fantastic, and I got the buzz I always get when on top of a mountain, it reminded me of how much I miss walking. After a bit of a breather and a few photos at the top we headed back towards the Bowfell Buttress. We followed Annabel and Steve’s route over Esk Pike and Bowfell, but instead of taking the gentle ridge down to Stool End we headed down past Hell Gill, stopping a while to soak our tired feet in the icy waters of the pools. We arrived back at the campsite at around 7.30pm!

I think this walk was my favourite part of the weekend. Nik worked out that we’d done roughly 16 miles in total, walking for 10 hours, and amazingly Suzie managed not to need a bush in all that time. It amused me that she has this fear of squatting, and no matter how many references we made to running water she still preferred to hang on!

Before the walk I wasn’t sure how long a walk I could cope with, and whether my back would deal with it, but it turned out that apart from a couple of occasions on the uphill stretches, I had no complaints from my back. I don’t think I have ever walked 16 miles before, and apart from some aching feet and legs I didn’t feel particularly tired at the end, although I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have walked much further. Now I know what my fitness level is and that my back is ok I shall be trying to go out walking more often.

Tuesday we headed back to Grizdale, a few decided to hire mountain bikes to exercise the remaining muscles; god knows how they found the energy! The rest of us had a little walk and then chilled out in the shade, before heading back reluctantly to York.

We’re already making plans for the next long weekend, possibly white water rafting in North Wales and a walk up Snowdon 🙂 Then it’ll have to be Ben Nevis.

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