I made it. I have circled the sun 50 times. That sounds like a lot, but then again, it feels like just yesterday that I turned 21, so it can’t really be a lot.
My husband asked me at the start of the year what I would like to do for my milestone birthday. Would I like a surprise trip somewhere, perhaps a city break, or a party or what? Or would I perhaps like a few days walking in the Lake District?
Well, it was a no-brainer for me. I love mountains more than almost anything else and the Lake District feels like my spiritual home. Lovely husband then set about planning a walking tour – Coniston to Langdale to Wasdale to Eskdale and back to Coniston, staying each night in some of the lovely walkers’ inns which we’ve visited many times for a post-walk drink but have never stayed in before. (For those who know the Lakes well – the Sun Inn in Coniston, the Old Dungeon Ghyll in Langdale, the Wasdale Head Inn, and the Woolpack Inn in Boot, Eskdale.)
My husband let me plan the walking routes for each day – he knew I’d enjoy this. I picked two routes for each day – one over the summits and one at lower level in case the weather stopped us from going over the tops. Thankfully we were able to do the higher routes every day although we did not have any cloud free summits at all. We carried all the gear we’d need for 4 days – just basic walking gear plus a change of clothes for the evenings in the inns.
Big surprise on day 1 – my birthday – when I found he’d carried up a half bottle of Bollinger, two plastic champagne glasses and a small Thorntons chocolate birthday cake complete with candle. Now that’s my kind of summit picnic!
On that day we walked from Coniston over Wetherlam, down to Little Langdale and then across to the ODG via Blea Tarn.
Day 2 we climbed Bow Fell then Esk Pike, then down to Wasdale Head via Styhead. Lovely walk.
Day 3 we climbed Sca Fell, and then down via Slight Side to Eskdale. This pic was taken part way up, with a break in the cloud revealing Burnmoor Tarn way below.
Day 4 was the biggie – skirted Harter Fell, dropped down into the Duddon valley, then up the Walna Scar track. We’d hoped to do Dow Crag and the Old Man of Coniston, but only if we reached the ‘decision point’ before 3pm. It was 2.55 when we got there, and we were very tired, but we went for it anyway. I’d recommend that ridge up Dow Crag – I loved it. We were on the summit of the Old Man at about 5pm and back down at the Sun Inn by 6.30, exhausted but happy.
All in all we walked 60km in 4 days over the hills. Here’s a map showing the route for the map-junkies amongst you.
The week away was book-ended by a couple of rugby matches. We saw Ireland play Italy at the Olympic stadium at the start of the week, and then the fabulous Ireland v France match at the end, in the Millennium stadium in Cardiff. What an atmosphere at that second match! 50,000 people singing Fields of Athenry is something to be remembered for all time. I am only slightly hoarse.
Now it’s back to work, back to writing, and coping with being half a century old. It’s fine, really. Feels no different to being 49, except my knees are a little more achy than before.