It really has.
My weekly blog seems to have become a monthly blog, and my camera has been gathering dust to the point that I have misplaced the charger. The weeks spin by in a blur, and stopping to enjoy the things that have been the focus of this blog in the past has become a luxury rather than something built into the my week.
But it’s back, and a fitting way to revisit the blog is to revisit my latest trip to the Lakes.
Earlier this month Hannah and I made what is becoming an annual trip to the Lakes over my birthday weekend. Red Screes was a the main event. It’s not the tallest walk or the steepest, but it’s a slow build and a scramble.
The conditions were not ideal either. We’ve been pretty lucky in past trips to the Lakes, even in the autumn and winter the sun has shone and blue skies have prevailed, but this trip was a particularly autumnal November day. The clouds were heavy and the wind whistled right up the valley.
The weather was always set to come in as the day wore on, and so we were out early and in Windermere well before noon. From there it was a short bus trip to Ambleside where we could cross into the valley below the peak and make for the first ridge.
By this point it was already raining, albeit lightly, and in the Lakes that is hardly considered rain at all, but we knew the walk would be harder than we expected, so we made for Greggs and a pit stop for warm pastry before we began. As if to foreshadow the coming hours, Greggs was open but with a broken oven. No matter though, the Greggs up the road had taken the liberty of shipping sausage rolls down to this one, in true Lake District spirit.
The ascent was tough. I’m not entirely sure how much rain had fallen in the days prior to use arriving in Windermere, but the ground was boggy to the point that a single step took the effort of two, three in some places and the wind was biting. It knifed through your clothing, up the gaps at your coat cuffs and down your beneath your scarf. There were those who were better equipped to the conditions on the day, and Hannah was quick to make friends.
As we rose up the valley sides, the wind grew stronger and the ground grew softer. It was fast becoming a game likes of something out of a film like Tremors; what ground was safe to put your feet on? On the worst of the occasions I stepped on what seemed to be solid grassy ground only for my foot to slip shin-deep into the sludge. Thankfully there was a small drink running alongside the path that obliged in washing off the majority of the mud.
On the ridge itself the ground was firmer but no more forgiving. Red Screes is aptly named for the scree-runs that coat the final ascent to the peak. It was hands and knees job at times, and on the odd occasion you could stand and walk, it was made near impossible by gusts that at times felt like they may lift you off the mountainside at any given moment. But ascend it we did. And we weren’t the only (fool) hardy folk out that Friday.
At the top we took shelter in a dry-wall cove that had surely been built against the elements in the past. But as we sheltered between the rocks at the top we were joined by a group of fell runners clad in skin-tights and shorts. If bravery is a combination of brilliance and bravery, these guys were surely brave.
The descent was kinder, though as the wind subsided and the sun broke through cracks in the sky, the slippery ground claimed one last victim. With an ‘ooop’ and a plonk, I turned around to find Hannah on her backside with her woolen mittens caked in mud. It was definitely time for some tea and cake.
We eventually got some when we arrived back in Ambleside, before heading back to Windermere for an evening train to Preston.
Our stay in Preston was elongated somewhat courtesy of Virgin Trains, who had to cancel trains down to Euston on the Sunday evening after numerous incidents on the line. Thankfully, after numerous previous occasions of this happening, we were lucky enough to receive the news about the cancellation before we left Preston and so we stayed an extra night, allowing us to catch the local firework display in the evening.
We’ve had worse delays on trains before.