It’s one of those things that always come up... ones of those places. When I tell people I am determinedly seeing as much of the beautiful countries of the U.K. as possible while I am here – not just the countries of Europe – I’d say nine times out of ten the immediate response is, “Been to the Lakes District yet?”
After almost two years of shaking my head sadly, I can finally say I have... hallelujah! This doesn’t just make me happy because I have finally ticked that box on my adventure bucket list, but because my experience there – albeit brief – was every bit as amazing as I’d hoped. I feel like most every country has that one area for which its natural beauty is legendary... think America’s Yellowstone National Park, Australia’s Uluru, Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest, China’s Danxia Mountains or New Zealand’s Milford Sound. For England, the Lakes District is it.
For a country of relatively small proportions, abundant in quaint-but-not-quite-spectacular countryside, I wasn’t quite prepared for the breathtaking beauty of the Lakes District, despite the hype.
The reason for my visit was the birthday of a friend who decided that, rather than the typical birthday celebration of a night out in South London paired with the drinking of enough alcohol to render memories pretty fuzzy the following day, a weekend spent hiking air might make a nice change of scene. Don’t get me wrong, I love Clapham nights as much as the next girl, but I’m inclined to say this was a far better alternative... what a way to turn 25.
There’s nothing like hiking in the mountains, seeing humans dwarfed by giant landscapes to give you a little perspective on things. There is no technology, no dependence on the constantly connected world online, allowing you to fully live the moment you’re in, to revel in the wonder of raw nature. It’s an opportunity we may not even realise we crave until there you are: no wifi, no data, no phone at all, just being able to enjoy the place you are in and the people who are there with you, rather than enjoying someone else’s life via a small screen in yours hands while you’re on your couch at home.
It was an epic weekend as I have attempted to convey in some of the photos I have shared below... my new camera was definitely a worthwhile investment! The track we did was one by the name of Helvellyn, near the Lakes District town of Glenridding. S.T.U.N.N.I.N.G. This was more of a scramble than a hike, meaning a large portion of the track involved ragged, rocky climbs, making it unlike the walks I have done to date in New Zealand. Rather than being able to just walk along observing the scenery, there was a lot more focus on my feet required; finding the right footholds, testing rocks were trustworthy before putting my weight on them... it resulted in an exhaustion by the end of the day that was mental as well as physical. Don’t worry though, every English town – no matter how small – always has a warm and welcoming pub with beer on tap, so a few well-deserved pints were waiting for us at the end!
Heading off in the morning
Having made it to the Lake, spirits were high (as made evident by wee dance/salute to the sky)
The clouds set in just as we arrived at the Lake... slightly disappointing but actually added a vibe to the scenery that I liked
Jesse surveying the path ahead winding into the clouds. This is where the track gave way to the first rocky scramble
Looking back down on the Lake from the summit
Looking down towards Helvellyn's famous Striding Edge before starting our descent
A close up showing the rocky terrain of the Edge... look at those tiny people!
Taking a second to process the scale and marvel of this view
Beauty all around...
Looking back on the group just as we had started our descent on Striding Edge... eek!
Mountains, glorious mountains
A portion of the old stone wall along Striding Edge
Looking back towards Helvellyn just before leaving - I caught a momentary spot of sunlight on the mountain
The group - somewhat exhausted - going over the crest of the last hill before descending to the village
With Glenridding in the distance, before heading back we all took a minute to lie in the grass and just enjoy where we were... it was a pretty great end to the day!