It’s finally time to tell you all about our big adventure over the peaks of the Lake District. To those of you who have been kind enough to follow our camping trip, a big thank you for your patience. This is the last installment so, after today, you’ll hear about the Lakes no more … At least, until next year…
After starting the week with a few gentle walks (as warm-up) and a rest day (to catch our breath), on our last day we set out for the higher peaks. Brianna wanted a victory photo on top of Heron Pike and Great Rigg, so we set out from our camp site to the picturesque village of Grasmere, where we left the car.
The route we took started with a gentle 20 minute walk through the forest…
…but started to climb, quite steeply soon after that:
Half-way up that path, a group of fell runners caught up with us and we decided to stop and let them pass us. This way we got to have a rest, got out of the way and had the chance to admire an impressive display of human will and determination. As all the 152 runners went past us (no I didn’t count them, but I read the numbers on their vests), I felt not only inspired, but almost tearful at their effort to run up the steep mountain slope. I could hear their heavy breath, I could see their red, swollen muscles and the sweat dripping off their faces. But I could also see the determination in their eyes. Some were young, some were middle-aged and a few were quite old. None of them wanted to give up. It was not about coming first, it was about doing it and crossing the finish line. I would have loved to take a picture, but then I didn’t want to disturb them. I didn’t think they needed a nosy camera stuck up their faces, so I chose to take a mental shot instead. I am glad Brianna was there to witness their efforts…She was impressed and we used this experience to lecture her about always doing your best, not giving up when things are hard and pushing yourself to the limit in order to achieve your goals…Hopefully, this will pay off one day.
With renewed energy and motivation, we set on the path again. It turned out that George ‘the mountain goat’ loves a good climb and prefers to be in the lead.
When the steep climb ended, we walked from one peak to another, following what felt like a nice, manageable ascending slope. The view got better and better as we got higher and higher.
Unfortunately, the higher we got the more unstable the weather became, and we eventually ended up in a cloud.
We struggled ahead through the rain until we reached Heron Pike…
As the rocks were becoming dangerously slippery (even for our rambling boots) and the rain was getting heavier, our common sense and sense of responsibility as parents prevailed over our sense of adventure and we decided to turned back before we reached our final target. But we are not defeated…We’ll go back to conquer Great Rigg another time.
On the way back, we had the most surreal experience ever. We heard barking on the peak ahead of us, and then we saw 4 dogs running towards us at the speed of light. We froze. My first thought was that they were shepherd dogs coming to attack us in an attempt to protect the dozen of sheep grazing peacefully around us. I had had a similar experience before, and it hadn’t been pleasant. On that occasion, we had to sit down whilst the dogs surrounded us and wait for them to determine that we were harmless and then go away. Which they did. Since we couldn’t think of any other solution, we did the same this time, trying to hide George behind us so that they couldn’t see him (as if that could fool a dog’s nose!).
As the 4 dogs got closer, we realised that they weren’t shepherd dogs. Then about ten other dogs appeared from over the peak, in pursue of the first ones. Seconds later, it became clear to us that we were witnessing some sort of dog race. The dogs had numbers painted on their chests and took past us in a blink, without even looking at us. They were muscular and skinny looking dogs, almost whippety in shape, but with big floppy ears. My guess is that they were some sort of gun dogs in pursue of a scent, but I couldn’t be sure. Their running at full speed and shrilly barks got George very excited, and he started to pull on his harness. Although not a ‘tracking’ dog himself, his chase instinct must have been aroused by the sight of the other dogs. He seemed so keen and up for it, that he most likely would have gone after them if we had let him off the lead. So we grabbed him tighter than before and waited for the runners to disappear from sight and for George to calm down.
Again, I would have loved to take a picture. But we were first too surprised and worried, and then too fascinated by this frantic race to think about the camera. I hope my description is enough to help you envisage this encounter to some extent.
The rest of our walk down and back to the quiet village was pretty uneventful, although more difficult than the ascent. The rocks were slippery and we were tired, so we had to stop for water and energy snacks. But the weather was getting better and we felt good. Apart from George, who started to struggle. Remember when I said that George loved the climb? Well, he hated the descent. I don’t know if it’s because his muscles were aching or the rocks were hurting his pads, but he was getting slower and slower and seemed to appreciate the little breaks we took more and more.
We eventually returned to our car, seven hours after setting out for the peaks. George jumped in and fell asleep instantly, whilst Brianna seemed to be buzzing with energy. When we got back to the tent, George managed to jump off the car seat and get in the tent, but then he didn’t move until the next morning. What a baby…Maybe he needs more training?
I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip in the beautiful Lake District. Thank you for staying with us until the end. Have a fabulous weekend!