Hiking in the Lake District : Blencathra

Back in October I was reminiscing about my first mountain walk in the Dolomites a whole year before, thinking about how special that memory has now become to me. That weekend I had faced a few fears and had the most amazing time, despite the stress that surrounded the trip (read more about it here). Since that weekend my love for hiking and mountaineering has grown and grown to the point where it is becoming a big focus of my life and future decisions.

All the reminiscing prompted me to comment on an instagram photo from the trip, to which Angeliqa (a Swedish blogger I met on the same trip) and her friend and fellow hiking enthusiast Phil responded. It all escalated very quickly and suddenly we had made plans for Angeliqa to fly to England at the end of October and for us all, including Steve, to head to the Lake District together for some autumnal hiking.

I picked Angeliqa up from the airport the night before and then we began the long drive to the Lakes the next morning, over 9 hours in total! (Do not listen to google maps when it says 5.5 hours, because 9 hours is the minimum it has ever taken us!) On the journey we sang songs, Angelica had her first fish and chips experience and we all had a lot of fun dissecting the English and Swedish language for our amusement. When we arrived, we met Phil in a pub in Ambleside and had an amazing and well deserved dinner and listened to some live music.

Our home for the 2 nights would be some little eco huts within the grounds of Rydall Hall surrounded by sheep. These cute ‘hobbit homes’ as they were dubbed by Angelica were surprisingly warm and nice to camp in, even on what would become the foggiest weekend of the year at the end of October. Definitely a cool place to stay for Halloween.

The next day we got up, got dressed and warmed some water on Phil’s stove for some tea before packing up and setting off for the day. The plan was to climb Blencathra and complete a fine ridge walk to give Steve, Angelica and I, our first english mountain experience. Phil’s friend Rhiannon also joined us for the hike and they both led the way with their map reading skills through the thick fog.

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Visibility was mainly fairly poor throughout, which was a shame as the cloud obscured what I am sure were amazing views. Poor Angelica had come all the way from Sweden and was trapped in a bubble of cloud unable to see much of England at all!

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That didn’t stop us having a lot of fun though and we chatted happily as we climbed. I did find the climb quite tough at first, I still need to build up my fitness for this it would seem but there were some nice flat sections which allowed me a breather.

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We stopped for lunch by a lake and by this point it was raining steadily and we were all quite soaked. My Fjallraven Barents Pro Trousers were completely soaked, only being lightly waxed, which left me wishing i’d put on my waterproof trousers earlier instead of leaving them in my rucksack. We continued the climb after lunch and eventually reached the summit in thick cloud and some windy and rainy conditions.

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At the summit we took a selfie with the Swedish flag showing that Blencathra had now been conquered by Angelica on behalf of the Swedish people! We are sure she now has the honour of being the first Swedish lady named Angelica to conquer the mountain – if anyone wishes to refute this claim, please comment below 😉 We didn’t walk the ridge as the visibility was so poor which was a shame, but better to be safe then sorry.

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On the way back down, visibility was poor and spirits seemed high but secretly we were all a bit low about the lack of views to reward us for our hard work. At one point we burst out laughing as Angeliqa exclaimed she was ‘really quite fed up’ but seeming like the happiest person alive. It was a you-had-to-be-there moment but it still makes me smile thinking back now.

But just when we thought all was lost, something magical happened. One minute it looked like this and then I thought I saw the outline of a cloud in the sky and said ‘oh there’s a bit of definition in the clouds now’. Then it was white again. Then suddenly as if someone had blown the cloud away, like a mirage we saw a peak floating in the sky. Then it was gone. Then it appeared again! It was really magical and we got so excited and amazed by the disorientating effect this had on our sense of place.

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Gradually the shapes became more defined and the sky clearer and we could make out what were seeing properly for the first time. We also realised finally, how high up we still were. It was really disorientating and amazing at the same time.

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Eventually everything became visible in high definition and we were treated to beautiful views as the sun was going down over the Lake District. I was really happy for Angeliqa, having come all this way to see very little in the fog.

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As the cloud lifted some cloud was left below, swirling upwards. It was an amazing sight, it looked a bit like steam rising up from a large cooking pot.

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We were all ridiculously happy and excited by the beautiful views we were now being treated to, making the whole climb worthwhile.

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I had fallen a couple of times on the slippery grass slope and was absolutely covered in mud, so we went back to the campsite where we showered and got ready to head a pub for a well earned dinner. The fog closed back in on us again as soon as we got off the mountain and in to the car, so that was pretty much all we got to see of the Lakes that weekend.

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The next day we were hoping to walk again somewhere else, but anticipating another 9 hour drive back to the South East of England, we decided to get a nice breakfast in Ambleside, have a little look around and then be on our way. Which was just as well, as we ended up almost running out of petrol on the way home thanks to a temperamental fuel gauge and we were kindly rescued by a friendly villager who topped us up so we could make it to a petrol station! A slightly nail biting end to our Lake District adventure.

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