Now we're home from our first trip to the Lakes, just about intact, and a little wiser as to what's in store for us.
We arrived late on Bank Holiday Monday (09.04.12) and pitched up in fading light, just in time to avoid the heavy shower that hit us. We wanted to use this trip to get a feel for the challenge that is in store. The aims were to assess the area which will be exploring and walking, to test our equipment and to try some of the planned walks to gauge the routes/ distances/ terrain/ weather conditions etc.
The things that we found were:
- No matter how many times you hear, "The weather can change through all seasons in a moment on the Fell tops." does not prepare you for when it actually happens!
- The only thing that could potentially outnumber sheep in the Lake District is BMW Estate cars
- Chinook helicopters are not conducive to an afternoon nap (but they are really cool!).
- Low flying fighter jets practising manoeuvres through the valleys give you childlike levels of excitement.
- The hills are always much steeper when you're climbing them rather than just looking at them.
- Rock pegs are a god-send when camping in the Lakes (note - must bring a hammer next time).
- Bananas spoil the taste of delicious pies when they're stored together.
With regards to the walking, the one thing that we noticed was that the usual time scales that we apply to walks need to be severely reconsidered. Having done a lot of walking in the Yorkshire Dales I can pretty confidently look at a walk on paper, take in the distance and terrain, and then predict the walk duration. We quickly found that is not the case when walking the severe slopes & terrain of the Lake District. Granted, our fitness levels will improve over time, but until that happens, we will have to be more realistic about what can be achieved in a single day of walking.
The second major element to judging walking in the Lakes is just how different the weather conditions and terrain underfoot is once you start to approach the higher altitudes. We found out first hand not to assume that the walk will be possible just because the going is easy in the valley bottom. Paths can quickly vanish under a carpet of snow leaving you scratching your head as to which way to negotiate the crags and scree slopes, and visibility can vanish in a matter of minutes. The combination of these two things could easily turn your walk into a feature length episode on 'Helicopter Heroes'.
All in all though we had a fantastic trip and we can't wait to get back out there to continue the adventure!