Having spent around 16 weekends down in the Lakes between the start of April and mid-August, we both got a bit fed up of it (if you ever can!). The summer crowds certainly didn't help, turning the remote mountains paths into congested motorways and attracting the sort of people whose idea of a nice weekend is to spend their days shopping in Keswick, before returning to the campsite for an all-night barbecue and drinking session, making as much noise as possible!
So we've kept away. We went off to Wales a couple of times, we've explored the Dales and we've dreamed of spending every weekend in Scotland.
Until the last week.
Last weekend saw us head up on the Friday for a lovely walk over two small outlying Wainwrights, Sour Howes and Sallows, with Rufus the dog in tow. Beautiful weather, hardly saw a soul, glorious views...this is what it's all about.
And Friday night saw us heading into Kendal for an inspiring evening at the Mountain Film Festival. Firstly, the showing of The Pinnacle, with Dave McLeod and Andy Turner present to answer questions afterwards. What an incredible film...never mind messrs McLeod and Turner, the real star of the film was Jimmy Marshall, and the amazing week he and Robin Smith had around Ben Nevis all those years ago. If you get a chance, watch the film.
Then, after a quick chippy tea, a chance to see Steve McClure and Rab Carrington talking. Two very different characters, both fascinating in their own way. I'm no climber, but fully appreciate what these men have achieved and the levels they push themselves to. Just a slight shame that the film festival tries to "jazz up" such talks when the achievements of these men need no further hype. The stories they had to tell, and their self-deprecating sense of humour was spot on.
Inspired by the whole weekend, I decided to head up on my Tuesday off. A relatively early start saw me parked at Hartsop by 10.15am and a splendid 4 hours saw me over 9 Wainwrights, including 7 I'd never been up before, in cold, snowy conditions but with glorious sunny interludes. Wonderful! The trots out to Gray Crag and, later, the Nab meant it wasn't quite a perfect horseshoe, but still a round route that saw me descend rapidly off Brock Crags and straight down to the car to end a smashing day.
More days in the Lakes I think. It's about time I completed the Wainwrights (even though I neither a) particularly like Wainwright or his categorisations or b) see myself as driven by tick lists!). I think there's a sub-conscious appreciation that, with a relatively imminent move to Scotland, the Lakes will be much less accessible so now's the time to get to know them more and enjoy them while I can.