“Remind me again, why I put my name down for this trip?” These were the thoughts running through my head as we were walking over Great Rigg towards the top of the Fairfield horseshoe. I had to literally hold up two of the group members as we battled against 60mph winds whilst being pelted by hail. I had a leak in my gloves and a puddle in my boot.
We had reached the point in the walk where it was better to continue to the end rather than turn back to the beginning. So we trudged on, around the top of the horseshoe and over Dove Crag towards High Pike.
Fortunately, the hail didn’t last long and the rain that followed was much more bearable. Half way down the ridge I received a phone call from the other group to say they were forced to turn back and were now sitting in a pub somewhere in Ambleside. Naturally this stiffened the resolve to push on and get back into civilisation. I was reminded of a recent government report which stressed “the need to get more liquidity into the system”.
So going back to my opening question, why on earth were we up there? For me one event justified the whole jaunt. As we passed Low Pike, we emerged from our slumber and, hidden in the cloud level, we were greeted with the sight of Lake Windermere stretching out before us. A calm sea of silver surrounded the autumn trees forming a blanket of orange and golden brown to ascend up the valley sides, rising away from the waters edge.
It reminded me of the time I spent in the Rocky Mountains this summer, where I was lucky enough to see bears on a few occasions. I’ve found that these solitary animals come and go in the blink of an eye. On one particular occasion, I was walking along a road on the edge of the town in which I was staying. Then one hundred yards ahead I saw a large black bear emerge from the foliage and calmly walk across the road then quickly disappear back into the undergrowth. It was such an amazing, classic image. Of course I tried to capture the moment on photo, but by the time I had retrieved my camera from its case the moment had passed.
A few years ago I went trekking in Venezuela, and at the top of Mt Rorima it was wet, foggy and miserable. We were camped on the edge of a cliff and all my things were soaked, but as we reached the edge of the mountain and looked down over the edge, we could see the tri-point with Guyana and Brazil. As the clouds cleared, I saw before me thousands of kilometres of steaming rainforest extending out to the horizon.
Likewise, this scene in the Lake District, with the beautiful Lake Windermere below us acting as a beacon, leaves a powerful imprint on my memory. It makes all the effort of doing that walk worth it for me.
That’s why I put my name down for the trip. For me, Hillwalking (or anything) is about finding and experiencing those fleeting moments, because that’s what keeps us all going.
If you’re interested in joining Mountain and Hillwalking contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org