I am very honoured to have been invited by ExploreMore UK to submit a guest blog relating to some of my adventures, and I hope that this will be the ﬁrst of several, providing that readers enjoy my literary 'ramblings', and that EMUK allow me to continue. I had been invited on a birthday bash, which as you may understand, was a long way from any hired venue, ﬁnger buffet and banging disco. The venue in this case was The Duddon Valley, south western Lakeland, food was to be in the form of a bag of warm butties, and the entertainment, an ascent of Harter Fell.
The morning of the walk dawned overcast and cool, and all four of us were experiencing a much more localised 'haze', probably induced by the extremely more-ish real ale sampled the previous evening thanks to a conveniently located hostelry, which was no more than 10 strides from our chosen accommodation. Not to be put off by the unpredictable climate, we set off in shorts and (bravely) short sleeved shirts, ﬁrstly across farmland and ﬁelds, then an ascent through a steeply sided gorge to emerge onto a popular bridle way which would convey us to the foot of Harter Fell some 3 km distant.
Very satisfyingly, the sun had begun to dissipate the gloom, and a very pleasant summers day started to inﬂuence the stunning views up the Duddon Valley, and reveal the peaks beyond.
There then followed a 'bog slog' through a particularly wet section of heathland just south of Harter Fell, and a somewhat unpleasant passage through what had recently been a regiment in conifers, now felled and stacked ready for their next life as fencing products or biomass. However, we soon reached the foot of the fell, and paused to take on liquid and and an energy boost, before our steep and gradual push for the summit.
After an hour, and a scramble through a collection of rocks, the trig point appeared, just as the magniﬁcent panorama of the surrounding Lake District disappeared into the descending mist (I've lost count of how many times that has happened as I reached a mountain top!), but we stuck it out in the hope that this visual interruption was only temporary. A man and his wife approached some 20 metres bellow us, enquired if we were at the top, then turned round and headed off down hill! I was puzzled by their lack of enthusiasm to touch the top, but he simply replied 'We're near enough!' and they were gone
Our reward for achieving our goal was a soggy sandwich and a sit down, or so we thought. To our delight, from the depths of his rucksack, the Birthday boy produced four tumblers and a bottle of 40 year old malt whisky, and as we sipped and congratulated our friend on reaching the age where apparently life begins, the cloud lifted and the breathtaking vista returned.
The descent was initially very steep and rocky as we headed east, all the while the sunshine intensifying to a point where the effort of walking was being hampered by rivulets of sweat trickling into the eyes, but despite the heat, the scenery and location more than made up for any inconvenience.
We arrived back at Seathwaite after a superb day on the hill, the legs were tired, the skin was tanned and the sole was deeply satisﬁed. Plonked on a wooden bench in the garden of the pub, we de-briefed the day and enjoyed further delights from the barrels in the cellar.
I never tire of days on the hill. Do it safely and it is invigorating, healthy, satisfying and best of all, largely free! Get yourselves some kit and some basic knowledge, and get out there - the hills ARE calling!