20 Nov A Day Hike Framed in Words
“There is a trail somewhere around here!” – All Lake District hikers
12th August – The Evening
We had been listening to the thunder rolling up the valley for 10 minutes or so. I pointed over to Grey Frier where it looked like deaths black cloak was descending over the fells. Kyle agreed it looked menacing, double checked the map to ensure we were heading in the right direction, then, flash, flash, the lightning struck right over us. We started moving like prey running from the predator. The rain was coming down heavy and it was getting dark fast. We reached the road, it was time for Kyle and I to part ways. I needed to get back to Coniston and Kyle needed to set up camp for the nigh.
We reluctantly parted, i could sense that Kyle was concerned about my journey back and I was concerned leaving Kyle to sleep on the fells in the unpredictable weather. Fortunately the lightning had stopped, but the storm was set in for the night and I had a long walk ahead of me.
I set off down Hard Knotts Pass towards Cockley Beck. As I neared the river at the bottom of the pass a Land Rover stopped to ask if I was ok. When I said, I am heading to Coniston, they looked bemused, wished me luck and off they went. I continued walking east along Wrynose Pass. The rain was relentless and the river sounded angry. It was very dark, but if I turned my head torch on all I could see was rain, so I walked in the dark. Every so often I turned my head torch on like a child scared in the night. I could hear loud bangs and cracks as the force of the river moved large boulders down stream. The silhouette of something large appeared out of the darkness, and then another. I quickly turned my head lamp on, I was surrounded by cows. The cows looked just as terrified of me as I felt about them. Before they could react to their own fear I clapped and shouted for them to move, they responded and I picked up my pace.
I reached the summit of Wrynos pass and my sight was blessed with the warm glow of the lights coming from little Langdale. All I had to do was descend the pass, now a torrent of river water, and then walk 10 miserable kilometers through the rain. The sight of the car would be a reassuring moment I will remember for a long time.
“There is a trail somewhere around here!” – All Lake District hikers say this, a lot.
This is Kyle. He is walking a continuous loop of the Wainwrights and I have had the privilege of hiking with him on part of his journey. Thank You for an amazing experience Kyle, Love you Bru.
12th August – Early Morning
7:30am, 14.5 hours before, I set off driving to the Lake District. It was cloudy but the roads were clear. Making my way over Hartside moor I spotted 2 baby Red Squirrel. I took this as a good omen and continued my journey with a smile, little did I know the fun hadn’t even started yet.
9:00am, Ambleside. There he was strolling through the centre of town looking like a true through hiker, Smartwater bottles strapped to his front, a small pack and taped up legs. I pulled over and picked Kyle up. We made our way to Yew Tree Tarn just north of Coniston, this is where Kyle had dropped off the trail the previous day. We had a short conversation about our breakfast and bowel movements, a common discussion between fellow hikers, and then we arrived.
9:30am, Yew Tree Tarn. We locked the car, slung our packs on our backs and off we went. After crossing a foot bridge over the outflow of Yew Tree Tarn we entered an indigenous wood. The trees towered above us like comforting giants and the ground was a healthy green. We both stopped for a moment and soaked up the atmosphere, it felt timeless.
We hit the trail heading up to our first Wainright of the day, Holme Fell. There was little forgiveness about the weather, it was humid, low cloud and raining. Kyle lead us to the summit and then we made a move for the next hill. There was a little bit of wrestling with a tree while down climbing in my new fell shoes, that was interesting, but there was one tree, and two of us, so we made it down safely.
The next Wainwright was Wetherlam which had a mind blowing experience ready for us. After quite a steep ascent we were plodding along the trail, I was nattering away about my new Keto diet and then Kyle turned and told me to be quiet. I stopped. Kyles body language told me something awesome was about to happen.
I walked quietly and calmly towards Kyle. As the trail ahead of him came into view, there it was, a Fox.
He was stood looking at Kyle and when he saw me the fox came closer. We were stunned, expecting the Fox to run when he realised he was outnumbered, but he confidently stood and watched us in as much amazement as we felt towards him. The Fox crossed between us over the trail and then turned back to look at us again. I took my action camera out of the case and playfully wiggled the tassel on the end of the selfie stick like I was about to play with a kitten. The fox walked over to me and had a sniff of the selfie stick. I took this picture…
Then, the fox started walking away, he stopped, turned back to look at us as if he were saying fare well, then he jumped down from a boulder and was gone. Kyle and I could only, and excitedly, repeat the same 5 words for the next 10 minutes “what the —- just happened!”
13:00pm, Swirl Hows. We stopped for lunch with a view down to Levers Water Reservoir. After a good feed and plenty of water we started the fun scramble on to Swirl How our 3rd Wainwright of the day. The 4th, Great Carrs, we stopped to take a moment at the Halifax LL505 crash site. A humbling sight to see where 8 men lost their lives in 1944.
The 5th summit, Grey Friar, and then we made our way south to number 6, The Old Man Of Coniston. There was a refreshing breeze but zero visibility and the rain still kept coming. We met a lovely couple with a pack of dogs attached to them as we summited Dow Crag, Wainwright number 7. After a 5 minute chat about nice things, Kyle and I headed west for Seathwaite.
The trail down into Seathwaite is gradual and provides an active rest. Once we reached Seathwaite it was time for the long hike over to Green Crag our 8th hill of the day. We moved through high bracken and a swamp where I picked up a nice collection of ticks, I would spend the next 3 days fining on my body and freaking out. As we neared Fickle Crag we noticed two women sat by the side of the river drying their feet off, and then we saw it. There was a wire secured across the river and now it was our turn to hold on tight and get our feet wet. There was very little hesitation, we got stuck right in. Kyle went first and I followed. The river came up to our waist giving us a shock and adding to the fun.
Once across the river we entered a beautiful wood land. There were some impressive waterfalls and a lovely trail.
We reached what felt like hell to walk over. We took a direct route over what must be a felled pine forest. The ground was soft with all sort of spiky flora to scratch away at our ankles. Feeling broken we finally summited Green Crag and took 5 minutes to enjoy the view. The clouds parted briefly and we could see out to the west coast, a welcome and relaxing sight after the last hour of walking.
Next stop, Wainwright number 9, Harter Fell. We took a direct a direct approach which was hard going for about 1km until we reached the start of the steep ascent up Harter Fell. This is when I started to feel it, the new diet and 20 miles of hiking through the mountains posed its first real test.
My body is still adapting to burning fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. This ascent felt like the moment of transitioning because everything hurt and my heart felt like it was going to explode. I kept breathing and moving steadily until we reached the summit. I do not recomend hiking nearly 30 miles through the mountains while adapting to Keto. Although, the day after I felt the transition was complete.
Everything started to look dark and menacing and we could hear thunder far in the distance. The black clouds parted one last time exposing the sun. As we descended I pointed over to Grey Frier where it looked like Deaths black cloak was descending over the fells…
What did I learn from this experience?
Keep doing! Act on your ideas and the path will reveal its self. Keep pursuing your dreams even when you feel the darkness descend and the pain set in.
Be optimistic and remember
“There is a trail somewhere around here!” – All Lake District hikers