In which we climb England’s sixth highest mountain

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Last week S and I took a week off work and headed off on a Northern road trip. First stop was Leeds, for the joint reasons of seeing S’ family (including our lovely nearly two year old niece) and also watching the Tour de France’s Grand Depart. While it wasn’t as exciting as seeing the mountain stage last year, it was still fun to be a part of such a big event, and to get our share of the random free stuff chucked out from the caravan. Shame the Brits are having such a bad year!

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The following day we headed up to the Lake District to camp it up for a few days. It’s not an area I’ve ever explored properly, so I was stunned at how absolutely gorgeous it is there. Sparkling water juxtaposed with brooding mountains – just beautiful. The glorious sunshine helped to make it feel even more Alpine.

Our campsite was on the edge of Lake Ullswater, so we were greeted with this view every time we unzipped the tent.

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The plan was to climb Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, which would have brought our Three Peaks total up to two thirds. But unlike Snowdon, Scafell Pike is actually pretty hard to find and not actually signposted or anything. I know that sounds really stupid, but it’s dead easy to find Snowdon – there’s a railway, a tourist centre, some very clearly marked paths. Scafell Pike is just one of a mass of mountains, and while we had a walkers map showing us how to get there, we seriously underestimated how long it would take us to walk down from the Langdale side and reach the summit. After hiking for a couple of hours and realising it wasn’t going to happen, we settled instead for climbing Bow Fell, which at 902m is still nothing to be sneezed at. I’ve heard that Scafell is actually the hardest of the Three Peaks to climb, due to the loose rocks, and if it’s anything like Bow Fell I can see why. We were on our hands and feet for the last few metres, delicately picking a path through large stones to make it to the top. (The view and sense of achievement was worth it, however.) We realised afterwards that it would have been better to approach Scafell Pike from the Wasdale side, which the internet also backs up, so it’s on the list for next time!

To rest our aching muscles the next day (as a result of seven hours of walking over rough terrain, including a quite nasty two hours of descending over rocks which was not my favourite part of the day), we became proper Lake District tourists and headed to Windermere for a mooch around the town, a cream tea and a trip around the lake, which was just lovely. I also bought a piece of Kendal mint cake, but managed to not succumb to anything Beatrix Potter related!

And although when we came back on Wednesday we spent the rest of our holiday doing DIY, we also a friend over for dinner on the Saturday night, I caught up with another good friend in Knaresborough for a few hours, and our bifold doors were finally completed, making it a very good week indeed.

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