6 February 2015

Weekend at Hawkshead with a quick trip up Helvellyn

Over the last 8 years we made regular journeys to the Lake District with our touring caravan and often arranged to meet up with friends and family to go walking together, which in May 2012, the weekend of the Queen’s Gold Jubilee, is exactly what we did.  We pitched our caravan on a small farm site just outside of Hawkshead and were lucky to have really warm, sunny, weather for most of the weekend. 

Gavin and I were there all week and visited Hawkshead  and Coniston and also did a couple of walks in the local area but at the weekend we were joined by our friends Brenda and Paul and my nephew Ian and his lovely wife Claire. 
We originally planned to do Scafell Pike on the Saturday but for some reason which I can’t remember now, decided to go to Helvellyn instead so parked on the Thrilmere side next to Wythburn church. 

The walk up to the top was very strenuous but every now and then we “stopped to admire the view” and boy what views we had!  The higher we went the more the whole vista opened up in front of us!  It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful this part of the country is and can’t help just stopping and gazing at the beautiful sights.  

View down to Thirlmere

The Gang

As we got higher we couldn’t help notice that the sun was disappearing and that the clouds seemed to be getting lower and lower.  What can I say – this is the Lake District after all and anyone who has ever been here knows that the weather can change in and INSTANT so we were very disappointed to arrive at the summit (950m – 3117 ft high)  not being able to see more than 5 feet in front of ourselves! 

I like to think we’re responsible walkers and never go anywhere without a map and compass (as well as other “standard kit”) and am always amazed to see the things some people walk in – I once saw a woman walk up Ingleton Falls in Yorkshire in a pair of stilettos and when she got the end of the (4 miles I think) walk her feet were blistered and bleeding!!!

Even though we knew which path we were going to take back down (sadly not Striding or Swirrel Edge this time) Gavin took a bearing just to make sure we were on the right track and we were but it never hurts to double check. 

We had been walking down for about 20 minutes when met a family of four (mother, father and two young daughters around 10 or 11 years old) on their way up.  I jokingly said “don’t worry, you’re nearly there” to which the wife, between clenched teeth said “yes, unfortunately my husband took the wrong path and have been all the way down to the bottom so have had to walk back up again as our car is in Glenridding”.  Oooo errr! Not good.

 The track back down

Our walk down was uneventful, and as we descended the sun started shining again, but as always downhills are a killer on the knees.  Once at the bottom there was a sheltered area with a seat and we decided to have a rest there for 10 minutes and started chatting to a couple around our age who were sitting there.  They asked if we knew how far it was to Glenridding and we laughed and said the quickest way was up this path and over the top of the mountain.  But guess what?  They said they had just come down that way from the top of the mountain but had taken the wrong path and were so tired couldn’t go back up!  The only map they had was a one they had printed off a walking website on a piece of A4 paper and they had no compass or, if I remember rightly, no rucksacks. They also didn’t have any money with them for a bus or taxi.  Brenda felt so sorry for them she decided to offer them a lift back around so took them to Glenridding which turned out to be quite a distance. 

Now then, you would think that meeting two lots of walkers within such a short space of time who didn’t know what they were doing was unusual but guess what? – along came a young man and his girlfriend with the same type of printed map and guess what again – yes, they had come down the wrong side of the mountain too and needed to get back to Glenridding.  After a short chat, they said they had some money and would walk along the road to see if they could find a bus stop so off they went. 

Blimey, how can people be so irresponsible – I suppose they just don’t do enough checking of the route to find out the type of walking entailed. 

Well, we enjoyed our walk and laughed about the people we’d met.  Maybe the have learned there lesson but I’m not sure. 

Toodles - Paula :)

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