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Adventures of a short vet

The Lakes District & Scafell Pike

UNITED KINGDOM | Sunday, 2 May 2010 | Views [470]

Dr Nick taking in the view

Dr Nick taking in the view

A bank holiday of four glorious days off could not be wasted so I booked a flight to Newcastle & met Sally, a friend from vet school who was prepared to show me the sights in the Lakes District in Cumbria.

After a much needed lunch of a scrummy baked potato (how very British) we jumped in the car & drove around the Lakes District. Unfortunately it was a bit of a dreary day (typical of a long weekend no matter what country you are in) so I didn’t get to experience the full glory of the lakes landscape, but it was still pretty impressive & I can see how camping around here in the summer would be great.

That evening we met up with three of Sally’s friends in a pub (of course) to organize our tramp up Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain at 978m (a mini-mountain) and the real reason we were all in the area for the weekend. After dinner the table was cleared to make way for several maps so that we could plan our route. As navigating has never been my strong point (see my trip to Windsor) I let them deal with the maps and concentrated on my cider…mmmm…cider.

The next morning we were up bright and early to make our way to the foot of the mountain. It was already busy with hikers from all over the country taking advantage of the beautiful day. The weather forecast predicted rain around lunchtime so we had half the day to get up the mountain & back again. Despite the bright sunshine there was still a winter chill to the air, and we were all dressed in several layers that would need to be peeled off as we tackled the steep slopes.

The hike started easily enough, but soon we were faced with endless stairs winding our way up the mountain. It wasn’t long before my legs were shaking & I cursed my lack of fitness. We stopped for a much needed energy-bar break at the top of the stairs, enjoying the sun in a sheltered spot overlooking the mountain range & a couple of ponds. Our energy boosted, we continued the journey around the peak and crossed a windswept plain, huddling our faces in our hoods away from the biting wind. Despite the sunny conditions there were still several pockets of SNOW near the peak, and my fingers were soon numb even through my gloves and pockets. After scrambling up a dodgy scree (made dodgy by the fact that there were so many other people scrambling up and creating mini avalanches everywhere) we finally reached the top, where we realized just how many other people had made the trek. It hadn’t seemed so busy as there are several tracks to choose from, but at the top it was a regular party. We huddled in the shelter of some rocks to eat lunch & try to warm some feeling back in our extremities via the weak sun while overlooking the amazing view of the surrounding mountain peaks. Soon it was time to head back down via a different track that led around the back of the mountain. Thanks to our map & excellent map readers (I stayed well clear) we made it to the original path without getting lost, and with only one cliff around which to scramble. As we crossed the little bridge the rain started to fall, and we retired to the best place to be on a rainy afternoon…the pub.

The following day I had to head home, and on the way to the airport we made a quick stop to check out remnants of Hadrian’s Wall, built in A.D. 122 after the visit of the emperor Hadrian, who was inspecting far frontiers of the Roman Empire and wanted to construct a dramatic line between the empire and the barbarians. Legionnaires were ordered to build a wall across the width of the island of Britain, stretching 118km from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. The wall is one of Europe's top Roman ruins and is pretty impressive, though the men back then mustn’t have been very tall as the wall was not particularly high.

All-in-all a very fun weekend and definitely not enough time spent in the beautiful lakes district. I will be back!

Tags: hadrians wall, hiking, lakes district, scafell pike, tramping

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