I think me and my beautiful wife have been to the Lake District more times in the last three weeks than in the last three years, as we were there again at the weekend (Read about our recent adventures here, here and here). We cancelled a weekend away in Chester due to a possible closure of the M6, and instead grabbed a late deal away in a hotel in the middle of Keswick.
On the Saturday morning we set off nice and early and were in the Skiddaw car park by 10 am, which was already full. Cold but bright sunshine, perfect weather for a good long walk up one of the most iconic hills in the area. You can see from the photo below of the shepherds monument how nice the day was.
This is the Lake District, in January, and as we climbed higher we climbed into clouds. The wind blew harder as we climbed above the snow line. Despite how deserted it looks in the photo below, there were loads of people around. The path up is very easy to follow, and if we’d been off piste we would have turned around. There are plans for large maps in all of the car parks that people use for long walks, pointing out difficult or easy routes, in an aim to reduce the number of calls to mountain rescue.
We’re off to Iceland in a few weeks, so this was a perfect opportunity to test out our new thermals and walking boots. I’m pleased to say that both passed with flying colours. Warm and toasty all day, as was Nelly in her smart Barbour style jacket. She’s a bit of a softie and started to whimper a little as we reached the last section up to the top of Skiddaw.
The summit was cold and windy, so after a brief photo we hurried on down. We’d looked at the map before and decided to take a track off to the east which should bring us out at Skiddaw House, the highest hostel in Britain and 3.5 miles from the nearest road.
Unfortunately we managed to miss it, and where we were expecting to continue straight ahead was a very steep drop. The path we were on turned south until we joined a larger path which we surmised was the Cumbria Way. This section was amazing, with views across to Keswick and the hills beyond and easy walking. In no time we were back at the car park having done a very hilly 5 and a half mile walk.
Once we had checked into our hotel we studied the maps to try and work out where we had gone wrong, but it wasn’t until we were home and had uploaded our walk to Strava that the penny dropped. We’d actually climbed Skiddaw Little Man and not Skiddaw Big Man. The route that we had proposed would have added another 2 or 3 miles, but the conditions further on and higher up would have been much worse, so by luck we had done a really good, but safe walk. It also means that we’ll have to come back in the summer, maybe running some of it, or at least running the downhill sections.
After a shower we headed out in Keswick town to find some food. Every pub was packed, and every pub was also full of our four legged friends. It’s great to see that every pub and cafe, and many of the hotels have no problem allowing dogs. Back at the hotel we had another drink and started talking to an older couple who had two German Short Haired Pointers, who were larger than Nelly and very well behaved. We taken Nelly up to our room, but brought her down so that a fuss could be made of her. She is the best dog in the world.