Published 2 October 2016
The adventure has ended and we have returned home. As we settle back into our normal routines it is time to reflect on our six months in Cumbria which far exceeded everything we hoped for.
We will remember our trip for the rest of our lives. These memories will be boosted by my diary, our blogs and the thousands of photos that we took, a few of which are scattered through my blogs.
Our main reason for going to Cumbria was to spend time walking the fells. Although we have done that on week long holidays for many years, staying up there for six months gave us the flexibility to spread the walks out so that we did not have to walk in bad weather or when we were tired. Residing in Egremont gave us access to the Western valleys and fells which we had seen little of during our previous holidays.
As you may have seen from my previous blogs we quickly adopted a routine of one or two walks together each week and on other days I cycled or walked alone, taking advantage of my greater stamina and appetite for higher fells.
In addition to the walking we really enjoyed the experience of living somewhere that was very different to our Sussex town. West Cumbria is sparsely populated which is evidenced by fewer and smaller shops but it has a rich industrial past, signs of which are all around.
If the fabric of some of the West Cumbrian towns is a little faded, its people are not. They seem to have, or are prepared to make, more time for you. Consequently service in shops, garages and restaurants was first class throughout our stay.
We are regular churchgoers and we were overwhelmed by the welcome and friendship shown to us by the clergy and congregation of St Mary’s and St Michael’s Church in Egremont. Julie enjoyed attending their Mothers’ Union meetings and helping with the Parent and Toddler Group. I appreciated the advice and guidance that members of the Church gave me on the local area and about the fells.
We look forward to maintaining the contacts and friendships that we made there.
Our trip would not have happened without the support of all our family and friends. In particular Alan, Pauline, Linda and Elaine for keeping an eye on our parents; and Jane and Will for looking after our house and garden.
Thank you to all who visited us while we were away; Steve and Julie, Heather, Phil M and boys, Sue and Andrew, Trudi and Phil T. You were not all blessed with perfect weather but it was a great pleasure to show you all around the places we love so much.
I would also like to thank all those people and organisations that contribute towards making the fells the wonderful place that they are. In particular I think of the farmers, the path builders, the National Trust, the Cumbria National Park Authority and the mountain search and rescue volunteers. It was also a pleasure to meet so many other walkers, some just for a greeting others to sit or walk with for a while.
Most of all thanks to Julie for accompanying me on this wonderful adventure and especially for those enormous bowls of pasta or stew that she cooked for me when I staggered home each evening.
And finally to you, my readers for your attention and for your valuable contributions to the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association through my JustGiving link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ClivesCumbrianChronicles
My best days
We were in Cumbria for around 155 days and there were very few when I was not thrilled to be there. After a struggle I have come up with the following ten which were some of the best:
20 April: Great Gable and Kirk Fell. Great Gable was one of my target climbs and it fulfilled all my expectations on a wonderfully clear day.
09 May: High Stile, High Crag and Seat. I thought I was going out of my comfort zone by climbing directly up High Stile from Buttermere but I did it; exhilarating.
10 May: Keswick ‘holiday’. Not a walking day. For once we were tourists; a bit of shopping, a lovely lunch and a stroll along the shore of Derwent Water followed by ice cream. We had a similar day in Glenridding and Patterdale later in the summer.
25 May: Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike. One of Julie’s biggest climbs of the year.
03 June: Grasmoor, Crag Hill, Sail, Wandope and Whiteless Pike. Another perfectly clear day. For me the highlight was looking out from Crag Hill and realising I could see Keswick.
12 July: Seathwaite Fell. Julie and I climbed from Wasdale Head via Sty Head.
09 August: Rannerdale Knotts and Crummock Water. We did this walk three times but the best was when one of our grandsons completed his first Wainwright.
15 August: Brea Fell, Great Sca Fell, Knott, Great Cockup, Meal Fell and Longlands Fell. A nice day in the tranquil Northern fells. Six Wainwrights in a day and I met just two other walkers.
24 August: Final cycle to St Bees and Whitehaven. I enjoyed all my rides but this took in a beach, a harbour and the old railway path.
28 August: Pillar, Scoat Fell, Steeple, Red Pike with Phil T. A long ridge circuit with good company.
It is no coincidence that many of these walks were done on days when the weather was good. It always helps. If the weather had been better I might have included Sca Fell, Longside Edge and Whiteside but from them I saw nothing but mist.
Will we do it again?
We will have to see. Who knows what future Chronicles are to come?
In the meantime our diary for this autumn is rapidly filling up and in particular we are looking forward to 31 October when Julie’s next novel, ‘Evil Echoes’ will be published.
I hope that our experience has inspired you to visit the Lake District, either for a short or longer period. If that is the case and you would like some ideas, then feel free to contact me or Julie via the blog or at:
Signing off for now but watch this space …
It’s been a blast! Clive