It’s no secret I love the Lake District. It’s the place where Ian and I first went on holiday together and it’s the one place that feels like home; I really hope we can have a house there one day. When Ian turned 40 last year, along with a trip to Italy, I took him on a Segway experience followed by a day walking in the Lake District. The night before I gave him two options, the Lake District or Malaham Cove; I figured I’d narrowed it down so he could do the hard work and make the actual decision. For a change, he chose the latter. Only the next morning as we checked the weather report, the torrential rain sweeping across the whole of Malham Cove and beyond made us question our plans. Now, I’m an outdoorsy kinda gal and with the correct clothing a bit of rain doesn’t bother me, but this was a mass of water that even I didn’t want to contend with. So, it looked like fate had decided for us; the Lake District it was!
Getting to the Lake District during the school holidays can be a nightmare, so the fact that Ian’s birthday lands slap bang in the middle of August is pretty inconsiderate. But somehow we managed to get there early, find a parking space and start walking before the traffic started to build up. 1-0 to us.
We chose our favourite walk, the Rydal Circuit; it’s a low level, 8.5 mile round trip that can be started in either Ambleside or Grasmere, although Ambleside has always been our starting point. Whether we’re there for a week or just for the day, this always seems to be our base as there’s a variety of restaurants and shops on the doorstep and also a decent selection of walks nearby.
I love the Lake District for many reasons; I like watching how the landscape changes, not just with the seasons, but with the weather too. Apart from the fact it’s an area of outstanding beauty, even when it’s grey, overcast or raining, it doesn’t lose that beauty; come rain or shine, I’m always amazed by it. We went for a week in January once and it snowed; sure, it looked pretty, but we also had to cut short at least 3 walks that week. I remember us walking Helm Crag and along with a group of walkers ahead of us, we had to turn back as the fog set in; even with the right equipment, being lost on the fells can be scary shit and isn’t something I would recommend.
Much as I like change, I also like some aspects of routine. When we walk the Rydal Circuit, we always stop in Grasmere for lunch; depending on the time of year, we sit at the village green and eat sandwiches or hot soup then visit a tea room for a slice of cake and a hot drink. Last year though, I’d made Ian some birthday cupcakes; we stayed at the village green a while longer, ate cake and watched the world go by, before continuing on our way to Grasmere and Rydal water. This is where we crack open our flask and drink the remainder of whatever’s left and last year was no exception. The last dregs of coffee were shared out equally while we watched ducks splash in the water; shortly after, they waddled off along the shoreline collecting left over bread from holiday makers and day trippers.
We’ve never walked the Rydal Circuit in August before and as we made our way up towards Rydal Cave, I was amazed at the greenery; it was overgrown with ferns.
We soon approached what I call the home straight; the downhill stretch which leads back out to Rydal Road, the main road into Ambleside. By this time, there was a chill in the air and the clouds were a dark shade of grey; we were 5 minutes away from the car when the rain started. Normally, I’d have reached into my rucksack to grab my waterproof, but it would have taken longer to dig it out and put it on, than it did to get back to the car.
We managed to get inside just as the worst of it hit; we did a quick Superman change and then sat watching the raindrops as they bounced onto the car like rubber bullets. Ten minutes later, with no end in sight, we made a run for it and headed into the nearest shop to buy an umbrella; nothing was going to keep me from (even) more cake and a caramel soya latte. By the time the rain had eased up it was time to head to Zeffirelli’s for our early evening meal; the vegetarian restaurant on Compston Road is one of my favourite places to eat; I’ve never had a bad meal there.
Even with the rain, I wasn’t disappointed; I never am. The Lake District is my home from home and will always have a special place in my heart.