Hector hit as I was camping in the Lakes last week just as I was about to go to bed. Having grown up on Orkney I would say it made me feel at home.
Waking the next day, a hike into a high fell was on my mind. After thinking about my last visit to this place everyday for two years, I just at the very least wanted to reach the bottom & get to say hello to a very good friend.
The roads were covered in debris from the winds the night before, but every road had been cleared from fallen trees & branches. The weather started to dry and the clouds started to clear. Parking up & putting on my hiking boots I decided to set off on a route which I hadn’t looked at on a map for two years, but as it says in the Gnarly Bay film – ‘The Important Places’ -‘you never forget the paths that lead you back to the important places.’
I always hike up past Small Water, the route I would hike with my bike, which is fun, steep, rough & surrounded by beautiful scenery. I always feel completely at peace & excited all at the same time. When I reached the top of Nan Bield the sun appeared, with the descent into Kentmere straight ahead which is where I would normally take my bike. A descent which still fills me with equal fear & excitement, I make the promise to be back soon!
There are a few options you can take on your route from here, I chose to turn left & hike the path along past Harter Fell to Gatescarth Pass before the descent back to Mardale Head. After a couple of small scrambles it all evens out & the paths become a lot easier with a new panorama of this stunning scenery revealing itself at every turn.
I met a couple half way up Nan Bield Pass with a beautiful dog that was showing us all how to really hike this terrain. The man said he was glad to see I had brought my coat as it was so windy along the top. I mentioned I was from Orkney to which I got told I was ‘hardcore’ in reply.
Orkney has such a mystical aura to those not from our islands, and although I grew up in the outdoors there is a draw in the Lakes which I can only akin to those who travel North to Orkney, but one I now know as a draw to a different North. One which involves me to travel South.
I also met an older couple just past Nan Bield Pass, the woman telling me she had literally been blown off her feet along the top. We discussed routes & explained paths, exchanging knowledge of our surrounding landscape. They were nearly going to continue to hike the whole ridge line along High Street but due to the winds took the descent past Small Water instead.
I felt incredibly grateful to have my new knitwear & be wearing it for the purpose it had been designed. That had been a dream of mine to design practical products in bold colours which help us enjoy doing the things we love even more. Wearing them to a favourite place was special.
I never looked at a map that day, except to find the road to the car park. The sun shone most of the way round & the day cleared across the Lakes.
I’m not one to normally hike, unless it’s with my bike, but some places are special regardless of how we travel. Two years ago on my first visit to Nan with my bike, I discovered a place which lit a fire within me, a place to be & feel completely free!
‘If what you found was made of pure matter it will never spoil, but if what you found was a moment of light like the explosion of a star, there will be nothing on your return.’ The Alchemist.