Last week I had a wonderful walking week in the Lake District with Paul, my son, staying again in our favourite valley, Great Langdale.
I say walking week, but this time we also had a day on mountain bikes too 🙂 ! It was a first for us on two counts, firstly we have never hired bikes there before, and secondly, we tried out eBikes for the first time ever. Now to the purist, having electric powered assistance might seem like cheating but frankly, there was no way I was going to be able to climb over those mountain passes without it, especially when going off-road. Plus, they gave us a surprisingly good workout anyway because you do still have to pedal the things 🙂 ! What was funny is that during the day we stopped for a coffee and there was a couple there who we had passed earlier as we dropped off the high pass into the valley, and they said to my son, ‘Your dad had such a beaming smile on his face as you came down off the fell!’ It reminded me of an old joke, ‘You can tell a happy cyclist by the number of flies on his teeth’, and that just about sums up the experience for us 🙂 !
It was a year ago that we were in the Lake District last, and on that occasion, I determined that next time I would be better prepared and fitter before I went, and I started 2022 with the best of intentions. However, contracting Covid in May and suffering post Covid fatigue and brain fog afterwards soon put paid to that. In fact, just a week before we were due to go, I was still wondering how I was going to manage and visualising our having to stick to low level walks, such was my lack of energy. However, all worked out fine…….and it did teach me some wise lessons……
Firstly, never take anything for granted! Life throws curved balls at us and we need to ‘roll with the punches’ – is that a mixed metaphor? 🙂 You know what I mean anyway! The only way is to live in the moment and to truly value each moment too, regardless of what happens! We make plans but also need to hold them lightly.
Secondly, and certainly in my case, we can easily spend too much time mourning our lost youth. I am now approaching my mid 70’s and it feels like the mountains get higher and steeper each time I climb them. It is easy to look back and mourn the fact that I can no longer ‘sprint’ up them as I once did, to rue the fact that I am now definitely a tortoise and not a hare. It’s easy to look back and to see what you have lost, and to then see the future as negative and as a downward slippery slope. The lesson I learned, or rather re-learned, was to focus on what you have and not on what you have lost or lack! And one of the things I have in abundance is stickability, that self belief that when I start out on a climb, I will get to the top no matter how long it might take. The other thing I have still, despite the curved balls, is generally good health for my age and I am truly grateful for that. The hare and the tortoise can both get to the top of the mountain, they just do it at different paces, and they just have to learn to accept their differences!
During the week, we covered 65 miles, 39 of them being on foot and 26 on two wheels, whilst climbing 12,500 feet, and it was truly amazing! The weather was for the most part pretty perfect, with the temperatures being much more comfortable than in the south of England. The landscape was of course some of the best you could get, and the views were just stunning. The only day we had adverse weather was when we climbed the Old Man of Coniston when there was low cloud and really strong winds but do you know what, that was even better! The wind, the cloud swirling around us, the damp, the ruggedness of the terrain, just brought out the character of the mountains so much more, and I felt really alive climbing the mountain in those conditions. The good thing though was that by the time we reached the summit, the cloud had finally lifted revealing the awesome view below. And that was just one of the days!
There were some memorable and surprising highlights from the week, like the four Amish girls singing just for the fun of it at the back of Rydal Cave where the acoustics are amazing, chatting to people along the way, wild swimming in a mountain tarn, watching sheep being herded deep in a mountain valley (we could hear the shepherd from the mountain top), watching the International Space Station go over late at night, the best company a man could wish for, local ale and sticky toffee pudding, foraging for berries (whose ever heard of salmonberries!), and so much more!
When we got back home, I looked back at all the times I have gone away walking and backpacking with Paul, and Sarah my daughter when possible, and it stretches back over 35 years. So many wonderful memories and, God willing, there will be lots more to come. And I can’t wait for the next one!
Stay safe, stay active, keep making memories, and thanks for stopping by to read about mine.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
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