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Walking in Cumbria and Beyond



There’s a film around at the moment; Mountain.   A beautifully shot documentary kind of film.  With a wonderful soundtrack and few words. 

It scales the highest peaks and drops down the steepest slopes.  Mans’ relationships with mountains.   If you have any relationship at all with hills, or if you wonder at those that do, then fish out this film.  

It will pull out memories of those days when you wonder why you ever bothered to put on even one boot or glove and those which are full of superlatives, however small the mountains.   Days of  snow grabbed from a fickle Cumbrian climate.  Grabbed with both hands as fast as they occur. Before they slip once more into the grey mizzle of a west coast winter.

On  Friday I was out for a while.   Alcock tarn a suitable destination. Clouds slung low over the tops as we moved up.


Alcock Tarn

Breaking and bubbling up to an oncoming storm.  For a while  sun broke through and spread slowly over the tarn.  Until the dark caught up, the grey blended in and the sharp, icy shards began to batter. Not a day to linger, not a day to climb higher.  A day to leave nature, and the sheep, to their own devices.


Saturday there was a promise of a big yellow sun by the Weather App.  Not that it has any relevance to the fickle hills who tend to have their own agenda.

First steps did not bode well.  Grey – again.  Ice clung to rocks in intricate patterns.  Thirlmere held its deep gloom.  Going up.  Things started to clear.  Low cloud in down in the valley.  But we were higher.  Inverted, it  bubbled below us.


For  a while cloud and hills merged together.  Ice clung to everything permanent.  On Helvellyn what was a shelter merged to a snow sculpture.  For lunch we sat on the walls, not behind them.

Helvellyn Shelter

Helvellyn Shelter

It was a place to meet. Those we did not know, we shared sentiments about the Bahamas.  This place was far better.  And those we know.  Like minds meeting only vaguely unexpectedly – on hills. 


And so Raise.  it was not time to go down.  Such days are meant to be enjoyed, not left alone.  White had broken to blue as we scrunched across a windswept landscape. 

West from Raise

Looking west

Mostly denuded of snow which had to be satisfied with clinging to the wind sheltered side of rocks and general detritus. Sculptures scattered across a landscape far more impressive than any gallery.



Downward. Depth caught up with us.  Windswept from the top was dumped on the pass from Raise.  We trudged.   Those with skies sped past.  From the most part I balanced on top, but occasionally  dropped through the crust, to my knees.


Back to Helvellyn

Sunlight played across Buttermere and Skiddaw.  Highlighting the shapes and the shadows.  A day which if not seen, had just to be shared.


Looking north to Skiddaw

And concluded? It takes a just little madness to be on top of a mountain – in the snow.


Thanks to Shirley Knight for this photo – She’s on my left.

Even as the fog folded in behind us.


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