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LAKES

Nice 2CU, C2C Nice – or is it?

……. the curious phenomenon of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk.

If you’re happily strolling along a tranquil Lakeland path and your peaceful reverie is disturbed by the sound of a large, noisy group of bedraggled lost souls complaining about the lack of signposting, the weather or the rough, hilly terrain and if these unhappy wanderers are voicing their grievances in American, German or Australian accents. ………. then you’ve probably stumbled upon the Coast to Coast (C2C) path. You might then ask yourself what these folk are up to; what made them want to do it; and why they are behaving in such a bizarre manner?

To begin at the beginning. Once upon a time in Kendal there was a Borough Treasurer who liked a good walk: so much so that in 1972 he crossed the country from St Bees, on the Irish Sea in Cumbria, to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea in N Yorkshire and wrote a guide book describing his adventures. He hoped that his book would encourage others to devise similar long distance expeditions themselves, rather than to follow slavishly in his footsteps. However, follow him slavishly they did- and still do in vast numbers. At first a few hardy souls followed the route he described, but today thousands are walking from coast to coast every year.

The Borough Treasurer in question was Alfred Wainwright (AW), who by the time he traversed the country was becoming rather well known as the author of a rightly celebrated series of seven Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. This post reflects on the curious phenomenon that is his Coast to Coast walk.

A confession.

I suffer a big disadvantage in writing about the C2C walk – I’ve never done it. My experience of the C2C is confined to the Lake District – where at one time or another I’ve trodden most of the route – and the Yorkshire Dales, where I accompanied friends for a three day hike from Kirkby Stephen to Richmond.

Still, I’ve never let a lack of first-hand experience get in the way of an opinion on any other topic, so why start now? In fact, I do believe that the experiences I have had are sufficient to entitle me to an opinion or three.  

In the beginning.

The route originally described by AW is about 190 miles long and involves over 26,000 ft of climbing (around the height of Everest). Two thirds of it traverses three national parks: The Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and N Yorkshire Moors.

Wainwrights route

The route undoubtedly presents some incredibly attractive scenery as it crosses the Cumbrian fells, Pennines and Cleveland hills and provides many interesting glimpses of England’s history. It is also a challenge not to be underestimated (although frequently is).

On my way to Kidsty Pike, on a typically well trodden C2C trail

Although AW said that his walk “has a bias in favour of high ground rather than low” the original route does tend to follow the line of least resistance: although he did offer alternatives for three of the days:

  • suggesting that the walker might climb Helvellyn or St Sunday Crag on the way to Patterdale, rather than follow the long valley trail down Grisedale,
  • offering the Helm Crag ridge as an alternative to Upper Easedale for the passage from Borrowdale to Grasmere, and
  • after Keld, giving a high level walk around the old lead mines as an alternative to the valley route down Swaledale. 

Since then, subsequent writers have added a few more challenging alternatives of their own.  

In the guide book, first published in 1973, AW is at great pains to point out that his walk is not an “official route” like the Pennine way. As noted, he hoped to inspire others to devise their own routes, rather than to just follow his and was ironically very disparaging about the sort of walk that the C2C has in fact become.

The C2C today.

Today, AW’s “unofficial” walk is incredibly popular – with thousands completing it every year. It is said by many to be the most popular long distance walk in Britain and was rated second best walk in the world in a survey of “experts” in Country Walker magazine. First on the list was the Milford Trail in New Zealand, but astonishingly the C2C was rated ahead of the Tour de Mont Blanc, Inca Trail and Everest Trek. Having walked the TMB and a variant of the Everest Trek I’m prompted to enquire who the “experts” were and suggest they try and get out more.

The C2C path certainly has its fervent evangelists, some of whom run out of and/or scrape the barrel of superlatives in describing the walk. In 2004 a Canadian, Bill Scott, who has done it twice, gushed about its charms, describing it as “second to none” and arguing that it should be first on the list of best long distance walks, describing it as “a cultural as well as a physical and mental challenge.” Calm down now Bill!

AW’s big walk is big business and has revived many local economies along the way: it’s a veritable boon to the hotels, B&Bs, cafes and all the other businesses providing support to the long distance walker. Many walking companies now offer packages for the entire trip, or will arrange shorter breaks taking in selected highlights: these packages include accommodation, route notes and (very appealing to ageing walkers like myself) bag carrying.  

AW’s C2C guide book was published in 1973: that is 7 years after the final volume of what I consider his masterpiece, the Pictorial Guides To The Lakeland Fells and a full 18 years after the first volume.

By then the Pictorial Guides were selling like hot cakes and converting a growing number of readers to the delights of fellwalking. He must surely have guessed that the C2C guide would also be a best seller and that many of his disciples would want to follow him on his latest adventure.  

And yet, AW seems to have naïvely believed that his “unofficial” footpath would escape the negative aspects he ascribed to “official” routes like the Pennine Way. He doesn’t seem to have expected that his path would become so popular, indeed more popular than any of the “official” trails. 

AW’s views on “official” paths in general
……… and the Pennine Way in particular

TV has made a huge contribution to the C2C’s popularity. Eric Robson accompanied AW for the 1990 BBC4 series “Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk”: by this time AW was clearly aware of just how popular the walk had already become. In  2007, the High Priestess of the Wainwright Cult, Julia Bradbury, focused on the  C2C in her 2009 BBC series “Wainwright Walks: Coast to Coast” which has promoted the walk to a global audience.  Her 2013 spin-off book with the same title and Tony Robinson’s 2017 Channel 5 foray onto the path brought it further exposure.   

Many of the multi-national groups I’ve encountered on the path say they learnt about the walk from watching Julia’s programme. Often the international contingent outnumber the Brits in a group of C2C’ers: this no doubt creates a very healthy, vibrant and stimulating international ambience and a real sense of camaraderie with others pursuing a shared objective, which must provide much fun and enjoyment. All good and well if you like having a good time and making new friends, as Wainwright himself might have said.

However, there are downsides.

How it seems to me.

the unfit, the unprepared and the navigationally challenged.

Before getting to the downsides, many upsides must be acknowledged.

Notwithstanding reservations about following lines of least resistance (and as I’ve said, more challenging variations are now offered), in my experience the paths are generally delightful and provide some stunning views of what for me is the best place on earth as it traverses Lakeland via Ennerdale, Borrowdale, Easedale, the higher section around Haweswater and then beyond towards the Eastern wilderness approaching Shap.

Haweswater

The scenery in the Yorkshire Dales is also wonderful and the capital of Swaledale, Reeth, like most dales villages, is a delight with its village green, old atmospheric pubs and local shops.

Swaledale
Reeth, Swaledale’s “capital”.

So, having acknowledged the many attractions of the C2C- like the camaraderie, fantastic views, fine pubs and friendly locals, what’s not to like about it?

Well, for a start – although it’s not typical of the whole route – the over-used and worn-out path crossing the morass that is Nine Standards Rigg, above Kirkby Stephen, is as close to a re-enactment of the muddy battles of the Somme as you’re likely to experience without contracting trench foot or getting shot.

Flanders Fields? No, Nine Standards Rigg.

At the risk of again sounding like Victor Meldrew’s more misanthropic cousin, in my experience the problem is not with the scenery or even the route, but the people- there are too many of them, they are too often in too big a group and as a consequence make too much noise. How dare these folk express their joy of being alive in such spectacular surroundings through such raucous banter?

As well as being noisy, many are also woefully underprepared and don’t look fit enough to walk to the bar, let alone complete a challenging multi-day hike. I don’t want to come over as an old curmudgeon, although if I did I’d be in good company with Alfred Wainwright.

I can confirm that the C2C walk attracts more than it’s fair share of what AW described as “complete nogs”.

I’ve also come across many “navigationally challenged” C2C walkers who’ve had no idea where they were. I’ll mention just three examples, but I could multiply these many times.

We met a group of three Americans descending from Windy Gap towards Sty Head, assuming they were approaching Honister Pass. They’d turned right instead of left at the head of Ennerdale without realising the error of their ways. Still, they seemed happy enough as they followed our directions down Sty Head Ghyll to Seathwaite in Borrowdale.

Correct route out of Ennerdale in green: X marks where we met the “lost souls”.

Interestingly, in its advice on navigational issues on the C2C, The Wainwright Society (since 2012 the “Responsible Organisation” for the walk) referred specifically to the tendency of walkers to take the wrong turn at the head of Ennerdale. Unbelievable you might think, given the quality of available mapping and the detailed instructions in today’s guide books and walking notes?

Pat negotiating perilous rocks around Ennerdale.

Also memorable was the group of lads we passed perusing their maps between Rest Dodd and The Nabb, apparently heading for Martindale. In good weather and excellent visibility, they’d taken a 90 degree left turn off the extremely well-trodden path towards Kidsty Pike (see earlier picture) and were espousing outlandish theories on where they were on the C2C. When I asked them if I could help they confidently assured me they were on the C2C heading for Kidsty pike, so I left them to it and pressed on, confident that they could call a cab by the time they hit Ullswater and realised it wasn’t Hawsewater.

Route to Kidsty Pike in green: lost souls met at X
Angle Tarn

I’ve heard more than a few of these lost souls – like the guy who’d gone astray on the way off Kidsty pike – bemoaning the lack of sign posts pointing the way off the summits and expressing surprise when I say that many of us would oppose such “improvements” vehemently and prefer the challenge of navigating with our maps and compasses. They look at me as if I’m barmy – a look I’m becoming worryingly familiar with as I get older.

Unlike the National Trails, the C2C is not signposted throughout its length. As we will see below this alleged shortcoming may soon be rectified, although I doubt we’ll be seeing sign posts on the fell tops any time soon. I imagine Friends of the Lake District, the National Trust and other interest groups might have something to say about that.

The surprising thing is that many of the disoriented dunderheads I’ve met are often festooned with map cases, compasses and GPS devices: but clearly have no idea how to use them.

I’m amazed how little research many C2C walkers seem to do before booking their holiday. I have in mind an American who complained that the paths were very rough and not well paved like those at home. I’ve walked in a few national parks in the US on some pretty rough trails, so can only assume his experience at home was confined to urban nature trails. He should console himself with the thought that at least you don’t get bears in Cumbria (apart from the “Bear on The Square Inn” in Millom).

The C2C is a challenge to even the fittest hiker, yet many seem to tackle it without any training or experience of long walks. On each of the three mornings I breakfasted with C2C hikers in N Yorkshire I was struck by the sick-parade of the walking wounded, desperately trying to prepare their blistered and tired feet for another day of torture or giving up the ghost and calling for taxis to take them to their next billet.

In the Lakes I’ve also met some C2C walkers who have been really struggling. I know from experience that on any multi-day hike there will be hard days when you wish you’d never bothered and part of the sense of satisfaction comes from meeting the challenge successfully, but the C2C seems to attract a high proportion of those who cross the line from a good challenge to purgatory.

The number of walking wounded is testimony to the fact that many participants are well outside their comfort zone. No one wants to stifle the sense of adventure or deny folk the sense of achievement that comes with completing a challenge walk, but I wonder if the TV programmes, articles and walking companies could do more to structure their expectations? Maybe expectations are frequently at odds with reality because they’ve seen TV presenters strolling effortlessly around the path (or possibly selected parts of it) without breaking sweat?

There is a tipping-point where the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge is outweighed by the misery of spending your annual holiday thoroughly wet, miserable and tired.  

The future.

Given the huge numbers who traipse along them, the C2C paths take a lot of punishment and it is a big ask to keep them safe while minimising environmental damage. 

It has long been an anomaly that the C2C walk, despite being the country’s most popular and well used long distance footpath, receives none of the additional funding that official National Trails attracts and is maintained by the National Park authorities, local councils and landowners, including the National Trust.

Certainly in the Lakes the National Park Authority and National Trust appear to do a good job keeping the paths in good nick, but interest groups such as the Wainwright Society – through their 2007 “Coast to Coast-make it National” – campaign, have long lobbied for National Trail status which would unlock government funding for maintenance and measures to make it more accessible. More recently a campaign for re-designation was launched by the, then unknown, MP for Richmond, Rishi Sunak.

It is encouraging to note that progress is being made and that Natural England have just been asked to carry out a “full audit” of the trail to establish what needs to be done to bring it up to scratch, particularly as regards accessibility and a formal proposal is due to be presented to Government in Spring 2022. It will be interesting to see if the honourable member for Richmond is quite so keen to “splash the cash” in his current job. As long as the government doesn’t decide to “level-up” the Lakeland fells I’ll be happy!

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LAKES

A LAKELAND LOVE AFFAIR.

A life changing walk reveals a wonderland on my doorstep, I escape from the Scouts.

My lifelong love affair with the Lake District began inauspiciously. Wandering through a dripping forest in torrential rain collecting firewood, when we had some perfectly good primus stoves – although clearly meant to be character building – seemed pointless to me. The 3am evacuation of our tents as a result of the inept decision of our hapless scoutmaster to pitch camp by the rising waters of the river Duddon should also have made me vow never to return to those misty hills again. This woefully wet week at a Scout camp in Dunnerdale, said to be Wordsworth’s favourite valley, shouldn’t have captivated me, yet it did.

Two things brightened the gloom of a wet week spent under canvass cowering under the iron discipline of the Scouts.

Firstly, the lurid adolescent fantasies about just what our scoutmaster got up to with a guide leader camping on the same site, with whom he disappeared to the pub every night. We suspected a bit of “dyb dyb dybbing” was going on and possibly even some heavy “dobbing” too.

The second and in this case life changing highlight for me was a walk from Coniston back to Dunnerdale along the Walna Scar track. This old pathway contours the lower slopes of Coniston Old Man and passes close to Dow Crag, a place I would later get to know as a rock climber. It’s also not not a million miles away from Grey Friar, which I would finally climb over 50 years later to complete my “Wainwrights”: my aversion to “peak bagging” and just why it took me so long to tick off all of the great man’s fells will be explained in a later blog. This walk opened a window on a previously unknown world-a world where I immediately felt I belonged and one I wanted to get to know better.

On the Walna Scar track, where it all began a long time before my hair went white.

As I fell in love with the Lakes, I fell out of love with the Scouts and soon escaped the discipline and militaristic ethos promoted by the first Chief Scout, Robert Baden-Powell. Baden-Powell seems to have been a pretty odious character: racist, homophobic and with well documented fascist tendencies, despite allegedly being a repressed homosexual himself – if some of his biographers are to be believed he was a man for whom “Scouting for Boys” was not just a classic instruction manual but also a lifestyle choice.

Continuing the military tradition, the current Chief Scout is former SAS (TA) soldier, Old Etonian and evangelical Christian, the hugely popular, but to me rather irritating, Bear Grylls, who always sounds less like a man and more an Alaskan fast food outlet.

The call of the wild, I get my kicks on route 555, lovely Langdale.

My first taste of the wild also saw me climbing Caw, my first Wainwright, though I didn’t know that at the time. This trip was such a contrast to my previous experiences of the Lakes, which had been confined to the odd visit to Bowness or, as a special treat, the “8 Lakes Tour” coach trip from Morecambe, where we, like thousands of trippers before us, were invited to gawp at the evocatively shaped “Lion and Lamb” (AKA Helm Crag) looming above Grasmere as the coach slowly wheezed its way up Dunmail Raise.

Mountains were not my parents’ first choice for a holiday or day out. Their idea of a good outing usually involved a trip to Blackpool, Llandudno, or some other seaside resort: the idea of walking up and down hills for pleasure was beyond their imagination. My dad eventually accepted my obsession with mountains and supported me in it, buying my first climbing rope and ice axe, but my mum never understood and even in her nineties would respond to my tales of a wet day on the fells with a curt and unsympathetic “you’re mad” or “stop moaning, no one’s forcing you to do it”. True enough.

The 555, passport to freedom.

Today, sitting in the cafe at Booths supermarket in Keswick, watching the long line of perambulating pensioners clutching their bus passes and queueing for the service down Borrowdale or the 555 towards the southern fells, I’m always reminded of my early trips to Lakeland. After I and a few mates had escaped from the Scouts our adventures were facilitated by the 555 (nearly the devil’s bus?). It took us to Keswick and the northern fells, dropped us off at Wythburn church, by Thirlmere, for the easy ascent of Helvellyn, or we changed at Ambleside for the Langdale service – a passport to a verdant valley which to me, 50 odd years later, is still a nirvana.

Langdale, stunning from any angle in any season;

One of my favourite and oft repeated walks is the classic circuit of Crinkle Crags and Bowfell, descending via the broad ridge known as the Band. If you’re feeling fit, the 7.7m circuit can be extended by adding Pike of Blisco. Much of the route can be seen in the main picture above, taken from below Side Pike, although my wife Pat is thoughtlessly obscuring the view. On the day that picture was taken we deemed it too icy for a safe passage of the Crinkles and stayed below the snow line.

Crinkle Crags and Bowfell.

Learning from the best, student ramblings, discovering pubs.

As I struck out alone on the hills I was fortunate to be encouraged by a school teacher who shared my enthusiasm and arranged for a few of us fell-fanciers to attend a series of “mountain craft” courses run by the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA). These courses were held at various youth hostels, providing us with a good overview of the national park.

Another stroke of luck was that the courses were led by John Wyatt, the first Ranger to be appointed by the LDNPA and a man passionate about the conservation of Lakeland and its safe enjoyment. Wyatt went on to write a number of excellent guide books along with more personal memoirs of his experiences.

John Wyatt, guide and inspiration.

My dad’s ill health meant that I chose to stay close to home and attend Lancaster University. Although I moved out of the family home I possibly missed some of the benefits of living in a different town; although, against this I was still close to my beloved mountains. I also enjoyed introducing mates who’d never visited the Lakes to the object of my desire: some of them couldn’t see the point, but in others our Lakeland expeditions – covering many of the well-known “rounds” and ridges – triggered a lifelong affection.

Around this time I was inducted into another great Lakeland institution -its old pubs and fine ales. As Langdale tended to be my home valley, naturally the “Old Dungeon Ghyll”, situated at its head, became my “local”. The pub’s climbers’ bar is usually very busy, but I recall two remarkable occasions when I had it to myself. The first, after a very wet and desolate solo wild camp up at Sprinkling Tarn many years ago involved me sharing the cavernous bar with just one other camper, also drying out his clothes and tent by the open fire. As the beer flowed the steam rose along with our spirits and voices as the other guy played his guitar and we shared our repertoire of folk songs. As referred to above, more recently my wife and I ended up entirely alone in the same bar after choosing to stay off the snowy tops and take a lovely circular walk into Little Langdale (pictured above).

The ODG, busy as usual.

I’d first tried rock climbing on a crag in Longsledale, a valley just north of Kendal and the inspiration for Postman Pat’s home patch (John Cunliffe, the books’ author, having worked for a time as a teacher in Kendal). Despite this well documented literary connection I never once came across a black and white cat in the valley.

After enjoying climbing many undemanding routes in Langdale, Borrowdale and the Coniston fells, I accepted that I would never progress beyond “entry level” as a crag rat (more of a “mouse” given the grade I achieved) and after a few years decided mountain walking was more my thing.

A tenuous link with Wainwright, the Lakes remains my anchor, out to grass (and Grasmere).

After University a job as a graduate trainee in the glamorous, fun-filled world of local government finance took me to Merseyside and led to qualification as a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), the same institute ( then the Institute of Municipal Treasurers) that boasts one Alfred Wainwright as a former member.

My first boss in the District Audit Service (later the Audit Commission) used to tell tales of auditing Kendal Borough Council and how much he’d admired the wonderful pen and ink drawings adorning ledgers compiled by the “odd ball” Borough Treasurer: the “odd ball” in question being none other than that doyen of Lakeland fellwalkers, Alfred Wainwright. This was during the 13 years that “AW” was researching and writing his labour of love, the beautifully illustrated and frequently lyrical seven volume “A Pictorial Guide To The Lakeland Fells”. My boss spoke of AW’s eccentricity and elusiveness as he disappeared, missing in action on the fells, at every opportunity to research his mountain masterpiece.

Wainwright’s labour of love.

Living on Merseyside was still handy for the Lakes and also opened up the possibility of adventures in the Peak District and Snowdonia. The camp site at Capel Curig became a home from home for a time as I explored the lofty peaks and crags around the Llanberis Pass and Ogwen Valley, but Snowdonia, or the less frequently visited Peak District, never came close to replacing the Lakes in my affections.

In my late twenties work took me from Merseyside to the far South West, where I have lived ever since. Despite the distance I rarely made one of the regular visits to my mum in Lancaster without escaping to the fells for at least a day.

I’ve now been retired for over 10 years and in that period have been an even more frequent visitor to Lakeland, thanks to buying a log cabin situated conveniently on the edge of Keswick in the shadow of Skiddaw, the mountain whose iconic profile looms above that delightful town.

While the cabin is very convenient for walking once we’re there, many would think that a 350 mile drive from home makes it anything but convenient. It is a long haul to our lodge on increasingly busy motorways, but it’s always worth it when I’m sat on the deck, sipping a Loweswater Gold and marvelling at the setting sun reflecting off the distant and at sunset, equally golden Helvellyn range. Our lodge is called ” Whiteside”, after the close neighbour of Helvellyn that is seen in the picture at the far right of the distant ridge.

Keeping it special, Wordsworth as both hero and villain.

We all want to protect what we love and the place I’ve loved all my life is under constant threat. The Lakes is our most highly populated national park and also the most visited. Tourism is the main industry and source of work, but the influx of around 50m visitors a year ( now almost certainly more with the invasion of “staycationers”) puts immense pressure on local services and landscape.

We are fortunate that the environmental movement, which was arguably started in the Lakes by Wordsworth and evolved through John Ruskin and the National Trust (founded in 1895 by Sir Robert Hunter, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley and Octavia Hill who had campaigned to protect the Lakes from industrial development), fiercely defends Lakeland. This movement now encompasses a range of public bodies and voluntary organisations, such as Friends of the Lake District, all committed to controlling development and protecting this special place: there are however tensions and differences of opinion on what’s good for the national park.

Recently, a concerted effort by conservation groups has prevented the implementation of a ludicrous scheme to string zip wires across tranquil Thirlmere, but a similarly high profile campaign opposing the LDNPA decision not to stop 4×4’s from using green lanes in Little Langdale and elsewhere has so far been less successful. The LDNPA were conspicuously ambivalent during the zip wire fiasco and many are surprised at their stance during the ongoing 4×4 controversy, with many observers wondering which side it is on. The Authority has a difficult job discharging its often conflicting responsibilities and balancing the interests of different stakeholders, but to many of us it appears these days to err too often towards putting business interests before the environment and to conveniently overlook or misinterpret some of its statutory responsibilities.

The LDNPA’s position in the debate around 4×4 safaris in Little Langdale is clearly explained on their website, where the authority sets out why they are not imposing Traffic Regulation Orders to control 4x4s. The websites of the National Trust and pressure group “Save the Lake District” explain why they are both seeking to persuade the authority to change its mind.

It is only right that Wordsworth should have felt moved to campaign against unwanted development since, ironically, he had done much to popularise modern tourism in his 1810 “Guide to The Lakes”. Wordsworth, along with his fellow Lakes Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge are, with some justification, often also said to have invented fell walking. Wordsworth’s journals and letters document many epic treks around the mountains and Coleridge described his adventures in his 1802 “Walking Tour of The Fells”, which includes a vivid description of a descent of Scafell via the perilous Broad Stand, considered by the Fell and Rock Club to be England’s first recreational rock climb;

And now I had only two more to drop down – but of these two the first was tremendous. It was twice my own height, and the ledge at the bottom was so exceedingly narrow, that if I dropped down upon it I must of necessity have fallen backwards and of course killed myself. I was beginning according to my custom to laugh at myself for a madman, when the sight of the crags above me, and the impetuous clouds just over them, posting so luridly and so rapidly northward, overawed me… O God, I exclaimed aloud, how calm, how blessed am I now.”

Simply the best pick-me-up.

Lakeland has been with me through every phase of my life and I think it is simply the best place on earth. I’ve been lucky enough to walk in many of the worlds high places, but I’ve never found anywhere to beat it for scenic splendour: it just seems that, by some happy coincidence of weather and geology, everything is in “just the right place”. I’ve been challenged and sometimes ridiculed for expressing this opinion, but was encouraged a few years back when I heard eminent mountaineer Alan Hinkes make the same claim for the Lakes. As the only British climber to have summited all 14 of the world’s 8,000 metre peaks, I guess he speaks with some authority! I also find it reassuring to have confirmation that size isn’t everything.

The Lakes has provided some of my highest “highs”, but whenever I’ve felt low I’ve found that it’s rugged fells, placid tarns and meandering streams and rivers have always been there for me like a good friend to offer comfort and support and remind me that however bad things seem to be, there’s always a place to escape the madness and gain some perspective. I’ll leave the last word to Wainwright who typically captured perfectly what the Lakes means to so many of us;

The fleeting hour of life of those who love the hills is quickly spent, but the hills are eternal. Always there will be the lonely ridge, the dancing beck, the silent forest; always there will be the exhilaration of the summits. These are for the seeking, and those who seek and find while there is yet time will be blessed both in mind and body.’

The Western Fells
“………the exhilaration of the summits.”