The snow fell heavily as we journeyed up the M6. Turning into Kendal, it seemed to be settling more and more. We were lucky to reach Ambleside in time before the roads became impassable.
We had booked a few days in the Lake District in mid-February, a welcome spring break after the long dark Irish winter. Little did I expect this mountainous place to be covered in a foot of snow.
But despite the fact that the weather blocked off the highest peaks, I was still able to climb the hills that levelled off around 500 metres. The first day we walked straight out of Ambleside and followed the easterly path up Wansfell Pike. The last 80 metres were caked in snow, making the path impossible to find. It was hit or miss if my feet hit grass or rock as I scrambled up the side.
Coming off the Pike, the snow made the steep descent crazy. Foot holds were far and few between and my feet slipped from beneath me. Finally reaching Nanny Lane meant hitting terra firma, but the passage was filled with slush and freezing water from the rapidly melting hill. Warm tea and a selection of sumptuous cakes at Ambleside’s Rattle Gill Café helped revive my freezing extremities once we finished.
The warmer conditions meant the snow was fast disappearing. That meant that the next day we were able to go a little higher. We chose to drive to Grasmere and clamber up Helm Crag. From there we wandered along Gibson Knott, finally hitting Calf Crag. The still snow topped mountains towered around us, High Raise to the west and Fairfield to the east. A return journey via Far Easedale Gill valley gave us a nice 8 mile walk in total. And we were back in time for more tea and cake in one of Grasmere’s many teashops.
The trip was made all the nicer by Ambleside’s fine evening dining. Twice we ended up in Dodd’s Restaurant for racks of lamb, crispy pork belly, freshly baked bread, and amaretto tiramisu. And with over 60 restaurants to choose from, there was no shortage of culinary highlights.
Despite it being February, the hills were busy with walkers. And I was glad I could join them for a few days within the Lake District, one of Britain’s finest outdoor destinations.
Want to hear more tales from the Lake District? Check out my book, “Mud, Sweat and Tears” with stories from the Lakeland 100 Ultra.