Monday, September 26, 2005

Wandering in the English Lake District - Day 1

Everyday, except one, I woke up between 5:45 and 6:15 and went for a walk. Breakfast was not served until 8:00 so I had plenty of time to take early morning photos and wander about the immediate area before waking Églantine and going to pack a lunch for the day.

Breakfast at the HF house was fantastic. Each day we had a choice of oatmeal or cold cereals, several canned or fresh fruits, three or four kinds of juice, or yogurt for starters. Then a cooked breakfast was offered. One could have any, or all, of cooked eggs, bacon, sausage, fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms, beans, potatoes, or blood pudding. (I never did try the blood pudding but everything else was grand!) There was an unending supply of toast, jams, jellies, coffee, and tea on the table and one could always go back to the starters table for more too if one wished.

On the evening before, we had chosen the type of walk that we wanted to do on our first day. Our choices were all from the HF house for this day. The descriptions, I am sure, meant something to those who knew the area but for those of us who were new, they were just meaningless place names. We could, however, understand the distances and climbs. So, our three choices for day one were as follows: 1) Easy walk - 6 1/4 miles with 825 feet of ascent, 2) Medium Walk - 8 1/2 miles with 875 feet of ascent, and 3) Harder walk - 9 1/2 miles and 2450 feet of ascent. Of course we chose the harder walk!

Our walk started down a path toward Conistonwater, along the narrow road for a short distance and then through a farmer's yard and along a farm lane. (The walking trails in England have been in existence longer than property ownership and have precedence. The land owner cannot stop people from walking on established paths, cannot build on the paths, or put aggressive bulls in the fields where the path runs, or such is what I have been led to believe.) In any case, we walked through the farmyard and up a series of farm lanes. At one point we passed a sheep paddock that had had some changes done to it.

If you look closely at the stonewalls of the paddock you can see that part of it looks different than the remainder. That is where the artist Andy Goldsworthy had made some alterations.

I got the impression from listening to various comments that the locals were not too impressed with the work, but Églantine and I were quite excited as Goldsworthy is one of our favourite artists and we have both done some works similar to his. Well, we tried! His work is much better, as he does work of some sort in the environment everyday whereas we do it just a few times each year.

Below is a photo of the trail we had just walked wandering through the centre of the photograph. You can see that we have gained some of the height that we were aiming for for the day.

"Elevenses," Lunch, "Threes," snack stops, and rest stops were all-important parts of our walks. I always packed a large lunch bag. More on that another day as I already spent extra time talking about breakfast and need to work that off too.

By three in the afternoon, we were starting down the mountain. Here is the view of Conistonwater in the distance. The HF house is at the extreme left of the photo just out sight behind the hill.

Each day, except for the last when we did the longest distance and most up and down, I remembered to wear my runners GPS so I had some idea of the distance and heights that we walked. Here is the GPS graphic for day one.

On our return on the first day, we had "cream tea," as a snack before our 7:30 dinner. More about dinners on a later post.


Anonymous said...

Very nice account and what looks like a wonderful hike. I was hiking beside you in spirit. Perhaps some day I'll get to do the same.

Walter Jeffries said...

Thanks for taking on along on the trip! I don't actually enjoy the process of travel and being away from my home base but I love seeing other places and how they do things. I love the stone walls. We have a lot of stone here. It is a major crop and I built walls as have the people before me. Some of the walls are 4' high - enough to keep in even the sheep. I liked the way the stones were turned sideways on the top of the paddock walls in your photo. I take it that is all dry stacked. Pretty impressive!

Ontario Wanderer said...

P, I hope you get the chance!
WJ, The stonewalls in the photo are the tip of the iceberg. England, Scotland, & Wales have thousands and thousands of miles of walls. The book that I bought explained that some were "homestead walls" of the 15th century, some were larger "farm walls" of the 16th and 17th century, and then there are the walls of the 18th & 19th century where farm machinery needed larger fields and professional wallers who worked to surveyors' standards built thousands of miles of new walls.
Perhaps some of your New England ancestors learned wall making in Great Britain? It is said that each part of the country has its own standards and special ways of making walls. It would be interesting to see if walls in North America could be matched up with walls in Great Britain.

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