Once Upon

Once Upon

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Off Piste....

The blisteringly hot weather of late obviously means it is essential for people like me to 'go to them there hills' and run the gauntlet of dehydration, heat exhaustion and crispy fried skin.....so it was with a song in me 'heart and a bottle of factor 30 in me pack that I drove off across the country to ...DA DA....The Lakes.
I had no idea as to where I was specifically going and so found myself being guided by instinct to end up driving down the shores of a stunningly beautiful Ullswater
 headed for Deepdale......an area I know well and love.
The walk along Brothers Water

shoreline in the early morning heat was idyllic, and I sat for a while accompanied by a pair of flittering Grey Wagtails
and watched a serene Heron
concentrate on catching breakfast.
I still had no real plan of action as yet, but my eyes were being drawn to the ridiculously steep direct route up Little Hartsop Dodd and I convinced myself that an hour or so of extreme sweat drenched effort would be worth it to gain height quickly and then have the rest of the day to saunter along the horseshoe ridges in sunshine and cooling breezes.....er.....wrong.
 I left the leafy dappled shade of Oak, Ash, Beech and Birch
and set off through the colourfully carpeted, baking meadow, a haphazard squadron of Butterfly fluttering around me.
The dauntingly steep, sun-soaked grassy flank of L.H.D. loomed over me and I took a relaxed, easy pace up its lower reaches, enjoying the sights, sounds and 'feel' of this impossibly beautiful natural arena.
After about 3 mins I was knackered, melting, and broiling in my own juices with unbelievably annoying Horseflies, or whatever, landing in constant irritation on every exposed part of my sweat dripping body.......aagh, the heat, the flies.....it was hell I tell you, Hell.
I found myself, head down, counting 50 steps at a time, then resting, before repeating the process.......for ever....
Still, as I gained height, despite the purgatory, I took time to peer through  sweat-bleared eyes at the splendor of the broadening mountain vista and was encouraged by that familiar feeling of  knowing that I was blissfully happy to be amongst it.
As I finally plodded in clockwork fashion up the thankfully easing gradient onto the ridge (I was in an almost liquid state by now) I was greeted by the sight of two elderly gentlemen sat, comfortably lazing as they munched on fruit pies and cheese.
"How do, grand day"
"Whoaphlery" I think I wheezed back, or something like that. I seemed to have lost the power of speech.
They informed that they had "come up beck on't far side" and were going to linger a while then descend slowly the way I had come.
Ah, the wisdom that comes with age.....I look forward to it with anticipation.
Still.....absolute heaven on the ridge. Hot sunshine, cooling breeze and several miles of easy gradient walking surrounded on all sides by stunning mountain scenery.

Syklark, Wheatear, Raven and Buzzard for company.
After a while, I had a thought....
Instead of putting myself through further torture of climbing up to Hart and Dove crag, the usual route, surely there must be a way too cut across, off piste as it were, below the ridge, avoiding the sweaty toil of ascent, and join the well trodden path down through the dale without more meltage of my body due to sun-baked 'up' effort......
And so, I left the path and struck off cross-country having visually plotted my exploratory course through the crags, streams and undulations....

Several hours or so later, having negotiated a tortuous route that in effect had probably involved far more effort than if I had stayed on the path in the first place, I joined the more traditional route of descent by a tumbling stream, and basked in my own satisfaction of pleasurable 'off the beaten track adventure'.
The walk down through Deepdale is an absolute joy.
Following the course of the beck, the path leads through lightly wooded dale passed a series of waterfalls and crystal pools, all the time with the vista of the surrounding fells as a backdrop.

After a while, despite the beauty of the surroundings, and the familiar feeling of contentment after a good day in the hills......the hot, neck-scorching final plod back along the dusty farm-track that seems to go on for ever,  was a pain.....but when the shade of the car park is eventually reached, a lingering look back up to the shimmering skyline where hours before my boots had trod......well.....it all seems right and proper...
Get thee to the hills, my people, get thee to the hills...
Er......while I'm on....apologies to all.
It has occurred to me that this being a site for natural history blogs, I am perhaps not conforming to the standard style of entry......all sightings, Latin names and academic discourse and interest in particular subjects.....however,  for me, appreciation of nature in all its miriad forms is perhaps more of an aesthetic recognition of its total beauty and wonder then an up-close text book indent......and the way to go, for me at least, is a personal immersion into a natural environment with perhaps a general knowledge of what makes up that environment.....whether it be flaura or fauna. Being part of it, sort of,  rather than simply observing it. Sometimes I feel some people somehow miss out by focusing on minutiae rather than experiencing the whole........anyway, blah blah blah blah blah.
Happy days.......

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