An early morning walk onto Scout Scar to photograph the winter sunrise over the Lake District turned out to be something I hadn’t expected.
You might well ask – and you probably should – why on earth was I climbing out of Kendal on such a secretive mission. Not many folks had yet risen, it was 6.30 and still dark, although a few lights had come on in the houses that I had passed. The reason I was now breaking through black, skeletal trees below the crag, was because I intended to take a photograph of the winter sunrise over the Lake District.
I was certain that the sun’s rays would paint the mountains with a rosy-pink paintbrush, and it would make a great picture. That was why I had got out of bed on this freezing morning at 5am. This slightly enthusiastic labour of love had been born the previous day, during my first excursion onto Scout Scar. We had only just moved to Kendal from Windermere, and, with my daughter, after someone’s passionate advice, we decided to explore the area.
What I found, amazed me. It was a glorious day. A fantastic panorama opened up before our eyes as we reached the summit of Cunswick Fell: the whole of the central Lake District fells were before us, in a continuous line along the horizon. My eyes slowly moved along Coniston Old Man, Bowfell, Scafell, The Langdale Pikes, past Ambleside, over Fairfield, the Kentmere Fells, Longsleddale and finally the Howgill Fells, to name but a few.
I recollect Alfred Wainwright commenting, that it was the view from Orrest Head in Windermere that had given him his love for the Lakeland hills. I wonder how that could have been. As he lived in Kendal, he must have come to this very spot and seen this amazing view.
So today, I was emerging from the woodland below Kettlewell Crag. Faint paths, painted by Stygian gloom, led out of the trees. I must admit, that, in the dark, the place is a little intimidating.
I felt like Bilbo entering the poisoned woods of Middle Earth. Not sure whether something or someone was suddenly going to jump out of the darkness. Something rustled; I swung my head. The torch picked out a shadow in the undergrowth; then it was gone.
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It will be a walk in the park, I said, or so I thought when I planned the route. After last week’s blasting near the summit of High Pike, we were looking forward to a nice easy stroll, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, it turned out to be a long, challenging and tiring day. I never expected that three little hills – all just over a 1,000 foot – would turn out to be so demanding. And after 7 hours 20 minutes of walking, we returned to the car and collapsed, just as it was going dark.