Sunday, 29 August 2010

The way the wind blows....

Let the sun shine and let the wind blow...we expected both on the Cumbrian Traverse run in the Lake District. When we met at Broughton Mill the morning was fresh and all around was green and the morning unfolded the presence of nature was felt quickly and with much attention. Heavy rain and gusting winds marked our way across the fell tops toward the Old Man of Coniston and beyond to the county stone at Wrynose Pass.

Gathered as a cluster; shielding ourselves from wind and rain and trying to regain body heat to our core, a few decided enough had been seen and touched. Three of us decided to press on ward; into wind, rain and breaking sun light shafts toward Borrowdale. Onward.

As we climb toward Cold Pike and Crinkle Crags my energy was sapped as the rain fell and the wind came back to buffet us as we crossed soggy turks heads and looked the ascent; I was at the point of closing the day, walking off the hill and hitting the road and hitching back to camp. I soon realised that I was committed, that the opportunity of a lift would be thin and the long walk down the tarmac pas would be unpleasant. So, getting some food in, a quick conversation with myself and I was on Cold Pike and moving to the slippery rocks of Crickle Crags and Bowfell.

Our conversations were relaxed as we agreed the day would unfold as it would, that the options of skipping Greta Gable was our choice - although to me would mean an incomplete Traverse!. Pushed on by the wind on our backs for a while we headed into Borrowdale and Great and Green Gable. The elements must have recognised our fatigue and perseverance as without warning the skies cleared and the range of fells opened up for us. I know this range to be my favourite lakeland place; it always seems so wild and remote, giving me a sense of really being out there, exposed and in a wild place. These thoughts picked up my spirits as we dropped toward Styehead and up the climb past the emergency box, upwards.

The grace of the elements was taken away as the wind gathered dark clouds and clag from the West encouraging us to move quickly toward windy gap and Aarron Slack, the renowned red scar.

I'm sure now we realised we'd cracked the Traverse, we knew the ground and were pushing across Brandreth out on the BG line to Grey Knots and down to the slate mines at Honister.

Seeing friends gathered at the usual spot, at first coloured specks against the black slate carpark but soon waving and familiar faces. We stopped for as long as we liked, had hot tea, changed clothes for a warmer and fresher feel and chatted about the route up across Dale Head and across to the final ridge; High Spy, Maiden Moor and the drop off Cat Bells. Joined by Bernice Nixon who I said was the mermaid of Honister and Dale Head! Always there on the final leg of the BG for many attempts - encouraging folk on and upward.

Early evening, gusting winds from the West knocking us up onto High Spy, chatting on life, the past and what matters.

And so the final drop; off a steep descent with the white houses of Keswick now is view. Soon we see Nick Cable astride his mountain bike dishing out his usual humour "I've been waiting, what took you so long!...." a welcome face as he cycled along side us, opening gates along the woodland section toward Keswick.

We run in together but with the clear intention of being there before 8pm. It's a great feeling coming up the main road onto the High Street and Market Square. The towns busy with bank holiday makers, strolling and getting out on the town. As usual some folk clap us whilst others looked puzzled, we step up the pace as the green door of Moot Hall is in sight. Done. Embraces and hand shakes, kisses even. 21 Lakeland peaks, 21000 feet of ascent and a tough day on the hill. It's all worth it, it always is as the feeling I have of accomplishment and being able to do this gives me a good sense of personal achievement and camaraderie. These days make a contribution to defining who I'am and points of meaning in my life.

Thanks for the company and the conversation and most of all the encouragement.

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