Lost pathways…

…up on the fells. To be more accurate, the pathway wasn’t lost, it was pretty much where it had always been the past few hundred years or more. Far more accurately, we lost the pathway, being relatively unused to hiking across bracken and over grass uplands under heavy lowering clouds.

Lost? Us?! Just look for distinctive features. Don’t tell them, but one sheep (and sheep trail) looks much like another, as do tough little trees silhouetted against grey skies, and drystone walls are quite beautiful, but hard to differentiate (to the untrained eye!)These aren’t complaints though! We were lucky enough to be wandering around Eskdale and nearby valleys in the Lake District National Park, located in NW England. We hadn’t been there in over fifteen years, so we were excited to return. We stayed at The Woolpack Inn, and could hike any number of paths right out the door. A pub, meeting up with my brother, good food, excellent beer, and great walking?  Well, alright! And did I mention, The Woolpack is a pub? And my brother was there? We still managed earlyish starts…

A lovely area, dotted with lakes, rugged hills, farms and ancient monuments, from Roman times and before, walking trails crisscross the Lake District. Some take an hour or two to complete, many require a long day, and some several days. All are beautiful, passing along and over drystone walls, small rivers and becks, and pastures full of sheep. With high annual rainfall, it is usually wet, and can be downright boggy in places, but the payoff is a green, green, green and green lush landscape.
Walkers flock to these hills, but even in high summer it is easy enough to find quiet trails. Well, it is easy enough to find peace and quiet – sometimes the trail itself can be a little harder follow. We would be striding along confidently enough when the path was a muddy track hugging the clear contour of a hill. But when it forked into patches of bracken or seemed to disappear through bog land, then we often found ourselves having to backtrack or cast around for a (the?) more obvious route.

Not overly difficult, but with so many sheep and young lambs about, we didn’t want to cause too much disturbance. Mostly we didn’t, but every now and then a sheep would unexpectedly bleat loudly and crash away through the bracken if we got too close. Makes you jump when that happens…

Drystone walls aren’t built to delight passing walkers and prompt poets, but they are wonderful constructions, and quite impossible not to admire. Sheep farming and trying to make a living from it up on the fells is really tough (read The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks for an honest and uncompromising account of this life. His tale of how, over the years, he loved, loathed, and then loved farming Herdwick sheep is an unsentimental, unflinching and heartfelt history of his family’s efforts to run their farm – a great read, I promise you!) but in this landscape it is easy to see how poets, painters and photographers are tempted to romanticize…

Hopefully we will return here again and become lost once more – in the best possible way!

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

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I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

11 thoughts on “Lost pathways…”

  1. Really enjoyed the walking tour, Plaid. I’m green about all that rock-studded greenery while times are so dry here in NYS. Would love to visit the Lakes District, as my daughter also visited in recent time, and not romanticize overtly about all the romantic elements associated with the countryside.


  2. Oh how delightful, pc! The unending green grass, and hill upon hill of rock walls and sheep, dramatic skies, burbling brooks, rocky outcroppings. Heaven on earth — I am so glad you and Mrs. pc got to adventure here, meet up with your brother, and enjoy some delicious local beers. This is what life is about.


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