Over the past few hikes I've come to realise that I'm a graduate of the Wainwright school of sociability on the fells. I'm pretty sure that as a child I was quite happy to share my toys, but clearly I'm getting grumpier with old age. A few weeks ago we visited the beautiful Tarn Hows, along with several hundred other people. How dare they visit at the same time as us, didn't they realise we wanted it all to ourselves? Honestly, do you know how hard it is taking photos when other people keep getting in the way? It was then that I realised maybe I needed to chill out a little bit.
Then there was our most recent visit to Dungeon & Stickle Ghylls. Two other hikers decided to set out at exactly the same time as us and took the very same route. Is nothing sacred? When that happens you're faced with a tough decision - do you adopt the "athletic hikers of the fells" approach and streak past them to open up a healthy gap, sucking in your breath and belting out a cheery "Hello" that belies the effects of your exertions? Or do you find a fascinating rocky outcrop to study, thus allowing them the time to move ahead of you and hope they're not lying in wait around the next bend? We opted for the former and it took me a good 10 mins and an extra large chunky KitKat before I got my breath back.
Striding Edge - upto 1000 people a day stride along it.
I've even developed a preference for the Thirlmere route up Helvellyn due to its lack of human traffic. Striding Edge is a glorious route but it's also a very busy one. A neighbour sat and ate his sarnies on the final approach to Striding Edge one day last summer and counted 1000 people going past in the space of an hour. The last time we took the Thirlmere route we didn't see another soul until we reached Lower Man. Bliss. Quite why I'm getting so antisocial I've no idea, maybe it's because we like to talk such rubbish as we potter along and would be somewhat embarrassed if anyone overheard our attempts to name all the Ninja Turtles, or listened in to our heated debates about which piece of Star Trek tech we most want to own. (The Holodeck -v- Transporter debate has been raging for some time now.)
Of course if I thought Tarn Hows and Striding Edge were busy then that was nothing compared to the Dickensian Fair in Ulverston which we pottered along to last Saturday. Many people entered into the spirit of the event by dressing in appropriate costume, it's just a shame that Berghaus don't make Dickensian style waterproofs as it poured down for most of the afternoon. I think a special mention ought to go to Northern Rail too who, despite being fully aware of the event, thought it would be a great idea to just run single carriage trains and jam us in like Dickensian sardines. Nice one.
Thirlmere and Helvellyn
Sunday saw us seeking sanctuary back in Thirlmere and taking a tiny toddle up Great How. If you're ever in the mood for an interesting short walk with a little hill and spectacular views then I'd certainly recommend it. Parking at Beech Grove we first walked around the head of the reservoir and along the dam wall with its fabulous commemorative plaque. It's fair to say the decision to create the reservoir was somewhat controversial and Wainwright himself used to pee in the feeder streams in protest, though he was asked to keep this quiet for fear of encouraging others to follow suit!
From the top of Great How you have fabulous views to the south along Thirlmere with Helvellyn rearing up along the side and if you spin around and face north you can see equally wonderful views of Blencathra and Skiddaw. For once we were able to enjoy blissful solitude on the top of the fell, a silence punctured only by the ludicrous claim that the transporter was best because it made such a cool noise. Honestly.