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The UK Lake District

January 29, 2023

When we were telling our friends what our plans were for the Winter the universal response was along the lines of “You’re nuts!”. Well no one has ever accused us of making sensible decisions.

So on returning from the balmy Mediterranean coast of Turkey, we picked up our car and headed North to spend two months in a rental cottage just outside the Lake District in Cumbria. Yes In the middle of Winter.

Winter Walking in the Lakes

On arrival in Tebay – just off the M6 and sitting between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales National Park – we were pleased to see that our two bedroom cottage was in lovely condition and although small, was much bigger than the studio apartments and hotel rooms we have been used to over the last few months. The lounge and kitchen are even separate rooms and there is a bath – Luxury!

We have spent most of our time exploring the Lakes but we haven’t entirely neglected the Yorkshire Dales. One trip was to the Ribblehead Viaduct which is 400m long, 32m high and opened in 1875.

The weather through December was bitterly cold, dropping to as low as -12c and covering the landscape in a cloak of hoar frost, but this came coupled with blue skies and beautiful days. Absolutely perfect for hiking as there was no snow to trudge through.

Ice around a small waterfall on the way up Blencathra

We soon discovered that those sort of temperatures meant that there was a huge amount of ice on the hiking paths, some paths becoming ice rinks.

Frozen Waterfall on the way to Crinkle Crags

A quick trip into the Climber’s Shop in Ambleside and we had purchased some Kahtoola Microspikes which are perfect for hiking in icy conditions. I soon tested them out and they helped me climb up a 45 degree slab of ice on the way to the peak of the Crinkle Crags. I just couldn’t have got to the top without them.

Views from Blencathra

The Lake District is famous with British Hiker’s but we had only ever spent 1 weekend here previously so it was a real journey of exploration for us.

Kirkstone Pass

The lovely thing about the cottage we are renting is that it is possible to hike straight from the door. One way goes straight up onto the Howgills, a series of grassy fells, and the other way, once you are across the M6, is the Eastern edge of the Lake District and you come across a valley known as the Other Borrowdale.

Posing Wild Fell Pony

I’ve hiked across to the Other Borrowdale a few times and the lovely thing about these fells is that you can come across herds of friendly fell ponies – I expect they are after a treat but one even let me pet it. The fell ponies are an endangered species of horse that is native to Cumbria and there are only around 6,500 of them. The fell ponies are great for the environment as their grazing promotes biodiversity by controlling the spread of gorse and trampling areas to allow seeds to have space to germinate.

Rare White Fell Pony

December flew by with lots of hiking, climbing Helvellyn, Blencathra, the Crinkle Crags and ticking off multiple Wainwright’s with each hike.

Summit Plateau of Helvellyn

Perhaps one of the most beautiful places that we have visted in the lakes is called Buttermere. This can be very still and have amazing reflections. It is easy to walk around the whole lake and there are also a number of hikes to up to the fells surrounding the lake.

View of Buttermere
Buttermere Trees

We headed back South for Christmas with family and then it was a fairly miserable 9 hour journey back (should have been 4-5 hours) to the Lake District in terrible weather after Christmas. It felt like everyone was travelling on the same day and that combined with rail strikes and bad weather caused complete gridlock on the motorways.

Scales Tarn below Blencathra (Saddleback)
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