Cloud Walking In The Lake District

I hadn’t intended to post yet more holiday snaps.  Honestly, I hadn’t.  Afterall, it was only  recently that I walked, and posted about, the Dales Way and a Lakeland walk.  But, on my return to the Lake District, Jim and I experienced something quite special, even awesome (if that word can still mean what it should mean) when climbing a mountain called Blencathra.  But more of that in a moment.

Once again, the Lake District was in show-off mode.  Blue skies, playful cloud, far-reaching views and unabashed sunshine.  OK, so on some days the cloud didn’t lift and our friend Tracy, Jim and I would peer though swirling mist in the hope of getting a glimpse of something other than the tips of our noses.

Looking north from the flanks of Haystacks.

An ascent of Great Gable revealed little more than views of about fifty feet;  another climb to the summit of Haystacks was similar.  Though on the latter the cloud thinned as we got lower.  At least we got a peek of gorgeous Buttermere;

Jim looking down into Buttermere Valley.

a valley, we hadn’t visited before.

But on other days, the sun shone, the cloud romped and billowed and we had views!

Realisation hits Tracy that we’re heading all the way up there.

Even on a steep, un-remitting climb to Grisedale Pike (as part of a horseshoe walk called the Coledale Round) …

… the sunshine and racing clouds acted as a hook, pulling us up.

The ridge leading to the summit of Grisedale Pike.

Well, they did for me.  Jim and Tracy lagged behind; chatting.

The view from the summit of the Pike was ever-changing as banks of cloud broke over the fells and washed down into the valley of Coledale.

Tracy walking through cloud as she approaches the summit.

Islands in the stream.

The way back down with views over Keswick.

The following day, Jim and I set out to climb Blencathra.  I hadn’t trod upon its steep slopes for twenty-five years but as excited as I was, the day didn’t hold much promise.  Dull and grey cloud lay heavy over Keswick as Jim and I set off.  (We left Tracy behind to have some girly time; manicure, pedicure, that sort of curious thing).  But as we climbed up on to the ridge of Hall’s Fell (one of many possible paths to the summit), the cloud grew whiter and lighter and slowly the sun fought through the mist.

Looking west: the saddleback of Blencathra with the Scafell range, Pillar and others on the horizon.

And then with a slight puff of wind –  all was revealed;  vast blue skies and an infinite, unbroken duvet of white cloud.  We had climbed through, and were now above, the cloud layer.

The Helvellyn range.

Because the day had had such an unprepossessing start, no one else had bothered to climb Blencathra whilst we were there.

Me – having a moment.

During the hour or so we were at the summit we didn’t see a soul.

And another.

I have never experienced a cloud inversion (formed by warm air trapping and holding cooler air below) quite like this.  We have climbed above cloud before: most notably on the summit of Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) in Sri Lanka, but that was much, much higher at 2243 metres – Blencathra is only 868m.   In Sri Lanka, I think, the height alone was sufficient to take us far above the cloud – here in the Lakes, the inversion did most of the work for us.

To have a view usually reserved for those in air-liners and with only the very tallest mountains in Cumbria peaking above the blinding cloud, this day, this moment was, dare I say, awesome.

The ridge of Hall’s Fell disappearing down into the cloud.

Out of a six-day break, we were up on the fells for five – clambering up a mountain or two on each.  On our final day we huffed and puffed to the top of Skiddaw.  There was no panorama to be had from the summit cairn (despite us waiting patiently for the cloud to lift) …

Team Berghaus – on the summit of Skiddaw. An AG, Jim and Tracy.

… but then that gives us an excuse to re-climb on a day when the view will extend to the Solway Firth in the north, westwards to the Isle of Man, south to the central and Coniston fells and over to the east, the Pennines.  Not that I really need an excuse to continue travelling to the Lakes and to continue climbing and re-climbing the fells.  But it is always nice, having struggled to reach a lofty peak, to have a view.  A view and a sandwich.  Yes, that is always nice.

24 thoughts on “Cloud Walking In The Lake District

  1. Well well, looks like you had an excellent time. Amazing photography, it’s nice to get away and take in a breathe of fresh air. I love the cloud formations at highers altitudes. Bragging rights! 🙂

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  2. Awesome indeed !!! Hubby is not interested in “that blogging stuff you do” but these photos may just do the trick in convincing him to travel to this amazing area. We recently had 3 lovely retired couples visiting from England stay at our Farmhouse , we enjoyed hearing all about their lives in England and the beautiful places we must visit including the Lake district…………………….

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    • Hi Andrea, hehe – “that blogging stuff” is a strange world isn’t it? I’m not sure how long I’m going to continue with it as it is just so very time consuming – it must be difficult for partners to put up with it. I know Jim is a little frustrated sometimes when he’s chatting away to me, only to be answered by the occasional grunt, as I tap away. If you do make it to the UK, do go to the Lakes – but try and go out of season. D

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  3. Absolutely fantastic David, breathtaking shots and sceneries! I was waiting for this blog post knowing that you went on this trip before (and your ability to take fabulous shots!). Your sense of adventure and the outdoors are infectious and inspirational.

    Well done to all three of you for accomplishing this and having the privilege of seeing this in person. You guys deserve more than a sandwich afterwards 😉

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    • Thanks Boys of Luton, I guess the trade off was sublime views on some days and none at all on others! And thanks, but don’t worry. Back at the house we had rented we did treat ourselves to more than a slug of water and an icy sandwich. D

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  4. Wow, wow and thrice wow! Never seen anything like it – you look like a little buddha sitting in one of the pics. Only seen clouds like that when I’ve been in a plane – must have been wonderful.

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  5. Dave, please don’t EVER hesitate to post about your holidays! It’s lovely to catch a glimpse of what you experienced. I don’t think any gardening blog is ever straying off-message when it reminds us what the Great Outdoors is really like now and then.

    When I went to the Grand Canyon a few years ago I ended up talking to someone who had grown up about 50 miles from there. She said, “I’ve known the Canyon all my life, and I’ve never seen it look the same way twice.” It sounds like the same could be said of the Lake District. What an amazing experience to be above the clouds – above everything – like that. Buttermere could be straight out of Tolkien.

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    • Thanks, Stacy – OK, so no more apologies for holiday snaps. I think we’re going to be having a few holidays this year to make up for a dearth of them last year. After not going for many years, I’ve been up to the Lakes seven times in the last four years and yes, each trip, each day has been very different. It is an English county, other than Sussex, where I could see us living. And indeed, the Butterburs from Buttermere! D

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  6. You’ve done it now…’Baby when I met you there was peace unknown, I set out to get you with a fine tooth comb…tralalala….islands in the stream…tralalala’
    And coz you’re photo’s of your hols are so ‘awesome’, I’ve been sat here for hours admiring them with Dolly n’ Kenny singing a backing track in my head.
    Oh how I’d love to sit & ponder life with a view like that above the clouds. although the second from last one had me worried there…I’d thought you’d fallen off the mountain!!
    Looks like you all had a jolly good time.

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    • Hehe. I had that song playing through my head as I was up there watching the cloud whirling about the peaks, Jane. Felt like Dolly was right there with me. And I didn’t fall in the last photo – I was pushed. D

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