Despite rumours of tumultuous weather, the evening remained dry as a convoy of keen hillwalkers (new and old alike) departed from Cambridge on Friday evening. That is until about halfway through the drive to the Lake District, when the weather suddenly realised it had forgotten to rain and made good on its promise to precipitate.
Around midnight the cars all pulled up at the High House bunkhouse in Seathwaite and everyone shuffled indoors to claim a spot to sleep for the night, while several routes for the following day were discussed. Those new to the area were completely oblivious to the encircling mountains they would see come the morning.
As is always the case with bunk houses, once the first person stirs, the rest soon follow. On this day a pair of fell runners, Andrew Wa and Jeff F, were among the first in their boots to make the most of the extra daylight. For many of the rest of us, an absence of coffee was mourned, but not by the resourceful Italian Mario D who had brought along his own supply from home.
Thankfully, the new day had brought with it a relief in the weather, and even the odd spotting of blue sky as the clouds were occasionally blown thin. The adventurous Freya S, Catherine Z, Yugeng and Mary were signed up for the two day scrambling course, and assembled themselves ready for their day on the rocks.
The group I, Ben Ho, was joining set off at 9am with the goal of bagging three peaks on our journey, and consisted of an Englishman (Oliver Normand), an Italian (the aforementioned Mario), and two French (Alix R and Anouk R). Climbing steadily to Green Gable and in turn Great Gable, the views across the valley revealed numerous waterfalls flowing rich with the rain from the night before. The view was well worth the drive up-country. Our group and many others successfully summited Scafell Pike and enjoyed a hillwalkers lunch amongst the misty mountain air. Mario even took the opportunity to brew another pot of his delicious Italian coffee, and was kind enough to share. As we descended from our last peak we noted how refreshing the stream pools looked after all the hard work, resulting in many of us taking a brief plunge in the autumnal waters.
Upon returning to the bunkhouse people ferried themselves through the showers, exchanged stories of their days’ triumphs, and began settling around the coal fireplace. A few vigilant committee members took note of Andrew Wa’s absence, and were pleased when he turned up in the dark with a colossal 34km run under his belt. As the evening progressed, meals, wine, beer, cake (thanks to Maryam!), and tea were enjoyed. The evening concluded with recitals from the hillwalkers’ songbook, which new members such as myself were unfamiliar with the melodies and so sang our own versions in collaboration with the originals.
The weather for the Sunday was forecasted to be drearier than Saturday. However, for the early risers there was some moderate weather to be enjoyed. A steady state of light rain was remained from lunchtime onwards until it was time to depart. While the persistent rain did not dampen our spirits, the realisation that he had forgotten to pack his coffee for lunch that day managed to dampen Mario’s.
Over the two days many groups managed to explore the disused mines in the area, and enjoy the view of slate quarries scattered across the hills. As a whole, the area surrounding Seathwaite offers much to be explored, regardless of the weather. One such attraction included a rare species of fish said to be unique to two of the tarns in the area. Stories from the locals inspired us, and fuelled an expedition on our second day to find this fish – personal accounts from the expedition vary.
The bunkhouse was cleaned, cars were re-packaged again like a game of Tetris, and it was time to farewell the mountains. As cars left High House, it’s hard to imagine any one could be left unsatisfied from such a trip. With such refreshing scenery, and an organising team that kept things running like clockwork, it was a great introduction to Lake District.
Trip List: Lucy J, Andrew Wa, Mireia C, Bartomeau M, Maryam, Danny V, Mary M, Freya S, Anouk R, Svenja M, Andrew Wh, Charlie G, Jeff F, Elliot B, Alix R, Yugeng Z, Mario D, Oliver No, Ben Ho, Paul Fox, Catherine Z, Susannah P, Peter M