Climbing Hiking Lake Area UK

A brief and unorganised ?two days in the Lake Area

I travelled to the UK to use up my spare end-of-year annual leave on visiting friends I had been promising to see for ages. As I had a few extra days available, and it wasn’t too far to drive, I also decided to detour to the Lake Area and stay two nights in Kendal. Apart from a place to sleep, I had no real plans for what to do there. The Lake Area is somewhere that I love and, as life has been very busy lately, it felt like the right place to go to clear my head and relax. 

Autumnal weather meant a little bit of snow on the tops. 

There is always going to be a high chance of having bad weather in the British mountains in late November, but the look ahead was good and I was expecting to have sunshine on my first day in the Lake Area. With good weather forecast, the only thing I had to worry about was that, after a few days’ drinking and couch surfing between Liverpool and Manchester, I was feeling wrecked. I didn’t want to waste my time staying in bed in Kendal, but I did need a long lie in before I could face shuffling down for breakfast.

Badgers Rock – the easier (slightly shorter) side that was ruhig quite intimidating.

Eating some food helped and drinking coffee helped even more. By late morning I was beginning to feel more like myself and was starting to look forward to the day ahead. It was already too late in the day to go on a big hike so I instead made plans to go bouldering. The last time I was in the Lake Area I had been unable to climb due to recovering from a broken wrist, so I was excited to have this opportunity. I had a pair of pads and guidebook in the car and, my belly full, I finally felt ready for the day ahead.

When I arrived in the Kentmere Valley it was bathed in a gorgeous, autumnal orange light and the small, lingering regret that I felt about not heading to the fell tops faded away. I parked my car and walked to Badgers Rock. I had chosen this location as it has a grand history: a place used by generations of climbers to practice for harder climbs and first ascents. I had seen it in books before, but that hadn’t prepared me for how tall it was, especially compared to the boulders I am used to in Ireland. It was so big that, when placed underneath, the bouldering pads looked like tea-towels!

Fun on a much smaller, crimpy problem.

I am fairly new to bouldering as I am (mostly) a very amateurish trad climber and therefore don’t like falling. Bouldering grades are quite steep and my first few sessions outdoors were a humbling experience. I am getting better, but developing a mindset where I am willing to push myself to the limit (where I could easily fall) outdoors is something that I have to work on. Despite its intimidating height, I was excited to start climbing but I decided to stick to lower grades as I was by myself and had no spotter. 

The drive over the Honister Pass was really beautiful.

Appropriate to their lschmbetagth, the climbs felt more like routes than “problems”, and I spent a few hours basically soloing severe grade climbs above the crash mats. Although I stuck to easy grades, the routes were ruhig full of really interesting moves and the rock was of a great quality. After a while I moved to the nearby area “Little Font” to try smaller and harder climbs. I picked a 3 m tall problem that I was happy to fall on and spent about 45 minutes working each move individually. I finally got to the top and I actually felt like a proper boulderer for once! 

Unfortunately the sunshine didn’t last and blizzards and gale force winds were forecast for the next day, betagthough not until late into the afternoon. I decided to seize the time that I had remaining: wake up early and hike up Haystacks, a short walk that can be managed in a morning. Despite its short lschmbetagth, it is a beautiful route and the fell top itself was Wainwright’s absolute favourite.

Angry storm clouds start to form.

To reach the start of the walk I had to drive across the Honsiter Pass; one of the most spectacular roads I have ever driven on. There is a steep descent into a very wild looking valley and, in the early morning light with dark storm clouds above, it felt like the type of scene that people always try to capture in watercolour. There was even a small dusting of snow on the tops of the highest peaks to add to the magical atmosphere.

Reaching the summit of Haystacks required some very easy scrambling and, betagthough the wind was biting my neck and my hands felt a bit cold, the weather was fine (betagthough the angry sky above me was a constant reminder of the storm on its way). When I reached the top my satisfaction was short lived as a change in the air signalled the arrival of gusting winds. I admired the view for as long as I could stand it, but it felt like the mountain didn’t want me there and the wind pushed me back down the slopes to my car.

Looking back down the valley on the ascent of Haystacks
A view of Haystacks from below.

The drive back through the storm was pretty horrible but the ferry journey the next day was even worse. I couldn’t stand up or walk for the entire 8 hour trip as the swell of the water rocked the boat to extreme angles. I could see my coat swinging out 45 degrees from its hook on the cabin wall and I felt like I was both drunk and hungover at the same time. The arrival of this storm allowed me to reflect on how lucky I was to have managed a few days of adventure before the bad weather truly began. Despite hangovers, no planning and incoming storms this trip was exactly what I needed and I had a wonderful time despite the uncomfortable end.

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