We’re back home after a mammoth drive from the Lake District last night. After years of driving there and back, first from London and now from even farther away, we prefer to do the drive at night when the roads are mostly clear. The only downsides are eating on the road (I don’t want to see another burger for a long while) and arriving in the small hours of the morning does knock us out of kilter somewhat the following day. All of us have been feeling a little fragile today but, gosh, it was a memorable trip.
I was in my twenties the first time I went to the Lakes. David and I walked, climbed and camped there before children, we stayed there with first one small child, then two, then three. We’ve had large family holidays there and ones with just the five of us. And as the children have got older we’ve been going on longer and longer walks of increasing difficulty. This week we all pushed ourselves. I had to steel myself several times and overcome my anxiety at potential danger (‘Come on, you’ll be fine. Really.’) while ignoring my cautious inner-voice, my ‘what on earth are we doing’ voice. Once we reached the summits, though, all the uphill slog was forgotten. Reaching the summit is marvellous. Standing at the top, looking down into the valleys, you do feel on top of the world and there is no feeling quite like it. The landscape is majestic and being in it is exhilarating. These long walks are also a great excuse to eat sweets and chocolate, hearty pub meals and puddings… Back to normal eating now, sadly!
It’s the end of British Summertime tonight and although I’m not looking forward to the evenings getting darker, I am looking forward to that extra hour in the morning. I’ll leave you with this little snapshot of my family life: I popped into the kitchen earlier (about an hour after dinner) to find my eldest standing there munching chocolate biscuits. ‘What are you up to?’ I asked. ‘I’m thinking about what to eat while I’m eating,’ he replied. There you have it – the inner workings of a 16-year-old boy.
Ever since David and I have known each other, we have tried to visit the Lake District and get up into the high fells at least once a year. It’s a place that never fails to lift our spirits and re-energise us. Once the children came along, we adjusted our walks (no scrambling up Jake’s Rake on Pavey Ark with a baby in a backpack!) but we still went as often as possible. In more recent years, since the children have been able to do long, high walking, we’ve been going every October during half term. This year, however, we didn’t – financial constraints, work commitments and revision for exams (our eldest has mock GCSEs starting tomorrow) meant that we had to stay at home. We have all missed it and have agreed that we really must try to make it happen next year if possible.
After a week of mostly sitting down, we decided that, Lake District or not, we had to get out and have a Good Walk yesterday. We do a lot of walking here on the coast, exploring the wonderful paths close to home but have yet to explore much of inland Kent. David planned a circular route through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty around Wye and we set off. The promise of a late pub lunch was enough to persuade our more reluctant walker to leave his revision behind for a few hours.
David’s Short Walks are misnomers. We should know by now to add at least an hour on to his estimate of how much time a walk will take. The light was fading fast as we got back to the car and we were all rather hungry, so it was off to a lovely pub in Chilham for steak and ale pie, really excellent beer and the Rugby World Cup final. Perfect.