Allison Wiffen Logo

An apple tastes better up a hill

This summer (or should I say autumn – as it is mid September) I am doing something I do every two to three years and holidaying in the Lake District. As I sit writing this (on the penultimate evening of my stay) it is chucking it down. It has rained most of the day and indeed also two days ago. Yesterday however was glorious. It was the perfect weather for walking up a hill: overcast but sunny by moments, warm but not hot (you get pretty hot walking up a hill whatever the temperature). Okay so it was blowy at 2500 feet but that is not unusual.

So yesterday my husband and I did the perfect ridge walk: from Ambleside we went up Heron Pike, onto Great Rigg, Fairfield, Hart Cragg, Dove Crag and down via High Pike and Low Pike. A long walk for us (some 8 hours) and damned hard work! And the payoff for all that effort? A feeling that you are in heaven, that this is the most perfect day of your life. Spectacular views in all directions, the fun of seeing a wren on a branch in the early stages of the walk, a field vole half way up, a buzzard circling looking for said field vole, and then the jets that fly below you through the valleys – probably hated by locals but exciting for us townies!

Ascent to Fairfield

Sandwiches taste delicious up a hill, your flask of tea is nectar, and even that apple you would normally eat only because it is good for you tastes truly gorgeous.

High Pike

Plus there is a real sense of camaraderie among hill walkers. You all know that it takes a lot of effort to get up a hill over 2000 feet even if you are fit, so people are warm and friendly, they always exchange hellos, often chat about the walk or weather conditions, sometimes advise on what lies ahead (if you are heading where they have come from). And I am always delighted to see so many people in their 60s and 70s who are still walking the fells – it means there is hope for all of us. I have never in fact added a stone to a cairn but I have rejoiced at the sight of a cairn so many times. The tops of hills have a nasty habit of receding as you near them, and the disappointment of another false peak can sometimes be too much to bear . . . but the joy when you do finally reach your goal is unsurpassed – having been so hard won.

Coniston water

So if you haven’t climbed a big hill my advice would be to give it a go. Perhaps it would be good to go with an experienced walker or with a ramblers group as even the lakes which look like chocolate box hills can in fact be dangerous for the inexperienced.

Windermere view

I first went hill walking with my then boyfriend Robert in my mid twenties. I will forever be grateful to him for introducing me to hill walking which has afforded me so much pleasure over the last 25 years.

Interesting bridge

This week I put up an image on Facebook of the Lake District with the comment that although I had seen more dramatic scenery (the Alps and the Andes) I had never seen anywhere more beautiful than the Lakes. A further two days walking on, and in spite of the rain, I reiterate that – this is the most beautiful place I know.

Subscribe to my newsletter