This weekend Doug and I headed to the Lake District along with some of our friends: Jeff, Kerry, Megan, and Chris. Jeff, Kerry, and Megan are all expat friends and you might recognize them from previous blog posts. Chris is an Irishman.
Anyway, the Lake District is often described as the most beautiful area of the UK. It is similar to the Peak District, where we have done multiple hikes before, but it is a farther drive, and supposedly gives more dramatic scenery. Because of the longer drive (over 3 hours away), it means we haven’t had a chance to go there yet. We wanted to book a cottage or apartment in the Lake District that way we could share it with friends and cook some of our own meals. However, it was really difficult to find a place that let you book for less than 3 nights. Eventually we found an apartment in the Langdale region of the Lake District that let us book for just 2 nights. So we booked it for this weekend in May, hoping that it would be good weather and with the goal of hiking Scafell Pike, the highest point in England.
So on Friday we all piled into Jeff’s minivan and headed for a weekend in the Lake District. I was looking forward to seeing the most beautiful scenery in Great Britain and also doing some nice walks.
Thanks to Jeff for doing most of the driving on the trip! He drove all the way there and the way back. We saw an interesting sight on the way there: tons of cows crossing a bridge over the road. I was pretty sure they were on their way to film a Chick-fil-A commercial.
We made it to our apartment that night and didn’t do too much except make dinner and plan our walk for the next day. In hindsight, that evening was the best weather we got the whole weekend, so we should have tried to go for a short walk that night.
That night we had a good dinner to fuel up for our big hike up Scafell Pike the next day.
We woke up the next morning to rain. It was heavier than a drizzle, but it wasn’t a thunderstorm, so we decided to head for Scafell anyway. Plus the weather forecast said it was supposed to clear up midday before getting rainy again, so we figured it would clear up along the way. So we got all geared up in our most waterproof equipment and headed out.
Let me just say, the rain was awful. It was pelting us in the face as we were going along, and it was really quite cold. The temperature was in the 40/50s °F, and was supposed to be below freezing at the top. Not only were we getting completely soaked from all the precipitation, but we were also getting soaked from the saturated ground. We were walking through tons of puddles and sloshing around in the mud. My “waterproof” shoes kept my feet dry for only 45 minutes.
At the beginning of the walk, we said we would go for 1.5 hours in the rain to see if it would clear up. If there was no break in the weather at that point, we would turn around. So after 1.5 hours of sloshing through the rain, it seemed like the rain was actually getting worse. We were all soaking wet and miserable. None of our waterproof clothes were actually holding up to being waterproof. If we were going to ascend more, the weather would actually get colder and rainier, plus the visibility would get worse. At that point, we decided to cut our losses and turn around. There would be no Scafell Pike that day. We were defeated, just as we had been defeated by Snowdon. I don’t have too may pictures from this time because I didn’t want the rain to ruin my camera. The few pictures I did take tended to turn out blurry because of the water getting on my lens. Not a good picture-taking environment. No matter, the visibility was so poor that I couldn’t have gotten any good shots anyway.
After giving up on the hike, we all headed home to dry out and warm up. The electric fireplace and English tea hit the spot.
As we were warming up and drinking tea, guess what happened?!? The sun came out! Now, that would normally be a good thing, but considering we just trudged through the rain for over 3+ hours, we felt very cheated. Why was the sun coming out now, just as we had made it home, giving up on our hopes of Scafell? No matter, we told ourselves, this was the midday rain break (although it was coming in the afternoon, a little late for midday), and it would soon be raining again. However, after at least an hour of sunshine, we felt like we had to get out and enjoy it. We were wary of rain coming at any moment, so we decided to take a scenic drive, where at least our sunroof would keep us dry. We drove through some very pretty countryside, but alas the pictures taken from the car did not turn out well. We decided to stop in the quaint town of Keswick and check out the village. It seemed like everybody in town was out enjoying the sunshine! They had some sort of outdoor market set up in the middle of town with vendors selling various jewelry, scarves, dog toys, etc. The guys and girls split up, with the girls doing more shopping, and the guys doing more pubbing. I really liked the little town of Keswick and was glad we got a few hours of sunshine to enjoy walking around.
Back at the apartment that evening, there was talk about going on a short hike, as the weather seemed to be holding out. However, as soon as everyone geared up and stepped outside, it started raining again! It was as if the weather was just laughing in our face! Megan and Jeff were the only brave ones to still continue with the hiking plans.
That evening was an enjoyable one with good food, drinks, and games. We decided that if the weather looked good the next morning, we would go for a middle distance hike. Not one that would take as long as Scafell, but a good, challenging 7 miler, with lots of undulating hills.
And the next morning looked promising! It wasn’t sunny, but at least it wasn’t raining. The rain was supposed to come in a few hours, so we hurried to start our hike. It was a local hike that Jeff had found, and had lots of good views along the way. It started drizzling pretty soon after we started, and the weather only got worse from there on. We just couldn’t win with the weather this weekend. However, at least we completed the full loop of this hike, even though we were all soaked and miserable at the end. In fact, we didn’t even go for the victory beer at a pub in the end. We all just wanted to get home, so just drove on back. I’ll just throw out all the pictures now. We tried to do some more creative ones, and I’ve got plenty of sheep pictures. The lambs were just so cute!
Overall, a fun weekend because we were in good company. The weather was pretty much awful, and we seemed to time it exactly wrong. Oh well, though, this is true English weather, so I think we’ve got the full experience. However, I’m disappointed that our past two attempts at highest-points (Snowdon and Scafell) have been failures due to weather. It’s hard to keep my spirits up when it seems like the winter-ish weather will never end. Apparently the weekend that we were in Prague they got some good weather in Derby, but alas, that might be the end of it for the whole summer. Oh well, I’ll keep hoping for some good weather before our time here ends.