Alternate Plans

So the race didn’t happen and boy did it suck. Sat in my house, starring at the swathes of gear laid out neatly into sections at my feet, ready to bundled into my Lifeventure duffle for the trip north, thoughts moved to cancelling post race accommodation. This year Lisa was due to travel with me and we thought we’d bump a mini break onto the end.

As I’d misread the booking, cancelling the accommodation wasn’t possible without loosing all the money. It looked like we might be going anyway. 

On the Sunday we set off for Little Town, under the western flank of Cat Bells, remote enough to feel away from it all, but in reality a short distance from Keswick.

The Monday came around and a walk was in order, after all it’s what you do when you head to the lakes if you’re not running in the fells (salt in a sore wound) and we are in a prime location. Lisa had only once walked in the lakes a couple of years before and rarely ascended anything given our pancake flat land surrounding Milton Keynes. (For reference we don’t own land in any shape or form).

A short burst of rain later, a true British summer shower and the words rang out “I’m not walking in that.” With that, it was a trip to Keswick, dodging tourists and attempting tea for two in the Strawbery Cafe which might be possible after a race or lengthy run – you’ve been warned & advised…


The weather was marginally better and the walk was back on. Part of the reasoning for the location of our accommodation was the proximity to Cat Bells. A few hundred meters of walking and we were ascending the South Western trail, avoiding the bottleneck at the northern trailhead and doing so from our front door.

As we plodded up, the raised viewpoint slowly begun to unravel the distant vistas of Fell tops, gorges and waterfalls. All smiles, we briefly summited Cat Bells before heading back down into the saddle to link up with Maiden Moor. At this point I don’t think Lisa was too impressed by the prospect of further climbing but a little intuition, getting my description of the route ahead and making it smaller helped calm nerves. We pushed into Maiden Moor and the relatively flat traverse to High Spy.Now this is where the story takes a little twist. I was correct in saying from High Spy you descend to the gully inbetween it and Dale Head, what I forgot was the technical descent that followed. Lisa’s fit, loves her mountains and exercise, but there is something she fundamentally lacks. Balance. And oh did this become apparent as she locked onto every rock like a limpet. Gingerly moving along in a attempt to stay upright that made that task inherently harder. The option to retrace our steps was offered, but with the prospect of a short section before a wider path, the descent won over.Progress was slow. Many arguments were had. Despite this all we kept moving, as Lisa began to find confidence in her new skill set that was being rapidly absorbed. Objects were cleared, scrambling techniques nurtured, self belief strengthened.Effort was rewarded. A series of large water falls, scything their way through the rock, following the course of retreating glaciers thousands of years before.

As the path mellowed out, it gave us time to reflect on a great afternoon in the fells. Sure we hadn’t climbed high or really travelled far, but we’d experienced summiting, scrambling, waterfalls, wildlife and everything else the Lakes can offer.

Sometimes alternate plans aren’t so bad after all.