THE LAKES AND THE DALESNovember 21, 2014
Located in the North West of England are the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, two of the most famous national parks in the UK. National parks are the equivalent to an outdoor adventurer's playground. Hiking, mountain climbing, wild swimming, camping, glamping...there really is a lot to do in a place where there is not a lot. We decided to jump in the car and head over for a weekend of outdoor fun.
Located within the picturesque bounds of the Yorkshire Dales, Malham Tarn is a tranquil fresh water lake surrounded by rolling fields. It's the sort of stunningly picturesque rural landscape that really heals the soul. A tarn is a mountain lake that had been carved out by a glacier over millions of years; this one in particular is the highest lake above sea level in the whole of England.
Malham Tarn is one of many perfect wild swimming locations across the UK. For those who are not familiar with wild swimming, it's outdoor swimming in gorgeous fresh water locations. There's a fantastic website aptly named Wild Swimming that has all of the best fresh water and seaside swimming destinations mapped.
On the Wild Swimming website we also came across a hidden waterfall that was nearby known as Catrigg Foss which we also had a bit of a paddle in. Seriously how beautiful is this place?
Next we headed over to the Lake District National Park in Cumbria which is a short drive away from the Yorkshire Dales. The Lake District is famous for its pristine lakes and mountainous terrain.
Hiking and mountain climbing are the most popular activities to do in the Lake District. We decided try our hand at climbing Scafell Pike; standing tall at 3,209 ft above sea level, it's the tallest mountain in England. Despite this, it's of a very manageable size and is a great place to start for beginners.
It's essential to bring the correct equipment, supplies and maps. Prioritise safety and comfort. Bring adequate amounts of water and slow release energy foods. It's a good idea to stop at regular intervals to 'refuel'. Climbing a mountain can burn thousands of calories so trust me, you will get hungry on the ascent / decent. There's an informative website giving guidance on climbing Scafell Pike if you want to learn more.
Due to poor visibility and rapidly waning light conditions we didn't manage to summit Scafell Pike. However we got pretty close and the views were incredibly rewarding.
After a much needed chilled out night of stargazing and toasting marshmallows we work up the next day feeling eager to do yet more hiking. This time we took on Helvellyn, which is not quite as high as Scafell Pike. We took the popular Striding Edge route which involves scaling across a 1.5km stretch of knife edge cliff with an almost sheer drop at either side. During the colder months when it's ice laden, the use of crampons and ice axes are essential wear for safety.
One of the best things about any ascent is seeing the view get progressively better as your altitude increases.
On the accent there are a number of rocky piles that are known as Cairns and there are lots of them scatted across Cumbria. Some of them date back as far as the Neolithic period and were created for navigation or religious purposes.
Although it was foggy it's actually not so daunting when it comes to scaling the knife edge, as long as you take your time and go at a pace that you're comfortable with. Some people are even experienced and brave enough to run across Striding Edge. In fact my sister Aneka and partner ran across it recently...not sure I'm up for it...just yet!
The Eastern side of Helvellyn with Red Tarn at the bottom.
If you would like more details on Helvellyn and Striding edge then have a look here.
With darkness descending and our ever-growing hunger and tiredness promoting us to head home we hastily bundled our bags, the tent and our exhausted bodies back in the car, muddy clothes and all. The long journey home didn't seem too bad as we were all so occupied with gazing out at the stunning sunset, ablaze with orange and pink. Perhaps one of the best things about spending a long weekend in the wilderness is coming back home to civilisation for long a hot bath and a huge hearty dinner...which is exactly what we did.