Thursday, 8 December 2011

Good People, Good Times

This weekend we caught the train to Darlington to catch up with Nick and Cat. They have featured in this blog previously as good people and good times and this weekend was no exception.

We arrived in Darlington late on Friday night and met them at a pub in town where they were celebrating a successful year with Nick's work colleagues. Soon after, Lee drove us home in Nick's car, with some enthusiastic directions from the back seat. Once home, Nick outlined the plan for the morning, and we tucked ourselves in to bed for an early start.

Luckily for us (and him), Nick again proved his forethought as a host by prepacking and preparing the food for the day, so that we were away by 8am, the roughness caused by the night before only adding 30 minutes to our planned departure. We were feeling optimistic with the sun shining through the window, but as Cat drove us toward the Lake District we headed into some inclement weather. It was beautiful to see the double rainbow stretched across the fields and houses, lit by golden sun, but it was an indicator for the rest of the day.

We reached our destination at the base of Helvellyn, the third highest peak in the Lake District and England (do I trust this information from Wikipedia?), and layered up in time for it to start raining. Not prepared to back out yet, we crossed the bridge over the river and started up the valley toward the Hole in the Wall. It was beautiful with the bright orange heather stretching across the hill and we were able to see the weather coming and put our hoods up. It was fairly easy-going up the hill and finished with a winding rock stair. As it rained down on us, it was asked, "Who's idea was this anyway?"

We reached the Hole in the Wall and our next decision point. As we poked our heads over the dry-stone wall we felt that the strong wind that we had dealt with so far, was pretty minimal in comparison to what was roaring across the unsheltered ridge of the mountain. We sat in the shelter of the wall and ate our sandwiches, very quickly adding all the layers we had just taken off or carried thus far.

We set off for Striding Edge, one of the peaks, and our original optimistic destination. We didn't get far before the hail stopped us. Let me describe it. It was like being hit directly in the face with tiny rocks. The hail was thick and travelling horizontally. It died down and we proceeded a bit further before it started up again. Gusts of wind knocked us sideways and backwards. We couldn't see where we were going. A conference of the minds decided it was safest if we turned back. You may think it odd that, even then, I was still a little disappointed, but agreed that it was the wisest choice.

We took a different path back down the mountain. In most places it was more sheltered, but still we were blown about and rained on. The layers over our ears made decent conversation limited, but none of this could detract from the beauty of the region. It really helped that we were well rugged up, once again proving, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing."

On the way down we saw a collection of dogs and their owners training for mountain rescues, in various stages of training. In one case a man ran 20m away and hid in a dip off the track. The dog was then released to find him and bring the handler to the man, indicated by barking. Once found, the victim passed over the squeaky toy reward. At the other end of the scale, we saw a person hiding out, perfectly still in a green sleeping bag and a dog scaling the whole hillside.

The occasional lulls in weather were welcome, but there was plenty of motivation to get down the mountain and into a sheltered, warm place. Cat drove us home after stopping off at Dirty Bird for some hangover cure (yes, it was bad enough to last most of the day). We spent a quiet evening in with some movies and takeaway.

The next morning, it again dawned sunny. I made sure to pack my polarizing filter and left the tripod behind. After some fresh, home-baked friands, that inexplicably didn't turn out as usual, we drove to Richmond. The biting cold came as a bit of a shock as we stepped out of the car, as did the light shower of rain. There was still a lovely golden sunlight, so we took the scenic route around the castle and down to the river, where it started to rain for real. Our hosts were not dressed for this weather and we strode back to the car. From there we travelled to a local, rural shop/restaurant where we ate a hearty breakfast, then drove down the road to meet Cat's borrowed horse Splash.

The weather was bitterly cold and threatening, but it wasn't until Cat had changed and taken Splash out of her stable that it started to rain. And it wasn't until she had tacked her up (excuse me if wrong terminology) and mounted that it started to snow. She took a short walk around the field, probably neither horse nor rider enjoying it, for the sake of the photographer. Of course, as soon as the horse was untacked, rugged and put safely away the weather stopped dropping water (in various forms) on our heads. We reached our limit and went home. From there we walked Fenris and their new cat in the park (cat thinks she's a dog maybe?) and spent a quiet afternoon at home with a collection of cheeses and mulled wine, before catching the train home

I have to commend and thank our magnanimous hosts for their patience with my shooting photos and their hospitality in trying conditions. We had a great time, despite what my description might suggest.

No comments:

Post a Comment