Neil Braidwood returns to the Lakes and rediscovers old haunts.
I have mixed memories of the Lake District. My dad used to take us there on holidays when I was about 12 years old, and I remember it taking hours to get there in the car. The scenery, though, once we had arrived, was jaw dropping. Strangely, though we lived in Scotland, my dad chose to drive south to the Lakes, and not north to the mountains on our doorstep. That’s parents for you. Me and my sister were kitted out in nylon cagouls and stout leather boots from Frank’s Army Stores in Kirkcaldy. And off we went. We didn’t have much choice.
Dad’s safety equipment consisted of a box of matches (special ones that would light in high winds and rain) and a heliograph. For those that don’t know, this is a mirror that you use to attract attention when stranded in the mountains. Well, it was 1974 and mobile phones hadn’t been invented yet. He did have a map though.
Most of our excursions were low level affairs taking in tarns and woodland, but on one memorable occasion, dad took us up Helvellyn. This is the third highest peak in the UK, and there was snow at the top when we got there. Sadly, not the best view though as it was very foggy. Our descent was via Striding Edge, a narrow ridge not for the faint hearted. With sheer drops either side, it’s a technical walk, requiring some scrambling and a steady nerve. It took us well out of our way, and added miles to our return journey, with the added misery of driving rain.
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