The car park at 9:50 am at Legburthwaite (sounds like a Dickens character) was empty.There is a scale of charges which irritatingly makes you predict how long your walk will take so I had to choose between two hours or four, and had to opt for the latter - £4.50.
Within the first quarter mile I overtook a young couple, and then a group of elderly ladies. In the hills,"elderly" seems to be a relative term depending on how quickly people are walking. At 73 I must qualify for the definition, but I don't put myself in that category. The younger couple were in another familiar category. The man was walking quicker than the girl, and he had to keep waiting for her, so either she was extremely unfit, or just hated walking, and I reckon they would have gone another half mile before turning back.
Surprisingly, especially as it was a cloudless, blue-sky Sunday, I had the whole of the tops to myself until dropping steeply off the other end of the ridge. The complex massif of Blencathra scattered with snow dominated, and had me snap-happy. Given the perfect weather and the weekend timing, I had been fortunate - that is the potential reward for an early start.
As I descended to a miniature church I heard the organ playing. After the trauma of the descent, and in no hurry, the idea of a short rest was appealing. There was a convenient bench in the churchyard, and nobody else about, and as I sat music continued, tuneful, melodious, and at a gentle pace mirroring my increased relaxation. This ephemeral moment lasted for several minutes, but it seemed longer, until the music ended, and I heard the distant sonorous voice of the preacher, slightly muffled and sounding as if coming from the bottom of a very deep well, and so I moved on.
Low Bridge End Farm has a conservatory converted into a café, sometimes attended, and sometimes serve yourself. I chatted to the farmer, a well spoken and educated guy in his sixties I guess. His family have been there since 1911, and his father continued walking on the fells until he was 97.
Back at my start the car park was now full. I had not refreshed at the café, and thought I would call elsewhere on the way back, but every lay-by, and pub and café car park was crammed with cars manoeuvring for the next available space, and hoards of people walking everywhere. It would have been more peaceful at Butlins in August.
|Top left, Dale Bottom features, where, back in the Sixties The Yorkshire Moutaineering Club had a cottage. We spent many a weekend there. It was basic to the point of disgusting.|
|All these pics feature Blencathra. Here the summit of High Rigg is beyond the visible ridge|
|St John's in the Vale|
|St John's in the Vale church|
|St John's Beck|
One of the best climbing crags in The Lakes where I did a number of routes with Tony including Overhanging Bastion