Thursday’s weather forecast was for more grey cloud and some light rain, so I decided to do a short low level walk instead of climbing another peak. However, I missed the turning off the main road to the start of the walk and found myself on the road to Barrow. I made a quick decision not to turn back but to carry on and do a driving tour first before the walk. The road left the mountains and then followed a pretty coastal route, before reaching Barrow. I had expected the city to be poor, and suffering from the collapse of the British shipbuilding industry, but instead it seemed quite active, and had some fine and well-maintained Victorian architecture from its glory days. On the road back from Barrow I noticed a sign for Furness Abbey, so I decided to visit that. The abbey used to be the second biggest in England, but was destroyed in the Reformation by Henry VIII. The remaining ruins were very atmospheric – it helped greatly that I was almost the only visitor. I enjoyed my sandwich lunch at a pretty spot by a small stream. By the time I’d finished visiting, there wasn’t time to do my originally planned walk any more, so I headed back to the cottage.
Friday was my last full day in the cottage, and I opted for another classic walk – climbing the Langdale Pikes in the very middle of the Lake District. I took a roundabout drive to get there, taking the smaller rounds around the west of Lake Windermere. These turned out to be winding and very narrow, and a real test of my driving skills. One compensation of my route was the opportunity to visit Hawkshead, a pretty small village with many very nice tea shops.
The hike up to the Langdale Pikes was almost as enjoyable as Helvellyn. The walk started up a broad valley, surrounding ahead and on each side by almost sheer mountains, with the distinctive dome-shaped Langdale Pikes on my right.
Then I climbed up alongside a stream to a plateau, with views out to Scafell to the west. Next came another climb to Pike o’Stickle mountain and a short, easy, hands and feet scramble up to the top. The view from there was the very best I’d seen so far – a sheer drop on two sides, views back down the valley to the east, to Scafell to the north west and as far as the sea to the south-west. There were even seagulls for company, gliding effortlessly in the stiff breeze.
The walk was supposed to continue with a climbing of the other “pikes”, but it was getting late – all that time I spent having tea and cakes in the morning! I thought the view would be pretty much the same from all of the others, so I took a short-cut back down the mountain. I arrived back at the car park in bright sunshine and was very happy to find a nice pub with a beer garden and views of the mountains. I toasted my latest climbing success with a lager shandy and suddenly remembered that this was the first day of the week when I hadn’t rained at all.