Friday, 1 July 2016

Lingmoor Fell

Crinkle Crags and Bowfell from Lingmoor summit

Thursday, 30 June 2016
Ascent:       498 metres
Distance:    8 kilometres
Time:          2 hours 29 minutes

Lingmoor Fell      504m     1hr 42mins    

Our week in Langdale had been less of a holiday and more of an epilogue for the UK as we knew it. The  referendum decision to leave the EU had unleashed a backlash of frenzied markets, political turmoil and catatonic stupor. The European football championships led to the early departure of the England team for the 20th time in 50 years, which at least provided some semblance of stability. This despite them being the highest paid, and supposedly best prepared, as measured by the cost of their accommodation and support team. The weather was dominated by heavy rain and I was out of action owing to a back injury sustained when rebuilding a stone wall last week.

It was day 5 before I finally ventured into the hills and I chose the nearest one to our accommodation.  Lingmoor Fell is an easy but enjoyable walk from Elterwater although it is ten years since I last visited the summit. I have run up and down it in less than an hour in past years but I had no desire to put too much strain on my back by running today. I met a young couple with their 3 month old baby as I began the walk along the south side of the Great Langdale Beck. I had known the father and held him as a 2 month old baby during our first year in Langdale and seen him most years since. He is now where we were when we started the journey into family life. Their joy at their offspring was infectious and as I left them to continue their walk and began the climb beyond the slate quarry I had forgotten about the politics of despair that had filled the week so far. We had passed the baton of responsibility to the next generation, if only we had not burdened them with the collective selfishness of our generation.

I caught up with another walker as we climbed above the quarry and we fell into friendly conversation. As the gradient increased he told me of his requirement to not let his heart rate exceed 147 bpm owing to a heart condition. It meant we made steady progress with interludes to stop and talk. He was an Emeritus Professor of Psychology and he spoke about the book he was writing on Jean Piaget and developmental epistemology. Its focus was on the origin of knowledge through its development from infancy to adolescence recognising the child as a knower. As a recent grandparent I can certainly go along with this, try arguing with a three year old.

The ascent seemed easy with the gently rising path leading to a gate worn smooth from many hands, a steeper section through the sprouting bracken and then a lovely undulating walk along a wall that defines the ridge to the summit. We related anecdotes from our days in the Lakeland fells as only baby boomers can, we had graduated from the analog days of heavy boots,  cloth maps and anoraks to lightweight gear and GPS watches. Wainwright and Jos Naylor were referenced, favourite walks remembered. We discussed the Kendal mountain festival, and finally broached the subject of the UK and the EU. We both knew each other well enough by this time to know that we would be in agreement on this. We were so deeply immersed in conversation that it was not until the summit that I began to take in the panorama of lakeland views. Les said that Lingmoor Fell was one of his favourite outings as we parted company at the summit. He was making a day of it and walking over the hill to Side Pike, I was heading back down for a lunch break.

The day was dry but the skies were cloud filled and there was a pleasant breeze that made for easy walking. The descent was fairly quick, as I passed a woman sitting on a bench she invited me to take a seat. I declined saying that I was hoping to get down for the 1 o' clock news to hear what the latest outcome of the EU vote had thrown up as the UK was in meltdown. Her reply was perfect, "England may rot but the Lake District will always be here." I ventured into the quarry to observe the sheer scale of extraction that had taken place. Burlington Slate is not a cheap material and has been forsaken for cheaper imports from Spain and elsewhere. But the green grey slate is such a fundamental part of the lakeland landscape from farms, houses, footpaths and walls that it is vital to secure the future of quarries such as this. Despite the despoliation of the landscape the quarry is well hidden from the valley with the hillside clothed in oak woodland.

After some lunch we began a second walk, this time around the base of Lingmoor Fell and along the Cumbrian Way. We passed the Baysbrown campsite where we had camped when the children were very young and more recently the London bombers had stayed when training for their onslaught in 2005. We walked on the levee alongside the Great Langdale Beck, its clear water polishing the green-grey slate of the river bed, until reaching the meadow land below the Lansdale Pikes. The return to Chapel Stile on the footpath passed the route signs for the Ultimate Trail Challenge at the weekend. A 110km ultra run might have tempted me twenty years ago but now I am just pleased that there are an increasing number of people prepared to rise to the challenge and enjoy the heartland of the lakes. We headed for the Britannia Inn and I sampled some Jennings Bitter to celebrate the day.

1500ft above sea level and walls built with skills that were hard honed 

Langdale Pikes without the picture box trappings 
Post Brexit England - a glimpse of things to come
Elterwater Quarry
Oak Howe Barn from the Cumbria Way
Great Langdale Beck

Langdale Pikes across the meadow

Great Langdale Beck at Elterwater

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