Sunday, 8 July 2018

Langdale in Summer

Langdale Pikes from Elterwater
Ordnance, an art installation at Wainwright's Inn
We returned to Langdale last week for the 35th year. Thirty-five years earlier my parents had honeymooned here 9 months before I was born so it feels like home. We had a week of perfect weather as the summer of 2018 sampled the upside of global warming in North Britain. We adapted to the heat by rising early, walking before lunch and then finding somewhere to bake in the afternoon heat. The Britannia Inn at Elterwater or the swimming pool both gained more favour than sitting watching Wimbledon or the World Cup.

The beauty of Langdale is the chance to find perfect walks, runs or hillwalks from the doorstep. We walked over to Little Langdale where Slater's Bridge is a reminder of the industrial heritage of the slate mines. The tranquility of the valley is helped by a verdantly verged single track road leading to the Wrynose Pass. Little Langdale tarn and the Three Shires hotel provide solace and refreshment. We returned via the ever deepening Elterwater slate quarry, one of the few remaining sources of UK slate.

I climbed the ridge to Silver Howe and meandered along to Blea Rigg and the Langdale Pikes before descending the seriously steep staircase of rock from Stickle Tarn to the Dungeon Ghyll bar at the head of the valley. We had carried and cajoled three children under four including a three month old up this path in 1984. The walk was a reprise of my first solo hillwalk as a teenager and the Dungeon Ghyll was where I bought my first pint of beer in 1964.

We made the annual pilgrimage to Skelwith Bridge, where Chesters is a vegetarian cafe that provides tasty salads and the best chips in the UK according to Gregor. We went to Grasmere via High Close where I had my first Youth Hostel holiday romance in 1965. Ambleside is ten minutes away and provides an abundance of outdoor shops and the quite excellent Fellini's restaurant. There were trips to Keswick, Ullswater, and the always friendly Littletown farm cafe in Newlands. As always We spent an afternoon with another family whom we have met every year since 1984. Langdale has a dependable constancy that acts as a benchmark to reflect on life's journey.

Slater's Bridge, Little Langdale
Little Langdale Tarn
Elterwater Quarry
Langdale Pikes from slate quarry
Britannia Inn
Elterwater quarry and Chapel Stile from Silver Howe
Harrison Stickle from Blea Rigg
Stickle Tarn and Harrison Stickle
Langdale Pikes from Cumbria Way

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