Thursday, 21 March 2013

The most important view in the Lake District?

"Those few hours on Orrest Head cast a spell that changed my life forever" A Wainwright.

There are many spectacular views in the Lake District, but in 1930 aged just 23, Alfred Wainwright climbed Orrest Head and fell instantly in love.  Those of us who love the lakes all have a similar story to tell; for me it was Ullswater and Helvellyn, a visit that went on to change my life forever (the fells have a way of doing that to folk.)

Despite living here for over 2 years now (where has the time gone?) we hadn't visited Wainwright's "Ground Zero" so took the opportunity of a half day off to see where it all started.  "Our first ascent in Lakeland, our first sight of mountains in tumultuous array across glittering waters, our awakening to beauty" - we had high expectations, we weren't disappointed.

We parked in a layby along the A591 and followed the clearly marked path through Common Wood and up to the summit.  As you can see the fells were made even more beautiful by their fresh coating of snow.  It's only about a 20 minute walk but allow at least another hour or so for admiring the view

As we scoffed tea & sarnies and gazed at the fells around us we watched as a steady stream of admirers came through.  At one point a lady approached us and asked if I could take a photo of her and her husband as they were there to celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary.  Turns out they'd been here for their honeymoon and were now back to celebrate.  Be warned; if you ever visit the lakes, it's unlikely to be your only visit.

We also watched as blizzard blew down from Red Screes and across Ambleside and Windermere.  We'd been caught in something similar on the way up and I didn't envy the people caught by the one we were now watching - take a peek at the video down below to see the blizzard in action.

As we made our way down the skies cleared and little and the wind dropped giving us some glorious views along the valley.  Don't know what it is about blue sky and snow but it never fails to lift the spirits.

One thing crossed my mind as we made our way back to the car; from the account of his first ascent it's clear that AW had decent weather during his first visit.  It's a good job it wasn't raining, Lake District history might have been rather different if it had been.