Time in the wild, being surrounded by nature, resonates particularly strongly with me. There’s something about being outdoors that relates with the way I’m put together, and I only need the slightest excuse to be packing a bag and heading off into the mountains.
My latest session of wilderness R&R came at the beginning of September, with the landscape still clinging onto the last remains of the summer. The destination was the Lake District, England’s greatest mountain playground; ancient hills shaped and scarred by the melting glaciers at the end of the last ice age, carving deep valleys and craggy alpine ridges. Whilst busy and bustling with tourists in the mild weekends of summer, my favourite time to visit is mid-week, when the national park empties itself of the day-trippers leaving only but a few people.
It’s the mountain solitude that I crave; being alone in the wilderness. Exploring all day, before retreating to a remote lakeside campground to relax beside in the evenings. Blea Tarn, in the Langdale Valley, with its calm waters and perfect reflections proved the perfect place to pitch the tent and wild camp for both nights of our stay.
We awoke early on our exploration day, rising with the sun and heading out to discover the rich landscapes that lie in the surrounding valleys. Our first stop was an old slate mine, the principle industry in the region, which had been abandoned some time in the last century. A small tunnel in the side of the hill drove deep into the the rock before opening up into a large cavern with a central pillar holding up the weight of the mountain above. To one side the rock had given way and the roof had caved in, leaving a gaping hole to the world outside where golden morning light poured in illuminating the centre of the chamber.
We spent the afternoon in Great Langdale, exploring the steep fells below the crags, discovering tall waterfalls channeling water downwards towards the rivers and great lakes of the region. Whilst the Lake District has some of the most remote areas in England, it is still largely grazed by sheep and cattle, and mountain passes connecting the valleys wind across its landscape. These roads, although built to help move livestock and slate across the land, serve an ulterior purpose in my mind. The sense of freedom and excitement of life gained from skating down a winding mountain road is a rare moment of complete euphoria; forgetting everything and living only in the moment. As the sunlight faded, with me racing down the snaking road towards our tent beside the water, I couldn’t help but feel completely overwhelmed at the serene beauty of the landscape. It’s somewhere that has existed in its current state for thousands of years, and yet it still has so much to give. Maybe it’s this reason that I love to escape to the wild, every time I return richer in the wealth of memories and experience that make me who I am.