On my own on a family walk: Kidsty Pike, High Street & Mardale Ill Bell

Small Water below Nan Bield Pass

We had planned this weekend in a Lake District cottage with our son and daughter-in-law some time ago.  In my head we would spend time together and enjoy a couple of days good walking that I hoped would become part of our treasured family memories.  So why did I find myself walking on a Lake District mountain all on my own?  The day had started off so well; the weather forecast was perfect, we had shared a leisurely breakfast in the comfy cottage we were staying in and we had managed to find a parking space at the end of Haweswater Reservoir.  Boots on, all four of us had strode out around Haweswater Reservoir to the top of Kidsty Pike.  We sat on the summit eating our lunch while we watched the deer in Riggindale, the u-shaped valley below us.  The eagled-eyed in our group also made out a fox sidling across the hillside around the group of deer.  The day was set up to be a flawless and delightful.

There were three Wainwright baggers on this walk, these are people who are trying to walk up all of the 214 Lake District hills described by Alfred Wainwright in his pictorial guides and I was not one of them.  Our son and daughter-in-law were the first to leave Kidsty Pike to ascend High Raise, just off the main route and already bagged by Mr BOTRA some years ago.  We agreed we would all meet again on High Street, the broad-backed hill that was on our planned route.  What could go wrong?  As they headed up the hill we realised we had forgotten to remind the youngsters that we would be detouring by The Knott, a small nobble of a hill that Wainwright had decided to include in his list and needed ticking off!

We also forgot how fast the two younger family members are when they don’t have to wait for us.  We firstly dawdled over setting off and then stopped to chat to another walker about the local wildlife for quite a few minutes, getting engrossed when she told us she had recently seen otters on the River Greta.  Tearing ourselves away from a chat, we left the main path for The Knott but becoming concerned about missing the others, I turned back hoping to meet up with them as I headed towards High Street.  I was now on my own, Mr BOTRA was somewhere behind me rushing up and down a small hill.  In front of me I saw that our son and daughter-in-law were already heading up the slopes of High Street.  Some family walk this was turning out to be!

Rejoined by my partner we pounded up High Street as fast as my short legs can take me, waving every now and then in the hope that the two of them would look back.  At no point was our pace any match for two people 30 years younger.  They were apparently surprised not to meet us on the summit of High Street and decided that we must be in front of them!  They rushed on without even stopping to look at the view and never once looked back.  We followed behind, occasionally catching glimpses of them as they strode over Mardale Ill Bell.  They chose to use their descent from Nan Bield Pass as good practice in fell running for the National Three Peaks Challenge they hope to complete this summer.  We gave up any hope of catching them and sat down to rest and enjoy home made fruit cake and the spectacular views before tackling the tricky rocky descent.

In the end we were an hour behind the two of them.  On the positive side, we all did get the opportunity to tackle the mountain at our own level and the weather forecast was right, it was a glorious day.  It wasn’t quite the family together time I had planned but it will be a day we remember!