There is no denying we absolutely adore the outdoors – and before we took on the van build most of our weekends were spent out walking the fells, canoeing, camping and just generally exploring the Lakes. It has been awesome how quick the project has progressed and we are keen to get the van ‘campable’ as soon as possible, it is our love of the outdoors which has brought us this far! However, with most of a weekends dedicated to the conversion, it is hard to ignore that we have been missing the hills a little!
Our location is great, working in a valley surrounded by peaks offers up a plethora of decent walks, many of which we have already done, a lot of them old favourites. As the evenings were getting a bit lighter we decided to make the most of a beautiful sunny evening and go for a wander after work.
Gowbarrow Fell is a fairly easy and varied four mile round trip with stunning 360 views at the top. The route starts by following Aira beck up through the woods, passing Aira Force waterfall and continuing out onto farmland. It’s at this stage you bear right and start a fairly steep ascent to the top, the path alternates between rocky steps and grassy slopes – although everything is a little muddy this time of year! The fell-side is littered with herdies – the iconic Lakeland sheep with thick fluffy legs, shaggy grey coats and cute smiling faces.
We started our walk in beautiful evening sunshine, the sky was blue, although paling as the evening progressed, and the warm light gave everything a slightly orange glow – almost as if spring had finally made it up here! The sun twinkled through the trees as we made our way through the woodland, casting long shadows on the ground and making the moss and grass glow. The beck twisted, turned and tumbled down the hill as we headed up alongside it, cascades appearing around every corner.
We left the woods and made our way out onto the farm land, the sun was still bright casting a slight haze on the hills ahead of us. We followed the path right and started our climb, the rocks and boulders create a natural staircase up the fell-side, interjected with grassy, muddy patches. The sheep watch curiously until you take one step too close and head off sharpish. Every now and again we couldn’t help but stop and turn around to take in what was behind us, looking down the valley offered a calm, beautiful view of Ullswater.
The path levels out as you reach the top, winding through the shrubbery until you approach the cairn marking the peak. At this point you head back down, a small amount back on yourself, and then towards the lake and the front of the fell. The path becomes a narrow track, following the contours of the land, undulating under foot. The north end of the lake comes further into view every minute of walking until you turn the last corner and find yourself looking towards the south end and all the towering peaks above Glenridding. The route then slowly descends, eventually heading back into the woodland, re-crossing Aira Back and leaving you exactly where you started.
The sun was still out when we reached the top but the air was getting cool. The snow spattered peaks seemed to go on forever as you looked deeper into the Lake District, and in the other direction the Eden Valley stretches to the base of the Pennines. It’s a view you would struggle to get bored off, there is so much to look at up there and as the light changes so does the scene! We started our descent, trotting down the hill at a decent pace, crossing a few small streams and passing the odd bare, thorny tree jutting out of the crags we were walking on.
At a certain point on the way down you essentially turn a corner and start heading along the lake rather than to it. Upon reaching this point it was dusk, everything had that bluish hue and we could see the twinkly lights of the isolated houses dotted through the valley. The lake had turned an icy grey colour and you could see the wind whipping across the surface of the water, luckily we were sheltered on our side of the fell. Our path continued down, past a couple of huge gnarled trees, and lead us back into the woodland – there was just enough light to see where we were going, this time of year the trees are bare and so the little light we had left was making its way to us. There wasn’t much to see when crossing the beck but the water was offering its usual soundtrack beneath us. By the time we got back the trees were dark silhouettes against a deep blue sky and it was definitely about time to head home.