The Lake District

By abbieredmon

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The Lake District was a dangerous destination to choose in March in terms of weather. But we had a week to travel somewhere fun for my birthday, so we drove up to the National Trust campsite in Great Langdale to camp, hike, climb, and scramble for the week.

We were pretty lucky, as it turned out -- there was rain one night, and snow another night, and a few showers here and there, but there was also a respectable amount of sunshine, and it showed up when it mattered the most.

It was a big week for me, because I climbed outside for the first time since getting into the sport last summer. We arrived to our campsite on Monday afternoon, and after setting up camp and the tent, we only had a couple of hours of daylight left.

We dashed up a quick trail to a climb directly above camp. We roped in, Marcus led up an easy scramble-climb pitch, and I followed pretty quickly, which gave me confidence.

We made it up the second pitch, and the light was definitely starting to fade, so we prepped to head down. Marcus set the ropes up, and I half-rappelled / was half-lowered down a messy slope of rocks to a flattish (but still super rocky) patch. After pausing to attend to the -- a-hem -- call of nature, Marcus arrived beside me.

I was worried because it had been getting darker and darker, and it was all new to me, but we put on our headlamps (I had to borrow Marcus's emergency one since I had accidentally left my pack at the base of the climb -- in all of the excitement of my first climb, I suppose?) and scrambled carefully back down to the trail.

After retrieving my pack, we made it back to camp and cooked dinner in the dark. The blow-up mattress we had put in the tent was downright luxurious!

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We got a VERY late start today -- after hiding from morning rain showers in our tent, slowly making breakfast, taking another quick nap just for good measure, and sorting out gear, we finally made it to the bottom of a climb around 3:30 p.m.

We were rewarded with an epic rainbow that seemed to glide through the valley as I stood on belay. Marcus's new orange rope served us well for a second day.

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Today was another first for me: I scrambled up a gill for the first time.

A "gill" is a rocky mountain stream, and even though I had rain pants and a waterproof jacket, my footwear was woefully inadequate. We climbed up a waterfall anyway, and my feet were soaked for the rest of the day, which put me in a bit of a bad mood.

We took too long up the gill (my fault), so we didn't have time to climb anything, but the view from the top was pretty epic anyway.

Once we were back on the road and just a few hundred yards from camp, we ran into a gentleman, Clive, who was looking for his walking partner. Apparently they'd gotten separated up on the mountain, and he hadn't seen him since -- no one had seen him. And people had been looking for a few hours.

Clive called Mountain Rescue, and Marcus headed back up the hill to have a look while there was still daylight. I waited with Clive. We were standing quite still, because it was the only place his cell phone got a good enough signal to contact Mountain Rescue. As we stood, I put on my second jacket and my gloves; Clive donned his hat.

After 30 or 45 minutes, up walked the missing friend. Clive called him a "wanker," before he got within earshot, I think out of relief and frustration. Apparently he'd gone down the other side of the mountain when he couldn't find Clive (just as Mountain Rescue said he'd likely done, incidentally), and it cost him a 30-pound taxi ride to get back over here, where their car was parked.

Now it was Marcus I was worried about. The sun hadn't quite set yet, and we'd agreed to meet back at the campsite, so off I went. Clive felt terrible, and offered to buy me a meal at the pub, but they needed to get back to Manchester, so I declined with a thank you, and our small group parted ways.

After an hour or 90 minutes (and after I'd had several spoonfuls of peanut butter at the campsite), I wandered back over at dusk to the access road and ran right into Marcus. Relief.

We agreed tonight was an acceptable night to splurge on dinner at the pub.

A pick-up/local band was starting up as we finished up our meals, and they had a sweet border collie "mascot." We surreptitiously fed her a couple of fries, then after speaking with her owner, Marcus gave her a few hunks of my chicken I couldn't finish. She was pleased but generally not bothered by our affections.

It was a cheery end to the day after a late-afternoon scare.

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Today's my birthday.

We celebrated by taking a break from the outdoors and driving into town. We needed to restock our food supply, and we had great ambitions of finding some gluten-free, dairy-free dessert with which to celebrate the start of my 3rd decade.

What we found instead were a pair of La Sportiva B1 boots at an excellent sale price, which I purchased.

Bring on the waterfall climbs, bitches!

We also had the all-day breakfast at Wetherspoon, restocked at the grocery, and then drove back to camp.

In the dark, we cooked my birthday dinner over a campfire: steak, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. We had wine, too. I ate it wearing three jackets, a fleece hat, and my headlamp. I tried to wear my gloves, too, but it was too hard to hold the fork. Marcus took an unnecessarily long, 3-minute video of me I was eating dinner. He also got me a sweet card and -- AND! -- gluten-free, dairy-free fruit tarts! (I had a chocolate bar in the car, too.)

It was a chilly, windy, memorable birthday. Bring on 30!

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This was my favorite day.

I finally had the right footwear, I got to climb another waterfall (this time with dry feet!), and we scrambled up a really fun but not too challenging scramble to the top of some mountains with a really fantastic view!

It's nice to have something epic to look at while you have your lunch.

We checked the weather for the rest of the weekend, and it went downhill pretty quickly, so we decided to bail. We packed up camp (it took 1.5 or 2 hours, maybe), shoved everything into the car, and drove the 6+ hours back to Plymouth, arriving just after 1 a.m. Saturday.