Next week we have a week away. Well I do – I am not sure how much of a holiday my husband really thinks a week in the Lake District is, although we share a cottage with two of his numerous brothers and it is good chance for a catch up over a variety of wonderful Cumbrian beers. For me though, it feels like a visit home; the other 51 weeks (or 50 if I get to sneak in two trips up) being a kind of exile for me.
My first visit was with my family when I was in my mid-teens, and it was love at first sight. We stayed in Midtown House in High Lorton, travelling over the Whinlatter Pass into Keswick and rambling around Buttermere. My dad had early onset Parkinsons so we were never going to get to the top of a mountain, but that made no difference. We made more trips up, until I married and had my own family and started my own traditions. It has come to mean the world to me.
The week after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, in my early forties with two young children, we went up for a week and stayed at Torver, near Coniston. We were all in shock, and I knew I was going home to an immediate mastectomy, but a week in the Lakes was just what I needed. I climbed to the top of Dow Crag, and felt that anything was possible. I stood in the Langdales, looking over the Mickleden valley, and felt like a tiny speck in the mists of time. I vowed then that nothing would stop me going back, and I have stood in the same place, many many times since. Depression, anxiety – everything seems to melt away at the first sight of the fells.
I raised over £4,000 for charity walking in the footsteps of the poet John Keats through the Lakes, despite the fact that much of his route is under the A591 and Thirlmere (I found a few detours!), and a trip up is always the best motivation to get a bit fitter. As we get older we are finding things hurt a little more a little sooner, but this year we are planning a few walks from Stewart Smith’s Walks to Viewpoints (Lake District – Top 10 Walks) and Pub Walks: Walks to Cumbria’s Best Pubs by Vivienne Crow in the same series. We know our limitations, but the experience of reaching the end of a walk – whether it be round something or up something – is worth every ache and pain.
I am going to try and keep up a little journal of the trip next week. I don’t usually write much when I am up there. But this time I will try (no pressure).
I would love Cumbria to be my home, but whether that happens, or not, it feels like the place I want to spend all of my days.