I have a fascination for mountains. I am taken in wonder by their majesty and impregnable mysteries; but I also fear and respect them for what they are. For many people, animals and plants, the mountains they inhabit provide not only shelter but also a home. Often flowing through mountains are life-giving waters and concomitant waterfalls of incredible beauty. Food is culled or cultivated on the mountains by man and animal alike, and this is achieved oftentimes against high seeming odds.
However, whilst mountains may look, feel, and seem benign when the going is good, they are also forces to be reckoned with when changing weather patterns collude to render them inhospitable, and especially when visiting humans fail to respect an environment that can change suddenly and swiftly. The result is often severe and fatal, with lives lost in avalanches and volcanic eruptions, and crippling falls that maim and kill. A wanderer can get lost, and even the local animals, plants, water and earth can prove hazardous to the traveller who does not prepare well for any eventuality.
The Lake District is of course a place of mountains, one of which, Scafell Pike, is the highest peak in England. The locals call their mountains ‘fells’, and they certainly do make a stunning backdrop to the numerous bodies of water in the Lake District. Alfred Wainwright, probably the Lake District’s most famous fell walker, became enamoured of the mountains in the Lakes on first acquaintance with a low fell in Windermere, Orrest Head. His fell walking guides are still published and sold today, years after his demise.
Walkers in the Lake District have the advantage of Weatherline, a service provided by the Lake District National Park to enable anyone considering a hike in the high fells in particular to check weather and walking conditions they might encounter prior to setting out. Guided hikes are also available to visitors who are not too sure about venturing out on their own. In the past, we have arranged walking guides for all grades of walks for our guests at Blenheim Lodge. The guests would be picked up from our guest house and returned here after their days out. This is a service we continue to offer.
Personally, I will never make a high mountain climber, but that does not mean that I am not in awe of their powerful presence. I am afraid of heights; and it is not the climbing up that bothers me, but the return journey down. I cannot even abide climbing a ladder, much less a cliff! I remember as a postgraduate in Edinburgh climbing up Arthur’s Seat a few times, because that was what mad inquisitive students did. Coming back down was never easy.
For me, there are some great reasons for fell walking, not least being the sense of achievement when one has reached the summit. The reward of fabulous views from fell-top viewpoints must make the trek worthwhile. And the progress upwards or downwards, whether this is through verdant fields and woodlands, past glades and streams, or whether it encompasses stark open rock faces, deep gullies and cliffs, is a worthwhile journey in itself and makes the hike more interesting.
Behind Blenheim Lodge is Brantfell. Low by the standards of Helvellyn, Scafell, and many others, the views from its fell top are spectacular and stunning. From the top, one can see for miles across Lake Windermere to the mountains beyond. On a good day, 360-degree views permit sight of Morecambe Bay. It is for walks and views like these that Wainwright moved to the Lake District and settled here permanently.
Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’