Well, I was the one who fell down actually, but more of that later.

14th February, Valentine’s Day, dawned bright and shiny as a new pin. There weren’t going to be any two ways about it: we were going out for a nice long walk. But where, that was the question. I checked out some hikes and routes which were rather further away than our regular haunts, but the weather was too inviting not to take advantage of clear skies and longer days.

So it was off to Seatoller, a tiny settlement in the Borrowdale valley. Close by is a walk that would lead us uphill to a waterfall, where, it was claimed, we could sit down and enjoy it whilst having lunch. We set off. It took us through two or three fields, a number of gates, up the foretold stony footpaths, some of which looked more than ‘stony’ and suspiciously rocky, through more gates, and then, finally, we saw the waterfall. It was indeed pretty. But could we find a place to sit? Well, there were certainly a number of boulders we could have parked ourselves on, but walking down towards them would have meant manoeuvring steep grassy banks with the potential of slip-sliding downwards into said waterfall.

Our goal having been obtained – that being sight of the waterfall – we decided to keep walking uphill towards what I think might well have led to Glaramara (although I hasten to add that we did not go there). A rock face stood out, magnificent in its ancient rock formations. I wish now that I had taken a still photograph of it, but it only features in one of my amateur videos of our walk.

“Looking up at the rock step which leads to Glaramara summit.” (Photo and words courtesy of wainwright walking.co.uk.)

I looked at it, looked at the dog hiking with us, considered our abilities, and concluded that it was definitely not for us. We headed to the left and walked. And walked.

“Where are we going?” I asked Hubby.

“Over there!”

“Where’s over there?”


“You’re joking! You cannot mean to cross the river!” Now, this is the river that is running into rapids – do I exaggerate? – which are turning into a waterfall!

“We can. We’ll find a way.”

“You can’t! There is NOWHERE to cross!”

With dog on leash, Hubby began looking for crossing places. First, we had to walk across waterlogged grasses, then jump across dark pools of running water, using untrustworthy-looking clumps of grass like slippery stepping stones. A few close calls later and we had drawn close to the river bank. No luck.

He continued walking, moving further and further away from terra firma to aqua corpus. Finally, we came close to another part the bank some many yards away, and there was still no joy. This time, to my relief, he saw sense and we turned to go back.

Ah! But we had come so far now that we could not see exactly the way we had traversed. Thus it became a game of looking for the least waterlogged way back. I looked in dismay around me: everywhere seemed very wet, and I could not physically see what was under the grasses or the water under and surrounding them. Was the ground firm and steady underfoot or would it sink under my weight? If the latter, how far would it sink?

grass, waterlogged, water, walking, lake district walk
Waterlogged? Those grasses you see were the only barriers between wet or dry feet, provided their stalks weren’t actually under water too!

There was no way out of the muddle: one simply had to move. So move we did. Hubby, with his longer legs had no difficulty stepping from clump to clump of bunched up grasses thereby keeping his feet dry. As for me, with legs significantly shorter, it was a matter of jumping from clump to likely clumps of grass to hold my weight without sinking further into the mire. Needless to say, my feet got damp, but, thankfully, not wet.

Having eventually gained the tussocky grass that was no longer waterlogged, we began walking uphill in order to go back down the other side. All was well, and we stopped to admire the scenery before heading back to whence we came.

hiking, lake district fells, lake district walks, lake district, walking
Tiny tracks, this one more pronounced than some, crisscrossed the fell.

We walked carefree and glad to be out in the fresh air, and then . . . aargh! this was when my feet slipped, and I fell down. Actually, it was rather more of a slide. Having already dampened my feet, I had been taking the utmost care as to where I placed my feet as we hiked across a terrain strewn with rocks both small and large; the narrowest of what looked like sheep tracks; less narrow but uneven stone and gravel covered trails; rocky steps; and, best and kindest of all to the feet, beautiful springy short pastel-green grass. Husband and dog had already walked down an incline and were waiting for me. As it came my turn to head down that same slope, I looked carefully to check that the ground was firm enough to walk upon without sinking into it. It looked fine.

I put one foot upon it, followed by the next. The next moment, and both feet had gone from under me! The momentum took me by surprise as I slid down the small slope on my behind, only able to rise when I had eventually reached the bottom. My bottom was very wet! As was the back of my jacket. When we returned to Blenheim Lodge, I was amazed to see that my jeans hadn’t been caked with mud. It was, in fact, exactly the same colour as it had been when I had put it on to go out. What I had thought was firm though muddy ground sparsely populated with grass had actually been flattened earth with a skim of water so clear upon it that I could not actually see the water. Yes, there was grass, but it had been underwater. It was that same crystal clear mountain water which had saved my jacket and jeans from becoming muddied, but it was also those 2 inches or so of water which had been my downfall – quite literally!

All three of us enjoyed our walk, but I don’t think I would like to repeat that waterslide experience. Indeed, I am certain I would not like to repeat it. As for the adage, “do as I say, not as I do”? Well, please do not follow the latter half of it if and when you do go out exploring the Lake District’s glorious countryside!

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The waterfall at Coombe Gill.

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