Towards the end of the summer (such as it was) I undertook a very long mountain walk. My wife and I often go out into Derbyshire and walk to places that are inaccessible by car so that she can get better photographs and we can both enjoy some very good views as well as benefitting from the exercise, but this walk was of a different calibre. To begin with it was in proper British mountains and, for me, it was very long and involved going up and down quite a lot. I haven’t done any serious walking of this type since I was a teenager so it came as quite a shock to discover that either the hills are a whole lot steeper for longer than they were fifty years ago or I have unaccountably got older.
It started with an idle discussion among friends when someone suggested that they would like to do this particular walk and I heard myself offering to do it with them. A small amount of alcohol may have been involved. Anyway we set off at just after eight in the morning from the bottom of a steep valley and climbed straight up a mountainside that reached to exactly the same height as Scafell Pike with an average gradient of 1 in 2. This took an hour and three quarters and on the way up it rained, several times, and in one of the clear bits we had a really good view of a plane flying down the valley below us.
By mid-day we were at the top of the second highest peak in the area and, in theory, it should have been all downhill from there on. Unfortunately the route we had agreed on included every summit between us and our final destination so instead of just gently walking downhill all the way to the sea we eventually ended up climbing, in total, something over 5000 feet (I’m of an age that can’t think of the heights of hills in metres ) while descending slightly more than that. At one point, about three in the afternoon, the going was so steep and my legs ached so much that I was taking one breath for every two steps up.
We finally arrived at the last summit –the only one we climbed that had “mountain” in its name – where we had a brilliant view over the sea, a castle, a bronze age mine and a huge wind farm. By the time we had got down to sea level we had walked just under 19 miles and had to take a whole day resting to recover from the stiffness that very rapidly set in.
There’s a small prize and a mention in a later article for the first person to work out and tell me where we went!
Meanwhile the VAO box has been emptied again and is in need of more old spectacles.