Monday, February 27, 2017

Hikers Rule #1: Wear the Right Shoes! - England/Scotland with my son (3)

The original post was published on 26 juni 2013 om 18:40


There are hikers, and there are hikers. You can recognise the real ones by their sturdy boots. And that's where we went wrong. We were wearing the wrong shoes...

Our gracious hostess Paula took a good look at our flimsy shoes and pronounced them totally unfit for hiking in The Lake District. So sorry!
But we are stubborn people (us Dutchies usually are), and asked her if there really wasn't any route we could try? Perhaps one for foolish Dutchmen?

Well, we could always take the bus to Keswick, which is a charming little town, and perhaps we could walk for a bit along Derwent Water, if it wasn't too muddy, that is.
We took Paula's advice, and sat on top of a steamy bus, awed by the landscape we passed through. We saw numerous sheep, and countless daffodils. As we passed Dove Cottage, I thought about William Wordsworth's line: ' A host of golden daffodils'. I had tried to convey the beauty of his poem to my pupils last year, and now I was living it!

Keswick was lovely indeed, and the rain stopped, which was great. We took a public footpath along the edge of Derwent Water, but Paula knew her stuff: it proved to be too muddy for our shoes. Walking back amongst frolicking lambs and indifferent sheep, we decided to walk along the road to the next village, but after an hour saw another footpath leading away from Grasmere Lake, up to the hills. Surely that wouldn't be so muddy? Encouraged by the sunshine, and not at all hindered by the fact that we didn't have a map, we took off. Public footpath, how hard could it be?

Pretty soon we had to look carefully where to put our feet, and we had to cross burns by balancing from one stepping stone to the next. The wind, already blowing quite hard, picked up. On the ridge between Grasmere Lake and Rydal Lake, Wibe wanted to go up even higher, to the top, to take a panorama photo of the eight peaks around us. I take my latent vertigo very seriously, so I declined. Very undignified to be up there and not dare to come down..So I sat on a wooden seat, put down especially for scaredy cats like me. 'In Loving Memory of William Soye Backhouse 1891-1953'. 'Here's to you, Bill,' I mumbled. 'Hope you didn't take a tumble here.'

The wind picked up even more, and I started to get worried about Wibe. Gosh, this hill was steep, hopefully he wouldn't slip whilst taking photos. In my mind's eye I saw the rescue helicopter approach, fool that I was, in my inappropriate shoes!
Just as I was ready to start climbing to his rescue, an ancient woman passed me, with a walking stick and one of those small typically English dogs. 'Hello, lovely view, isn't it?' A couple of minutes later woman number two passed, this time with an umbrella and a slightly larger dog. I peeked at her boots. Yes. Very sturdy.  'Lovely day, isn't it?' And then woman number three. She had a man with her, and special nylon waterproofs above her hiking boots. She didn't greet me, but her man did. 'Sunny enough for you?'. He looked furtively at my shoes.
Thankfully Wibe came down the mountain just then, safe and sound! We descended to Rydal Lake and loved it. It took us another hour of hiking along pebbled beaches and dirt tracks strewn with sheep droppings to reach the first pub, The Badger, where we had cold pints of Magners cider and I admired those super-fit English old folks who ran about these hills.

We took a bus to Ambleside, where we had an Italian meal and then walked back to Windermere, which took us another hour. What a wonderful day! And all this in the wrong shoes!
Experience Rydal yourself in this charming little video by Eric Worsely (who was wearing the correct footwear).
A walk around Rydal Lake