|Early morning brew|
I awoke, as is my habit, very early. This was after a good night’s sleep in the Scarp 1. It’s a good shelter. Apart from its practicality of design, and robustness in the blustery conditions we had experienced, it also has a nearly white inner and a light grey outer. This, combined with the longer end struts, makes for a lovely light and airy feeling. It seems far more natural than the yellow inner and dark green outer of my Akto, much as I like the latter. A joy of wild camping is waking early when the sky is clear, opening the tent and porch door and brewing up whilst still in a warm sleeping bag, and drinking tea in the silence, punctuated only by the noise of the wind and birdsong, contemplating the beauty outside. And this is what I did, watching the sun rise over the flank of Brae Fell, the other side of the narrow valley that separates it from Longlands.
|Croydon does a mysterious and joyful dance as he counts his Kryptonite tent pegs and realises they are all still there|
Slowly the group came to life, and we enjoyed a leisurely shortish walk back to lovely Caldbeck. The Daunder had been planned from the start like a military operation by General Sloman. It went as all British military operations ie setbacks in the early stages followed by marvellous victory as all comes together at the very end (and even without the help of the Americans on this occasion). So the weather was perfect, the scenery was perfect, the lambs looked lovely and we arrived at the Oddfellows Arms just a few minutes after opening time and the beginning of the lunchtime menu. We refreshed ourselves, walked the mile down to our cars back at our starting point, and then set off for home – the southerners back down to Cockneyland and Lynsey to Wetherfield. I had the long 12 miles trek back to my cottage. When I write “trek” I am being metaphorical, for I went in the car.
|Caldbeck: Andy points his backside at the camera. An end of Daunder ritual, perhaps?|
Since leaving University, the best part of 40 years ago, almost all my hill walking has been done alone. Not by choice, more by circumstance. I am not a natural socialite, but do enjoy walking with others, as long as the group is not too large (the 6/7 of the Daunder would be an absolute maximum in my eyes), and when people have something like the same levels of fitness and pace. Going solo does give one a particular perspective on life. I find that I become more self-absorbed and reflective when I walk alone. That can be a good thing; it can also be hell at times. It is good to go at one’s own pace, to stop when one wants to, to choose one’s own route, to savour the sound of silence and the sounds of nature. But going solo can, for me at least, also lead to more anxiety if the going gets difficult or the conditions become bad. It can be good, on such occasions to have companions with you to share decisions, to laugh about difficulties and, even more, just for general companionship, even the companionship of silence, when nothing more needs to be said. I think that to get the best from our beautiful British hills and mountains one needs to do both: to walk alone at times but also to walk with others on occasions. I will be seeking out more opportunities to do the latter over the coming months and years. I hope that sometimes the opportunity will arise to walk with some of my fellow Daunderers again.