Living in Cumbria, as we are at the moment, you get fairly used to having stunning landscapes in your backyard. You also get used to appreciating them from indoors since the weather doesn’t tend to be on your side. So when there’s a break in the rain, you have to grab the chance to hike with both hands. We had a rain-free day recently and decided to revisit one of the more popular fells in the northern Lakes, Cat Bells. Its summit is 451 meters/1,480 feet.
I am not a great walker. I’m fine on long hikes with moderate terrain and I actually quite like scrambling over rocks and leapfrogging over streams. But when ascents and thus descents are involved, I get sweaty, red-faced and generally cranky about my lack of fitness. Sometimes it takes me a little while to find the right frame of mind to get over myself. I think about the miners who used to walk these paths every day, regardless of the weather, to get to work. I pause and look out over the valleys when I need a breather or a slurp from the water bottle. And I remember that the views always make it worthwhile.
Last time we hiked up Cat Bells, I was getting overtaken by small children on the rocky paths. One fell was about all I had in me on that occasion. This time we carried on to the next fell, Maiden Moor, where we sheltered from the wind while eating lunch. Maiden Moor is over 100 meters higher than Cat Bells, and our final fell of the day, HighSpy is 653 meters above sea level.
Our descent brought us to a path that followed the Newlands Beck waterway and led us to the accurately named village of Little Town which has a lovely bed and breakfast, Littletown Farm. They cater for walkers during the day, and we couldn’t resist stopping for an ice cream, afternoon tea, or some combination of the two. His raspberry ripple dairy ice cream and my scone with jam and fresh whipped cream were both satisfying. One of the owners was a friendly chap originally from Aviemore in the Highlands and he was very welcoming. I got the feeling guests were well looked after there and it would be a cozy rural retreat. As it’s also a working farm, there were plenty of chickens and dogs about, so it helps to be an animal lover.
The walk back to the car from Littletown took us through a few fields and the village of Skelgill. As ever when hiking in Cumbria, there was an epic amount of sheep and cow poo along the trail, so be prepared to clean your boots or at least have a plastic bag ready for them when you change into everyday shoes.