A Windy Walk Across Matterdale Common

After a late start I finally left the cosy confines of the Royal Hotel and set out uphill (as always) and on the way to Threlkeld.

Try saying ‘Threlkeld’ out loud five times quickly. On paper it looks like a perfectly normal name for a place but I feel like an idiot when I try to say it out loud. Ridiculous. I was afraid to meet anyone along the way in case they asked me where I was going, and considered changing my destination to avoid the awkwardness but the route I’d plotted looked so good I decided to stick to my plan.

OK, so it doesn’t look very exciting on paper and I seem to have added an extra pink line, but the point is, it goes through nowhere.

The skies darkened as I headed up hill and the wind picked up. Not good, but the meteorological wizards said it wasn’t supposed to rain and I chose, against all previous experience, to believe them.

Catkins, or pussy willow. Haven’t seen this since I was a kid!

Farmland gave way to Matterdale Common, which seemed very wide but there were a few cars in the car park right before the gate, so I thought I’d probably see a few people.

I did not, in fact, see anyone.
Over a little bridge and onto the common.

Up to this point I’d thought of commons as small green bits in the middle of villages, but this is the other kind.

Can you see the tiny path in the distance? It was about 6km away.

While walking across the common could’ve been dramatically improved by a severe reduction in gale-force, freezing cold winds, it was also magnificent to be out in such beautiful, open landscape alone.

I had bought a packed lunch from the Royal Hotel so I got to enjoy another uranium-enriched curry chicken sandwich and all the accompanying bits.

I did eat my lunch crouched over in a ditch to get out of the wind, but I still enjoyed it enormously.

I don’t know how something can look so bad but taste so good.

Walking is like meditation and it’s interesting to see where my mind wanders. I spend a lot of time re-writing song lyrics to suit my situation. I wish I could remember some of them now! I’ve never thought of myself as musical so I don’t know why this is where my brain goes.

All the grass is brown, and the sky was grey. I went for a walk on an April day. 🎶

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I like doing this so much (the walking, not the song lyrics). Being in this landscape is like walking through an art gallery all day, every day. Every flower is beautiful, every mountain spectacular, and I feel like it suits me and I fit in. No matter how the weather changes it just shows the landscape in a new light and damp and misty or bright and sunny, it’s as close to perfect as anywhere I’ve ever been.

I was talking to the family yesterday about Switzerland, as that is where their son lives. Switzerland is incredible. It’s the most dramatic scenery I’ve ever seen – but it’s inaccessible to me. I’ll never be fit enough or have the skills to climb those mountains. I don’t speak the language. Here it’s just right.

The long and winding road.

Eventually I made it across the common and met my first person of the day, another solo woman who was heading to Helvellyn YHA. We had a chat and moaned about the wind before parting ways.

The only other people I saw were some guys with dirt bikes.

Walking towards Blencathra felt like coming home, I’ve walked through the valley behind it several times.

Blencathra on the horizon.

After the common it was all downhill into Threlkeld and to the Horse and Farrier, a quite fancy pub that has been going since 1688, although probably not with nachos and waffles on the menu.

My feet were a bit sore from the rocky, uneven path and my knees had a few minor twinges so I spent the late afternoon off my feet on my room then had a delicious dinner downstairs, followed by zoom with Daniel to discuss the Spanish adventure in a bit over a week.

Super low beams.

Tomorrow a walk to Keswick. Can I actually be bothered to camp? It’ll come down to the price of accommodation and the likelihood of rain. Either way, I’ll enjoy it!

7 thoughts on “A Windy Walk Across Matterdale Common

  1. You’ve probably already said but do you use walking poles? If so, how are you finding them, I’ve read that they reduce the effort required by up to 30 %. I guess that would be if you were very efficient in your use of them. How are your feet holding up? Do you alternate shoes or just stick to the one pair? Once again, I’m filled with admiration when you choose to walk despite the gale, when I can see me finding a good book near a fireplace or a little museum or something indoors.

    • I do use poles, almost religiously! I find they make an enormous difference in several ways:
      – four legs are more stable than two, particularly going downhill
      – my knees take less pressure. I don’t have knee problems but I don’t want to start any!
      – I can more easily hoist myself across mid etc and use the poles to prod the boggy bits
      – I go faster because I feel more confident

      Every time I go for a walk on anything but paved footpaths I take them – or regret not taking them!

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