Emerging out of Grasmere YHA into a swamp of freezing fog and the 6 inches of lying snow that had begun to fall and kept falling the previous day, I considered my options.
I had in mind a wander past Easedale Tarn and the frozen waterfalls we’d passed on the photo course I was running the day before, and then progressing up towards the Langdale Pikes and hopefully emerging into the clearing skies Mr Weatherman had prescribed for the afternoon.
Instead, an alternative idea shot through my head and told me I was instead to catch the next bus north and head up Blencathra. Ok brain, a sudden volte – face on your part, but we’ll go with it. It is one of my favourite ridge lines in snow. And I don’t skirt along it nearly enough.
I was soon having words with myself as not far past Thirlmere the snow began to dwindle, eventually to nothing. The lovely winter wonderland I’d left behind in Grasmere was but a distant fairytale memory only 20 minutes north.
I clung on to the hope that surely there would still be a pasting of white on higher slopes. Who knew? I couldn’t see anything through the soggy low cloud I sullenly alighted into from the bus.
Wandering down the lane past Castlerigg Stone Circle, surroundings stripped to muddy brown and grey after the previous day’s perpetual flurries of winter dust, I was convinced I’d made the wrong decision, but persisted in dwindling hope.
And then… a glimpse. Skiddaw winking white above the cloud, only for five seconds, and then gone. Enough to urge me on in the hope that Blencathra would also be tipped with white. Not only that, but poking above the cloud base too.
I didn’t even stop to sneer at the car park tripod brigade at Castlerigg, loitering, hands in pockets, waiting for something to happen. I’d suspected I’d be out into the sunlight before they ever saw any.
After crossing the A66, along tracks and through fields, I eventually began to climb my hill. And about half way up Blease Fell, just as I began to approach a few sad patches of dying fish out of water snow, I emerged out of the cloud and into the blue.
Snow capped Lonscale Fell peaked surprisingly imperiously above as I blinked into the warm winter sunshine; almost feeling like I was seeing it for the first time rather than the umpteenth.
The snow remained patchy underfoot as I climbed higher, delayering all the time, and for the second time in two weeks I was soon down to short sleeves, the air breathless and unmoving as it was on Helvellyn the previous week.
Behind me only the tips of the Lake District summits were peeking through a grand sea of cloud.
Even as I reached the summit ridge, there wasn’t 100% snow cover, and fewer pretty wind sculpted cornices to play with than on Helvellyn, so I just meandered back and forth for a while, taking in that cracking temperature inversion.