One of my first retirement challenges is to complete 100 of the best walks in the UK, as a way to increase my fitness, but also as a way to introduce myself to many areas of the UK that I’ve not visited before. As my fitness builds I’m going to be starting 100 of the best hikes in parallel, walks being easy and 4-6 miles and hikes being more challenging 6-12 miles. The 100 best walks and hikes have been pre-determined by books of those names.
This blog posts describes the second of the best walks, which was meant to be an easy stroll around Buttermere, an old favourite, but not much of a challenge.
As we strolled through along the shaded lake side paths though Rob and I decided that we needed something more from the walk and since it was only just past lunch time we picked a footpath and started to climb up from the lake.
After about 5 minutes of climbing I asked a couple where they were going and they tempted us into doing the Hay Stacks circular walk, which sounded achievable at around 4 hours. We set off at a good pace leaving the much more seriously attired couple in the dust.
The climb was gloriously hard work, but well within our capabilities, with just the right amount of well trodden paths and scrambles to make it interesting and of course with superb views. I’ve not climbed many Lakeland Fells yet, something I intend to remedy now that I’m retired, but according to Wainwright Hay Stacks is up there with the best, he said:
for beauty, variety and interesting detail, for sheer fascination and unique individuality, the summit area of Haystacks is supreme. This is in fact the best fell-top of all
After we reached the summit though the walk was only really just beginning as the return to the lake entailed a long winding, unstable, rocky path. Those scrambles that were so much fun coming up were less fun going down and some of the steep tracks took their toll on my toes, Rob (being indestructible) was of course fine.
Two blister plasters later and all the difficult parts of the walk were over and as we were making our way down the gradual return to the lake I remember saying to Rob:
There’s something about a hike like this that makes me feel a special sort of alive
It’s definitely true that the mix of exertion, accomplishment, adrenaline and endorphins makes a heady mix!
We glided around the rest of the lake, which looked incredibly peaceful as the wind had dropped and the sun was going down, leaving it glassy smooth.
After the only missed turn of the walk we headed directly for the Croft House Farm Cafe which topped and tailed the walk and was the 18th cafe in my ‘30 cafes in 30 days challenge’.
Overall it was a great day, with even the 4 hours driving being effortless, traffic free and very enjoyable as I was listening to the fascinating book Sapiens.
The route we followed is shown below:
As usual I’m writing this post up on the following day in Caffe Nero, before another, more relaxed, walk around Fairhaven Lake with Paul.