Getting Lost Close To Home

Feet sinking into the snow, we realised that there was no path anymore and getting down off the hill was going to be a bit of a challenge.

We’d set off for a wander around Ullswater and Aira Force, following the Aira Force and Gowbarrow Trail. The promising views from the summit of Gowbarrow had tempted us out from warm spots by the fire into the snow and wind.

Aira Force is about 1 hour 45 minutes from where we live. We’d packed the car up and headed off to play tour guide for a couple of friends who hadn’t visited before. We were all feeling a bit restless, having been kept inside recently through the bad weather.

We started off towards the falls and even though it was really cold, the sprinklings of snow really highlighted the magic of the falls, making them seem otherworldly.

The Old Norse name of Aira Force translates to ‘the waterfall on the gravel bank river’.

Following the path, we headed towards the open hillside where the snow was much thicker. Due to the depth of the snow, we couldn’t see the path properly and we must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. A small fence led up the hillside and we navigated uneven ground as we walked, the snow sometimes giving way to reveal holes made by a hidden stream. We were all being very careful not to hit one of the drops wrong and twist an ankle as we ascended the steep hillside.

At the top of the hill, the view was stunning. It was hard to believe that we were less than 2 hours away from home. The snow-topped hills in the distance, surrounded by a shimmering lake were reminiscent of any trip to Canada or Europe or the USA.

After snapping a few photos. We quickly realised that the path down wasn’t clearly visible and that going down was going to be much harder than coming up. Although we were all feeling warmer following our trek up the incline, the snow was thicker and it was harder to determine where the drops in the landscape were hiding. After walking some distance towards the gleaming water of the lake, we came to an sharp edge, which would have certainly seen one or more of us loose our footing.

Leading the charge, one of my most confident and positive friends encouraged us all to shuffle-slide down the hill on our bums. It was one of the best parts of the walk and really sticks out as a highlight of the day- the four of us taking turns to help each other down the steep embankment, sliding through snow on our bums, soaking wet, but laughing and triumphant as we reached the bottom.

I love the pictures from this hike more than any others taken on local treks. They prove to me that beautiful scenery can be found close to home if you know where to look. They remind me that travel doesn’t always have to mean the other side of the world and they encapsulate a day that was filled with love, friendship and adventure – the best kind of days you can have.

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