Saturday, August 6, 2016

Day 37 -- Braithwaite, 9 miles

I had booked an extra day in Braithwaite to allow for some fell-walking. For those of you not quite as conversant with Brit-speak as I am that means walking in the mountains. Of course, Britain doesn’t really have any mountains, so I agreed that it would be OK to walk some of the peaks around here, commonly referred to as Wainwrights. What the British refer to as mountains are really hills carved by glaciers during the last ice age. At this latitude, the hills have all the characteristics of mountains except elevation and thin air – but at my age, any elevation gain is magnified and the air is never quite thick enough. So mountains they are.

The late Alfred Wainwright was the guru of walking in England, having written and beautifully illustrated a large collection of walking guides. He identified some 214 peaks in the Lake District that he thought particularly pleasurable, either due to scenic views, elevation, or perhaps the satisfaction one gets from completing a difficult walk. Peak bagging all the Wainwrights is rite of passage in England, very much like the Grand Canyon's rim-to-rim. I will definitely pursue peak bagging as soon as I complete my on-going pub bagging project.

Peak bagging is not for amateurs, and shouldn’t be tempted by novices without a professional guide. A good guide not only motivates you to reach the summit, but can actually identify the peak you climb so you can add it to your bag. I didn’t know of those benefits when I hired Lee Wilson, one of the best in the business. As I recall, our initial conversation went something like this.

“What are your objectives?” asked Lee.

“Surviving,” I replied, truthfully. “And keeping my feet dry.”

Professional that he is, Lee quickly grasped the situation. “I know the perfect walk for you. A little up, and then flat.” Motivating the client is the first thing guides learn in guide school.

So off we went to bag some Wainwrights – and to keep my feet dry. 

Peak Baggers Maaike and Bram

Super-guide Lee Wilson