I got there in the end. Eskdale is a magical place: for some reason it isn't overrun by people the way so much of the Lake District is. I think this goes for most of the Western side of the region. There are people around but in moderation.
We decided to climb Harter Fell. This rocky hill separates Eskdale from the Duddon Valley. A good path from the foot of Hardknott Pass crosses a stream and ascends diagonally across the foot of the Fell. Once it disappears over the horizon it turns leftwards towards the summit and steepens noticeably. To the left and right small outcrops tempt anyone with a taste for rock-climbing to interesting deviations from the route. Before long, the path arrives at a collection of rocky tors, the highest being the summit of the Fell.
The sky was clear and the air, when you could shelter from the wind, warm. We spent a happy half hour at the summit, eating our sandwiches, scrambling around on the rocks and enjoying the view of Morcambe Bay to the South and, to the North, of the Eskdale Horseshoe: a long, inviting ridge that stretches from Scafell in the West to Crinkle Crags in the East via Scafell Pike itself and the shapely peak of Eskdale Pike. The position also affords an excellent aerial view of the ruins of the Roman fort at the foot of Hardknott Pass.
Leaving the summit and the path behind, we made our way with the aid of the map to the top of Hardknott Pass. We sat there for a while, watching the efforts of cyclists heroically turning their biggest gears on those steepest of slopes. At one point we considered shouting in unison Get off and push! but decided it would be rude and didn't. Now and again motorcyclists roared by, leaving behind them a smell of hot oil, a smell that always takes me back to my childhood and the machine my father used to ride on to work.
|Photo: Mike Knapton|
Back at the Youth Hostel, we decided to make for Ulverston, as it boasts a first-rate fish and chip shop.