Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Walking in Rogue Herries Territory Part One. . .

I've spent a good part of the summer slowly reading my way through the Herries Chronicles by Hugh Walpole (I'm currently on Volume Three, The Fortress).  These sagas were written in the 1930s and they chronicle two hundred years in the lives of various branches of the Herries family starting from the 18th century.  Most of the tales are set in the Lake District in the Borrowdale Valley and the hills and fells around Keswick, and along with the dramatic story, I'm just loving Walpole's passionate descriptions of the area. He is fantastic at describing the landscape, vividly capturing it in all its varied seasons, amidst the incredible changes of light and the indomitable weather.  If Sir Walter Scott had tackled the Forsythe Saga, you might get an approximation of what Walpole has accomplished in this series which is so much fun to read. 

My immense enjoyment of these books is only enhanced by my growing familiarity with the places in which they are set, so I was more than happy to accompany the Liverpud on a recent weekend to Keswick to do a recce for one of his upcoming walks.  We started in Braithwaite with our main climbing objective being Causey Pike, that little pimple - or nobble as they call it -  that you can see on the top of the mountain at the left.

Starting our ascent up Rowling End, you can see straight down the beautiful valley.  The colours of the heather and other fall foliage is really remarkable and absolutely lovely at this time of year.

Still climbing up and we came across this lonely tree.  No others at all on the mountainside.

From the top of Rowling End, you can see the last bit of the route up to Causey Pike.

Right near the top you need to do a little scrambling. Normally this terrifies me, but it's fairly straightforward and there are lots of little routes to choose from, so it wasn't too bad especially as the weather was sunny and dry.

I knew the views would be stunning.  I can't capture the full 360 degree experience in photos, but it's amazing. There are mountain ranges all around you as far as the eye can see;  you feel a tiny speck among all the grandeur but also on top of the world.

We then walked along a lovely ridge path enjoying the views.  We had woolly company too.

Our way back to Braithwaite took us through a lovely valley towards Barrow which was our last climb of the day.

And to the right you can glimpse the route we took at the beginning - see the lonely tree? There's something so brave and stoic about it. 

We didn't come across any mad Cumbrians, gypsies, witches or scar-faced riders on our walk, all of which populate Walpole's novels, but I suspect the landscape that he loved and feared hasn't changed a bit.

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