I spent last week on holiday in the Lake District, though I suppose that depends on your definition of the word holiday. Spending four days climbing two mountains, enduring a hilly 20 mile bike ride and a 10 mile walk round Derwent water felt like more of a boot camp. So what did I learn?
- Climbers aren’t always rewarded with fantastic views. You might ask what the point of climbing is then, and I’d have to agree. In our case my husband wanted to climb Scafell Pike (3,507 ft) – so we did. We’d tried before, on his 50th birthday last September, but it rained so much we had to abandon it. The first dry day we had this week we went up (from Seathwaite) and though the views from the top were blocked by the mist, we did have some dramatic sights on the way up.
- Climbing involves muscles you rarely use. I like to think I’m reasonably fit. I regularly run, swim and play tennis. The day after we climbed Scafell Pike I could barely climb the stairs. Three days after climbing Scafell we were up Skidaw (3,018 ft). This time the views were incredible – but so was the pain in my quads for the following three days!
- The climb up is easier than the climb down. On the way up I can keep up with my family. On the way down my two teenage boys and husband blaze past me. They tell me the faster I go down, the easier it is and they’re probably right but I’m too scared of tripping. I perfected a kind of crab shuffle which was effective (and apparently the right thing to do) but, according to my family, highly embarrassing to watch. By the end my legs were actually trembling.
- I need to learn how to ride a bike. In between our mountain climbs we went on a very scenic but hilly bike ride. When I say we, I mean the male members of my family rode ahead together and every now and again they paused and waited for me to catch up. I was so bad, especially up the hills, that my husband actually looked up cycling techniques for me later that evening. They’ve diagnosed that I put my heel below my toe when it should be above. Frankly when I’m sweating up a monster hill the last thing I’m thinking about is where the heck my heel is. Next time I’ll take the car and meet them in a tearoom.