So, to Ullswater, for a week with friends in a cottage near Pooley Bridge. Our friends had one objective: climbing the last of their 214 Wainwright tops. This enterprise has taken many years; children aged five or six have done them all, and the challenge now has shifted to doing them all in as short a time as possible. But for ordinary mortals, who live hundreds of miles from Cumbria, and one of whom is now seventy-five, completing this challenge is a serious achievement.
From this perspective, Pooley Bridge looks like the classic Lakeland village, and it does have some very good tea-shops - but also some quite tacky souvenir shops.
The weather in prospect for the week suggested dark clouds every day, with rain, hail, lightning and sunny intervals all possible. In fact, it was both very windy and very cold, and we certainly endured pelting hailstones out on the hill, but were spared that sort of persistent drenching rain which makes walking very unpleasant.
After we had walked ourselves in on Heughscar Hill, we went up onto Gowbarrow Fell, passing Aira Force waterfall on the way there and back. This is a stupendous series of falls all down a steep ravine, and with an excellent National Trust tearoom at its foot.
Next, we tackled Sheffield Pike and Glenridding Dodd. We passed the little hamlet of Seldom Seen, probably more frequently seen nowadays as a good path goes right past it.
Going up was stiffish, but nothing to coming down, which was the sort of steep which is called scrambling.
On the Thursday, we joined our friends on their triumphal ascent of their final two tops, beginning with a boat trip from Pooley Bridge to Howtown, and a very stiff ascent on to the ridge leading to Bonscale Pike, and then on to Arthur's Pike - their last of all.