STORYLINE - 13: Woman On A Mountain

I saw her look out over the view, arms over her eyes to shield against a strong sun that picked out the detail well into the distance

Image of his wife Beverley from the challenge on Bill's Hub-page
Image of his wife Beverley from the challenge on Bill's Hub-page | Source

I'd passed the last bluff along the mountain path and looked around before seeing her. There seemed to be no-one with this woman who looked so much at home here, gazing out across the deep dale and distant mountains that spread out further into the distance even as I looked.

She was plainly unaware of my being there, rapt, taken by the majestic mountains that rose on either end of the dale above and behind Derwentwater. Birdsong was all there was to hear, a few winged insects buzzed unheeded past her head and it would have been tantamount to a crime to draw her eyes my way by making any kind of sound. Even coughing could have ruined the idyll, so I pulled my water bottle out of the backpack and took a long draught before shoving it quietly back.

Letting my backpack slide soundlessly to the stony path I put hands to brow and took in the view south-eastward as she did. It was worth the energetic climb from the dale I had left a short time earlier, passing first between outlying farm buildings along a well-marked track and climbing steadily upward past the trees, past a long abandoned limestone quarry. A short fumble with a zip resulted in finding the apple my landlady had left in the fruit bowl. The strong breeze that whipped up from the west took the noise of my chewing away and I just stood with my apple, watching her from the corner of my eye - still oblivious of me.

A brunette, the woman was a lot younger than me. Her hair was lifted by the breeze and swept across the back of her head to glow in the bright Lakeland sunlight. Seeing her made me wish I were still single. Surely there was someone with her? Although there was no real risk of being alone up here - no more than for me - the possibility was always there of an ankle injury. The mountain rescue teams would take some time to locate anyone up here, and the risk of hypothermia is always there with the quick changes of weather in these parts. She looked able to handle herself on these rocky paths, however, no fragile city-dweller.

After what seemed an age I decided it was time to move on. Something stirred behind me and a middle-aged fellow showed from the trees. He grinned at me and commented,

'Great view, don't you think?'

I nodded in mute agreement with the American - or was he Canadian? - as he made his way past me to the woman's side,

'Did you get your pictures Bill?' she asked as he neared her.

'Sure, Bev. Turn back and admire the view, I'll take one of you'.

She obliged and turned away again just as I took the path down into the dale ahead, tossing .the apple core high up into the air, away from the mountain top. I still had several miles ahead of me to get to Seatoller at the southern end of Borrowdale..


And now for something completely different...

Are you sitting comfortably, stiff drink close at hand? Then I'll begin...

I had seen this young woman from some way off, ambling rather than seriously walking... see below

Here's one for the Brits in the audience: Julia Bradbury following one of Alfred Wainwright's walk routes in the Lake District
Here's one for the Brits in the audience: Julia Bradbury following one of Alfred Wainwright's walk routes in the Lake District | Source

She ambled rather, aimlessly, not seriously walking as if to get somewhere. There was some rough weather in the offing, closing from the Irish Sea to the west. The rough track made it hard to quicken my stride, and there were loose stones afoot.

She seemed oblivious of the dark cloud that skirted the dalesides toward Shap and beyond, and it looked.as though it had already begun to shed rain on its way here. Her backpack looked full and the pale jacket she wore looked too short for wear up here, not covering her back too well. I could not tell what material the dark trousers were made of that she wore. For her sake I hoped they were weatherproof, or that she had at least a foldable one in the pack. Too often rescue teams have to give first aid to adventurous city dwellers who come out unprepared for sudden turns in the weather - usually for the worse.

At least I seemed to gain on her as I made my way along the ridge. The wind was getting up and rain fell across the right side of my face. I pulled up the hood and pulled the velcro strip across my neck to keep the hood from being blown back. Yet she walked on, wind and rain pulling her hair across the back of her jacket collar, not stopping to pull up her own hood.

Luckily the rain was gone again soon and I took the hood down, still trying to catch up but making little headway on the rocky track. What had been a stiff breeze and turned into a westerly wind kept up, still blowing in more cloud, more threat and no settlements within miles in either direction where the track forked. She ambled on westward into the weather. We were the only ones up here and I was beginning to wonder why I was up here.

The mountain dropped steeply away on either side now, no scenery to speak of, no trees to break up the slopes. Anyone just in need of exercise was out of place here, and only the tarns filled with what had once been meltwater from the last Ice Age. A trickle of water, a gill, sprouted a hundred feet or so from the slope below and ran over rocks through a channel scored by centuries of flow.

I was closer now, within hailing, but with the wind still against me she would hardly have heard. It seemed as though I would never catch her. The track dipped and she seemed to lose her footing. I practically flew down after her... And she was gone, nowhere to be seen.

'Aye', the landlord of the inn thought back as he cleaned a glass. 'there was a young lass who lost her life up there before the rescue team could reach her. Pretty thing, dark hair. Her walking jacket was too short to be any use up there. No proper weatherproofs, and she wore plimsoles not walking boots. Gone up on her own, she had, nobody with her. She'd been looking for where her boyfriend had his accident'.

My question, 'Did he die as well?' was answered with a nod and he put the tea towel over his shoulder to pull the pint for me.

'Was there something else, sir?' I would eat later. First I had to down that pint, suddenly overcome by a thirst. I had only ever read ghost stories. M R James was my choice of ghost writers. This was something I would have to get put down while it was fresh in my mind.

.

When Alfred Wainwright retired he was already well known for his books on Lakeland walks. After he'd written the directions and what to look out for, and hand-drawn the routes as well as the views, a local printer ran them off for him. He travelled by bus around the area to persuade local shopkeepers to stock them. By the third book he wouldn't have to 'sell' them any more, they had gained a following. You'll see why for yourself if you collect the series

Reaching the Lake District is straightforward. By train on the main line from Euston either Lancaster (for Ulverston or Windermere), or Penrith for the central Lakes around Keswick. By road take the M6 to Penrith from southern areas, and the A66 links Workington with Teesside across country (east-west). The A66 from Penrith westwards will take you to Keswick and then you're at the heart of the region. Consult road maps from there. By air the nearest international airports are Manchester and Glasgow. Car hire is available at either. From Manchester head for the M6, from Glasgow the M74 and then A74(M).

Familiarise yourself with the routes, 'walk' the pages and let them introduce you to some of the best scenery in England. Let The Rough Guide take you along the tracks and paths - a map might help there, see below

The Lake District may mean Wordsworth with his host of golden daffodils, Beatrix Potter with her animal stories and Herdwick Sheep, Alfred Wainwright with his books on walking the Fells, a host of walkers retrace his footsteps immortalised on the television by Julia Bradbury, tea and scones by Lake Windermere (if you can find a table). The region is all things to all men, or women and children. It's a magnet for tourists but there are parts the tourist hordes miss. Find them with the guide above and the Ordnance Survey map (below), and enjoy your time there.

However, be careful. The reason there are mountain rescue teams there is because of the numbers who over-reach themselves, get too adventurous and forget their own limitations. Don't be one of them, and if you take a dog with you keep it on the leash when there are sheep grazing around you.

Be wise, be safe, be considerate.

Once you're there you'll need an accurate OS map for walking or driving. Symbols for various landmarks are easy to remember, the contours show you the steepness of your route and your walks will doubtlessly take you across water courses. Don't forget the watering holes, marked as 'Inn' or PH (public house) - and they've all got their own character..

Lake District and Cumbria Touring Maps

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21 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Well who would have thought it possible? LOL For whatever reason, I did not expect you to take part in this challenge, and what did you do? Take part in it twice, with superb results both times.

Well done my friend, and I am grateful that you found the time to do this. Thank you, Alan!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Anything to oblige, Bill. Enjoy your trip to the Lake District?

If you squint you could say that's Scafell Pike above the clouds at the back (978 metres, 912 metres prominence), first climbed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in the mid-19th Century (there's something else you wouldn't have known).

Look it up on Wikipedia.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Wow Alan, awesome, looks like I will have a lot of competition when I write my story.

I am glad I read yours.

Shyron


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Just do your best, Shyron. Who knows, yours might eclipse mine. (You've got to keep at it to get anywhere. Rome wasn't built in a day, so they say).


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

Two great stories.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Thanks Blossom. As Bill says, a bargain.


Joel Diffendarfer profile image

Joel Diffendarfer 2 years ago from Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, PA

Oh my word...you took me right there...loved it (them)!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

It's one story with an identity problem. It thinks it has a twin inside. Anybody know a cheap shrink (maybe one that's been struck off)?

Thanks Joel - when I get my 4X4 to go climbing mountains, I'll come to you for a Diff-lock (differential).


annart profile image

annart 24 months ago from SW England

Great contribution to bill's challenge. The contrast between the two stories works well.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 24 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Glad you like it, Ann. I write to entertain ('tis the season for ghost stories, after all).


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 23 months ago from England

Hi Alan, loved your stories! the first was a great twist at the end when Bill turned up, and Julia in the second, well, I do watch that programme! lol! I am sure she would love to know you wrote a ghost story about her! loved it!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 23 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Hello Nell, nice to see you here on the mountain-top (bit chilly though, hope that mountain rescue team isn't too long coming).

Well I used Julia's likeness in the ghost story, although it was meant to be someone else a lot less savvy with climbing. (...Wonder if Julia ever reads these pages?)

Although Bill thinks it unlikely he'll ever get here, he's still around so who knows...


mary615 profile image

mary615 23 months ago from Florida

I really enjoyed reading this Hub. I've been tempted to take Bill's challenge myself, but I am not half the writer you are!

These were amazing stories to say the least!

Voted this UP, etc. and shared.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 23 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Try your hand, you know it makes sense (gotta make a start some time). It's not as if I was Hemingway or Conrad (my favourite American writer is M R James).


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 21 months ago from Texas

Interesting. And a two for one, too.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 21 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

It's all in the deal, shanmarie. B.O.G.O.F (just think of this as Walmart).


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 21 months ago from Texas

Haha. Not quite. I work at Walmart.


MarieLB profile image

MarieLB 16 months ago from Yamba

How beautifully you craft a scene, so detailed, so real, that one feels a part of it. I enjoyed your trip to the mountain as much as you would have done - if you were there!!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 16 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

All down to observation, Mariel. You probably know yourself that as you go on through life you start to see things differently. This is the outcome of a lifetime of observing. The words do the work of a camera or paints.


MarieLB profile image

MarieLB 16 months ago from Yamba

Spoken like the true artist that you are! ah. . .how I wish I had the time to learn the craft to that degree. !!

I go as far as I can with what I have got!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 16 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

You can't do more than your best, Marie, you just get better with practice.

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