A Glorious Finish

My Oxford dictionary defines ‘hubris’ as ‘overweening pride leading to nemesis.’ Nemesis was the Greek goddess of retributive justice.

Remember that at the beginning of the Highland Way, I was having trouble with my boots? The discomfort was in my instep. I dealt with it by wearing thinner than normal socks and keeping my boot laces relatively loose over the top of my feet. My feet did hurt at the end of each day, some days one foot and some days the other. But Julian and Niall told me foot pain is normal when you walk, and it was gone each morning, so I didn’t take it too seriously.

Four nights after the walk ended, I woke in the middle of the night with throbbing calves and excruciating pain in my feet. Much googling ensued. It seems likely that I have a repetitive strain injury in the tendon that runs along the top of my foot. Just like when you type too much and your wrist hurts, but in this case I walked too much.

So much for thinking that — at my age and without prior experience — I could leap into 9 days of back-to-back walking without repercussion.

Fortunately, this development didn’t lessen anyone’s enthusiasm for the Lake District. I ignored Google’s advice to rest my feet, managing one peak and a couple of lakes before finally admitting defeat.  Niall was like a puppy. He ran from peak to peak exclaiming, “Oh, there’s a view! Oh, there’s another view!”

He got out of bed at 4 am to capture this one:

The boys bagged two honourary Munros, also known as Furth Munros. Furth means ‘outside’ — as in outside of Scotland. The Scottish Mountaineering Club, which keeps track of these things, recognizes six peaks in England that would be Munros if they had the good fortune to be located in Scotland. Scafell Pike has the distinction of being the highest. Niall took this shot looking back the way they came as they ascended.

Another day they bagged the 3rd highest English peak and Furth Munro, Helvellyn. This is a photograph of Red Tarn at the top. A tarn is a lake. Those jagged rims encircling the lake are called The Edges. Note the capitalization. Narrow in places with lots of exposed rock, they’ve been the cause of many nasty accidents over the years.

Far below, I contented myself with a good book.

After a sunny week in the Lakes, we drove east to the Yorkshire Dales. Our friends Stu and Debs live in a converted barn on a farm in Cumbria.

This is their view of the Dales from their back door (and the lovely Deborah enjoying the sunshine). Stu is beginning to wonder if he lives in Cumbria or Umbria.

There are records of a house and farm on the site dating back to the 15th century. The barn is probably about 200 years old. The 400-acre farm, which belongs to Farmers Ernest and John, has sheep, cows and even a few llamas.

One of my bucket list items for this trip was to see bluebells in bloom. They carpet the woods in spring, quintessentially English, and timeless, blooming every year, down through the millennia.

I had hoped to see them in Scotland. But the UK had a very cold winter this year, so they were delayed by a month. Stu took us to an area of the farm that is protected by the Woodland Trust as a bluebell field. Their sweet scent and iridescent colour in the dappled shade were exhilarating.

One bucket list item crossed off. One lesson in hubris learned. What better way to end a glorious trip.


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