Various weather apps and websites hadn’t quite agreed with each other during the last 48 hours, but in one way or another, they’d all predicted snow. As a result, we’d had all been slightly more interested than usual in checking the forecasts, hoping that we’d see some real Winter. Lo and behold, last night, there was a proper flurry and we just had to get out in it. Just before 9pm, Chlo and I were walking around the sleepy residential streets of Penrith, under streetlamps with the falling snow all to ourselves. It was the first decent snow either of us had seen for about a year, and we both loved it.
The next morning, the majority of the settled snow in town had melted away, but the fells in the distance were tantalisingly covered in white. After brief discussion with Nick and Caroline, we realised we all felt the same and wanted to get out there. We donned thermals, grabbed some plastic sledges, and headed out. On the way, we stopped at The Yard Kitchen in town, stocking up on caffeine (the coffee there is great!) and picked up some of their Anzac biscuits. This would later prove to be a very good decision.
Driving out, the main roads were, of course, gritted and absolutely fine. But once we got further away from the A66 and out towards Matterdale Common, we became very grateful for the 4 wheel drive of Nick’s car. It was a bit of an eye-opener for Chlo and I; our trusty van is only 2-wheel drive and we will have to keep a really careful watch on the driving conditions once we are up in Scotland. I’m not sure our Big Red would’ve made it up the frozen single track road up to the car park…at least not in a straight line. Hairy.
The walk up the National Trust footpath was beautiful, quite quickly allowing us some amazing views of snowy fells and moody, cloud-scattered skies. We encountered a few groups of skittish Swaledale sheep, but no other people for as far as we could see. Most importantly, there was proper snow! Not huge amounts, but enough for snowballs, and to make that amazing crunchy noise under your feet. Just what we wanted. Pretty early on, Nick was attempting sledging on some of the smaller slopes, with mixed results. I had even less success, but not for lack of trying. After getting a substantial amount of snow down into my trousers and up the back of my jacket, we moved on and continued up towards Great Dodd. The snowdrifts along the way provided lots of opportunity for jumping in feet first, and also headfirst…although this option only appealed to Nick.
Towards the ascent to the summit of Great Dodd, we were treated to cracking views across to the five spurs of Blencathra, Great Mell, and Skiddaw in the distance, its peak hidden by heavy snowclouds. The wind was really biting at us, and everyone’s legs were complaining after the uphill walk in snow. The light would soon be fading, and we made the decision to head back to the car and crack out the Anzac biscuits. These were a perfect end to a wintery walk – deliciously oaty and sweet, with a really satisfying crunch on the edges and a chewy middle. The only regret was that we hadn’t brought a flask of tea…