Autumn quickly turned to winter this week. Well, not officially of course, but an early winter storm with freezing overnight temperatures has turned the Lakeland Fells white with snow. Coming back from the Kendal Mountain Festival I was surprised to meet the oncoming traffic coming out of the Lakes blocked up to a crawl from Staveley to Ambleside. The snowy peaks and clear skies had done their magic and drawn in the crowds. Usually mid November is off season in the Lakes but the familiar mountain landscape had turned, as the Lakeland Poets would have said, from the ‘Picturesque to the Sublime’ that is from the softly beautiful to the ruggedly awe inspiring. Snow brings back to the Fells a sense of the wild. It’s the perfect time to go walking.

The Picturesque view northeast looking past Rose Castle to Ill Bell - a ten minute walk from Yewfield

In 1861, in Concord, Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau wrote what I think is the most thoughtful guide on the subject - his famous essay simply called ‘Walking’:

“When a traveller asked Wordsworth’s servant to show him her master’s study, she answered, ‘Here is his library but his study is out of doors’. Of course it is of no use to direct our steps to the woods if they do not carry us thither. I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is - I am out of my senses. What business have I in the woods if I am thinking of something out of the woods?”

Wise words in the increasingly distracting times we live in.

Looking west over Tarn Hows to the Langdale Pikes - a more rugged and wilder landscape

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