Mickledon Valley and Side Pike

It was again time to drive, this time from Coniston to our next base, our seventh and final stopping point in the Lake District: Great Langdale. Like on our other travel days, we enjoyed some tourist stops along the way but couldn’t wait to get back on the trails, if the weather cooperated.

We walked around the quaint village of Hawkshead (sorry, no photos) but didn’t make it to nearby Hill Top, the longtime home of Beatrix Potter. She may be best known as the author and illustrator of children’s books featuring animals such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit, but is just as well known in Lakeland as a natural scientist and conservationist. She is credited with the preservation of the indigenous Herdwick sheep that we saw throughout our hikes and was a strong early sponsor of the National Trust, without which the Lake District National Park would not be what it is.

Although it is not a Beatrix Potter animal tale, we did enjoy another fun animal story over lunch at the nearby Drunken Duck Inn.

This unofficial title dates back to Victorian years, when a landlady of the inn found her ducks lying stretched out in the road and concluded that they were dead. Thriftily she began to pluck and prepare the carcasses for dinner. The ducks, however, were roused sufficiently under such treatment to show that they were ‘quick’ and not dead. Down the cellar a barrel had slipped its hoops and beer had gradually drained from the floor into the ducks’ customary feeding ditch. Thereupon the ducks made all too good use of their unexpected opportunity, with the result that when they came to they found themselves plucked and halfway to the oven. According to local legend, the landlady, full of remorse for the rough treatment provided the de-feathered birds with knitted jerseys and kilts of Hawkshead yarn until their feathers grew back again.

The Drunken Duck Inn, Barngates, Ambleside

A few miles further along, we arrived under dark clouds to the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Great Langdale, another famous Lakeland walkers’ hotel.

The overcast skies obscured many of the high peaks, and rain was threatening, so we first stretched our legs down low in nearby Mickledon Valley.

As the sun broke through and we saw some blue sky above, we decided to make the short climb up to Side Pike, a subsidiary peak of Lingmoor Fell.

From the slopes of Side Pike we had good views of our hotel, and our next major destination: the many summits that make up The Langdale Pikes.

Just as quickly, however, another front came in from the west, so we donned our weather proofs again and watched it approach from across the valley.

Within minutes, The Langdale Pikes were shrouded in cloud and the rain fell hard. It couldn’t contain our excitement to climb up there soon, however. We just had to be patient for another day and better weather.

Author: Chris

Until 2019, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia focused on Community Economic Development. Before that, I was a high-tech executive, small business owner, consultant and business broker.

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