Solo Hiking: The Lake District
by Perry Bliss
Nothing can beat that feeling of being completely alone in the wilderness. For me it is the knowledge that you have complete solitude, away from the hassles of life. Every year I do a few solo hikes in different countries. I live and work in the city most of the year so I take great pleasure from taking some time out to go it alone.
If you have never traveled alone it is hard to describe how liberating it feels. Sure you have to be a bit more on your toes but nothing can beat the feeling of doing what you want, when you want, how you want.
This year I had the pleasure of visiting the Lake District in the United Kingdom for my hiking experience. I have visited the UK a few times on work trips but that was only to the capital London (a great city if you haven’t been). While I was there I became aware of the Lake District, which is located several hours from the capital (although everything is only several hours from London in the UK!). You can travel to the District in a morning from London. For this trip I took a long weekend (Fri - Mon) and with Sat and Sun as my hiking days and the other two for traveling. This was a short trip for me (coming off the end of a work trip) and in the past I have taken whole weeks off. The key is to fit it into your schedule. A short two days of hiking can be just as fulfilling as a week. As a hiker I naturally look out for new places to visit and once I heard about the Lake District I knew I was going to have to spend a long weekend there.
The Lake District is a national park on the northeast of England. It is a stunning area of mountains, valleys and lakes. It is picture perfect, every turn is a flawless view of the beautiful British countryside and I would love to show you pictures of my trip but I don’t take photos - more on that later. I headed to the District in August and the temperature was pleasant with very little rain (I’m already turning British by talking about the weather!).
I based myself at the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel in Great Langdale. I arrived on Friday evening, saving Saturday and Sunday for hiking. I chose this hotel was because it was recommended as the best place for hikers on this list of the best places to stay. It isn’t the most luxurious place I have stayed in but it was right in the center of the district and suited me perfect.
Doing a bit of research before I arrived I discovered that the hotel has a good hike that starts from their doorstep called the Crinkle Crags and Bowfell Walk. According to the official site the Crinkle Crags are named this way because “of their profile as a succession of abrupt undulations on a high long ridge.” I was warned that this would be a difficult hike, but if I am one thing, it is determined, so I set out anyway.
Mick Knapton CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
In hindsight I should have perhaps eased my way into the hiking however I completed the 9-mile hike and had a great time. The hike is one of the toughest in the Lake District, but I love to push myself. Climbing the five Crinkle Crags was tough and I was exhausted when I got back, but the views were beautiful and some of the best I have ever seen. It really is a magical place and although I wasn’t always alone on the walk (it’s quite popular) I still got the same feeling of being lost in my thoughts surrounded by stunning natural beauty.
The next day I visited Derwent Water in the North. I started off in Keswick and slowly made my way around following this trail
(download). This particular walk was a much more gentle one than the previous day's, a good thing because I was still tired. Derwent Water is a picturesque lake and is known as the queen of lakes because of its natural beauty. If I had more time I would have taken a boat trip across it.
I mentioned above that I don’t take photos when I’m hiking - let me explain. Solo hiking for me is a very personal journey. I’m not a huge fan of social of media but I do use it frequently to keep in touch with friends and for work commitments. On my hikes I want to switch off. I want the memories to be mine and mine alone, because I feel that if I share the photos on social media then the journey loses some of its uniqueness. Friends and family know where I am and where I am staying, I don’t disappear off the planet, as much as I would love that feeling.
One question I often get asked is whether hiking alone is safe. Nothing can ever be 100% safe and I take as many precautions as I can. My family and friends always know where I am going, and I always have a phone on me in case of emergencies. I also don’t tend to camp out on my own. While I love hiking and like to push myself, I often have a base camp that I return to (nothing beats a comfy bed and glass of wine after a long day of walking). I have camped out alone in the past before and it was fine, although it takes a bit of getting used to. For those who would be worried about traveling solo I recommend taking small trips first and discovering how liberating it can be. You have to feel comfortable and if you are going to worry then you won’t enjoy yourself. I have been very lucky in that I haven’t had any trouble and have in fact met some lovely people on my hikes who are still friends today.
Hiking is a great way to exercise and there are hikes for all fitness levels and ages. In the Lake District there are hundreds of walks ranging from the tough one I did to gentle walks around country towns. If you are in doubt of your ability don’t push yourself, get into the groove and work your way up to scrambling up mountainsides. Perry Bliss is a businesswoman who loves to let it all go and get outdoors. She loves hiking in different countries and believes that the only true way to find total peace is to walk some of world's most beautiful locations.