A LOVE LETTER TO THE MOUNTAINS
Words by Dave Anderson, photos by Sim Mainey
My earliest memories of being in the mountains are from family time spent in the Lake District. Early years embedded in, and surrounded by, the peaks and ridge lines of the western fells. Always the western fells. Revisiting a birthplace and exploring the potential for close scrapes from a young age. Building a sense of place, an internal map, a feeling of being home.
Investing years, and months, and days, and minutes. Time never wasted, always learning, storing away memories, turning missed opportunities into future dreams. Building a relationship with a place that will outlast friendships, a tie to a location that keeps drawing me back. For Just. One. More. Experience. One more opportunity to spend time amongst the fells.
Surely there is no other place in this whole wonderful world quite like Lakeland… no other so exquisitely lovely, no other so charming, no other that calls so insistently across a gulf of distance. All who truly love Lakeland are exiles when away from it.
There was a time I didn’t get Wainwright. I scoffed and sneered at the disciples devotedly ticking off every summit that he mentioned. A commoditisation of the fells that didn’t sit naturally with the way I wanted to interact with them. But that quote sums up nicely the addiction I feel, though lovely and charming aren’t words I’d naturally use.
Read more about the Norco Range
I’ve got my mum and dad to thank for passing on their love of the Lakes, through countless treks carried along with the promise of some long gone café from my dad’s memory of his own explorations by bike in his youth. Mythical destinations passed on by word of mouth, now thoroughly replaced by my own need to find that perfect trail that must exist somewhere out there.
The belief that there must be a trail with endless flow to justify the inevitable hike a bike session that comes with exploring the high places here. A perfect reward for the exertion invested in the outward portion of the ride.
Read more about the Giant Reign
A quarter of a century exploring on two wheels. The inevitable evolution of the once reluctant hiker. Progression in bike capability reflected in the widening of potential paths to follow. Poring over maps searching to find the right combination of contours that hint at something that will be worth riding, worth the effort to top out on some mountain before pointing the bike back down. Each trip adding to the library of experience, another layer of history laid down ready to be recalled over a pint in some distant future, the closer the scrape, the nearer the miss the better.
I’ve ridden all over the world, ticked bucket list trails off an nonexistent itinerary but nowhere else compares. No destination found that offers what the Lakes does. No other place that can match the sheer variety of riding that’s squeezed into such a small area. From the open fell tops, passes and corpse roads, slate quarries hunkered into the ground they were blasted from, to the gnarled and weathered woodlands, every kind of riding is on offer, waiting for you to seek it out.
Read more about the Trek Slash
A harsh and beautiful landscape with a climate to match, one that can draw you in and spit you out. Hard lessons waiting to be doled out amidst the windless summits and good weather days. The chill, the rain, the hard climbs, all adding up to make the reward taste all the better when everything goes to plan, and when good plans come to fruition.
Trail exploration roulette, plotted on the map, checked on Google Earth but never assured just what will be served up on the ground. For every dead end scrabble down some rocky outcrop madness, nerves on edge as you commit to drops that are on the uncomfortable edge of a skill level, there’s the ribbon of singletrack that unravels ahead steadily ticking off height and serving up a perfect section of flow. Sometimes you get to hammer and sometimes you get nailed.
A playground to take risks in, or a playground to revisit the well known.
The Lakes offers all this and more.
The Lakes is awesome.
The Lakes is open. What are you waiting for?
The end of 2015 brought devastating flooding to much of the north of England, but sitting on the western edge it’s fair to say that the Lake District bore the brunt of it. It’s a sobering moment when you see the debris still in evidence four months later, piled heaps of cleared up rock and stone on the outskirts of settlements, or the alluvial fans spreading wide across fields through which tame becks now flow.
Now is the time to get back up there and support local businesses and the Lakeland community.
Helmet | Smith Forefront
Jacket | Scott Trail MTN 10
Jersey | Race Face Indy 3/4
Shorts | Mavic Crossmax
Knee Pads | Race Face Indy
Gloves | Mavic Crossmax Ultimate
Shoes | Mavic Alpine XL
Pack | Camelbak Kudu 18
Helmet | Smith Forefront
Jacket | Endura Singletrack
Jersey | One Industries Crook 3/4
Shorts | One Industries Vapor
Gloves | One Industries Vapor
Knee Pads | Race Face Indy
Shoes | FiveTen Impact VXi Clipless
Pack | Camelbak Mule 11