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University of Missouri

Hiking in the Lake District

Filed in Blog, United Kingdom by on February 3, 2014

This weekend I went for my first hike in the Lake District with the university’s hiking club. About 15 students piled into a minibus and drove for an hour up to the north end of the national park. We had two options for walks to do based on personal preference and split into groups accordingly. Mine consisted of eight lovely people: five graduate students and three undergraduate, from England, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, New Zealand and the United States. This wasn’t a trip specifically intended for international students, so I was surprised that our constituents were so diverse. I love that I am still meeting people from so many different places, despite the initial weeks of international orientation being over! This is how the day went:

  • We started off walking up a fairly steep but very doable slope, from Haweswater (a lake) up to the appropriately-named Small Water (pictured below). There were plenty of footholds among the rocks and it was mostly grassy, so I felt great about myself as a walker at this point. If I could label this stretch of path, I would call it the “Confidence Builder.”

    Small Water

  • Then we got up higher and the snow-to-grass ratio changed drastically.


  • We turned around and were rewarded with this view:


  • Then we continued on and reached the part of the walk I like to refer to as the “Confidence Decimator.” We were rewarded with a very different kind of view for the duration of this part of the hike. This was my first time hiking in a whiteout and I learned some interesting things about them. For example, I learned that in whiteouts, cliffs look more like ambiguous hills than like cliffs. I learned this when our leader pointed to an ambiguous hill to our right and said, “That’s a 500-foot cliff.” (Don’t worry Mom, he kept us well clear.) If you want to simulate the whiteout experience at home, I might recommend walking into your nearest Apple store. I was half-surprised when no salespeople emerged from the void to sell me an iPod.


  • After a few kilometers of blankness strangely barren of personal electronics, we finally reached the checkpoint for the summit of the mountain ridge we were on, called High Street. Maybe there was a touchscreen buried underneath that snow on the front.


  • I’d like to take a moment here to mention the wind. The wind was the principle reason for the “Confidence Decimator” being a confidence decimator. Our leader estimated 50–60 mph gusts, and they were quite constant, knocking me over more than a few times: comical, but it made me glad we were staying away from the cliffs/ambiguous hills.


  • Finally, the wind subsided for a moment and we could see the views to either side of the ridge.


  • For a few hundred meters, we walked along the ancient Roman Road. I wish I could say it was a transcendental experience, but I couldn’t muster much reverence at the time: I wouldn’t have known there was anything special under this particular patch of snow were it not for our leader telling us, my socks were wet (if you’ve ever worn wet socks you’ll know that this is a major detractor from any experience), and I really had to go to the bathroom. Sometimes you’re just too distracted to ponder humanity.


  • Due to the aforementioned factors, I was delighted when our leader announced that we were starting to make our way down.  This last part of the walk, I like to call the “Its-effect-on-your-confidence-is-irrelevant-because-you-just-need-to-go-to-the-bathroom” stretch. Pretty self-explanatory.




  • After making our way back down to where we had parked by the lake, we made a brief stop to pick up the other group from the pub they had hiked 15k to (champions) before heading home. We were all exhausted and slept like babies. Or maybe that was just me, but I’m going to make a blanket statement (please laugh), and say it was a minibus-wide phenomenon. Until next time, may your walks leave your confidence un-decimated and, more importantly, may a restroom be ever close at hand.

Comments (2)

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  1. Lorna says:

    How long did this hike take?

    • Haley says:

      It was somewhere between 10k and 13k, and took a particularly long time because of the snow and wind; I think we were out for about five to six hours!