Arriving in Ambleside – 1 – The District

The Lake District



The mission statement is the same as ever; find something beautiful, have an adventure.

The journey starts earlier than I’d like it to. Our train leaves Euston a bit after nine. There’s nothing much to be concerned with in terms of travel, two trains and a taxi ride gets us to Ambleside. Then a little luck will guide us to the office with our apartment keys and we’re good to go. This is always a more tense undertaking when you’re carrying a bit of weed through Kings Cross. It’s not necessary for a big adventure but it does help. The bitch of it is, if you get stopped and they find the weed, they’ll try and do you for something more. The cops will trump up any charge they can, even when the officers themselves know that what you’re getting charged with won’t stick.

‘Seems a bit much for a hiking trip, wouldn’t you say?’

Absolutely not.

Once we’re in the train at Euston most of the paranoia fades. The expectation is that the somewhat less bustling metropolis of Oxenholme, won’t have a bunch of armed police milling around. On arrival, we’re gratified to learn that we hadn’t miscalculated and could enjoy a comfortable stroll to the taxi rank and then on to Ambleside.

We get dropped off at a recommended pub, haul our bags inside—it’s still too early to pick up our keys from the office—and sort out drinks and lunch. The town is washed out and it looks as if the rain has been here most of the day. Globes collect on benches and eventually drop to the ground under their own weight. The narrow streets are filled with people, they overflow onto the roads and step back onto the pavement when there’s a break in the clusters of tourists.

Is this an omen?

Our mission gets a little harder to carry out each year. I can already feel a nostalgic and probably partially fictional golden age forming in my mind around the summers of 2015 and 2016, not long after I started going on these journeys and when it seemed liked no one else had come to the idea yet. At least, no one from my generation. And rarely anyone went to the places we went. Now our spots are busier and the adventures more cramped. Still, being here now, even with the throngs of damp people wandering through town, all I want to do is abandon the bags and sprint into the fells.

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About Luke Smith

I travel around and write about it. When I'm not travelling around, I write about whatever seems meaningful to me at the time; these are usually meditations on current events, finding ways to survive the crushing existential grind of modern civilisation or vaguely philosophical musings.
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