Now if you’ve only got one day in the Lake District you had better make it count. So we researched online, looked dubiously over at the small Westies in our care and picked our hike carefully. In the end we decided that if they couldn’t do the distance we would simply have to carry them, and boy did we make good on that promise…
Our time was limited because our house-sit in Catterick was a 2 hour drive away. So while we couldn’t miss seeing the Lake District neither would we repeat the journey. Especially with so much to explore on our doorstep in Yorkshire. So when the sun popped up one early morning we crammed the car with snacks, extra dog food, oodles of water and hit the road..
The scenic drive flew by wight he dogs settling to snooze as soon as we reached the carriageway. Soon we were winding through minuscule Braithwaite village wondering if our Google Maps had failed us. The roads had become tight alleyways but after several tight bends and passing a very muddy tractor we emerged into an expansive valley. Our poor car grappled with the incline to rest on a golden ridge. Suspended between the mighty fells of Robinson and Grasmoor peaks we gasped at the magnitude. Then we gasped again when our eyes settled upon Buttermere Lake herself..
In the absence of wind her surface reflected the imposing peaks cascading from her shoreline. It was a kaleidoscope of colour that I could only turn away from to deal with my reality. Two restless dogs and a tangle of leads thanks to their tantrums at one another in the back seat. After double checking that our extra snacks, sun cream and camera were in the backpack we could reassemble ourselves outside the vehicle. Like most of our hikes it was a slow start, picking up a dog poo, correcting rumpled socks and shoe laces and double checking our sense of direction. But soon we were off and only the lake slowed us down. We could hardly stop staring and taking pictures, it was mesmerising..
We couldn’t stare forever, we had 900 m height gain to play with and despite a soothing start to this 13 km loop we knew there was some serious hiking to be done. After curving around Buttermere Lake’s southern edge the incline began to taunt us. Our first issue was Seb, the smaller of the two Westies. He couldn’t quite tackle the steps. Being the one without the back pack I took him into my arms. It was a little too natural for him, posing like a prince destined for this kind of travel while Oz, our bigger pup, looked up longingly. When he also began to tire Prue took him into her arms and that is how we achieved the first 500 m height gain, carrying our dogs like babies and amusing the many hikers around us. When things levelled off and we could put them down for a run it was not uncommon for people to gush “wow, those boys are fit.” We’d merely nod, panting and sweating too much to make any coherent sounds. By this time a new perspective of Lake Buttermere had revealed itself to us, one which was engulfed by huge peaks as if it sat inside the jaw of some gigantic prehistoric animal. The water had become a royal blue instead of the medley of colour we had seen before and all around us the Lake District erupted into a blue sky strewn with puffy white clouds..
Distracted by our birds eye view of the world, sheer drop offs and obviously inspired by the “fitness” of our dogs we traversed the ridge behind Buttermere with ease. Summiting High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike we soon reached a particularly sharp descent. Oz and Seb by now practically jumped into our arms and we lunged, slowly, into the burnt orange rock that brought us to the shores of Bleaberry Tarn. After another breathless view and a final stash of our remaining snacks we were ready to compete the descent through boggy scrubland.The pups managed most of this on their own but honestly, they were no longer white. And we weren’t clean either. Returning to the car we were just a messy group of happy dogs and humans who’d spent 7 hours in the mountains…..
Want to do it for yourself? Here are the stats for hiking the Buttermere Edge
Prue and Becks Difficulty rating: 3/5
Starting point: Park anywhere in Buttermere town itself and you can either go clockwise or anticlockwise around the lake to start the hike.