A guide to fell walking

Waterfall on Birk Fell in Lake District National Park

Through my childhood reading of A.A. Milne, Enid Blyton, Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters I was somewhat aware with the English obsession of walking. It wasn’t until I moved to the UK though, that I fully comprehended what that meant.

Whether it be a daily constitutional round the block, or a long ramble of a Sunday before a mandatory roast lunch, my new countrymen just love a wander.

Naturally while Adam and I were in the Lake District this week, we had planned an on-foot exploration, and in Cumbria the go-to is fell (hill) walking.

Path to Birk Fell in the Lake District National Park, United Kingdom
The road (yes, this is technically classified as a road!) to Birk Fell.

When you’re doing any sort of walking in the UK, waterproof shoes are a must.  Even when the forecast is for a beautifully sunny day, always suspect there could be a shower of rain. I’ve mentioned previously my beloved Bean Boots – they’ve been my go-to walking shoe over here. They’ve got good grip on the sole, have a waterproof bottom, leather uppers and are some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. I feel confident walking over uneven terrain, through small streams and in snow with them.

Bean Boots on a mossy, hill fell in the Lake District

Layering clothing is another skill I’m slowly starting to pick up.  It’s one thing  to get it right for a day running errands around town, another when you’re doing something physical and in a cold climate.

Although it wasn’t freezing the day we walked, there were still patches of ice on the ground, snow on the highest peaks and a breeze that got pretty darn strong the higher you went (to the point where I was buffeted a few times). I’ve always been a bit of a fan of Kathmandu clothing, but in the lead-up to the move Adam and I became regular customers at the Wagga Wagga store. I started with a base layer of Kathmandu thermals (long-johns and a long sleeve t-shirt). I wore Kathmandu merino socks (lightweight, breathable and don’t smell at the end of a big day!) and a pair of slim-fit jeans that I could tuck into my Bean Boots. Up top I added a long-sleeve Under Armour exercise top that I normally wear to the gym in winter (a little like this), a Kathmandu  zip-up fleece with a hood (similar here) and a Kathmandu waterproof outer layer. Anything that’s waterproof also appears to be a great wind-stopper too – which is what you desperately need atop a windy fell.  Add a pair of polar fleece lined gloves and a beanie and you’re good to go!

Walkers atop of Birk Fell in the Lake District National Park
Wearing all the clothes!

We made sure we had a good supply of food, including a Cumbrian favourite – a Kendal mint cake (just like the inside of a mint slice biscuit, minus the biscuit and chocolate – yum!), a map, compass, waterproof pants, down jackets (in case it was really cold) and a satellite phone.

Waterfall on Birk Fell in Lake District National Park
There are dozens of waterfalls all over the fells – the water is cold, but beautifully clear.

We walked an 8km loop, which doesn’t sound like much – but when most of it involves walking up a very, very steep hill and then straight down the sheer other side, it turns into a bit of an expedition.

Stone cairn on top of Birk Fell in Lake District National Park
The cairn at the top of Birk Fell.

On a side note – Adam and I finally have the go ahead to move into our house! I’m looking forward to sharing the space with you over the coming days.  Have a lovely weekend – most of mine will be spent nesting in our new home :).

2 thoughts on “A guide to fell walking

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