“This is not England!”, the old woman proclaimed while scrambling over a pile of rock, sweat running down her face, the tanline on her back bearing white and red witness of this year’s summer heatwave. For weeks it hadn’t rained now, she told us – in the area of England that’s know for its notorious boggieness and that’s called “Lake District” not for nothing. Sun screen was sold out everywhere, and tourists opted for dipping their toes into the lakes instead of climbing the treeless mountains in 30 degree heat. All tourists? Well, technically we could have had a relaxing holiday, Felix and I, if the landscape wasn’t so breathtakingly beautiful, the mountains so wild and the paths so tiny, the rocks so perfect for climbing and the fells so heart-stoppingly fun to race down.
It all came together on a sunny sunday morning, when we joined a hundred runners for the Lakeland Trails Ultra Race along the shores of Rydal Water and over the hills near Grasmere. We didn’t take photos, so you’ll have to believe us when I say: it is the best thing in the world to run down a steep hill alongside a handful of other runners who are crazy enough to match your speed, pushed to run even faster by the cheers of the race marshalls and ending up flying down the hill at such a speed that you have to grab a fence post to throw yourself around the turn of the racetrack at the end of the downhill section. I was laughing the whole time for the sheer joy and danger of life of running and not-being-able-to-stop, wasting the precious air I would so desperatly need for the remaining 13k of the race.
Later, when Felix and I were eating vegan Döner and listening to the local singer-songwriter dude who was performing at the finishing line, we realized that the Lakes with their people and the food and the mountains and the fells had stolen our hearts and didn’t intend to give them back at all. Hellvelyn, Striding Edge, Green Gable, and the one pub that offered Cumbrian Tapas: we will be back. We love you. And for the heatwave – well, after two soacking wet holidays in the UK ’twas about damn time.
This is K.I.T.T., our loyal camper van.
This heartbreaking picture shows Felix on the evening before we had to leave. I’ve never seen him like this: this is the saddest he’s ever been.