When, on one day, a group came back chuckling that one of them had almost died when he slipped, but another had grabbed him by the backpack, my heart turned over.
My time trapped in bed or in my wheelchair seemed to drag on interminably. People who visited me remarked on how quickly I seemed to be getting better, but I didn’t feel that way at all. I was constantly frustrated.
Mountains have a wonder-inducing effect on many to some extent, but it seems that Wainwright got one of the largest doses of this sensation ever (I remember driving into the Ogwen valley when I was 19 and getting a thrill of wonder at the sight of Tryfan – it blew my preconceptions of the UK out of the water that there could be such a real mountain here). It is difficult to think of a closer association between name and place than his with the Lake District.
I came to a saddle between two hilltops, where a friendly-looking oak invited me to rest. I had time on my hands. I sat barefoot in its branches and played my whistle, looking back down towards the valley and the estuary. I ate my lunch with my back to its trunk, and read my book, “Fool’s Quest” (appropriately enough) by Robin Hobb. I was having a lovely day wandering through the Lakeland foothills.
We altered course, and more and more frequently had to dodge round large puddles and soaked earth, which then turned into entire sections of path that were submerged. Our route-finding involved some creative clambering and fence-hopping, until eventually we were checkmated. Caught on a track between two walls in an abandoned farmstead, with no way round and twenty metres of water between us and the road, we gave up and sprinted through it.