So the alarm went off at quarter past five in the morning and it took a few moments before I realised I was in the B&B in Keswick. My trip had barely started and I was already shattered. Not only that, but this year I had filled every possible sunrise and sunset. I had no relaxation day either – a day pootling around a National Trust property or something similar. Somewhere there was a cafe and toilets and plenty of seats should I need to rest. Instead, this year I had packed every waking moment with landscapes and of course, the waking moments began very early indeed. It was madness.
So it was that I literally fell out of bed, washed and dressed as quietly as possible, before tiptoeing downstairs. It was then that I spotted the package clearly marked with my name on the communal fridge. I peered inside to find a croissant and it felt good to know someone was looking after me, even if I wasn’t exactly taking care of myself. I crept to the back door and I could just make out my little car, but try as I might, I couldn’t get the key to work. I experienced a moment of panic before realising that I could leave by the front door and simply walk around the block. Which is what I did, saying good morning to Polly (the cat I had befriended the day before), who was sitting outside the local Spar shop waiting for it to open.
This was to be my longest morning drive, but at twenty miles I didn’t expect it to take long. My Satnav had other ideas though. It behaved well enough until we reached the narrow road that curved round the Langdales, passing through tiny villages, along foggy valleys and over rocky hills. This was my sort of driving, but it was still almost dark, so when it instructed me to turn left, I did. I found myself on a dirt track that looked as though it might lead to a farm. Surely this wasn’t the right way? I started to doubt my own sanity as I put the car in reverse and continued on the previous route. I waited for some kind of protest, but it seemed happy with my decision and we continued for a few more miles. Finally I heard the words I had been waiting for – in three hundred metres I had reached my destination. Only I hadn’t. I had looked at enough YouTube videos and I knew exactly what the landscape around Blea Tarn looked like and it didn’t look like this.
With panic mounting, I pulled out the map I had brought along, just in case. The trouble was that it covered the entire area of my trip and wasn’t in enough detail to help me out of my current predicament. Thinking I may have already passed the tarn in the dark, I turned around and retraced my route. The Satnav wasn’t happy. It told me to turn around when possible and then to continue for another two kilometres! In fact, I was still in the wrong valley, but when I finally reached the parking area, I recognised it straight away. I hastily pulled on my wellies and grabbed my rucksack and tripod. By the time I reached the shore of the lake, the sun had already risen, but it was to be some time before enough light filtered down to where I was waiting. I had brought the croissant with me and breakfast has never tasted so good.