Lake District Explorer - James Lomax

In August 2005 I went for a Lake District walk up to Loughrigg Fell. I’d not been there before and as with a few other places, it means minimal effort for a good reward. Catbells is another example, or Castlerigg.

I was on my way to Borrowdale which at that time was where I usually went. It was a glorious warm day and I enjoyed the summit views up to Dunmail Raise, across the top fringes of the Kentmere hills, down to the sylvan valley, Windermere in the distance. The location is near Rydal and Grasmere which are the quintessential Lake District. Literary associations, gingerbread, pretty villages, good walks. It’s a good place to stop if you are driving north, or a good place to linger and stay.

The summit was busy. A typical Lake District summer, which means both UK and overseas visitors. My feeling about that depends whether I know the hill or not. If I don’t, I head for the summit like everyone else. If I do, with Helvellyn or Great Gable for example, I avoid the summit and eat, rest and photograph some distance away. You can lie on the fells as if you are alone while there are ten people at the top with more approaching.

There was an American party enjoying themselves. Two or three families, several adults, romping children. Climb here, wander there, shout merrily and exclaim. It was idyllic, for me too, and I remember some details. One of the fathers beamed at me with unforgettable happiness. He was aglow with it, this lovely British place, famous too, all the way from America.

I’ve seen that one other time. In the Pyrenees a few years ago I hitched a ride up to a mountain village called Lescun. I was staying there, so was the family in the car. Two young girls in the back, next to me, practised their English shyly and told me they went there every year. The father was ecstatic. It was like I was in a French movie with the title Nos Belles Vacances – Our Beautiful Holiday. I accidentally squashed a carton of yoghurt in his car, felt bad, apologised emphatically, and he barely noticed me. Got out the car, with unconstrained joy you more usually see in children: back here again.

It was the same with the man at Loughrigg Fell. There was nothing to say. He wasn’t communicating his happiness to me, it was simply how he was feeling and I was there too. I smiled back thinking yes, this really is exquisite and I know what you mean. Welcome to the Lake District.

I wandered with my camera exploring all the viewpoints and compositions and got a few shots. This child is not mine, I have no idea who she is, but I want to. No one else had a camera. I got this shot and no one else, and what a pretty moment with her pink explorer hat.

That was 2005 so now she will be about 24 years old. At college perhaps, her first job, or recently married. Possibly not living in America, but that is where she and her family are from. I want to give her and her parents this print. I’d like to think it will make them very happy, as we were in August 2005 at Loughrigg Fell in the Lake District.

Do you know who she is?

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