My godfather Malcolm referred to England’s Lake District as “Heaven on Earth” as he unfolded various topographic maps on the coffee table. When Britnee and I found out we had a week to spare before meeting friends in Scotland, we quickly decided on a stop in the Lake District first. The only question was- where do we start in the 885 square miles of beautiful national park? Thankfully Malcolm, a long-time employee of the Ordnance Survey, (the national mapping agency for Great Britain), had the right answer.

A bus from Penrith to Glenridding then a short walk uphill would bring us to our hostel at YHA Helvellyn, a perfectly placed base in the Lake District offering a number of great hikes starting right from the doorstep. The most notable of these being Helvellyn, a 950-meter mountain, the third highest in England, that Malcolm had described as one of the “all-time classic walks in the Lake District.” But the mountain’s name alone was temptation enough.

Arriving to find our hostel quiet and locked up for another four hours, (we’d failed to notice the specific check-in times online), we decided to stick to our philosophy learned in Norway, (there is only today!), and take advantage of the glorious weather that afternoon. Sorting our small day packs with snacks, water and jackets, Britnee and I then locked our larger backpacks outside the front door of the hostel and started up the nearby trail.

The Lake District, Lake District, hiking, walking, walking holiday, England, hiking in England, walking the Lake District, what to see in England, Travel, Canon 5D Mark III, Helvellyn, YHA Hostel, Greenside, Greenside Lead Mine, Lower Man, climb Helvellyn,The first half of our hike followed a deepening, green valley before the trail began climbing quite steeply in a series of switchbacks ending at Red Tarn, a lake in the deep glacial cove beneath the Helvellyn summit. After a brief rest there we climbed to Striding Edge, one of the most popular routes to the summit, and upon arriving on the ridge it was easy to see why.

The Lake District, England.Almost a mile of careful walking and scrambling along a sharp arête provided a much more exciting “walk” than expected, with steep slopes dropping away either side and 360 degrees of breathtaking scenery. The last 80 meter climb to the summit was, at times, a rather exposed class-4 scramble and Britnee looked none too happy. On the other hand, I was having a blast and snapped picture after picture which probably didn’t improve her mood.

The Lake District, England.On top we celebrated with pistachios, apples and Cadbury Crunchies while sheltering with other hikers from a cold wind that was steadily pushing darker clouds our way. Soon we got moving again and instead of dropping down Swirral Edge, Britnee and I avoided that crowded portion of trail and walked a more gentle descent to the neighboring summit of Lower Man.

Looking back we watched as Helvellyn was enveloped in the dark, black clouds carried in by the wind, yet luckily we basked in warm sunlight for the remaining few miles back to our hostel. Somehow, just like in Norway, Britnee and I had timed things perfectly and enjoyed the mountain before the weather deteriorated and clouds lingered on the summit.

As we approached the hostel the evening sun dipped even lower, casting a deep golden glow over the vibrant green hills and valleys of the Lake District. Back in the hostel lounge with my feet up and a beer in my hand, Malcolm’s words came to mind for probably the 100th time that day-

“Heaven on Earth.”

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Mark quit everything to travel the world for a year with his wife, Britnee. Along the way, he picked up a love for many other things, including illy coffee, Nepal, Bolivianos bills, and Thai beaches. Now happily home in Utah, Mark is a balding marketing professional with a mountain biking addiction.

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