The wind chill factor on the fells last weekend took the temperature down to about minus 15 degrees here. Give or take. So far, the snow has been cheekily avoiding our days off, preferring to build up while we're at work, lure us into thoughts of crisp, snowy fell runs or walks, and then melt.
Anyway, a horseshoe walk over High Pike and Red Screes was just plain bitterly cold, rendering my bony hands into ice lollies. Turns out that they became perfect for tripod-less photography though- frozen hands completely removed camera shake from moving water shots in almost light-less conditions.
Lured partly by peer pressure and partly by a whimsical fancy to see what it felt like to run a long way, a few of us went east for the Wensleydale Wedge yesterday. It's a 23 mile Long Distance Walkers' Association challenge, primarily aimed at walkers, but runners seem to be tolerated quite well too.
A bird of prey about to pick off the stragglers at the back
The thing that amazes me is how civilised it all was. None of this frenetic racing business. There are cake stops in village halls along the way. Checkpoints manned by happy marshalls profering boxes full of Wensleydale cheese. Take a mug, and you're never far from a steaming urn of reviving tea. It makes fell racing look like the height of austerity.
The long plod to tea and biscuits at the top of Wensleydale
Tucked away in the remote south-west of Cumbria, Wasdale is, at least for some, the beating heart of the Lake District. It's tempting to call it 'unspoilt' in a chocolate box kind of way, but it's better than that. It's been spared the soft and cuddly Beatrix Pottery-Wordsworthy treatment by its remoteness.
It's a hard landscape, a real mountain fastness. Melded in some way between the catastrophic, varicose torrents that tumble off the perilously steep slopes, and the pockets of gentle flatlands dotted with Herdwick sheep. Moulded by generations of wiry Joss Naylors, slowly heaving the fallen stones into naturally contoured shapes. Oh, and it's got its own brewery. Could this be heaven?