We were visiting some friends who lived up towards the Lake District. They recommended this walk, perhaps without considering how tough (and slow!) it might be for somebody with 3% vision. We set off from Old Dungeon Ghyll with the intention of visiting Stickle Tarn and a few of the Langdale Pikes.
Hikes can be a challenge for us. Most of the footpaths in the great outdoors are only wide enough for one, and even on the rare occasion where there is room enough for two, the differences in terrain can make using the width difficult. This means that for the most part, John, who is registered blind, holds on to a backpack while Lauren leads the way describing features or tricky sections along the way. Mentally it can be draining for both of us: For John, using the vision he has to locate where to put his feet and for Lauren, constantly having to describe terrain and be aware of the extra person. But that doesn’t stop us giving things ago. We’re on a mission show the world that blind or disabled people can do stuff.
Our route began steadily over relatively easy terrain, joined by a local lost farm dog (who made his way home eventually). We can cover even steps and flat sections quickly, and we did, but wasn’t long before things became a little more interesting. Fortunately, we’re both climbers and the odd scramble here and there doesn’t worry us at all, in fact, it can be easier than uneven or rocky paths. With his hands on the rock, John can make progress with little guidance. Stepping stones however, are quite a different story! Without being able to see, hopping across would probably result in a change of activity from walking to swimming but John has a real talent for doing things statically where it really shouldn’t be possible. Soon enough, we reached Stickle Tarn.
With it being early afternoon, and knowing everything takes us a long time, we probably should have turned back at this point but instead, we had a little review of our route in the hope that we’d still gain some altitude, but hopefully make it down in daylight. This isn’t exactly how it went. We had planned to take a longer, but gentler route ‘around the back’ but against the clock, we opted for a scramble up ‘easy gully’ instead. The gully itself was fine, but once we hit the top, the path was tricky to follow, and it was a case of navigating from Cairn to Cairn. It was also rocky in places and uneven, our progress was slow.
By the time we had reached the top of Harrison Stickle, the cloud had dropped down, the wind had picked up and the light had almost faded. Our route down was almost entirely through steep crags. It took a long time, navigation was a challenge, but we made it back with enough time to have a coffee before the carpark closed.