Good Friday and the Great Easter Cannonball Run into the Lake District National Park

The Westmorland Gazette: Coniston Water from Holme Fell Coniston Water from Holme Fell

SO, it’s Good Friday as the Mother Superior pulls a big right on to Kendal bypass – plunging us in to the Great Easter Cannonball Run into the national park.

We’re at the back of the pack, somewhere between the wobbling caravans and the psychedelic VW Campervans topped with kayaks.

Pressed impatiently from behind, the MS accelerates but we inadvertently end up neck and neck with a light saloon driven by The Stig.

He stubbornly hogs the right-hand lane which means overtaking is an impossibility.

A steaming queue of mad drivers forms behind both cars all the way to Plumgarths roundabout.

The saloon is soon away down the Crook Road, a final boom of its flatulent exhaust scaring crows from the trees.

But we’re part of a mass centreswarm now – flying of our own accord but all uniformly focussed on one direct hit. The virgin pollen of the Lake District at Easter!

(It’s at this point I should point out that usually we unicycle everywhere as a family of four! One tyre good, four tyres bad! Other less harmful and more inconvenient modes of transport are also available for the saintly and un-evil).

By the roadside, the Daffodils are dying of dehydration – no wonder! And who thought I’d ever write that in April?

The felltops are the draw, up there where the tarns are stirring and the sky is rolled to maximum blue.

ZzzzzzzUM. zumzum! I jolt awake as a large pack of motorcyclists snarls past. Six heavy ones down the fat white stripe of the centreline.

Along the pavements, big-eyed tourists in new sunhats stumble along, drunk on it all. Intoxicated by the assault on the senses; the stupefying beauty of the Lakes.

Low Tilberthwaite car park resembles a giant sweetie box – rammed with bright cars of every flavour and taste.

Soon we are on the slatey slopes, being eyed warily by suspicious sheep with muddy dreadlocks.

Uphill with a Wainwright in the pocket, light in the girls’ hair and the sun massaging our white necks.

Everywhere there are dead and fallen trees, victims of winter’s woodland war.

“Can I lie down”, pleads the three-year-old. “No!,” we reply as One.

She squeals back: “But he’s lying down!!!!” as we pass a man dozing by a rust-coloured tarn.

We do not reply. We are the Democratic People’s Republic of Parents and we are growing tired of your recalcitrance!!

On the summit is the Bolton Tourist mugging for the camera with his Nordic Poles.

For us, Pink Lemonade and sandwiches spiced with Carribbean Very Hot Jerk Sauce.

The summit is a dreamworld of bleached cairn stones and sunlight playing on deep blue Coniston Water.

My blood and lungs crave this purge of the circulatory system, a spring clean of the pipes. The kids will sleep tonight, we tell ourselves.

(They didn’t as it happens. Quarter to ten and they were still up!) They were still wired…strung out on the stupifying beauty of the Lake District.

“Next time we’re taking them up Scafell,” I said, turning to the Mother Superior.

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