The Perse School

Year 9 pupil wins Outdoor Pursuits Department writing competition

5 Feb 2014

Elizabeth Stephenson in Year 9 recently won January’s ‘Inspiring Trails’ competition, which has been organised by the Perse Outdoor Pursuits Department. The aim of the competition is to get pupils writing about an outdoors experience they’ve had outside of school, and to inspire other pupils to get out into the great outdoors.

Elizabeth produced a fantastic account of hill-walking in the Lake District entitled ‘Larking around the Langdales’, which gained considerable praise from the Outdoor Pursuits staff who judged the competition. They said that Elizabeth’s piece was:

“An inspiring tale of hill walking in the Lake District that makes you want to put on your walking boots and walk right out the door. Excellent description and vivid use of detail throughout. A thoroughly enjoyable read.”

Read Elizabeth’s prize-winning account below.

Nothing quite beats standing on the top of a mountain; it’s like being on the roof of the world. Bitter wind biting your face, dancing through your hair, it makes you feel alive, so alive it’s almost tangible. Clouds chase each other across the breath-taking horizon, ever hinting the chance of rain. Sunlight beaming through them, illuminating far-off crags and glinting on the surface of jewel-like tarns that are tucked away in isolated corries. A stunning landscape that is nigh on impossible to beat.

Seeing the fells of the eastern lakes spread out before me makes the strenuous ascent up the gully next to Raven Crag worth it. We took a rather unusual route up to the peak of Harrison Stickle, one of the numerous Langdale Pikes. Shrugging off the normal path up we opted for a steep scramble up a scree-filled gully that was, as far as I could tell, intended for the use of sheep not my family!

We had set off that morning from where we were camping, a well-equipped campsite named Great Langdale Campsite after the valley in which it lies, the Langdale valley. Having spent the night in our campervan, this meant that my mum, dad, sister (Laura), two dogs (Guinness and Swift) and I had all been squeezed in a rather small space. (We always have a heck of a good time!) It was a relief to get out in to the fresh air and reclaim some much needed space!

The dogs hared off up the path as soon as we had left the road, having gladly been unclipped from their leads. We followed them up the rough track a fair way, pausing only to offload a few layers, (several of Laura’s somehow ended up in my rucksack) until we reached a fork in the path, choosing the left option which turned out to be fairly eventful. It started life as a harmless innocent looking path that we followed quite happily until it became seemingly obscured by rocks. I think it was one of our ‘oh what the heck, let’s go up it anyway’ moments that led us to the bottom of a gully with a very rudimentary path snaking up it covered in a credible amount of scree.

The dogs pottered about above quite content to rain the odd bits of scree down on us, (fortunately none made contact) always seeming unimpressed with our slow and laborious progress up the sides of the rocky gully. It was a fairly challenging bit of climbing and if we had slipped the consequences could have been rather severe. However we still enjoyed ourselves immensely and relished the challenge as it provided extra interest and adventure to our walk! (It may be prudent at this moment to point out that we are very experienced walkers and we had several rucksacks with us with the necessary equipment to keep us safe on the fells!)

After finally scrambling out of the top of the gully we emerged onto a mercifully clear path that wound its way to the top of Harrison Stickle. Following this along a moderately flat stretch we encountered the ascent to the peak. After a welcoming scramble over the last few rocks we reached the summit where we were met with stunning views and a reviving crisp wind. At this point it was around 2:15pm and we decided it was best to head down while the light was still with us, we did have head torches but we weren’t exactly bursting with eagerness to use them. Post a controlled descent down from Harrison Stickle via a fairly steep path we arrived at Stickle Tarn. Pausing briefly to admire the beautiful views and the towering mountains above us, reflected in the glassy surface of the tarn, we followed Stickle Ghyll down. The route down alongside the ghyll incorporated several crossings over the rapidly flowing, crystal clear water. It’s remarkable just how much fun you can have hopping tentatively over stepping stones surrounded by whirling, frothing water, watching the dogs trying to catch bubbles in their mouths!

As the light was fading we arrived at the pub nestled in the valley floor where we gratefully rested our feet and enjoyed our respective drinks. Definitely the best way to end a walk!

Being out on the fells with your family is one of the best ways to spend the day, I sometimes get asked by people if I often get bored walking up mountains all the time, but honestly it’s great fun with never a dull moment! Spending time with your family surrounded by spectacular scenery and enjoying the great outdoors is an amazing experience I shall never tire of! If you have never climbed a mountain then try it! You never know, you might just be surprised.”

We look forward to seeing more entries over the course of the year – entries for February’s competition are already flooding in!


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