On Monday, just after lunchtime, I arrived at the National Trust campsite in Wasdale and pitched my tent. It had taken all morning to get there. I'd set off from Nottinghamshire up the A1 stressed and uptight. Then, gradually, on the circuitous route to the western side of the Lake District, the cars thinned out. I began to unwind and relax. Slow down, I told myself. You can't go anywhere fast here. And why should you want to? I forced myself to adopt a slower pace and a less rigid mental attitude. By Wednesday I'd slowed down so much I knew it would be a shock to return to the 'real world' on Friday.
The western side of the Lake District is the connoisseur's part. Here you're a world away from the crowds at Keswick, Ambleside and Windermere. 5 lovely valleys radiate outwards like the spokes of a wheel, with the Sca Fell massif at its hub: counting clockwise, there's Dunnerdale or the Duddon Valley (about which I've written before); lush, green Eskdale; magnificent Wasdale, dominated by some of Lakeland's highest peaks; narrow, remote, high-sided Ennerdale, with its iconic Youth Hostel, Black Sail Hut, a former shepherd's bothy; and the gentle Vale Of Lorton, another of Wordsworth's favourite valleys.
Though I don't usually like campsites in July and August, there was plenty of space on this one and it was reasonably quiet - so long as you didn't pitch anywhere near the noisy generator in the toilet block. It was far less crowded than the National Trust campsite in busier and more accessible Langdale where I camped last year. I spent the afternoon and early evening sunbathing on the grass, walking to a nearby farm shop to buy milk, and meandering along local paths around Wasdale Head.
This campsite, like the one in Langdale, had been carefully landscaped among trees - you couldn't tell it was there from the road or from the fells above. As I prepared my evening meal, tame robins, chaffinches, dunnocks and thrushes approached for crumbs. Very tired, I crawled into my sleeping bag at 9 pm and slept solidly for 10 hours, waking only once.
My photo shows Wastwater in glaciated Wasdale, looking for all the world like a Norwegian fjord. The fells hemming in the head of the valley are Yewbarrow, Kirk Fell, Great Gable and Lingmell.