Caffinated, we bound out the car.
The icy Lake District breeze hit the ears, it was c-c-c-c-cold.
Cue the bobble hat gifted by my Godparents, a little T.Snook gem.
Kitted, zipped up, ears toasty, we begun chasing the clouds. First we skirted a little lake with silent still waters.
Then we wound our way up a small unworn track marked by the shell of a once tree. The air was cold to breathe, it was exhilarating.
We had met up with AJ's parents Papa and Mama Murf, they had been staying lakeside on Windermere for a short pre christmas break.
The thing I love most about this time of year is the quiet. To most the idea of cold winter walks is daunting, which is great because it leaves the hills silent.
We stopped, staring out at the changing valleys. With our hearts racing to keep us warm, we couldn't help but smile with excitement at the outdoors.
I am so into technically dressing, the idea of comfort in the uncomfortable had always seemed that of fables. It wasn't until we headed into the Arctic Circle with our buddies a few years back that the need for good layering was obvious.
Goretex is a no brainer. The textile is the best layer to keep the elements away. Mine and AJ's shells are North Face Summit Series, which work as great outer shells. For this walk it was a little rainy, temperatures were around zero and the wind picked up and dropped. I wore a merino wool base layer with a fleece mid layer beneath the shell.
On the ascent, the silence was sliced with an echo of trickling water. To the touch the flow was icy cold, fresh.
The narrow path skirted alongside the waters edge. We continued uphill. We wound between and over small peaks.
Eventually the hills opened to a small volume of water, collected in the clouds.
A layer of ice graced the waters surface. The cold blocks of solidified water made for great back chilling entertainment.
"Rish, quick!" Andrew motioned downhill before picking up the pace to a run. Blindly I chased, running, leaping, skirting rocks, clearing bramble clusters, landing on vibrams and thankful for sure footed confidence.
With the path moving downhill we diverted off piste towards an opening in the hill. A short sprint and we screeched to a stop. The land fell away steeply down into the valley, opening the skyline to layers of depth disjunct by the dancing clouds.
For a moment we stood, holding our breaths. Any inhalation broke the clear silence like a cacophony, it was a true moment of silence. The world around died away under a blanket of soft cloud.
It was the sound of nothing, and everything.
We stood for the longest time, watching the world.
Then I got a second wind, and jumped up. As I did, to help clear some rocks below, I pushed off the rock with my recovering hand. I didn't think twice, it seemed natural. It didn't hurt, there was no twinge, the strength wasn't there, it won't be there for a while, but it gave endless confidence.
I darted between the dried ferns.
Then we realised the time, the sun had been kissing the horizon and threatened to leave.
Luckily I was there to alert the team and told them that we "moust-dash."
Nothing, just a vacant stare.
I stuck the hat back on, and off we descended. Warm, happy, and with a great walk accomplished, it was time to leave the hills. For now.