It's already busy and parking is at a premium. Busy due to it being a fine and bright Sunday with autumnal colours to create a sublime landscape before us.
Does it matter that we arrive late? No, we aren't meeting anyone else, and besides, we wish to make the most of the afternoon sunshine at the West facing climbing venue we are heading for.
A walled track takes us easily into the Langstrath valley and soon we are following the bubbling river upstream, with flowing water the only sound bar the occasional Hardwick sheep. We cross the river and continue to Gash Rock - a huge boulder lying above the river, likely abandoned there by a retreating glacier many years previous, a stark testament to the immense force of nature.
We break off the main track to follow a 'trod' (a small and indistinct path possibly made by sheep and occasional human traffic) uphill over bracken choked boggy terrain. Hearing voices we look up to see climbers playing their game on the steep rocks that lie above.
We arrive at the crag feeling hot and sweaty, out of breath after the steep walk over loose ground. Sitting down we are able to relax and drink in the splendid view afforded us as we look over Langstrath and to Cam Crag Ridge with its 'Hoof stones' (possibly sleeping areas in times gone by).
After exchanging a few pleasantries with the other climbers, we ready ourselves for the vertical world. We already have a plan so sort the ropes out accordingly, tie in and set off.
It's good to be back on this beautiful rock, grippy like no other and with plentiful protection there's no need to feel scared, only excited. Unfortunately the upper reaches of our chosen route is very wet, so a change of course becomes necessary, out onto a delicious open slab, harder climbing, but dry.
This provides wonderfully exciting moves and we both thoroughly enjoy the route, absorbing as it is. A long abseil then allows us a speedy retreat back to the base of the crag and some waiting lunch.
Once recharged we set off up the slab to climb another stunning route, every move feels brilliant and for a while we wish it won't end.
After this second long route our muscles ache and the afternoon draws ever later. We decide to make our way back down the steep hillside to Gash Rock and downstream by the river back to Stonethwaite, but taking time to absorb the atmosphere, appreciate the silence, and marvel at the autumnal colours shading the hillside.
As we near Stonethwaite, we are privileged enough to spot a Red Squirrel running up a tree by the track. We stop in our tracks to observe and it freezes to pay us the compliment of observing us back! We continue along the track so as not to disturb it further, both feeling lucky to have been so close to nature.
Today we went rock climbing, but experienced so much more!
Today we explored a peaceful valley bursting with bright autumnal colours, we saw the farm dogs at work in the distance, witnessed the extreme forces of nature, enjoyed the babbling cascades of the river, laboured up a steep hillside, drank in the beauty of the landscape,enjoyed the thrill of the rock climbing and the pleasant sensation of tired muscles afterwards.
Today we experienced a mountain journey!