If you're fit (ish) why not try fell running? Before moving to the Lakes a few years ago I thought fell running was for bearded, scraggy, mountain-goat types. Not at all, it's so much fun.
Ditch the heavy walking boots and bulky rucksacks, slip on some fell shoes (lightweight and nobbly) and go. Walk up the steep hills, run along the ridges, trot down. You're moving faster so don't need lots of clothes, you drink out of becks. Nothing beats running along a mountain ridge on a clear day with your mates (or simply your dog) alongside.
Having said all that, my husband's in the mountain rescue team and would never forgive me for encouraging people to get into trouble - so start with something relatively easy (perhaps walk up Catbells, run along and up on to Maiden Moor, drop off on the Grange side and run back through Manesty Wood and alongside Derwentwater). Great route - and it's not on my husband's patch!
Get up early and have the fells to yourself. There will be far more wildlife around (I saw two roe deer, three red squirrel, pheasants and rabbits in the woods overlooking Bassenthwaite this morning) and no one on the tops. I was running with my dog for more than an hour, through the woods and up on to Lord's Seat and Barf, and met no one until I returned to the car park at Spout Force and some Americans asked the way to the waterfall. Set your alarm, the earlier the better.
This is one of the most scenic campsites in the country, sandwiched between the steep slopes of Place Fell and the shores of Ullswater, with spectacular views across the lake to the Helvellyn fells. An excellent base for walking, watersports and mountain biking, or just hanging out on site and drinking in the magnificent scenery.
The Patterdale Hotel, 10 minutes’ walk away does good food in huge walkers’ portions and fine real ale.
01768 482337, www.lakedistrictcamping.co.uk, £4.50pp
With apologies to Julie Andrews, as far as mountain climbing for beginners goes there's nun better than Skiddaw with its natural route clearly visible.
It's a steep climb, but persistence will deliver some amazing views. There are no ropes, pickaxes or on-all-fours required, although be prepared for a slight feeling of shame as runners often jog past.
Take a child and pretend you are going at their pace.
Follow the signposts on the A591 and you'll soon be on the simplest way up Skiddaw.
Get the 50000 or 25000 scale and you can find all the footpaths which means you can spend the day walking, not driving. Even better, choose a place to stay close to lots of footpaths and Rights of Way. Pubs are marked too, so you can find a place for lunch.
www.stanfords.co.uk or any good bookshop.
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