Less than three hours to Patterdale

Published 10 May 2017. Last updated 5 September 2021

A walker strolls down a path in the Lake District

A walker strolls down a path in the Lake District

“The Lake District!” the poster enthused. “Just 90 minutes from our new home in MediaCity.”

The year was 2010 and I was working for the BBC. But not for much longer, as my job was about to move out of London and to Salford, a city in its own right but which sits perpetually under the shadow of its larger neighbour, Manchester.

The poster was one of several extolling the virtues of packing up your life, saying goodbye to your friends and taking the plunge so that you could work in a shiny glass office with a grand view of the Manchester Ship Canal.

I can’t actually remember what the other posters were, but the Lake District one has stuck in my mind ever since.

Of course I didn’t move to Manchester at the time. Despite having grown up in its suburbs, the timing wasn’t right. To move would mean committing myself to a job that I’d already done for seven years by that point. I was itching for a change, but change from the challenge of a new role rather than the challenge of the upheaval of my life. My partner (also Manchester born), wasn’t in a massive rush to head back north either.

Skip forward seven years and I’m sat in our now not-so-new home in the suburbs of Manchester trying to plan out a few walks. I am looking around the city, and it’s edges; somewhere close-ish to home. And slowly it dawned on me that the Lake District wasn’t that far away.

That should have been obvious. The closeness of the Lakes – and making use of it and other countryside – was one of the benefits of leaving London. And yet, in the franticness of moving house, I’d forgotten all about it.

I began to think about what I could do in a day, maybe with a weekend. Head up early on a Saturday, walk all day, stay overnight, walk some more on Sunday then return. I poured over Pictorial Guides and Ordnance Survey maps, and crunched some numbers into Google Maps.

Light bulbs began to flash in my head. Driving to Coniston, or Eskdale would take just three hours. Using public transport I could actually leave my house at 6:45, leap on some trains and buses and be in Patterdale – stood in the village – by half ten.

Of course the UK’s a small country. For most people great countryside generally isn’t that far away. All you have to do is work out how to get there.

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