Heron Pike in snow

Heron Pike and Windermere, seen from Great Rigg. Walk 105 — definitely my snowiest.

The Lakes is worth visiting at any time of year. In fact, I would say that summer is the least spectacular of the four seasons, and also – perhaps paradoxically – has the least reliable weather. Yes, a bad day in winter is not a day to be outside at all, but at least when a winter day starts off good it’ll probably stay good. A good summer morning in the Lakes can often deteriorate.

Sellafield, from Crag Fell

Looking south from Crag Fell towards the Irish Sea, only a few miles away. A late autumn shot (walk 28, late November 2010).

The reason for this is that the Lake District is the only real coastal mountain range in England. A warm day will heat up the sea and provoke evaporation, which then blows inland on the prevailing westerly wind. As it hits the fells, which are only a few miles inland, it is pushed upward, cools and condenses out, falling as rain. Believe me, I have had many more good summer mornings turn into cloudy and damp afternoons, than the other way round. In the summer, it is best to get your walking started early.

Autumn colours

Autumn colours on ‘Earl Harry’s Drive’, in the Lowther valley — walk 88.

Autumn is perhaps the best time to visit: the turning foliage erupts in glorious colour and I have had some spectacularly good days of weather even into late November; watch the forecast and try to be flexible. Remember also that, typically, the UK has its most settled and sunny weather in September.

Winter has obvious dangers, and no one should walk in ice and snow without proper preparation and equipment: the daylight hours are also shorter. But there is something quite amazing at being out on the fells in the snow, and no reason why anyone who respects the fells and knows their physical limits should shy away from it. Wrap up warm, though – at least two layers everywhere. In colder air the views are often better, too. It should also be pointed out that probably the best weekend’s walking of all of 2012 came in January.

Spring lambs

New spring lambs, at Stair, below Causey Pike. Picture taken on walk 54, April 2012.

The benefits of spring come with the colours provided by flowers, the frolicking of young lambs in the fields, and all the other things that wake us up and get the blood flowing after the long winter. Then again, I’ve seen snow on the fells as late as May 1st so, once again, check the forecast. Sometimes Britain has a glorious spring – sometimes a terrible one. You just don’t know.

The Lake District weatherline site is invaluable, and in combination with the BBC web site (search for forecasts for Keswick for the north, Ambleside for the south), I usually find their forecasts reliable – if anything, the Weatherline site is often slightly pessimistic. However, what the Weatherline site also has, during the winter, are reports of conditions on the felltops, which are very important to know.

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One Response to “Weather through the year”

  1. […] and then one about specific destinations in the Lakes. Plus I’ve added some information on weather, nature and – very useful this one – […]

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