After hiking Snowdon (the highest peak in Wales) pre 2011 – my life chunked up into pre and post 2011 when I moved to Australia – and more recently Ben Nevis, the high peak in Scotland in 2021 I knew there was only one thing left to achieve in my new UK mountain quest. Hike the highest peak in England – Scafell Pike.
It sat on my ‘Things to do’ list where I would glance at it waiting for the perfect opportunity – we all know the Great British summer can be a washout. If you can plan a hike for a blue sky day then surely you would. It gained focus after completing the Ben Nevis Summit hike in May, when luck came my way.
Suddenly there was a UK ‘heatwave’, which basically means you are guaranteed no rain and blue skies for days. This, the definition of bliss. As I glanced at the upcoming ten day weather forecast I mumbled to myself “It is the turn of Scafell pike.”
After 4 days gallivanting around being a tourist on a Great British road trip, I arrived in Windermere in the Lake District on a barmy heatwave Thursday. I felt tired as I was midway through a marathon training week and had been on the go all week. My step count must have been through the roof. On the Monday of the same week I was spotted near Keswick, also in the Lake District, hiking up Cat Bells.
It had been one of those weeks, ‘no rest for the wicked’. My marathon training rest days are a Monday and Friday. The Friday was when I planned to hike Scafell Pike – the next morning. My legs were in denial, and maybe my mind also.
In life, and with a marathon, you need to follow the plan and trust the process, but for a girl who at times wants it all you need to feel that tiredness but keep moving forward.
Sometimes you need to say goodbye to balance knowing each day you are maxing it out on your road trip while keeping one eye on your marathon plan. Do it all – run and have the road trip adventure, hike and swim, stroll and enjoy all the snacks. Knowing rest and a massage is around the corner!
For Scafell Pike there was no plan. Well, technically not 100% true, I made the plan up on the go. Some would say I was ‘winging it’
I woke up and, after a morning meditation, popped on a podcast. The topic – How someones action can lead to a thought, that thought can put you in a mood. A continued mood, over time, can lead to a temperament. A temperament becomes that person’s personality trait.
To put into perspective – a person with years and years of bitterness, started with one bitter thought that they held onto. Kind of powerful when you hear it described like that. One thought can result in years, or a lifetime, of wasted energy.
At breakfast I googled the route to Scafell Pike and found myself surprised when the map announced it was 90 mins away from my country manor, via some windy rural back roads. “Surely, I knew this” I thought. I am not sure I did. For whatever reason I always think mountains should be tackled in morning.
I was now looking at a lunchtime start. “Oh well”, I thought.
After a hearty breakfast, I checked out and had one of those conversations where I felt a little triggered. Maybe my reaction amplified with the uncertainty of hiking a new mountain. The conversation with the lady working the reception:
“What’s your plans for today?”, she asked – half on auto pilot and half paying attention.
“Hiking Scafell Pike”, I responded – half making eye contact and half trying to get away.
She turned to give me her full attention while shaking her head and warning me off my hike. On repeat. She presented a series of questions:
“Was I hiking alone?”, she demanded.
“Yes”, my response.
“Did I know it can be tricky with a very uneven terrain?”, she asked, quizzingly.
“Yes”, I nodded.
This continued, like an interrogation of my ability to hike. I was 100% ready. I didn’t need a lady who had likely never hiked in her LIFE, to pass her inner fears onto me through this questioning.
I mumbled, “It is Scafell Pike, I think I will manage” as I reminded myself internally it was the easiest of the three UK peaks and it was a blue sky summer’s day.
“Ignore the lady”, I thought.
Of course, if only life was that easy. This planted a seed of doubt – her fear shining a light onto my ‘I am winging this’ mood. The longer than expected drive, hot weather, windy single track roads and hiking on a ‘rest day’ all adding fuel to the fire of self doubt she triggered.
I set off and could feel my mind replay the same conversation on repeat. Like a movie scene in my mind – on HD. Her face on high alert, me looking back puzzled. I could start to feel it affect my mood, then I thought back to the podcast. And told myself I didn’t want that earlier conversation to affect my mood or day. Her fears were not becoming mine.
I know, and hopefully others do to, that we control our thoughts and the emotion we bring to them.
Again, even though we know this, it isn’t always that easy.
How many of us keep replaying the same conversation over and over? We ramp it up and feel some big emotions – anger or that ‘rage’ feeling. Then we add to the narrative with thoughts like “How dare she try to warn me off my hike plans, what does she know?”. It plays out in your mind like a pantomime.
What didn’t help was I didn’t have any water for the hike – eek, I kind of took a slightly longer route as the windy roads were so confusing – eek, I convinced myself the hike car park would be full (this is usually the case at Ben Nevis where you are advised to arrive early) and my shoulders were mega tense as I drove the windy back roads on alert for any incoming traffic.
This seemed to heighten the narrative in my head, which had taken an unexpected turn. I heard myself mutter, “Maybe I shouldn’t hike”.
I quickly shut down this new ‘victim’ narrative. Where, when suddenly, if you need to consider a few variables, it all becomes too much.
I would catch myself each time my mind would try to take me into a victim loop and focus on the actual facts.
“I am going to hike the highest point in England”, I stated. I love a strong, positive affirmation.
How powerful is stating the words, “I AM”. Boom.
I reassured my inner dialogue that I actually had a plan – this girl always has a plan:
- The longer route was lovely and scenic. There was no rush to start the hike, and a lunchtime hike was actually perfect timing, as I would have digested my hearty breakfast.
- I would find water along the way and wouldn’t dehydrate. This actually became a little tricky as few of the rural villages had shops but I found a farmhouse with a café near Scafell Pike and grabbed a coffee – and some bottles of water.
- The potential car pack dilemma wouldn’t be an issue as there is always another option – it may just result in using an overflow area with a longer walk to the start of the hike.
- The windy roads wouldn’t change, so I told myself to enjoy the nature landscape, your tunes and stay alert for incoming cars.
Slowly, the victim narrative became a whisper, then the whisper muted itself. I felt a sense of accomplishment as I drove into the carpark at the base of the hike to Scafell Pike and parked up – I had the choice of parking spaces.
It all felt too easy in the end.
With my backpack full of refreshments, my walking boots on, and after reassurance from the lovely lady who works the carpark that I wouldn’t get lost as the route was busy with everyone enjoying the great outdoors on a sunny summers day, I set off to summit Scafell Pike.
Our minds love a plan, a clear sign posted plan. If we don’t sign post the next few steps, with a ‘I am in control’ manner, it will try to flood us with all the self doubt out there.
Some valid and some made up.
There are people in the world who don’t realise their ‘caring informative’ words could also hold people back if they choose to listen to them – with no ‘handle with care’ caution. Without caution, we are potentially triggering the self doubt that lives in us all, ready to be lit by one flippant comment.
We need to remember we control our own thoughts, reactions, actions and emotions.
Remember the podcast share earlier, no one wants to wake up bitter all because of one persons action and our subsequent reaction.
I choose not to listen to the reception lady. I didn’t want to regret not hiking on a perfect blue sky day.
I can confirm, I hiked Scafell Pike solo, and I have lived to tell the tale.
You give life to what you give energy to. – Christin Lewis