Neither of us said it out loud, but our collective pace was a sign that we were both in agreement – it was time to get off the hill. It’s across the tops of the cheeks that I felt it most – the almost metallic sting of the Helm Wind – brutally attacking the one bit of me not wrapped under layers of protective kit. France has the Mistral, North Africa has the Sirocco and Northern England has the Helm Wind – an easterly which blows relentlessly across the Northern Pennines and in particular Cross Fell, the highest point on the Pennines.
Yesterday the mountain had been completely different. The sun had woken from its winter stupor and proudly shone through the trees. The usually deserted tiny car park had been full of happy, surprised walkers and landscape photographers, eager to take advantage. Our destination was Greg’s Hut, a bothy which, sitting on the 700m contour line, is the highest one in England. But first we wanted to bag the summit. On the way up we passed a local, well into his late 70s, methodically and happily trudging up the path in the sun – a weekly walk apparently. “I go two-thirds of the way whatever the weather, then back down to meet my wife for cake”. The locals here are made of granite.