Stony Cove Pike
Notes on a fell.
Stony Cove Pike is one of the lesser known fells of the Lake District. It is not particularly easy to get to and there are many others that are higher, more dramatic, better on postcards and fridge magnets. But I love it for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the name is both glorious and jumbled. “Stony” is fairly solid. There are presumably stones on this fell, or it’s possible even that the whole place is defined by its stoniness. “Cove” is a bit more interesting. A cove brings to mind some beach or paradise haven, not a small hill in the north of England. Finally a “pike” is just a pike - that’s all there is.
But the three together is curious and memorable. A stony cove? Yes, good. A stony pike? Makes sense. A stony cove pike? What absurdity is this?
The place is hidden and exposed. It is a short and intimidating drive from Ambleside, one of the hubs of the Lakes, but SCP (as those in the know call it) is still for some reason neglected and unknown.
I parked at Hartsop, a tiny village that appeared to be owned and run entirely by sheep. One who looked like the mayor stared at me discerningly as I shuffled apologetically up the hill.
I passed a family of Scots on the way. They commented pleasantly on the day and wished me well in my adventures. Puffed and reddened, I waved a hand and proceeded. Then, along the ridge - I was alone.
It was a hot day - open and empty with the pleasant drunkenness of late summer. I reached the peak of the pike and looked over a map of memories from a golden and shimmering year in the lakes.
There was always visible Windermere - apart from days when it wasn’t - the anchor of this year. And then, in every direction, a hill climbed and a walk done. Memories of weekends, Christmas, gingerbread, sausage rolls. Rain, deer, snow, hawks, sleet, tarns, sun, ducks, mushrooms, water, water, water, water, water. I saw it all lain out clean before me like a table so lovingly set.
An old man approached and regarded curiously the lonely ginger man who appeared to be crying at the sight of a hill. He grimaced, said “alright”, and shuffled on. I turned left and made for Thornthwaite Crag - another place worthy of its name.
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