Harriet Martineau tells us in her 1850s 'Complete Guide to the English Lakes' that "the ascent of Skiddaw is easy, even for ladies, who have only to sit their ponies to find themselves at the top, after a ride of six miles. There must be a guide,- be the day ever so clear, and the path ever so plain."
Well, perhaps the days of ladies sitting on their ponies to get to the top and everyone needing a guide are long gone, but she then goes on to say the following, which to be honest, is most definitely still the case these days.
"The confident and joyous pedestrian is not the most teachable of human beings. In his heart he despises the caution of native residents, and in his sleeve he laughs at it. The mountain is right before him; the track is visible enough; he has a map and a guide-book, and boasts of his pocket-compass. With the track on his map, and the track on the mountain, how could he get wrong ? So he throws on his knapsack, seizes his stick, and goes off whistling or singing, The host and hostess looking after him as he strides away. For some time he thinks he can defy all the misleading powers of heaven and earth: but, once out of human help, he finds his case not so easy as he thought."
When I took this photo looking up the 'tourist route' on Skiddaw (so called), I was thinking to myself that it must have been uncomfortably windy up there today. A few minutes later when I my path joined up with the Skiddaw route, my reservations about being on the high fells were confirmed by a couple who in their words had now "learned our lesson".
They asked me "how far up did you get". When I told them I hadn't been on Skiddaw today and I'd stuck to lower level by walking round from Threlkeld, they told me they had turned back because the wind was "blowing us all over the place". They said they'd totally misjudged their level of experience and were clearly not ready for those conditions.
We stood next to the fence and had a good 'crack' for about 15 minutes. And after asking if I could recommend some "good lower level walks from Keswick", they left with enough options to keep them going for the next three days while they were in the Lakes.