Ilford County High School 2015

Gurjeet Gill, Zhao Ouyang

the longest and highest trail

Their story, in their words…

“We kayaked the largest lake in England, Windermere, before hiking to and climbing the largest mountain in England, Scafell Pike.

Breath-taking mountains with glistening lakes, streams and waterfalls entwined into gorgeous valleys. These picturesque scenes are ones will we carry with us to our final days.

Our journey began on the 4th of September 2015. We began at the bottom of Lake Windermere, setting off with excitement and awe as the deep blue water mirrored the beauty of the clear sky above. The waters were tranquil and warm and we were accompanied by the forest- embedded mountains of the Lake District peering over us. We made great progression as our training kicked in and we surpassed the lake with relative ease within 5 hours of synchronised kayaking. We often paused to revel in the invigorating fresh air and atmosphere… and of course, have tea. As we reached the end of the lake, we had already felt a great sense of achievement which boosted our morale for the remainder of the journey.

Whilst hiking, we used a mixture of bridleways and roads to arrive to our destination. We had underestimated the strain kayaking had placed on our bodies and took much longer than expected. We captured every moment dearly as the pink-red sky emanated from the sunset being swallowed by the mountain range we headed towards. However as darkness descended, our morale decreased as we increasingly feared we were lost. By keeping focused we eventually found our way and made it to the campsite with great relief.

The next day we hoisted our aching bodies out of our tent to find the pain instantly diminish as we gazed at the hilly valley now visible in the gleaming sun. Views of other magnificent mountains ignited both fear and determination. After climbing a rocky pathway which resembled a never-ending staircase we had traversed through a boulder field some boulder were as large as small cars. At 974 meters, gazing from the peak we stood transfixed as the clouds rolled over the neighbouring peaks of Scafell Pike, Windermere with its vast expanse of water hosted a thousand shades of blue and the grandiose valleys surrounding us. We were truly humbled by the view of the world below our feet.

The hardest part lay ahead as we had decided to team with another group to take and alternative route down as this was a safer option. We used our torches in the darkness, and as we looked above we became mystified by the view of the milky way streaking across the sky. The cascade of an unimaginable number of stars took our breath away more than the journey! After 13 hours of hiking and travelling about 41 miles in total we had reached our campsite once again with the knowledge and great satisfaction that we had completed our quest.”