One of the walks I had most hoped to squeeze in during our time in Cumbria was a visit to RSPB Geltsdale. It's a beautiful valley in the North Pennines, and one of the few areas in Cumbria that feels at least mostly wild (for me, at least). Between work, Christmas, weather, and pandemics it took us a little while, but I'm glad we finally made it out there.
We tackled the walk in "reverse", which worked well. There weren't too many other people out in the fells, but the few we came across were going in the other direction, so we largely felt alone. It also meant that we crested up over the hills as the sun was throwing out purple-red streaks across the sky, giving some absolutely stunning views out towards the Solway and the Lakes as we returned to the car.
The weather was a real highlight from start to finish, in fact. It's been chilly enough to get some snow in Hayton, but the hilltops have been carpeted and small flurries were still skirting over as we began our walk. Whilst the valley itself was pretty much snow-free, the views up towards the fake stone circles and various of-unknown-origin standing stones were extremely picturesque. Plus, the combination of a balmy afternoon and decent wind up the hillside meant that both deer and kestrels were out in force.
Understandably, both the lake hide and visitor centre are closed due to COVID restrictions, but we did bump into a local volunteer warden who was out doing his rounds and taking part in a local birdwatching club solo challenge day (normally done in groups, they've adapted to the pandemic with distributed spotting challenges it seems). We ended up chatting for a while near some bird feeders, and I think managed to see at least a dozen additional species as a result. Nothing too spectacular, but even when it's serving up fairly average sightings Geltsdale remains one of my favourite places. The sunset alone would have been worth it, but we decided on the drive away to treat ourselves with a pub takeaway and an even more scenic route through the best road in Cumbria (in my opinion, at least 😉); what a fun day.