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Laking about in the Lakes

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Lake District Mountain Biking. Copyright John Coefield 2010.

When you're from where I'm from, 'laking' is local slang for 'playing'. So, when you were a kid and you'd call round to your mate's house to see if they would like to 'play out', you'd enquire of their responsible parent/guardian: 'Is your <insert name> laking out today?' Obviously they would be – unless their tea was nearly ready – and you'd go off and make mischief and have a great time, normally mucking about on bikes in the woods pretending to be JMC.

I'm a bit more grown up these days, but I did find myself laking about in the Lakes this year as we've been putting together a new edition of our Lake District Mountain Biking guidebook. I haven't ridden loads in the Lakes, but the stuff I have ridden has always blown me away in terms of quality. I certainly couldn't understand going up there specifically to ride at one of the Trail Centres when the natural stuff is so classy. 

As with our other recent MTB guides I've shot the photography too, which is a great excuse to get some riding in, even if it's half a ride here, half a ride there. I've never been a big fan of shooting everything from the car window. The last two days photography for the book were with a couple of Ambleside locals, Dave and Charlie. I'd put together an optimistic plan of all the places I wanted to get to, and these guys were – thankfully – well up for it. We hit a load of spots, starting in the north near Skiddaw and working south past Borrowdale, Patterdale, Grizedale, Cartmell and others over the course of the two days. I took a load of stuff I'm really happy with, and I think the book - which goes off to the printer today - looks pretty strong as a result.

A couple of days after getting back I was talking to local photographer Adam Long about the shoot, and Adam mentioned that Monday – our first day shooting – had been the solstice, which I'd not been aware of. Adam knew I was heading up to the Lakes and, inspired, had decided to hit Snowdonia to capture the light at the end of the longest day. His stunning results are on his blog.

One of my favourite photos from the Monday night is the one above and, ironically, it's not in the book. After Adam had reminded me of the Solstice, I do look back on this photo, taken late in the evening up above Patterdale, and reflect on just how great it was to be laking about in the Lakes on bikes, in such amazing weather, on the longest day of the year. Good times.


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