Our first Lake District visit of 2017 brings with it the most delightful April weather with, quite literally, not a cloud in the sky.

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Sleepy and still dazed from the trials of the working week, I’m on the (very) early train from Euston to Oxenholme to rendezvous with the others. Hazy dawn sunlight filters through the dusty carriage windows. A good sign.

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Nowadays we only see each other three or four times a year, but when we do it feels like we’ve never been apart. These fine men who I have known all my life. All of us dealing with 50-something chaos in our own way, still eager for laughs and adventure like we were in our teens. Time’s a thief.

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We’d lost Howie five years ago. Today, in the week of his birthday, we retread the only Lakes walk he ever came along to: Up and over Wansfell Pike from Ambleside and on to Troutbeck where we raise a glass to his memory.

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Carrying my clunky, trusty old Fujica loaded with colour stock, I’m eager to experiment; to somehow bottle this blue and green paradise, this fabulous light, this fellowship.

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Saturday in Grasmere is popular. We don’t mind. The casual displays of courtesy shown by other walkers is touching. So unlike London madness, which feels like another universe today.

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Descending upon our prize: Pints of gold, silver and bronze in The Mortal Man. The evening sees us eat well, share stories and dream by midnight.

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Until the next time.