Of all the valleys in the Lake District, Langdale is the one that holds most memories for me. Passing beautiful Elter Water, the mountains open up as you get closer to Great Langdale. At the head of the valley stands the majestic Crinkle Crags, surrounded by its equally impressive fell-top neighbours of Langdale Pikes, Bow Fell and Pike of Blisco. There are days and days of walking and climbing in the hills of Great Langdale, up and down the route variations in all weathers, with friends, partners, children and parents. Hot summer days, slogging your way up to Bowfell Buttress, taking the climbers' path from the Band, and short winter days when you feel like you will never reach the twinkling lights of the warm pubs below. And always the reward of a drink at the legendary Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, where you stand in the bar, dripping wet, searching for a seat to rest your legs and eyeing up the fire. 

We've camped many times at the National Trust Campsite over the years, but have been keen to stay in The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel for a long time, mainly because of its climbing history and the family connections. In the 1930s, when my grandfather was climbing in the Lakes, he was a regular at the hotel, and my mother and aunt both worked there as girls in the early 1950s. 

So, in March after the heavy storms and floods, we booked into the Dungeon Ghyll, with a lovely room looking out into the garden and straight up on to the fells and the bluest of skies. Not a cloud and just the beginnings of a warm sun on this early Spring day. After a very pleasant breakfast in the hotel restaurant, we set off, walking along the road and turning in at the campsite to climb the pass which takes you over towards Little Langdale and Blea Tarn. 

Nestled into the hill, this is a gem of a tarn, easily accessible by road but still giving a feeling of being among the hills. I have driven past Blea Tarn many times, but have only occasionally wandered around it, when the high fells were out of reach due to the weather. What strikes me most about it is that once you are swimming out from the wooded shores, you can really see the Langdale fells set out before you as though you are swimming in an infinity pool just for your use. On an early March day, when the water is only five degrees, you are guaranteed tranquility, as long as you are acclimatised and comfortable in cold water.

After the swim, we headed off with wetsuits and towels in our backpacks, up Wrynose Pass and striking out at  Wrynose Bridge towards Pike of Blisco.  We had a laugh wondering whether anyone else had topped out on Pike of Blisco with full swimming gear, goggles and dripping wetsuits. But these days, may be it's not so uncommon. We descended down to Red Tarn and took the path alongside Brown Howe to Oxendale and Stool End Farm. At the end of the final farmland stretch we arrived back at Old Dungeon Ghyll, sitting down with a cold glass of beer in the last of the sunshine. A glorious day to remember, and all the better for a warm bed at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.