I was born and raised in Kendal during the 1960s and 1970s, but when I set off for university in the 1980s I was happy to leave Lakeland behind. My home town felt like a small place and I was keen to live in new places and took hardly a backward glance at the Lakeland fells. Before Jim and I left for Australia, for a 15 year new life down under, we had spent weekend after weekend walking the fells. I was training as a newspaper journalist on the Morecambe Visitor and on weekends we would hurtle up to the Lakes to climb one of the fells, stopping off at my nan's house for tea and cake in Kendal afterwards. We had a kitty in the kitchen to save to go on a rock-climbing course, but never did anything technical until we rolled up in Australia in the 1990s and joined the Sydney Rock Climbing Club. 

In those early days, before Australia, we had some memorable fell-walking trips, including topping out on Pike of Blisco in a blizzard, sunrise on top of Helvellyn with Lancaster friends, and a long and a fabulous sun-drenched day up the  Band in Great Langdale, over Bowfell, Great End, Eel Crag and Scafell and then finishing down the Band, most likely at the Old Dungeon Gyhll Hotel where my aunt and mother had worked as girls in the climbing hey day of the 1950s. 

I'm not sure how I could have left this place behind for so long but Sydney had its attractions with a great climbing and outdoors community, and fabulous swimming in the sea pools, outdoor suburban 50m pools and the Pacific Ocean. Without Australia, I doubt I would have transitioned from the fells to the lakes in quite such a determined way. And now, returning to the Lakes feels like home - the rolling hills, the old stone houses and villages, the colour of the bracken and the high roads, winding from one valley to another. And, of course, the sweet smell of the Lakeland earth. Sometimes you need to leave a place, only to truly realise what it means to you. And then the backward glances and the memories begin.