2 friends and the coast to coast walk

Kirkby Stephen to Keld by gleavem
September 29, 2008, 7:11 pm
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Nine Standards

We thought today would be quite an easy day (just 12 miles) so didn’t set off until 9:30am.  Despite nice dry boots, things didn’t start too well as Sid’s ankle was giving him a lot of discomfort, but he soldiered on bravely as we climbed out of KS.  We’d heard from a couple we met on the ridge to Helm Crag the it was very boggy over Nine Standards, so we were braced for wet feet.  We were very pleasantly surprised to find that the ascent up Nine Standards was not too bad at all, with only a few swampy bits to cause us any trouble.  We got to Nine Standards and took a few pics, enjoying the great panoramic views…

Smiling before the bogs Eventually at Nine Standards

The quagmire began as we descended from the summit; our nice dry boots were soon back to their more familiar state and there was no respite.  The path meandered indistinctly around, through and between the swampy morass and consequently the going was rather slow.  We’d intended to take the route down via Whitsundale, but never found that path and so were forced to continue over White Mossy Hill.  We passed the two Irish ladies we’d first met in Patterdale; they’d stopped in the shelter of a large pile of rocks for a rest and an orange.  We continued through the bogs…

The start of the bogs

The peaty mire really started to get me down after a while; I may even have started shouting at the mud at one stage!  It was a massive relief when we eventually reached a track, but the break was short lived and it was soon back to the familiar watery paths!  Raven Seat was like an oasis and we were soooooooooooo glad to share a bench with some other walkers and enjoy our lunch!

Chilling at a cool tea shop Looking back from Raven Seat Looking back to Raven Seat

The pies we’d picked up in KS turned out to be GORGEOUS, and chiling out by the beck in the sunshine, with the dogs, horses and kids was just the restorative tonic we needed.  The rest of the walk into Keld was a significant improvement, and our first experience of Swaledale was a great one.  We joined the Swale and continued to follow its course into Keld.  We arrived at the infamous Butt House, but Doreen and Ernest retired earlier this year and it has now been taken over by members of the same family running Keld Lodge (I think).  However, our greeting was warm and welcoming and the room fresh and comfortable.  After a shower we had a little stroll around Keld, found a birthday card for Nathan, and had a quick drink in the lodge before retuning to Butt House for our tea.  We were the only people staying that night, so we had the whole place to ourselves. Dinner was generous and delicious, and I think the combination of a glass of wine and the ahrd trip off Nine Standards made me very sleepy, and I was nearly falling asleep at 7:30!! Another memorable day!


Rest Day in Kirkby Stephen by theshed
September 23, 2008, 9:08 pm
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After plenty of early mornings it was lovely to be woken up by the doorbell ringing just after 8am. Michelle woke up slightly annoyed wondering why someone was ringing the bell so early in the morning but it turned out that it was just the room was so dark because the curtains were so thick.

So began our rest day in Kirkby Stephen.

The plan was to, well…rest.  We had it all worked out.  Breakfast followed by chilling out, followed by mooching around, followed by chilling out, followed by lunch, followed by chilling out etc etc, you get the message.  Actually the plan was a little more than that.  We needed to wash some clothes since our bags were stinking from the sweaty socks that were in them and we’d arranged to meet my dad and Liz for lunch in The Mulberry Bush coffee shop.  Other than that it was a free day.

Doing our washingSo we had out breakfast, got showered and put clothes on that weren’t walking clothes.  It was weird to put non-boots on but it felt good after 5 days of slightly soggy footwear.  First plan was to get our washing in the washing machines.  Luckily the launderette was just round the corner from our B&B, near the post office, so it was fairly easy to find.  We chucked in the clothes, set the machine going, took our bag back to the B&B and set off for mooch number one.  We didn’t go far, just quickly round the high street, picked up some postcards and then to a fantastic little deli that is in an old church in the high street.  We picked up some awesome pies for the walk the next day.  Then it was back to the laundrette, into the drier with the clothes and I sat around waiting for them to finish while Michelle chatted to her folks on the phone.  Typical woman, letting the man do all the work!

Once that was done we chilled a little bit more and then grabbed lunch with dad and Liz.  We ended up in The Mulberry bush, which is what we’d first wanted, after we’d traipsed round a few other cafes.  It was a lovely little place and we were planning on going back for dinner but we found it closed later.  After a bit more chatting we waved bye to dad and Liz and went for mooch number two.

I can’t really remember what we did but it included a trip down to Franks Bridge for a bit of stone throwing and then a bit of a wander round the church.  Well worth it just to see the Loki stone.

That evening we ended up just having fish and chips from one of the many chips shops in Kirkby Stephen.  We didn’t wander down far enough to go to the one Wainwright went to but they were very good fish and chips.  After that we simply headed back and read our books a little in the lounge of Fletcher House before we retired to bed ready to start walking again.  All in all it was a lovely day spent in Kirkby Stephen and for those of you thinking about a rest day there then I’d say you’re onto a winnner.

Also, if you’ve got the choice of B&Bs still then opt for Fletcher House, they have foot spas in each room!

Foot Spa

Shap to Kirkby Stephen by gleavem
September 23, 2008, 7:56 pm
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Day 5 was the longest so far at ~21 miles and so we started with an early breakfast courtesy of the wonderful Margaret.  She’s talked us into a full English the night before and we weren’t disappointed; hers was the best fried bread I’ve ever had!  What a character Margaret is; insisting that a big lad like Sid would of course want a big breakfast (she couldn’t believe we didn’t want extra toast after porridge and the full English!), yet bringing little me smaller cutlery!  After repacking our day packs to fit in Margaret’s enormous packed lunches, we reluctantly left behind the delights of Brookfield House a little after 8am and followed Margaret’s shortish-cut back onto the route.

Leaving the best BandB Definitely leaving the Lakes now More big dark clouds

We crossed the M6 without incident thanks to a handy footbridge, and headed off towards our next set of hills.  The scenery, although not as dramatic as the Lakes, had a certain charm enhanced greatly by the beautiful heather in full bloom.  Purple hills seemed to spread in every direction as far as the eye could see.  After a while we arrived at a beautiful mini-valley filled with yet more heather!

Mini Heather Valley

It had been a very peaceful walk thus far, and we were wondering where everyone had gone, as we’d normally see one or two others in the distance.  We’d find out later just why the first few hours were so quiet!  Orton soon came into view and we picked our way through several fields towards the village.  We’d been enjoying pretty good ground up to this point, but the last few hundred metres into Orton were a big muddy mess!  We eventually made it through the very boggy field well churned up by cattle, only to be faced with a sea of nettles on the other side of the gate!  After this little adventure we felt we deserved a little rest and so headed into Orton to find a nice bench to sample some of the delights of our mammoth packed lunches.

The big lunch

Our peaceful stop was somewhat interrupted by some very annoying, very persistent wasps, which forced me to run off down the lane in bare feet in order to eat my friut cake in peace!  As if our goody-bags weren’t big enough we also treated ourselves to a little choccy form the fancy chocolate shop in Orton!

We continued our journey towards Sunbiggin Tarn, finally seeing some fellow walkers, but w hen we caught them for a chat we discovered they were not C-to-C’ers…where was everybody?!  We found ourselves once again surrounded by heather. Afetr a couple of long miles over the moor we stopped for lunch on some handy rocks just above Mazon Wath, thoroughly enjoying our delicious sandwiches.  The going was good until we reached Ewefell Mire; the clue was in the name, but we ploughed on regardless and suffered the consequences (very wet feet!).  The next section to Smardale Bridge was tough; we were tired and the scenery somewhat uninspiring, and consequently narrowly avoided a serious wrong turn!

Ponies checking each other outShell rocky arm chair

This was a very long day; and we were desperate to see a hint of Kirkby Stephen in the distance, but it wouldn’t come into view until the last minute!  Afetr 9 hours of walking, we finally arrived at the very welcome sight that was Kirkby Stephen.  We found our final destination (Fletcher House) with ease; a beautiful spacious house, with very welcoming hosts, right in the centre of town.

We’d arranged to meet Wayne and Linley for dinner as this was their last day on the C2C, and met them the pub to compare tales of the day’s walking.  It was now that we discovered why we’d seen so few of our fellow walkers during the day… THEY’D GOT THE BUS!  It turned out the others had got the bus from Shap to Orton, worried that afetr the difficult day before the extra miles today would prove too much.  They’d got to Orton about 10:30am, had a nice coffee break and headed on to Kirkby Stephen, consequently they were a couple of hours ahead of us.  Despite this, poor Wayne and Linley ended up getting into KS after us due to some “navigational issues”.  We had a nice relaxed dinner chatting about the walk and the rest of their holiday plans, and satisfying our ever-present hunger!

Patterdale to Shap by theshed
September 17, 2008, 8:53 pm
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The day started the night before.  It usually does when you’re B&Bing.  Most of the landladies like to know what you want for breakfast before you go to bed.  Having seen the height that we were expected to climb first thing in the morning I opted for a lighter breakfast of a bacon sandwich.  Michelle was equally sensible and opted for a sausage sarnie since, having walked up Dent on a full stomach after lunch we didn’t want to walk up something twice the height on a stomach full of breakfast.  However my good intentions were dashed by yet another awesome B&B host when my bacon butty arrived and it was the size of two mattresses with a pig in the middle.  I’m not kidding you, there must have been 6 really thick rashers of bacon between two doorstep size pieces of bread.  My first reaction…”Oh my God!”  My second reaction…”Who am I kidding, this is awesome!”

The not so flat bitSo after our hefty breakfast we packed up and set off.  As you walk through Patterdale you get a good view of the first part of the climb, you can see it in the photo.  You take a gradual path up to the top of the first “summit”.  For those who don’t read the maps or for those with an optimistic outlook, that ridge you see in the photo isn’t the one that High Street runs along, it’s only about 1/3 of the way, if that.

As we walked up the first section we saw our first true casualties of the walk.  There were three girls paused at the bottom looking pretty knackered.  When we saw them I just hoped for their sake they had come a lot further than Patterdale.  One of them was hobbling quite badly but had a steely determination to get up the hill.  I really hope they made it.  We didn’t stop and chat to them but it’s not good to see people having a tough time when they should be enjoying it.

Angle Tarn 2Our pace was easy on the way up.  We realised we had quite a walk up to our highest point at Kidsty Pike and we thought that with the day only being 16 miles long we had plenty of time.  It also seemed like quite a lonely walk up to Kidsty.  For some reason, even though we knew a few people walking that day, we didn’t see many others after we saw the girls and a group of scouts nearby.  To be honest it was actually quite nice.  As you walk up to Kidsty you get some fantastic views and this time since the cloud cover was high enough that we could enjoy them having the peace and quiet to enjoy them was quite welcome.  As you get towards half way up the Kidsty climb you come across Angle Tarn.  When we got there the sun was just coming out again to peak across the water.  My word did it look inviting.  As you skirt round it you get a very strong urge to just go for a little dip.  Well I did anyway.  I just remember wondering how cool it would be to swim out, with a little dry bag, to one of the islands and sit and have some lunch.  Definitely one for another time.  But today we were planning on having lunch on top of Kidsty so on we pressed.

After Angle Tarn I got my competitive edge on.  We turned a corner to see a fair trail of people ahead of us.  There’s nothing like people being in front of me to get me to speed up.  I realised I’d taken it a little far when I found myself semi-jogging down a little hill.  After a slight detour to sit on top of a little ridge and have some ginger bread we set off again to catch people, I mean to get to the top!

The top came a lot quicker than I thought it would.  When we were near the top, after marvelling at some of the path construction and after I nearly squirted Michelle with peat bog from under a loose rock, I got a little jog on again.  As I said, we were going to have lunch on the top and despite our massive breakfasts I was getting hungry again.

Not so pensive on Kidsty

Top of Kidsty 1

When you sit on top of Kidsty it’s with mixed emotions. On the one hand you sit there with great relief that you’ve made it up to the highest point. You feel like you’ve reached a milestone. On the other hand as you look back over to the Lakes and then over to the smoking chimneys of Shap you realise you’re just about to leave something very special behind. At this point you have pretty much come to the end of the lake district. You’ve still got the walk alongside Haweswater to go but that’s all. There is a definite feeling of sadness as you set off down the other side. It doesn’t last long though as the scenery soon catches your attention again.

Once you’re at the bottom of Kidsty you turn left and start to head along the side of Haweswater.  At first the walking is good, undulating nicely along the bank side.  Then it seems like the end of the reservoir will never come.  Since this was the first properly hot day we’d had by this time I was already out of water.  I’d drank the 2 litres of my hydration pack and was starting to get very thirsty.  So I thought since I was in the wilderness I’d drink a little bit of the hill water.  It was fast flowing, looked clean and a quick scan up the hillside didn’t spot any dead sheep up there.  At first I took it fairly steady but by the end of the reservoir I’d probably drank another couple of litres from the streams feeding the reservoir.  It was gorgeous too.  Ice cold and tasting so crisp.  I don’t really know the done thing when it comes to drinking untreated water but I didn’t have any side effects so I’d go for it.  Maybe take some Imodium with you though.

Towards the end of the reservoir we were getting tired and it was good to get into a little group of houses and find a seat.  Here we caught up to Sue and her husband.  They’d set off a couple of hours ahead of us so we must have been making good pace.  We chilled out on the green and in the sun for a little while before I went and asked a lovely old lady at No. 1 for some water.  She had a very handy tap in her back garden.  Fuelled up we set off again briefly stopping to have a look at a little red squirrel.

Squirrel has had enough The rest of the walk seemed to whizz by and I can’t remember much.  We had packed our swimmers hoping for a dip in the reservoir but it was too well fenced off.  There were some great places to stop for some river swimming just after leaving Burnbanks but time was getting on and we wanted to get into Shap.  I must admit that this part of the walk was tough for me.  I don’t know why but I was knackered.  We hit Rosgill Bridge then Rayside and finally Shap Abbey.  The end was within grasp…or so we thought.  As we came into the top end of Shap Marjorie’s word rang in my head…”Shap is a very long village you know.”  We got into Shap bang on the 9 hours of walking mark.  We didn’t make it to our B&B for another 30 mins.  We were heading for Brookfield House right at the end of town and when we got there we turned round to see Kidsty Pike for the last time that day.  We’ll review the B&Bs later but we had a golden one that night.  If people are reading this and planning their walk then you have to stay at Brookfield House!

So that was our day of walking.  A long rambling post for a long rambling walk.  The night was finished off in The Greyhound where we sat and chatted with Wayne and Linley again, after they’d got in 2 hours after us!

Finally at Shap

Stonethwaite to Patterdale by gleavem
September 15, 2008, 9:13 pm
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Finally I have time to do some blogging (making Mark and Clare’s wedding cake has been filling my evenings since we returned)!

At breakfast with our fellow walkers (food at the Langstrath is great!), we looked out through the rain to the start of our days walk; the ascent to Greenup Edge.  It was a wet start as we climbed steadily up to Lining Crag, but it eventually stopped raining, although again it remained wet underfoot.  The walk up Greenup Gill is a lovely one; with great views back down to Stonethwaite and a stone path laid for much of the way.  We leapfrogged Sue and Graham(!?) several times on the way up, but took slightly different routes over Greenup.  It was no surprise to us when conditions underfoot deteriorated; the route over and down to Brownrigg Moss was boggy and indistinct, and it felt like we were just following streams at times!  The going was very slow, but eventually we reached Far Easdale Head. By now we were aware that we’d only come about 4miles in a fair few hours, and we began to doubt if we’d make it to Patterdale before dark (if at all!).  We thought about taking the lower level route down to Grasmere, hoping it would be quicker, but in the end we took the ridge walk; a very fortuitous error we now feel.  The ridge walk was absolutely great, boggy as usual, and pretty slow going, but super views of the surrounding valleys and lakes all along!  Snaking our way around Calf Crag, the Pike of Carrs and Gibson Knot, we eventually reached the infamous Helm Crag.

Today was a day of fighter jets; first on the way up to Lining Crag two zoomed overhead, then later when we were atop Helm Crag, another pair swooped below us, which was very cool!  You can just about make one out in this pic.

Brothers Water under cloud 2

We saw lots of people on our trek along the ridge, lots of day walkers from Grasmere, some ramblers and a couple doing the C2C east to west.  They were heading along at quite a pace but stopped for a brief chat; we joked about the great conditions underfoot and they warned us that there was worse to come over Nine Standards…they were right as you shall see!

The descent from Helm Crag was tough; we realised over the course of the holiday that down hill was nearly always harder than up!  We were very glad to see the civilisation of Grasmere, even though by this stage we were pretty sure we’d not be getting to Patterdale, not on foot anyway!  Once in Grasmere we started to reunite with the walkers we’d met the previous day.  First, whilst we were investigating buses, we saw Wayne and Linley who like us, felt that walking to Patterdale would be unwise…we all feared being stuck up Grisedale Hause as night or cloud fell!  It turned out that buses were a no-go (we’d missed the last bus from Ambleside to Patterdale; there’s only 3 a day!) so we decided to share a taxi; the one taxi in Grasmere couldn’t take us until 6pm, but we easily filled the time mooching round the village, bumping into Douglas, Maureen, Pete and Judy, buying edible treats and having a refreshing tipple!

The sun finally came out

We were massively dissapointed not to have completed the day as planned, but our moods were soon lifted when we arrived at Grisedale Lodge.  The Varleys were hugely welcoming and the B&B was beautiful, and included home-made flapjacks!  We reunited with Wayne and Linley in the pub, and spent a fair while after dinner chatting away, and ended up having quite a late night!

Ennerdale to Stonethwaite by theshed
September 10, 2008, 9:23 pm
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Waking up in Ennerdale was a little bit of a mixed blessing.  On the one hand we had the richest most scrumptious scrambled eggs we have ever had, on the other it was another misty and murky morning.  It wasn’t raining but it wasn’t inviting at all. Over breakfast we also saw a very fresh take on fresh orange juice.  Just an orange with the top chopped off a bit like a grapefruit.

Luckily the boots had dried a little, not a lot, but a little.  At least they didn’t squelch when we put them on.  Then it was off on our second day of walking.  Since we stayed at Low Cock How Farm we had about a mile to walk into Ennerdale Bridge.  It was all downhill so we knocked it out fairly quickly especially since we had dinner on our mind, not because we were hungry, just we didn’t have any planned.  All we wanted to do was pick up a sandwich but it’s fairly difficult to do in Ennerdale Bridge.  If we did it again we’d pick up a packed lunch from the pub the night before.  As it was we picked up a pasty from The Shepherds Arms, little did I know I wouldn’t be eating it for a long while.

South West End of Ennerdal WaterLunch done we set off proper.  It was a little way until we got to Ennerdale Water but it was worth it.  The mainly road walk took us down to the south route round the lake.  We’d heard that it was the muddier and more difficult route of the day but we decided to do it anyway.  I’m glad we took the south route because when we approached the lake the views were stunning.

After we’d stopped for a little limbering up and a few photos we set off on what for me was the best section of walking for the whole journey.  The route took us right alongside the lake.  If we’d been doing the walk the other way this would have been the best spot for a little bit of wild swimming.  There’s tonnes of ways to get in and lots of little beaches to chill out on.  However, we weren’t doing it the other way round so we trotted on.

Just after our scary little scrambleThe path starts out fairly flat, which is a good thing as it lets you concentrate on the view.  However it soon gets nice and rocky around Robin hoods Chair.  There is a fantastic little scramble around it.  We took the bottom route, friends took the top, apparently the bottom is the more adventurous.  It’s probably the first little test you’ll face.  It’s not a difficult little clamber but you fall, you die…which is cool.  Then as the walk continues you just end up hopping and skipping along the edge of the water.  You come across loads of little places that look great and it’s a shame that section of the walk isn’t longer, especially when you get to the next long section.

Towards the end of Ennerdale Water we bumped into Wayne and Linley again, the Aussie guys from our B&B in St. Bees.  They we’re just chilling out at the end of the water so we thought we’d walk with them for a little while, along the next section of walk which takes you through Ennerdale Forest and to Black Sail Hut.  With the mountain ranges either side of the valley you would expect the scenery to be stunning.  It isn’t.  We went from some of the best walking to some of the worst.  The track is gravel and grey.  The views are obscured by the plantation and ruined by the logging activity.  Let’s just say Black Sail Hut is a very welcome sight after the 4 miles of crappy walk.  Somehow we got well ahead of Wayne and Linley,  I think they stopped to take a photo and we didn’t realise until we were half a mile down the track, so we arrived at Black Sail Hut ahead of most people.

For those of you who don’t know what Black Sail Hut is let me just take a second.  It’s worth taking a second because for some reason there’s something very special about the place.  The picture to the left is taken from the YHA website, if only the weather was that good when we were there.  Basically Black Sail Hut is an old shepherd’s bothy which has been converted into a youth hostel.  When you’re just passing through there is a kitchen for you to use and plenty of tea bags, sugar, coffee and milk.  There’s a little honesty pot for you to leave money in so take some change and if you’re lucky there’ll be some cake too.  We stopped in for a cuppa and a pint of water.  It’s a shame the weather wasn’t better because the views are stunning.  You very quickly forget about the droll walk you’ve just had to get here.  I really wish I’d paid more attention in English lessons because then maybe I could find the words I need to describe why I liked this little place so much.  As it is you’ll just have to go there for yourself.

At Black Sail we were quickly followed in by a fair few others.  It was the first time we met Douglas, Maureen, Sue, her husband and a couple of other ladies.  We we’re about to spend a fair bit of time with them.

Its cloud but we have map and compassAs we left Black Sail it didn’t take a genius to work out our next little section was going to be a pain.  The photo on the right shows you what we were about to walk up into as does this one.  As it was most of us had set off from Black Sail at about the same time.  As you leave Black Sail you have the choice of two routes, one which takes you along the river and then upwards towards Loft Beck and one that gradually works it’s way up to Loft Beck from behind Black Sail.  Everyone but Michelle and I opted for the higher route.  We skipped across becks galore, some more like rivers, so by the time we caught up with the others at the bottom of Loft Beck we were already a bit warmer than they were.  So off up Loft Beck we went to where it would all go a little wrong.

When you get to the top of Loft Beck the path is marked by a set of small cairns but when you’re in cloud as thick as we were you can’t really see them.  Michelle and I were fairly confident that we’d be able to navigate our way through it.  I wouldn’t call us experienced navigators but we knew how to walk on a bearing and also how to measure distance by step or time as well as the theory behind a bit of leap frogging.  It happened that about 6 of us got to the top at roughly the same time and, some with guidebooks, some with Harvey maps and us with our OS we all stumped for the same direction and set off.  Then we held back and waited a little bit for the two women who were following us up.  We heard them shouting from off to our right and it took a good 30 mins to find them and make it back to where we had all gathered.  By this time, even though we had only walked a hundred metres or so we were already pretty disorientated.  Not as disorientated as another chap, Chirs, who came confidently striding through the cloud announcing we should all follow him because he was heading back down in the right direction.  It didn’t take long for someone to tell him he was heading in the direction we’d just come from.  Suddenly his confidence level dropped a little!

I think this was the stage where we made our first mistake.  It’s very easy to under-estimate how simple it is to get completely lost on top of a hill covered in cloud and that’s what we did.  At that point we should have taken stock of where we were, gone back to a known point and picked our route carefully.  What we did was stride on a little all confident because everyone agreed with each other.  Now bear in mind we’d only met these people about an hour before and the reason we all agreed was because we were all too polite to disagree.  Big mistake.  I’ll not go into details but for the next hour or so we stumbled around thinking we knew where we were heading and really not having a clue.  We then had our first little disagreement.  We all stopped, I was hungry as it was now 3pm and my pasty was still in my bag uneaten and I just had this feeling of stupidity because we’d got ourselves lost.  So we had a slightly heated discussion where I wanted to go east and everyone else wanted to go north.  This is where my thanks has to go to Douglas who came back for a chat and helped me realise staying with the group was the better option.  As it was I kept an eye on what bearing we were walking on and it was north-east so it was a fairly good yet entirely accidental compromise.  After a while we came across a sheep track which we followed for a while.  I thought I knew where we were and took the opportunity to suggest that since it looked like there was an opportunity to head down and out of the cloud we should take it.  Turns out where I thought we were was completely wrong but the idea of heading down and out of the cloud was a good one.

We came out of the cloud and to my surprise we were faced with Honister Pass, right where we should’ve been.  I have no idea how that happened but someone somewhere was smiling on us that day.  Our moods lifted almost immediately with the exception being a couple of people who’s knees were troubling them.  It was a pretty steep descent and it was taking it’s toll.  I borrowed one of them my walking stick and we ploughed on.  At the bottom of the hill, right next to the slate mine, we stopped for a second and laughed off the events.  In the back of my mind I still think we were idiots for getting lost in the first place and I’ve vowed to go on a navigation course at some point.  Most of the others decided to carry on with the route they’d planned which took them away from the road again.  I on the other hand was suddenly overwhelmed with hunger and a desire to be at our destination.  Michelle and I set off down the road, my pasty being rather rapidly devoured and were at the Langstrath in no time.

For those of you thinking about booking the Langstrath we found it a little bit too posh.  The food was gorgeous as was the room and everything else.  We just felt it was a little bit too hotel like and a little bit too clean when you’re walking in in muddy boots.

So that was it.  We went to bed thinking that for a second day it was pretty adventurous.  It turned our to be our most adventurous and varied of the whole walk I think.  As for me, I was determined not to get lost the next day!

St Bees to Ennerdale by theshed
September 5, 2008, 4:44 pm
Filed under: The Walk

Start of walk photoWe woke up to weather that was, let’s say, less than perfect.  When we looked out of the B&B window it was overcast, raining and not exactly tempting.  However, both of us were so excited that the start had finally rocked round that it didn’t really matter what the weather was like we were just itching to get cracking and get our walking boots on.

So it was showers for both of us and on with some walking gear and downstairs for some breakfast.  I can’t remember what I had but it was along the lines of Coco Pops (cereal of champions!), toast and a full english.  Way more than I should have had and way more than I needed for the relatively easy day to come.  At breakfast we met our first two fellow Coast to Coasters.  Wayne and Linley (who you’ll hear more about later) came into the breakfast room about 10 mins after us.  The Olympics were on and I starting smiling as soon as I heard their accents…they were (and still are) Australian so to be in the same room as two Aussies while we were actually higher than them in the medals tables was a moment to treasure.  Brief introductions were exchanged and breakfast was finished then it was out the door.

The start of the walk took us out the door and down the beach to the start proper.  Since we’d done the rituals in the sun the night before we stopped to take the photo above and then it was heads well and truly tucked into waterproofs before setting off up and along St Bees Head.

I can imagine the walk along St Bees Head on a sunny day is an absolutely gorgeous one.  You should be able to see the Isle of Man out in the Irish Sea and as you head north you should be able to see the Scottish coastline.  Of course, all we saw was cloud.  We scootered along at a fair old pace despite the path being narrow, slippy, boggy and with a large drop to the left.  We passed our first ladder stile of the trip and Michelle’s first one ever before turning east and heading towards Robin Hoods Bay rather than away from it.

After the boggy coastal path we thought the going must only get better.  How wrong we were.  As we approached Cleator we headed into a field that was ankle deep in water.  No matter where we tried we were just sinking.  It had only taken Michelle’s boots 10mins to decide to leak so they really weren’t up for this challenge.  Neither were mine.  We knew it had rained plenty but we couldn’t understand why the field was so water logged until we came across the spring in the middle of it.  By now our feet were soaking and it was a good 4 days before they dried out totally.  Our first river crossing didn’t really phase us that much after that field.

So through Moor Row we went.  There’s nothing there to stop for and for one of the first destinations on the walk it’s pretty grim.  We had hoped to grab a bite to eat but after a quick chat with a local he pointed us to Cleator pie shop for refreshments.  It turned out to be right on the route and a lovely little shop.  I highly recommend it as a stopping point for your first lunch and if you’re lucky the curious sheep might even be there on your way past.

Dent Summit with Peter and JudyWe sat and ate our lunch and then headed off to tackle Dent.  It was at that point that I figured out I really shouldn’t eat anything before picking off a bigish hill.  We put down a fair old pace, enough to make my head steam in 16 degree weather, caught up with Pete and Judy our second Aussie fellow C2Cers and checked out the view of Sellafield from the top of Dent.  That was our first hill done and dusted.

The rest of the walk seemed to pass by in a flash.  We headed down Dent, the steep way, where I fell on my arse for the first and last time and then headed along Nannycatch Beck.  A word of warning…don’t turn right too early.  When you reach the bottom of Dent the views of the valley are awesome and you can easily get distracted.  The route you want to take is to go round to the left of Dent a little way until you see the white C2C sign painted on a rock.  This will lead you up a silver trail.  We decided to take a little detour hopping over the beck a couple of times and then turning back on ourselves to rejoin the route.

It didn’t take long to bump into a few horses coming from the stables where we were due to stay and after that it didn’t take long to actually reach our B&B, Low Cock How Farm.  When we got there it turned out that we were the only ones staying that night so it was a cottage all to ourselves.  We hit the shower, grabbed a cup of tea, chucked the boots in front of the log burner and walked down into Ennerdale Bridge itself (about 1 mile away) to grab some food.  After the expensive (£8) taxi ride back we settled in for a bit of reading and then before we knew it we were ready for bed.

All in all it was a lovely first day despite the weather and the underfoot conditions.  The next day though was the start of Lakeland proper!