In Love With The Lakes…
What a glorious morning to wake up in ‘The Lakes’! Not even the midges could put a dampener on things. Although we were feeling quite famished so a full English breakfast would have been the icing on the cake!
Instead, we packed the tent away, happy that the sun was shining and satisfied that our first Lake District wild camp had been a success.
Having zero food rations left and using the last of our emergency gas canister to make a cup of tea, today’s mission – to reach Grasmere before ‘closing time’ to resupply with EVERYTHING!
One of the best views of the day! ‘Selfie’ shot at Lining Crag looking back down the valley.
Day 3 – Hay Stacks Wild Camp to Grisedale Tarn Wild Camp via Grasmere. (17 miles) – Monday 21st July 2014 – ‘Got To Get Gas’
Setting off from our wild camp spot around 7:30am, we were heading for Honister Slate Mine which we could see in the distance along the valley. We had beautiful views down to Buttermere and the day looked promising, both in terms of weather and scenery as Wayne was eager to capture another time lapse.
Sunrise over Buttermere.
Enjoying the early morning view…
Loving the Lakes!
The first surprise of the day was coming across ‘Dub’s Hut’, a relatively new bothy that we were completely unaware of. It wasn’t marked on our map, or maybe we would have camped there as an alternative to last night’s wild camp. It was only by chance that we discovered it having taken the wrong track towards the quarry. It was already in use anyway as we bumped into 2 guys we’d seen the previous day who told us they’d slept in the hut overnight. (But hey, a little bit of insider knowledge on the presence and location of a bothy is useful for future hiking trips).
‘Dub’s Hut’ – The unexpected bothy that we ventured upon heading to Honister Slate Mine.
Having missed the first half of the tramway route, we continued downhill to Honister Slate Mine on an alternative trail, reaching it around 9:00am. We didn’t realise that it was such a huge tourist attraction complete with cafe and toilets which was perfect as we were able to freshen up and have breakfast. We splurged a bit by having ‘sausage, egg and bacon’ paninis – not quite a full English, but a good substitute! While Wayne waited patiently, I also had a ‘quick’ browse in the gift shop. There are some fantastic slate products to buy, but there was no way we could carry anything else in our backpacks! The ‘Coast to Coast’ memorabilia mug coasters were unfortunately sold out. (I say unfortunately, whereas Wayne thought ‘luckily’!) What I was most interested in was the Via Ferrata Xtreme experience that takes you along the outer incline of Fleetwith Pike using a continuous cable system. It’s that popular that you have to pre-book, so we wouldn’t have been able to get tickets for that day. But it’s definitely something we’d like to do in the future!
Heading down to Honister Slate Mine.
After leaving the slate mine, we set off for Rosthwaite in Borrowdale. Arriving first at Seatoller, we were surprised to find a YHA complete with cafe and small shop. So we took the opportunity to purchase some drinks and snacks, which meant we could take a short cut and avoid walking into the centre of Rosthwaite. This we hoped would mean we’d almost certainly get to Grasmere before the shops closed, which we were assuming would be 5:00pm at worst, or 5:30pm at best. (And definitely not 1:00pm as we’d found at Cleator Moor!)
Continuing on the ‘Coast to Coast’.
Views of Borrowdale.
More Herdwick sheep!
Walking through Seatoller.
Just your average Lake District view!
Our route followed the river, however we realised we should have been walking on the opposite side but had missed the footbridge across. So instead of doubling back, we ended up walking further to cross at the next footbridge which negated any time saving we had achieved by not walking into Rosthwaite. Note to selves: Pay more attention to the route map instead of enjoying the views!
A perfect spot for cooling the feet off if we’d had time to stop!
A brief rest stop before continuing up the valley.
Greenup Edge – Looking back to where we had come from.
Continuing up Greenup Edge to Lining Crag.
We had a mission and a half ahead of us. We estimated that we’d easily be in Grasmere by 3:00pm. But our pace is much slower going uphill and over stony ground, so it was 3:00pm by the time we’d hiked all the way along Greenup Edge to Lining Crag. Worried that we’d miss the shops and have to abandon our second planned wild camp at Grisedale Tarn that night, we upped the pace and hot footed it downhill overtaking a number of other C2Cers on our route who looked at us like we were crazy! With their nice, cosy B&B’s pre-booked for that night complete with evening meal, they didn’t have to worry about getting gas!
Fantastic views heading down to Grasmere.
A quick photo on our way down…
We reached Grasmere at 5.10pm and headed straight to the Cotswold Outdoor shop that informed us they are open until 6:00pm! Typical! But it was good that we had time to spare, so we purchased a new gas canister and hurried to the bakery where we drooled over everything and decided on two gourmet pork pies so we could have a Ploughman’s for tea. Next stop, The Co-op, which we found is open until 10:00pm and also has an ATM machine inside for free cash withdrawals. As we no longer needed to hurry, we parked ourselves on a nearby bench, offloaded the bags and took turns nipping in the shop. First purchase – refreshments! So we sat and enjoyed ice-creams and cold drinks before returning to get stocked up.
I did the honours while Wayne rested his feet. But he was not happy when I returned with 2 carrier bags filled with ‘yellow’ sticker bargains that I couldn’t help but put in the basket. Everything was just too tempting! Shopping when you’re hungry is a big no no, especially when you’ve still got 4 miles of uphill walking to contend with, on top of 13 miles already completed. (Now with the added 2kg each of bargain basement treats as well as a new full gas canister!) Well I couldn’t help it! Did I mention that food is what you live for on a multi-day hike? Wayne has now banned me from shopping alone. I shrugged off his complaints. All I was bothered about was my pork pie, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, seeded batch bread and caramel digestives! (And thankfully not an instant noodle in sight).
(Unfortunately we didn’t take any photos during our rest stop in Grasmere. But take our word for it, Grasmere is a lovely village with lots of upmarket hotels, pubs and cafes, as well as several gift shops to browse in. We wished we’d had more time to linger there as well as more money to spend!)
At 6:30pm we left Grasmere, only just on speaking terms, and headed up, up, up the valley to our wild camp destination – Grisedale Tarn. My bag felt a lot heavier with our newly acquired supplies and by the time the tarn came into view both my feet and ankles were aching – but I dare not complain. It wouldn’t do to let Wayne think he was actually right! I kept focussing on my pork pie – as you do, which just kept me going that little bit further!
Leaving Grasmere and heading up the valley to Grisedale Tarn.
Grisedale Tarn comes into view and we are about ready to drop!
As we arrived around 8:30pm, the tarn looked beautiful in the late evening sunlight. We were recommended this great wild camp spot by a fellow hiker. Our only concern was whether we’d be under attack by midges, but thankfully the breeze coming off the lake kept them at bay. The only other disappointment was that there were already several other tents pitched around the far side of the lake – and we thought we’d have it to ourselves! Not likely, a popular spot like this in the middle of the summer holidays. Oh well, we can’t have everything.
The lake looking stunning during the ‘golden hours’.
The water was clear as crystal.
We found ourselves a pretty good spot to pitch the tent which was behind a rocky outcrop so it did feel like we were kind of alone. Wayne got to work with the camera shooting some stunning reflection shots, whilst I put the Ploughman’s platter together. Ironically, after our mission to get gas, we didn’t actually need it! (And just for your information, the pork pie was absolutely amazing!)
Our second fantastic wild camp spot in ‘The Lakes’ at Grisedale Tarn.
Day 4 – Grisedale Tarn Wild Camp to Patterdale via St Sunday Crag. (4.5 miles) – Tuesday 22nd July 2014 – ‘St Sunday On A Tuesday’
By the time we were ready to leave the next morning, everyone else had already gone, so we did get the lake to ourselves after all! We didn’t rush off, deciding to stay a little longer and enjoy the view for a while as we had less than 5 miles to walk to reach Patterdale. (Almost a ‘zero’ day and our shortest walk in a while!)
One of our daily jobs. Wayne collects water to put through our ‘Sawyer Squeeze Filter’.
Not quite ready to leave yet!
We set off around 9:30am with beautiful clear skies as we headed up to St Sunday Crag. (Wayne has previously walked this route during our summer holiday in the Lakes last year, whereas I had stayed at the tent with a sickness bug). We decided not to walk the Helvellyn/Striding Edge route as we were concerned about the ridge walk with our huge packs, particularly as we would be walking against the flow of people who tackle it from the opposite direction. We’ll save that one for another day when Nigel Gray (@amountainhigh) can join us!
Wayne points to St Sunday Crag.
Looking across to Dolly Waggon Pike.
Looking back to Grisedale Tarn.
Wayne blends in with the scenery in his ‘lemongrass’ T-shirt.
Panorama shot looking onto Dolly Waggon Pike and Striding Edge.
Looking down the valley where there is also the option of taking the ‘low route’.
Our huge packs put us off tackling Striding Edge.
We picked St Sunday Crag as the easier option!
Our trail to the top, which is actually more gentle than it looks.
Looking down to Deepdale.
Looking small on the top of St Sunday Crag which has a wide, flat trail.
We were extremely lucky when we reached the top of St Sunday Crag to have fantastic views in all directions. Having great weather really does make all the difference to your mood and attitude on a long distance hike. With our woes of yesterday all forgotten, we offloaded our packs for some sunshine and relaxation whilst taking in the incredible scenery. At 841 metres, we could clearly see the spine of the Pennines including Cross Fell in the distance, our highest peak whilst walking the Pennine Way. It seemed slightly surreal that just a couple of weeks earlier, we had done exactly the same thing – standing at the top of Cross Fell looking across to the Lakes. Wayne set up the camera and 400 shots later he was happy he’d managed to capture exactly what we witnessed. It couldn’t have been more perfect, if we hadn’t then been attacked by a swarm of flying ants! Our new greatest enemy, they weren’t even put off by 50% deet!
Wayne shoots a time lapse of the clouds moving across the Helvellyn range.
Another peak bagged! St Sunday Crag at 841 metres.
We posed for an obligatory shot at the summit cairn, then hastily packed up ready to head down into Patterdale, our peace and tranquillity having been disturbed. The trail from the top isn’t too taxing until you reach Thornhow End where there is quite a steep descent to begin with. We stopped for more photos and to enjoy a closer view of Ullswater.
Stood at Thornhow End for great views of Ullswater.
Now to make our way down…
Spectacular views of Ullswater. The weather makes all the difference!
Panorama shot of Ullswater and Patterdale.
A perfect rest stop!
We finally arrived in Patterdale around 2:00pm, having really taken our time to cover just four and a half miles! As the weather was so glorious we treated ourselves to a pint at the Patterdale Hotel, sitting outside in the large beer garden at the front, before heading to the National Trust Side Farm Campsite across the river. The campsite is right next to Ullswater with access to the water’s edge if you fancy a paddle. The facilities at the campsite are fairly good and we managed to get ourselves a flat pitch overlooking the lake even though it was busy. The most important thing to us at that moment in time though was a shower. It was the first time we’d had one in 3 days (thank goodness for wet wipes) so it was absolute heaven!
Day 5 – Rest Day at Patterdale. (1) Wednesday 23rd July 2014 – ‘On A Mission For Shoes’
We planned to have a ‘Rest Day’ in Patterdale so that we could easily and conveniently reach Ambleside using public transport. We desperately needed access to a larger town to go in search of replacement trail runners. Our choice of Salomon Speed Cross 3s, although fitting well and light and comfy on the trail, did not really meet the endurance test, especially having walked 300+ miles on largely stony ground. Both of us were finding that our soles were wearing thin in certain places and my pair even had holes wearing through the mesh on the forefoot where the shoe creases as it flexes with each step. In hindsight, we should have picked more hard wearing trail shoes especially as we need to get at least 700 miles out of them. But the Speed Cross range have had such good reviews and we really liked the feel of them, so they were our first choice.
Quaint houses in Patterdale.
The Patterdale Village Store & Post Office – The best shop we’ve found on the Coast to Coast route so far!
Crossing the river to Side Farm Campsite.
View of Ullswater on the way to the campsite.
Catching up with chores!
Wayne cooking again. It’s great having a personal chef!
Piri piri chicken, salad and wholegrain baguettes.
We enjoyed having a ‘normal’ ish day! We caught up with laundry, stocked up with more food supplies (rest days are great as we can buy fresh ingredients to use up that day) and I even caught up with writing some blog posts.
After looking in every single hiking gear shop in Ambleside half of our mission was complete. Wayne had successfully procured himself a pair of Patagonia trail shoes in the sale, and was happy that these will now last him until we complete the John Muir Trail. Unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky. Despite trying on several brands of various trail shoes, they were either too big or too small, with not a single size 6.5 for sale in the whole of Ambleside. I now have to hope my Salomons will keep going that bit further and get me to Robin Hood’s Bay so I can search for replacements on the internet before heading to the USA!
Catching the bus to Windermere then Ambleside.
Walking through Ambleside on a mission for new trail runners.
Returning to Patterdale, we spotted the Old Water View Hotel which was advertising free Wi-Fi. So we hopped off the bus and went for a drink so that we could upload some photos and publish a new blog post while the opportunity was there. Wi-Fi has been fairly hit and miss throughout both the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast so far. I didn’t even have a phone signal in Patterdale. (We later found out that only Vodafone works here). So it’s always difficult keeping the blog up to date, but we try our best!
Mission half completed! Drinks at the Old Water View Hotel, Patterdale, before heading back to the campsite.
Returning to the campsite at sunset.
Returning to the campsite quite late in the day, we made a spontaneous decision to make the most of the fantastic weather we’d been experiencing and stay in Patterdale for an extra day! Why rush through the Lakes when we weren’t on too tight a schedule? In our planning, we ensured that we had more than a few spare days to play with, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to enjoy some more of Ullswater seeing as our campsite was right next to it!
Day 6 – Rest Day at Patterdale. (2) – Thursday 24th July 2014 – ‘Summer Has Arrived’
We awoke to another gorgeous, sunny morning so we knew we’d made the right decision to stay another day. We headed down to the water from the campsite and even had a dip!
A long exposure shot of Ullswater Lake.
The little ‘beach’ area next to the campsite giving access to the lake.
Wayne braves the cold water and goes for a swim.
A paddle for me to test out the temperature first!
Master Chef hard at work again!
Gourmet burgers on the menu tonight.
We also made another visit to the village store to choose something for dinner. It was all very civilised and much more like a day we’d have when car camping than thru-hiking! Exactly what we needed to recharge the batteries and appreciate everything we have experienced so far. Sometimes you are so caught up with making your miles and focussed on putting one foot in front of the other that you forget to look up, stop and take it all in.
The Lake District is simply spectacular! What a mind-blowing, magical way to begin our Coast to Coast adventure. We hope we’re as lucky with the weather and scenery during the rest of Alfred Wainwright’s favourite route across England! Find out in our next update coming soon…