The Vault Regulars

Monday, November 2, 2009

St Bees to Penrith

I am writing this post from my comfy leather chair now that we are back home. I don't have the capability to write and send as i walk. My phone is for emergency use only.
As Sheila had a week off work we decided to walk some of Wainwright's coast to coast. I myself had done this some time back but this was Sheila's first assault.
Fortunately Sheila's mum lives near St Bees so having somewhere to leave the car was a bonus.

We set off on a beautiful Saturday morning and dipped our feet in the sea. There were quite a few other walkers setting off and we criss crossed each others paths continuously.

One of the things i am not going to do on this post is bore everyone with the route. This has been written about in books and blogs to infinitum. What i want to do is mention what we found that probably hasn't been written about very often or maybe not at all.

Walking round St Bees head is delightful and although you walk around 5 miles before going east, it is still worth it. Fleshwick bay is worth a longer look and we will go back and explore it when we have a bit more time to spare.
When we got to Sandwith at 12 o'clock we expected to find the pub open for some lunch. Please note that the Lowther Arms has gone and the Dog and Partridge has shut as well. So no lunch here.
After you cross the B5345 you drop down to the railway and go under a bridge. This path which runs south of Stanley pond and up to the disused railway line is a complete mess. When we crossed it we had to wade in the bog for about 200 yds. This is one area that needs some footpath replacement work on it. Also if the weather has closed in this can be an area where you can take the wrong path, so care and attention is required here.
Once under the disused railway bridge the path is easy up to the main A595 road.

When we got into Moor Row we were pleased to see the Pop in cafe. The lady running it is quite a character and its run from her home and garden. She said that when all the shops in the village closed she opened it up in the main for Coast to Coast walkers. Thank you, it was just what was required.

The next hurdle was Dent. A piddling little hill that took an age to get up. We were certainly tired when we got to the top.
Once through the lovely Nanycatch valley we looked for somewhere to camp. We wanted to walk south of Grike tomorrow and then pick up the track down to Ennerdale water via Red Beck rather than go into Ennerdale bridge.
We found a nice spot just North of the Kinniside stone circle and just prior to the cattle grid on the road going down to Ennerdale Bridge. We started making tea when all of a sudden we were inundated by horses which had been let out from the nearby horse riding stables. They were into everything. Our rucksacks, food, tent etc. It was very scary and we were lucky to get out of there without any damage to the tent. We headed off very quickly across Blackley moss until we came to the path leading into forestry. We stopped here and finished eating our meal which had been kept warm in the pot cozy's. We got the tent up and luckily the horses stayed back towards the road.

Next morning we set off through the forestry on good paths. We noticed as we walked that there were no decent places to put the tent up. So it was a good job we pitched prior to entering the forestry. When the path emerges from the trees it heads for a wall which on the other side leads to Red Beck.
With hindsight i would not decide to come this way again. There may be a path marked on the map following Red Beck but it is non existent on the ground. The way down to the lake shore is very steep and slippery. It had 2 metre high ferns growing more or less the whole way down. Most unpleasant and not recommended as a route for walking with a pack.
The route from here up to Black Sail Hostel was great. We took the path on the south side of the river rather than the suggested north path. The reason for this was that the views are much better.
Black sail Hostel is a fine place to have lunch. You can make yourself a brew here and have a piece of home made cake if you are there early enough. The warden asks you to leave some money in the honesty box for the privilege of using the facilities. BUT! Please note, there are no toilet facilities for those not staying the night.

From the hostel we headed up Loft back and across to Honistor Pass and then down to the campsite at Rosthwaite. The views from the path between the top of Loft Beck and Drum House are spectacular.
The campsite at Rosthwaite is adequate with some nice pitches and at £6 per person and £0.50p for a shower is fair enough. The facilities could do with some updating, especially the showers. Although that said they were hot and lasted long enough and i am not complaining.

The next morning we went via Stonethwaite up to Greenup edge and then down Far Easdale into Grasmere. A fantastic walk although Lining Crag is a bit of a shock to the system and good map reading is required at the top of the crag until the path drops away down to far Easdale Gill if the weather is poor.
On the way down into Grasmere i noticed my right foot was giving me some jip. This was unusual as i had not had problems before. It got so bad that once in Grasmere we went into Cotswold Outdoors and got the problem resolved.
Cutting a long story short, after a great deal of time and patience, it was found that my boots were slightly narrow for my foot and a size to long. I must say that the 2 guys in the store gave me the best customer service i have ever had in any outdoor shop anywhere in the world. So many thanks to them you were fantastic.
I purchased some new lightweight boots and they sent my old ones home FOC.

There are no campsites in Grasmere unfortunately but there are 2 hostels many hotels and B&B's. The hostels would probably allow pitching a tent if required. We opted for the luxury choice and booked into a hotel for a bath and some TLC to my foot.

We had a wonderful breakfast in the hotel and set off refreshed to go to Side Farm campsite in Patterdale. The walk up the track to Grisdale tarn is fairly easy and then its a stroll down into Patterdale if you are not doing the striding edge route..

Booking into Side Farm Campsite , i thought i recognised the lady we were paying the fee to. It turned out that i had walked with her a number of years ago when we walked a route from Seathwaite in Borrowdale to Seathwaite in the Duddon valley. A cracking walk over Esk pike, Bowfell, Crinkles, Swirl How, Brim fell, Dow Crag and down the Walna Scar track to the Newfield Inn.
We were disapointed with the pitches on the campsite as the grass on any flat ground had worn away and where there was grass the land sloped away quite steeply. The facilites were very good though. We went for a few beers in the White Lion and very nice it was too. We had eaten our dehydrated food so we were not hungry but the food served in the pub looked fantastic. We didn't give in to temptation.

We checked out our next move as we had to end up in Penrith the next day to get the bus back to Workington. There didn't seem to be any places to camp between Bampton and Penrith so we decided to get the bus from Patterdale to Penrith. This was a bit disappointing because i know what a lovely walk it is past Angle Tarn and down Haweswater. But i had no idea if there was any transport from Bampton. I must address this issue for a future walk.

All in all we had a fantastic walk, breathtaking scenery, truly amazing weather and met some very nice people.

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