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Journeyman's Coast to Coast Journal 2006
Monday 12 June - St. Bees - Ennerdale Bridge
I had a restless night I recollect waking up at different times and seeing the clock pass 4, 5 6 & 7am but I felt refreshed and ready for the off. We had booked breakfast at 8am and set our alarm for 7.15am. Showered, shaved, final checking of rucksacks and bags for onward transfer – destination labels attached and we went down for breakfast. Malc & I had a full English breakfast after fruit juice and starters i.e. porridge and grapefruit followed by toast. This was a hearty breakfast that set us up for the day. During breakfast we saw the other 8 C2C walkers staying at Stonehouse Farm. They were made up of two separate groups of 4. The first group of 4 were all male and they were intending to walk to Reeth this year and complete the walk the following year. They were Andy & Chris (brothers), Jim and Kit. More about these chaps later. The other group of 4 were two American couples who we briefly said good morning to as they came down to breakfast later than us. We did not see them to talk to again until breakfast at Oak Lodge, Grasmere on Thursday morning 15 June.
We set off down to the beach area at about 8.50am. It had been raining heavily until about 8.30am but it had stopped now and although overcast I sensed it would dry up – it did and albeit a little breezy it was a perfect walking day. Prior to leaving home I had downloaded routes containing waypoints for each of the 16 walking days. I used a maximum of 20 waypoints per day and on some days these included the locations of geocaches. On this first day I only had one to find near St Bees Lighthouse. On the way to the beach we saw a young man and woman leaving Tomlin Guest House also apparently on the way to the beach. We had seen them in the Queens Hotel the previous evening and identified them as potential C2C walkers.
Malc & I took a few photographs in the area of the beach including the brick wall minus the start sign and of me getting my feet wet in the Irish sea and selecting a pebble from the beach. 9.20am and we were off up to the South Head following the young lady from the male/female partnership we had seen earlier. We caught up with her at South Head and learned she was from Australia doing some of the C2C walk with her ‘friend’, an Englishman working in Australia. She explained that he had gone a different route and was to meet here past the lighthouse. As we looked back towards the beach there were no signs of any other walkers – we took a few photographs and marched onward and upward towards Fleswick Bay and then the Lighthouse. We were in good spirits and I decided to introduce Malc to a bit of a challenge. For many years as part of the Dales Team Building Exercises I had given the participating teams a ‘theme of the day’ in which they had to name, from things they actually saw along the route, an item connected to a theme. The theme I chose for Malc & I was that from things seen during the walk we had to give the name, in turn, of an England footballer past and present. Things were rolling along very well for about a mile when names like Nobby Stiles, Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore, Ron Flowers and Emlyn Hughes rolled off the tongue. Malc then either cheated or used his vast superior knowledge of England footballers to great effect (I think the latter applied) as he said Albert Legge and others from the pre second world war era. I surrendered and Malc was the winner. A little further along the route we changed the theme to Pop stars or groups and Malc threw the trowel in when I said ‘A Flock of Seagulls’ (genuine Malc honest).
We made good progress and proceeded around Fleswick Bay and onto the North Head where I bagged the ‘Black Guillemot Lighthouse Jackpot’ cache. I got a great picture of the St Bees lighthouse before we moved on. As we approached Saltom Bay the cliff top path showed what I believe to be dangerous signs of erosion i.e. it was dangerous to walk on in several places and it surely is only a matter of time before the path here is diverted inland a little. We then saw two of the four all male group, Chris and Jim, we had seen at breakfast. They were looking back towards St Bees asking if we had seen their other two colleagues – we had not and were quite surprised to see them in front of us. We had a chat about our respective schedules and plans before Malc & I proceeded and then turned inland towards Sandwith and beyond. It was generally easy walking along the lanes and paths all the way to Cleator via Moor Row. We walked down Wainwright's Passage near the cricket field on the way in to Cleator where we had considered having lunch. As we passed through the village and turned right opposite Farrons shop we were looking for a bench to sit down on to have lunch but never saw one. I went into the shop and bought us a couple of bottles of Lucozade to have with our lunch. I was served by a lovely lady who was extremely chatty and asked me to sign the C2C visitors book in the shop and I duly obliged with my name and ‘aka Journeyman’. We thought it may be a bad idea to have lunch before the climb up Dent Hill so we pushed on quickly through the forest up to the large cairn on Dent Hill where we sat down and admired the views as we ate a well deserved packed lunch. We sheltered from the westerly wind behind the cairn and noted the amount of litter left hidden under rocks within the cairn – what a disgrace – the people responsible should be ashamed of themselves.
We set off across the boggy plateau and descended steeply down to the two water tanks where slight confusion arose. The finger board for the Coast to Coast pointed down hill to the right but the Stedman guidebook indicated a path to the left which we actually took. It was a steep descent as indicated by Stedman as Malc found out as he slid a few yards down on his side. We quickly found the picturesque Nannycatch Gate and beck which was in warm sunshine.
This was an idyllic little valley and a sun trap. It was quite hot as we walked along towards Low Cock How farm and then down the path by the side of the road into Ennerdale Bridge. We were a little early for our B&B so we sat outside the Shepherds Arms Hotel for about an hour having a drink before booking in at our accommodation, The Cloggers, at 4.05pm. The GPS showed 15.54 miles which of course was from B& B to B & B. It was a welcoming reception from our hosts Mr & Mrs Whitfield Bott who never introduced themselves by their first names. However, the cottage was a delight and our twin room was clean, tidy and spacious. We had shared facilities but we were the only guests that night so we had the bathroom to ourselves. We both bathed (separately of course) in a very narrow bath and got into our routine of preparing our kit for the next day, recharged GPS and camera batteries etc. We had a cup of tea and Malc pulled out his cheese thins and we shared a few. Our chosen venue for the evening meal was the Fox and Hounds in Ennerdale Bridge – a little further away than the Shepherds Arms Hotel but a pleasant stroll through the village arriving at about 6.30pm. The first thing I saw when entering the bar was Haystacks beer on sale. This was a local brew from Hesketh Newmarket in Cumbria and I duly ordered a pint whilst Malc had his usual 1664 lager. As we had our meal we noted other C2C walkers arriving for their evening meals including Andy, Chris, Jim & Kit and three Americans who we had not seen before (we were to meet them at the mini summit of Lining Crag a few days later. We chatted with Andy & team for a few minutes before we left. The food at the Fox and Hounds was excellent and I would highly recommend it to other C2C walkers. On the way back to The Cloggers we called in at the Shepherds Arms and had a drink. We saw another group of Americans, adults and young girls included, who were also doing the C2C walk and two males who we had seen in the Queens Hotel – they looked like father and son and I was to find out a few days later when I had dinner with them in Kirkby Stephen that they were father and son, Mike and Mark respectively, with a great deal of long distance walking experience behind them. What was obvious is that there were a lot of people on the route at this time and that we would bump in to some of them tomorrow. We retired to bed at 10pm and both of us were not long before we crashed out to sleep. What a great day we had.
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