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Coast to Coast 2008
Day 2 – Saturday 10 May: Low Cock How Farm to Stonethwaite Farm, Stonethwaite.
It was déjà vu for me as once again I didn’t get a particularly good night’s sleep but felt totally refreshed as I showered at 6.15am. I had been awoken in the night by some sounds from the bunk house accommodation below which I later found out was one of the ladies taking the dog out for a toilet relief. The 3 of us were down for breakfast at 7.15am followed by the Old Gits at 7.30am and the two ladies around the same time. The breakfast was plentiful and was excellent and it set us up for our intended trek to Black Sail Hut Youth Hostel where we would have a spot of lunch before heading up Loft Beck. We collected our substantial packed lunches as we booted up outside the farmhouse doors. We were off for 8.30am ahead of the Old Gits. The two ladies and their dogs had set off before us.
The one and a half miles walk from Low Cock How farm down to Ennerdale Bridge village was easy and a good leg stretcher for what was to come. We didn’t particularly rush but made good time and in no time at all we were approaching the head of Ennerdale Water. We saw Geoff, Jane and Jeff about 200 yards ahead of us and they turned right to go the traditional route around Anglers Crag on the south shore of Ennerdale Water. We turned left to take the slightly longer but easier on the feet route around Bowness Crag on the northern shore of Ennerdale Water. It was a sunny but hazy morning but the day seemed set up to be quite a good one from a weather perspective.
As we headed up the valley we took a few photographs and looked across the lake to see the progress of others on the southern shore which is slower than the northern side due to the slightly more difficult terrain around Anglers Crag. We pushed on up through the forest passing the Youth Hostel and several mountain bikers who must have been out early on the tracks through the forest up and down Ennerdale. When we were about 2 miles from Black Sail Hut we passed 2 elderly sisters who were walking the C2C up until Reeth, finishing the remaining sections to Robin Hoods Bay in September.
We made good progress and arrived at Black Sail hut at 12 noon – about 11 miles walking in three and half hours was a decent pace. Malc quickly arranged for a cup of tea for us with the hostel warden and we sat down to have our packed lunches in front of the hostel. There were a few mountain bikers setting off over the Black sail pass to Wasdale as we arrived and we watched their progress whilst chatting and eating our lunches. We chatted to a gentleman from Whitehaven who told us he walked up to Black Sail hut 3 times a week from Ennerdale Bridge.
When looking around at the scenery from this magical oasis there is no wonder why he finds this place so special. We actually discussed coming to Black Sail hut for a few days later in the year but somehow I don’t think it will happen. The warden and his partner came out and set off directly up the hillside behind the hostel to Haystacks doing a bit of ‘off pathing’ which I also enjoy. We watched their progress up the hillside whilst we waited to see if any other C2C walkers would show. The two elderly sisters arrived next and went into the hostel to have tea and as we were leaving for the 1000 feet ascent of Loft Beck the Old Gits arrived closely followed by Geoff, Jane and Jeff.
We had no problem finding the correct path leading to Loft Beck as Malc and I had done it 2 years earlier and in no time we were starting the steep half mile ascent by the side of the beck. My own view with such climbs is to keep moving at a sensible pace and it paid dividends again as we reached the top in half an hour admiring the panoramic views occasionally on the way up and for quite some time after we crossed the stile at the `Brandreth fence' to find a suitable cluster of rocks nearby.
We admired the views picking out many of the familiar mountain peaks and lakes and looked at the route ahead for others walking in our direction but there was no one. We took a few photographs as we picked our way around Grey Knotts towards the track leading down to Honister Slate Mine café. Malc sent a photograph home to his wife on his mobile phone before we headed down the often steep and shaley path to the Honister café and visitor centre.
We decided to sit outside the cafe and have a cup of tea surrounded by the ‘highest’ free range hens I have ever seen. They were looking for scraps of food from the various visitors around the area. We had made good time but still had a few miles to go to our next destination in Stonethwaite. On the way down the tracks by the side of Honister Pass we missed the path that I had intended to take down Little Gatesgarthdale to bring us out at the end of Johnny Wood. As a consequence we lost some altitude down to Seatoller before cutting up the hillside to go around the wood to the entrance. My 2 walking colleagues were moaning like hell about the additional and unexpected climb and repeatedly reminded me of the minor detour throughout the subsequent days walking eveytime we saw or went through a wood.
We left the beautiful bluebell clad woodland and headed down the country lanes towards Stonethwaite. The view of the next days walk ahead was inspiring. On arrival at the village we actually walked past our overnight accommodation i.e. Stonethwaite Farm to go to the Langstrath Inn where we had booked an evening meal. Our accommodation was only 100 yards or so from the pub. We had a few beers outside the pub and were joined later by the Old Gits. There was a wedding reception in the village and a lot of guests were already in, or arriving in, the village to attend the post wedding event in a large marquee erected in a nearby field. After a couple of beers we booked into our accommodation nearby. We were met by Tracey the proprietor who gave a friendly welcome and showed us to our rooms. Mick was in a room on his own and I shared with Malc. We were aware that the American lady Diane was also staying at Stonethwaite Farm and also a couple from Chesterfield called Graham and Christine.
We showered and arranged our kit for the next day before heading back to the Langstrath for our pre booked evening meal at 6.30pm. For people staying in Stonethwaite requiring an evening meal at the Langstrath it is essential that you pre book your evening meal. This may seem to be a bind but I can assure you the meals at the Langstrath are excellent and well worth the effort of pre booking. We all selected our meals from the specials board at the pub. I had saddleback pig whilst Mick and Malc had the local herdwick lamb. The Old Gits were dining in a separate room at 7pm so we finished our meals first and retired outside to a few picnic tables opposite the bar entrance. Mick had been talking to one of the locals a gent who had worked at the Honister quarry for over 30 years and was now the self employed local kinder seller.
We were joined outside by the Old Gits following their meal and we chatted for quite some time about the walk so far, the days ahead and our own motivations. They were on a 12 day schedule so would go ahead of us the next day as they were heading for Patterdale whilst we were heading for Grasmere. I gave them £10 sponsorship money towards their chosen charity which was the local hospice. Good luck guys and well done. All in all everything was going well, we enjoyed a cracking days walking, met some other people along the way, enjoyed a few good beers and had a great evening meal – what more could we want on day 2. We retired to our accommodation at 10.30pm having arranged breakfast for 8.30am the next morning.
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