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Coast to Coast 2008
Day 3 – Sunday 11 May: Stonethwaite Farm to Glenthorne Guest House, Grasmere.
We had arranged breakfast for a little later than normal as we had a shorter day than the first 2 days. We met Graham and Christine at breakfast but Diane was leaving as we walked down for breakfast as she was meeting Geoff, Jane and Jeff who had been staying further down the valley. Graham and Christine were walking the first half of the C2C to Keld. We chatted a while about the walk and who we had seen. Graham asked us if we had seen two cockney geezers called Chas and Dave who were camping but clearly we hadn’t – so far anyway. Mick gave Graham and Christine the interim identification of the Chesterfield 2. We, like many other C2C walkers used such ‘tags’ for people until their true names were known. In some cases the true names of walkers were never established principally because we never actually walked with the other people or engaged in lengthy conversation – some people like to walk and be alone. We actually learned later this morning that we had been identified by another walking group as the ‘3 beer barrels’ – I wonder why?
Tracey provided us with an excellent breakfast and a substantial packed lunch. Stonethwaite Farm is spacious, clean and comfortable and Tracey is a wonderful hostess – I would certainly stay here again. You may think – why did we need a packed lunch if we were only walking to Grasmere? A number of reasons including the price of sandwiches in Grasmere and the fact we were taking the higher level and longer ridge route into Grasmere passing Gibson Knott and Helm Crag and as the weather was bright and sunny we intended having a lunch on top of one of the crags.
We sorted our bags for collection by Packhorse and then booted up outside the farm admiring the views around this part of Borrowdale on a glorious sunny morning. It was going to be a hot one today so plenty of water was onboard. Malc and I were amazed at how little food and water Mick was consuming during the walks. We were both carrying enough water to supply a village but Mick was still on his first 1 litre bottle – true he had consumed plenty of beers along the route.
We set off from the farm at 9.20am heading over the bridge and turning right up the distinct path alongside Stonethwaite Beck and later Greenup Gill. We passed Graham and Christine fairly quickly and walked for a short distance with a group of 5 Duke of Edinburgh award participants with their leader. They were heading up the hillside and over the crags to Watendlath Tarn. I was striding out in front of the others in the early part of this section and soon caught up with Geoff, Jane, Jeff and Diane. I stopped to chat with them for a couple of minutes by which time Mick and Malc had joined us and off we went again this time with Mick striding out in front towards Lining Crag.
We passed Roger along the section before Lining Crag and I could see the 2 ladies with the red setter and dalmation ascending Lining Crag just in front of Mick. One of them ran back down to an area at the base of this steepish climb and then back up to the top. I later learned this was to recover a dog lead that had been left accidentally on a rock. Mick reached the summit of Lining Crag first and waited for us. It was quite warm and slightly humid so the rest was welcome and we took a few photographs at this grand viewpoint. It was good to look across to distinctive mountains like Great Gable, Skiddaw and Scafell Pike in the distance.
As we set off towards Greenup Edge I could see the Old Gits further ahead of the two dogs and their owners. What was disturbing about the dalmation is that it was not under control and often set off running across the open hills chasing sheep despite efforts by it’s owner to call it back. The owner was lucky a farmer didn’t see it or the dog would have been shot. The conditions underfoot across Greenup Edge were reasonably dry but I know this can be quite a boggy section after rain. We actually met up with the two dogs team and the Old Gits on the ridge at Greenup Edge. I pointed out the route that the dog owners were looking for i.e. down Far Easedale into Grasmere and then discussed the planned route of the Old Gits who were seeking to avoid losing height by descending into Grasmere as they were heading over to Patterdale. They were heading for the Wythburn path to the left but the path is certainly not clear on the ground at this point. The map shows that it cuts down the hillside from a point about 200 metres from the edge but it would appear that the Old Gits either missed it or had a change of mind as they carried on down the hillside and up to the point where the fence posts mark the various routes to be taken from the head of Far Easedale.
Straight ahead from this point is the valley route down Far Easedale, diagonally left is the path leading to Calf Crag and the high level route to Helm Crag and into Grasmere, and the route immediately left follows the fenceposts. It appears that the Old Gits had this route mapped out to take them down to Wythburn and then across the main road by the rear of Seat Sandal up to Grisedale Tarn. This was the last we would see of the Old Gits so we wished them well on their crossing and I took a photograph.
Off we went towards Calf Crag and then along the ridge route passing the various high points until we reached Gibson Knott where we had our packed lunches. There were plenty of day walkers around today as it was a typically busy Sunday in the Lake District but we found a reasonably quiet spot from where we could admire the Lakeland panorama. It was also an ideal time to take the boots off to cool our feet down as it was a hot day and therefore conditions underfoot were also hot leading to hot feet and hot feet can lead to blisters. We each took the opportunity to do an ET and phone home and also I took a few photographs of the area.
We had a good 45 minutes for our lunch at this viewpoint but then we were off towards the two distinctive rock formations on Helm Crag known as the ‘Howitzer’ and the ‘Lion and Lamb’. This area was very busy with day walkers so we passed through fairly quickly after taking photographs and admiring the views in particular of Grasmere. I also took the opportunity of visiting a nearby geocache which involved quite a scramble over rocks on a steepish slope.
The descent from Helm Crag down into Easedale is quite steep in places and I would imagine quite slippery after rain. The loose shale in various parts of the path also added to a slowish descent and at one point the sure footed Mick decided to audition for ‘bambi on ice’ by slipping on the loose rock and falling with his leg outward and beneath him. Luckily no serious damage was done to the rock – or Mick’s leg! We soon reached the relative safety of the valley floor and made swift progress into Grasmere passing our overnight accommodation of the Glenthorne Guest House on the way in.
We all agreed it was time for a cooling beer or two but we could not find a suitable pub with a beer garden or tables outside anywhere around the village we had to resort to plan B – visit the off licence, buy a few cans and sit on a bench. Now can I assure you all that this is not out usual method of consuming beer but needs must and I must say some day trippers must have thought we were the village drunks armed with carrier bags and cans of lager. Malc was actually drinking bottles of coke whilst Mick and I had a couple of cans of Stella lager. Our location must have been appealing as Roger had the same idea and joined us later with a bottle of Stella lager.
Now it’s amazing what coke can do to a tired C2C walker. We were sat there in the sunshine when we saw the 2 ladies with the 2 dogs getting into a taxi – we know they were heading for Patterdale on the walk but surely they can’t be getting a taxi? Malc jumped up from the bench with his coke in hand and ran across to the taxi about 80 yards away knocking on the window and waving to the couple asking if they were Ok. Looking a little embarrassed Malc was told ‘Don’t tell anyone you have seen us will you?’ ‘OK I won’t’. Seriously though, it is better to be safe than get half way across the hills to Patterdale with an injury or exhaustion. We thought that this would be the last we would see of these ladies but we did meet them again in Keld – see Day 7.
Suitably refreshed we headed up to Glenthorne Guest House to book in at 4pm and arranged to meet at 6pm to walk into Grasmere for our evening meal. We chatted with a few guests before going to our rooms and I must say they were interested in our walk and very friendly.
The reception from the staff at Glenthorne was very friendly and we were given our room keys and told where to go - a detached building within the grounds. I was in a room on my own whilst Mick and Malc shared. The rooms were extremely spacious, clean and comfortable. Glenthorne Guest House is a quaker house about 400 yards from the village centre. It was a peaceful location and what made it more peaceful was there were no TV in the rooms - which to be honest we did not need. We had hardly looked at a TV along the route so far.
I showered and sorted my kit for the following day before walking out into the grounds of Glenthorne to meet Mick and Malc. We had decided to take our evening meal at the Lamb Inn as Malc and I had enjoyed our meal here 2 years earlier. Once again the meal was good value for money and the Lamb Inn is a popular pub as other C2C walkers also attended including Geoff, Jane, Jeff and Diane with whom we chatted after our meals. Whilst at the Lamb Inn Diane asked who had been in the adjoining room to her at Stonethwaite farm – answer Malc and myself – Why? Someone was snoring so loud she couldn’t sleep – answer Malc. Next question who was wandewring around the corridor between the bedroom and toilets in the middle of the night wearing white underpants – answer Malc. Enough said!!.We were not too late back to Glenthorne and retired to bed ready for our trip over into Patterdale the next day and of course this included Helvellyn and Striding Edge.
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