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Journeyman's Coast to Coast Journal 2006
Wednesday 14 June - Stonethwaite to Grasmere
I felt totally refreshed in the morning despite another broken nights sleep during which I had realised it was more than the birds, light mornings and excitement that was waking me up – it was Malc’s thunderous snore that was shaking the old oak rafters at Knotts View. Was it too many cheese thins? Or just the combination of fresh air, ale and good food? Anyway we had booked breakfast for 8.30am, a little later than normal but we only had a 9 mile walk today, which included a walk into Grasmere village from our intended accommodation at Oak Lodge on the Easedale Road out of Grasmere. Once again the full English breakfast was excellent and we chatted with the other guests at Knotts View – the American family group. There were six in total comprising of a woman who was acting as driver/courier along the route, a husband and wife and a combination of 3 girls aged between 13-17 who were daughters of the two women. It was a pleasure to listen to the mother reading the comments/route from Paul Hannon’s C2C guidebook to all the group and to see them all listening with genuine interest what delights they would see today. One of the younger daughters was going to take a ride in the vehicle today as she had sore legs. We chatted about the route in general and I gave a little advice about Greenup Edge. They were also heading for Grasmere where they intended to take a rest day to have a look at some of the sights in and around Grasmere. We settled our bill with Anne, collected our packed lunches and purchased a couple of post cards from Knotts View of the area. We booted up outside whilst talking to the American family and then set off up the valley towards Greenup Gill saying we would no doubt see them along the route somewhere.
It was quite a warm day and in no time at all we were taking water on board. We caught up with Mick and Adie after about half a mile and walked with, or close to them, throughout the morning until we reached the two posts at the top of Far Easedale when they would turn left over the high level route into Grasmere. The scenery was fantastic throughout this walk and I often stopped to take photographs with my Nikon Coolpix 7.2mp digital camera – I looked and noted that I had taken 60 photographs already. As we were approaching Lining Crag we saw a group of 3 who we later found out were Americans – 1 male and 2 females. We had seen them in Ennerdale Bridge but had not spoken with them. They seemed to be finding it hard going as we passed them on the steep ascent of Lining Crag but we waited for them at the viewpoint from the top making a total of 7 C2C walkers on Lining Crag in beautiful sunshine. Each group took team photographs and we exchanged views about the walk and the scenery.
I pointed out several of the mountains in view to the Americans including Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Skiddaw. We walked along as a group of seven but as inevitable the group became stretched a little as we ascended Greenup Gill. It was boggy on sections of this walk and the ongoing section to Far Easedale and although the visibility was good for us I could see how some people get lost in this area and take the wrong path – I would suggest concentration and careful map/compass work would be essential here in low cloud and rain.
I was chatting with the American group along some of this section. The male, sorry I didn’t get his name, explained that they had booked the holiday package and were on a 12 day schedule with no rest days. He said ‘When you book these walks from 5000 miles away and you are told it is a gentle walk across Northern England, you do not appreciate how demanding it would be’. They were having regrets at not having any rests days and what was obviously taking its toll on them physically. I spoke at length with one of this group, a lady called Helen, about their planned 2 weeks tour of selective places in the UK by train beyond the C2C walk. They intended visiting London and Edinburgh and asked for other interesting places to visit. I suggested York as it was on the east coast rail line and Helen asked me if I knew of a village called Scrooby as she couldn’t find it on the map but wanted to visit as one of her ancestors used to live there. I was aware of a place called Scrooby in North Lincolnshire which is reasonably close to South Yorkshire where I live and as we discussed the purpose of her visit to Scrooby I learned that one of her relations, William Brewster, used to be the vicar at Scrooby church and astonishingly he was one of the Pilgrim Fathers. I was able to assist, but to my surprise when I told Malc about Helen’s intentions he contributed greatly. He had a booklet at home all about Scrooby church and William Brewster and he agreed to post it on to the American groups final B & B on the route to make their visit even more enjoyable. It’s amazing who you meet on the C2C walk and it was a pleasure to have shared part of this day with the American group.
As I have said Mick and Adie left us for the high level route at Far Easedale. Malc and I decided to descend Far Easedale to find a suitable spot by the stream to have our packed lunch and we went slightly ahead of the American group. We chatted to two Dutch (1 male & 1 female) C2C walkers who were going East to West. They were having a great time and we exchanged information about the state of the route ahead. To my surprise he had never seen a GPS before so I showed him some of the basic functions including the route and waypoints from today's walk ‘ I must buy one of these when I return home’ he said. We found the ideal spot to east our packed lunch, in bright sunshine by the stream and we waved to the American group as they headed down towards Grasmere. They were heading for Patterdale today but at the pace they were now proceeding I had worries that they would not make it until late that night - if at all. The Borrowdale to Patterdale section is tough for any walker and that is one of the reasons why I split this demanding section into two days. We had three quarters of an hour for lunch and then steadily, and I mean steadily, walked down towards Grasmere. We passed the American group before the tarmac section down Easedale Road and headed into Grasmere. We actually passed our accommodation for the night, Oak Lodge and I just thought ‘WOW – what a great place to stay’. The owner, Alison, also sold ice creams and drinks to passing walkers and tourists who occupied tables in her garden. I somehow knew this was going to be a great place to stay – I was right.
We walked into Grasmere and had a good look around, partly to identify a suitable venue for our evening meal later and partly of course what was on offer in the shops. I wrote on a postcard showing a view of Seatoller and posted it off to Linda. I spoke to her every day by telephone but thought the postcard would be a little unexpected surprise for her. We found the Lamb Inn next to the Red Lion and had our usual drink. The menu looked good so decision made – we will eat here tonight. There was a World Cup Football Game on the TV and we watched a few minutes only. I have not mentioned the World Cup before and promise not to mention it too often in the future – I was away on the C2C walk not watching every World Cup game possible. As we walked around Grasmere we saw a few other C2C walkers arriving/passing through. At 3.15pm we set off from the village back up to Oak Lodge. As we passed the small park near to the Red Lion we saw the group of 3 Americans referred to earlier. They were eating ice creams and looking a little tired. I suggested to Malc that they would not make it to Patterdale until 9pm at their pace – we never saw them again but I hope they continued and enjoyed their walk, even if it meant taking a lift for the odd day. At the time of writing this account of my walk Malc has not heard from the Americans about their quest to find Scrooby – watch this space for any update. As we neared Oak Lodge we passed and spoke to the American family group we had seen at Knotts View and to my surprise Mick and Adie who had just descended from Helm Crag at the end of the high level route. Mick had found it tough on the steep descent. They had pre booked at Helvellyn Youth Hostel so they still had a fair walk ahead of them. They had telephoned the hostel to say they would be late – I wonder if they managed to climb Helvellyn and Striding Edge? I wonder if they made a successful crossing?
We had a wonderful welcome from Alison at Oak Lodge and quickly settled into a daily routine – bath, checking gear for tomorrow, recharge batteries, cup of tea and yes finally we finished Malc’s cheese thins. I changed the maps, checked the routes for tomorrow and noted we had walked just short of 9 miles today including the visit into the village. We set off back into the village at 5.30pm and saw the Australian female and her English male friend in Grasmere as well as some of the American family group including the oldest of the young ladies. I was wearing my Macmillan Cancer Appeal T shirt with the C2C map on the front and we chatted about sponsored events. The young lady was also preparing for a sponsored run in support of Aids and asked where she could train the following day – I suggested a run around the lake would be great. We said our goodbyes as it was unlikely that we would see them again as they were having a few rest days along the remainder of the route.
We had an excellent evening meal of haddock and chips at the Lamb Inn – it was great value for money. During my research Grasmere was the one place where I was undecided about where to eat due to the consistent comments from walkers of ‘far too expensive’ and ‘poor for the money’. The Lamb Inn was a great place to eat and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone. We finished our meal and had another walk around Grasmere. We visited the Wordsworth Graves and walked towards the Lake. On the way back we bumped into Andy, Chris, Jim and Kit who were heading for the Rowan Tree for their meal. They seemed in good spirits but were running a little late for their meal so we suggested that we would probably meet somewhere along the route the following day – they were also heading to Patterdale like Malc and myself. We took a steady walk back to Oak Lodge and retired to our room at about 9pm. I wrote up my journal notes and we chatted for a while. I can’t remember falling to sleep but the next thing was my normal early morning awaking.
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