Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day 3 - Stonethwaite to Grasmere

Fortunately the rain had stopped but there seemed to be plenty of cloud around. After a good breakfast, it was time to endure the agony of putting the boots on and struggling down the path. After a few hundred yards, the legs loosen up and the pain of the toes becomes bearable and away you go.

I've gone back to the photos in the blog rather than the slide show in the Every Trail web site. However you can see the map of the walk here.

I was in bed by 8pm the night before and I got a good sleep. At breakfast, I talked more to Jon who recommended that I take the more difficult high route along a ridge. Once I started off and saw all the low clouds, I decided to stick to the track on the GPS wherever it took me.

I have been using a free Android app called View Ranger. Some bloke who has already done the walk uploaded the trail and all I have to do is follow it. I don't walk along with my eyes on the phone but it is helpful to check every now and then.

The paddocks behind Stonethwaite.

Turn right after the house.

Walk over to the track that started at nearby Rosthwaite.

Bridge over the creek that would follow for a few miles until it was time to start climbing.

When you first start the walk you try to avoid the puddles. When it is been raining all you can do is keep to the shallower bits at the sides. 

Looking back to Stonethwaite.

Some people had been camping in these tents. The 24x zoom lense on the Lumix camera I am using works very well for these long shots.

There are lots of gates you have to go through. Each seems to have a different locking mechanism. It's a bit like the taps / faucets you find operate the showers in American hotel rooms. Sometimes you have no idea how they work until you twist or pull something and water sprays out at you.

The path gradually climbed upward beside the creek. I was noticing the clouds ahead of me were pretty low.

Looking back down the valley where I had come from.

It is very rocky on these mountain sides.

Looking back to Stonethwaite.

Stone fence. Imagine the effort needed to build it on such a steep slope. There is no mortar to keep the stones in place, just careful selection and laying.   

The path started to veer off to the left away from the creek.

I was a bit concerned about venturing up into the fog by myself but fortunately there was a group of people coming up behind me. It turned out that it was the same group from Wyoming who I had walked with on the first day. They were pleased to see me. And yes, their luggage had finally turned up.

The start of the steep climb. If you have looked at the map page at the beginning you can see how much you have to climb, about 1700 feet.

Some parts of the climb were a real scramble.

Eventually we reached the top marked by cairns of stones piled up.

The clouds would clear momentarily and you could see medium distances.

Sometimes you could not see much at all. There was a bit of discussion about taking the higher ridge walk but discretion overcame valor for all of us.

It was very boggy and slippery. There is no one clearly defined path and you just try to find a route that keeps you out of the worst parts. We all fell over at various stages.

Navigation was difficult, even with maps and compasses because you can't see landmarks. My GPS was great because I could see exactly where I was and where the trail should be. However, you can't rely on your GPS working all the time so you need a backup.

You can see how rocky the path is at times. Sometimes it is easier to walk on the grass to one side.

One of the markers.

Your intrepid hero. Although it was damp, I did not need my umbrella. By now I had put the new camera away in my backpack and was using the old camera so that when I fell I would save the new camera. Notice I wrote 'when I fell' not 'if I fell'.

A couple of hikers with their dog. Since Grasmere is a popular base for hikers we came across quite a number of them out for a day's walk. It was noticeably much busier than day 2.

The path is that stream of water.

More sheep.

The descent was not as bad as I feared and it was just a matter of plodding along, stopping to take a photo every now and then.

Closer to Grasmere, the valley leveled out and the stone fences started again.

Suddenly the path looked to be in much better condition and I hoped it would stay that way.

Fat chance. The path quickly became lousy again.

The hills were oozing water like a giant sponge being squeezed.

Finally, a sign of civilization.

Some do gooder club was raising money by selling food and running raffles. They were also selling beer so I stopped for a quick pint. I had finished my water bottles about fifteen minutes before and the beer barely touched the sides of my throat.

The cloud was still very low. Next morning at breakfast I met the couple from Bethesda who I had walked with before lunch on day 1. They had taken the high ridge walk and it was dreadful up there. It took them at least two hours longer and they couldn't see much at all.

The pub up the road.

I settled into the B and B and this is the view from my window.

The host suggested I eat dinner at the pub just up the road and I noticed this mansion along the way.

At the pub at Stonethwaite the night before I had some excellent roast lamb. By now I was feeling like I needed carbohydrates so it was a penne and bean mix as well as cream and mushrooms.

By chance, the Wyoming people were staying at the same B and B. They stopped to have lunch once we had descended below the clouds and I had continued on. As I walked out of the pub, there they were. I stopped to talk to them and found out that as a group they have being doing walks like this for six years. Some of them met at a mountaineering class at the local community college. They seem to get on very well together and I heard no complaints from any of them as they walked. A couple of years ago they did the rim to rim to rim walk at the Grand Canyon. It took two days and their backpacks would have been light, but I was impressed.

1 comment:

  1. Loving your photos and the incredible scenery. That's a lot of rain but that is a lot of green too!