Coast to Coast

Day Three – 24th April 2011: Stonethwaite (Rest Day)

I only had to look at Rachel to know that she was still extremely unwell. We made our way down to breakfast in the vain hope that eating something would help her. It didn’t. She couldn’t eat a thing, which was very unlike her! I’m glad to say I didn’t let the side down and completed another filling Cumbrian breakfast. We explained to our host Carol who was sympathetic but she could do nothing to help really. We made up a couple of sandwiches with the toast from breakfast in the hope that Rachel might want them later. We went back to the room, had a bit of a tidy up grabbed a few things and went for a walk just to test the water so to speak.

We had a chat to a few of the farm’s sheep before crossing the bridge and walked towards Rosthwaite. After a couple of hundred yards we sat on a rock and rested for a while.


Borrowdale towards Honister Pass

She didn’t feel too bad, or so she said, but she was still grey and looked shattered. We continued on to Rosthwaite and sat on the hump backed bridge looking at the water, catching some rays. After a few minutes Rachel asked whether we had still got the toasted sandwiches from the B&B. I duly produced them and she very slowly started to eat, first one and then the second. She washed it down with some water and then decreed a few minutes later that she was feeling a lot better. I don’t think there was any ‘herbal extract’ in the toast but whatever it was it had done the trick and within an hour or so she was back to her normal self.

It was while we were sitting on the bridge that Colin appeared. We hadn’t seen him for a couple of days. He looked so defeated and told us that he had wondered whether to give up. He had got lost coming over from Ennerdale and gone many miles off the route. He had abandoned all hope of getting to his camp site and so bedded down at Honister Youth Hostel. It had taken him about 4 hours to get down to Rosthwaite and he was headed to Grasmere. At that rate he would not make it to before nightfall. As we were chatting he noticed a sign pointing to the very camp site he should have arrived at the previous night. We both felt really emotional talking to him. Here was someone doing the walk for charity, nothing new about that, a lot of people do, but he had very personal reasons for doing so and when he recounted his story it was difficult not to be emotional. He was concerned about letting people down if he gave up and felt he would have to return any money he had already collected and of course Cancer Research wouldn’t get anything. We waved him off and gave as much encouragement as we could, but he looked a forlorn figure as he shuffled his way along the path towards Greenup Edge. We would never see him again. I want to believe he made it, but my heart says he didn’t. At the end of the walk we had many questions about many things but if I could have an answer to just one it would be this one regarding Colin – did he make it?

We wandered around Rosthwaite looking out for a suitable place to have a snack. Rachel was a lot better now, colour had return to her cheeks and seemed very keen to have some lunch. We settled on The Flock In’s cheese toasties which hit the spot as we sat on the bench outside in a sun trap.

The Flock In

A group of late teen, teenagers arrived fully kitted out with camping gear and carrying 80litre packs that dwarfed some of the slighter girls. They too made use of the facilities before being made to move on to the next check point by their leaders. Many were suffering with blisters and a couple had obviously found a few bogs at some point. We would see them again in Grasmere the next day. We were also joined by Richard and his French wife Natalie who were out enjoying the lovely weather. They too didn’t stay long and were soon off. Forcing ourselves to move away from our little haven, we availed ourselves of an ice cream and wandered down to a field just down the road. There we found the owner of Yew Tree Farm putting a ewe out with a couple of lambs. Being country people we were aware that the lambs were very small and mentioned this to the farmer. He said that they were the smallest lambs that he had ever seen himself, they really were tiny and he hadn’t expected them to survive.

We wandered back to Stonethwaite and passed Stonethwaite Farm once more and looking over into the front garden we noticed some lovely furry chicken that were really quite sweet. We carried on through the hamlet up the lane and walked across the fields to the campsite and the river. As it was bank holiday weekend it was very busy but it didn’t appear that many of these people were walkers. On walking back we were met by a Herdwick lamb that had decided to sit down right in a gateway. Its mum was standing right next to it and as we approached the ewe stamped the ground with her foot as a warning to us to keep away. We were told later that Herdwicks are very protective of their young and will defend them, at times, quite vigorously. Just as well we gave this one a wide enough berth.

Herdwick sheep and lamb

Langstrath Hotel

It was soon time to return to The Langstrath for another meal, which again didn’t disappoint but all too soon we were back at the B&B and getting ready for the next day. Our rest day had in a weird way been a great success. We had seen some of the valley, we had bumped in to Colin, the weather had been brilliant and with Rachel’s problem, the ideal opportunity to rest. Who says things don’t happen for a reason. Could Rachel have made it to Grasmere (our next stage)? Probably if we had started late and took it very steady but I’m glad we didn’t have to put it to the test.


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