Coast to Coast

Day Four – 25th April 2011: Stonethwaite to Grasmere – 8.5 miles

The day dawned bright and sunny once again but we had been told that there had been a hard frost at 6 o’clock and the whole valley had been exceedingly white, just like snow apparently. Not that we would have known as we had been all wrapped up and warm in the farmhouse so we were totally oblivious. It seemed a bit strange to pack and leave. So much had happened and we had had such a good time in so many ways.

We went down for breakfast and were soon joined by a middle aged couple and a friend of theirs from Essex, consequently named The Essex Three. We chatted at length, not being in too great a hurry as the forecast was good and it was our shortest day. They were struggling and had problems the previous day coming over from Ennerdale. They had got lost and ended up going up The Tongue and coming back over Green Gable, and that in good visibility. They were concerned about Greenup Edge as a couple of them were suffering with knee problems as well as general fatigue. We tried to encourage them but it was obvious that they were in trouble after just two days. They were only carrying light day packs and having their bags transported but it was very obvious that they had miscalculated the type of terrain they would be covering and had never been used to mountain walking. The Julia Bradbury effect, while good to raise the profile of the area, as well as Wainwright's profile, was clearly encouraging people without the necessary skills and shockingly unprepared, to undertake the walk. They in turn were pumping us for information and were amazed that we were carrying all our own kit and the times we were making. We said that we would be leaving by 9.30 and would be in Grasmere just after lunch. They just couldn’t believe this was possible and didn’t believe we would do it. We also discovered that we were staying at the same B&B in Grasmere so we would meet them later to see how they did.

We started off from Stonethwaite and it was good to feel the pack on our backs again and to get going. Rest days are all well and good but with so much of the walk to complete we felt the need to chomp up the miles so that we felt that we were getting somewhere. The walk up to Greenup Edge was charming, following the beck all the way.


Langstrath Beck

A couple that we had not met before caught up with us at a photo stop and we exchanged niceties, not knowing that they would feature quite heavily in our lives for the next week. They were Gary and Sam (female). We let them pass and followed them through the drumlins and then up Lining Crag which as everyone says, does look vertical, but once in mountain goat mode it’s quite straightforward.


Looking back to Stonethwaite


Lining Crag


Gary and Sam on Lining Crag summit

It was a little early to stop so we left Gary and Sam who had stopped at the top and continued to Greenup Edge. I can fully understand how people get lost up there as there are no proper paths. We made our way across the plateau and arrived at the right spot where we needed to join the path that would take us to Far Easedale. It was a good place to stop as the views were stunning so we took the chance to have our first and only proper stop until Grasmere. Gary & Sam caught us up and stopped for a while before leapfrogging us again. After about half an hour we started off down, being careful not to go down the wrong valley. Gary and Sam were going to do the ridge route to Grasmere whereas we were doing the valley route so we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Some might say the valley route is boring but with the river for company and waterfalls every now and again and the sun shining, it was delightful.


Rachel keeping in touch


Far Easedale


Easedale

Ultimately we arrived at Grasmere and as it was bang on lunch time decided to have our main meal of the day there and then. Our B&B was on the edge of town on the A591 so in some ways it made sense. With this in mind we stocked up at the Co-op first with supplies for the evening and also lunch for the next day. We found a café with seating outside which suited us and refuelled. We couldn’t leave Grasmere without some gingerbread so we walked around the village, got our cake and took our leave. As we were walking through we saw the group of teenagers with the huge packs that we had seen at The Flock Inn. They looked just as dishevelled as before but happy enough.


Grasmere

We arrived at our B&B at about 2pm and were made most welcome. We got chatting to Mike, one of the owners, and it transpired that Rachel knew his father as he had been a Doctor in Hailsham, where Rachel had lived all her life, until we got married – small world!


Chestnut Villa Grasmere

We unpacked and showered but before we had finished there was a knock on the door. I went to open it and who should appear but my sister Liz and her husband Jon. After my initial comment which went something like ‘what the heck are you doing here?’ they explained what they had done. They had previously asked us for an itinerary and we included where we were staying and the mileage. They wanted a mini break so decided to come and find us and chose the 2 shortest back to back days. Bearing in mind they live in Biggleswade it was quite a journey for them. Rachel and I were blown away that they should come and support us in this way and we really appreciated it. They had nowhere to stay but after a conversation with Mike he fortunately had a spare room and gave them a good price. Thanks Mike! After a chat they left us to sort out their own room and we agreed to meet at about 6pm. At about 5pm I heard voices and thinking that it could be Liz I went to the door. It was in fact The Essex Three, they had made it, albeit fairly late. I heard them ask Mike whether we had arrived and then what time. Mike told them that we had indeed made it by 2pm and he thought we had eaten in the village on the way through, they just couldn’t believe it and they sounded rather dejected. The omens weren’t good.

As Liz and Jon hadn’t had a main meal we decided to walk up to the Travellers Rest. We grabbed a table and then looked up to see The Essex Three sitting there tucking in. They had had a bad day. both the lady and one of the gents were struggling big time and were on the point of giving up. Their bodies just couldn’t handle it. We tried to encourage them to at least get to Patterdale. In their condition there was no way they would get to Shap from Patterdale but at least they would have one more day.

We walked back to the B&B after a suitable amount of lubrication, after all it was allowed – we had guests after all, and soon went to bed.

 

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