Day 7 – Kirkby Stephen to Keld

This was a surprisingly hard day. Perhaps it was the 2 full-on days before; perhaps it was the bogs!

It started with a quick shimmy through Kirkby Stephen until I found this lovely bridge. 

The sign reminded me that this was almost half way!

I passed this place – unlucky bails!

Then it was a steep climb on tarmac road that skirted this quarry. 

The weather was drizzly but the hills nearby showed signs of sun. 

The road became a path and a long slow climb ensued.  

Until eventually the nine standards came into view. 

Nobody knows why these striking dry stone cairns were built, but one popular theory is that they were to confuse the enemy into thinking a defensive army was on top of the ridge. 

Selfie time! 

The mist was down, but I did manage to FaceTime Claire and see a bit of sports day!

Soon after I came to the famous bog, which this last year has been improved by the laying of many stone flags dropped by helicopter. 

This led to the Boundary stone between Cumbria and Yorkshire – the only two counties that the coast to coast path crosses through. 

A few yards on and the flag stones stopped – I entered Bog city. 

This was mile upon mile of bog. At one point I stepped on what I thought was safe ground but my entire leg dropped into the bog! Not fun. However I got off lightly as there are stories of people being buried up to their chest in bog, before the flag stones had been laid. 

The selfie says is it all!

More bog. 

At one point someone had gone to the bother of building a bridge over one bit of the bog. Why here is unclear as the rest of the bog was not bridged. 

Eventually I reached a turning point and a proper path. 

Before diving into a shooting hut to have a quick bit of lunch. 

These are the grouse shooting locations. 

I eventually reached the place where the various routes across this boggy madness come together. This land is so boggy that three different routes for three different times of the year are signed / mapped. 

This ford was fun. 

As I plodded on the farm at Ravenseat came into view. 

The shepherdess here (quite a celebrity on TV and in her books) has 9 children!

But more importantly does fantastic cream teas. 

£3.50 for a pot of tea and scone. 

Then I reached the outskirts of Keld. Barns galore. This one Dad liked to call John (Barnes)!

And the beautiful peat coloured river. 

Less bog more rocky paths. 

I couldn’t fathom what this rope was for…

Swaledale is very pretty indeed. 

Then it was then a final up and down to the lovely B and B at frith lodge. 

The farmer was tagging sheep using his dogs to round them up on the bridge as I passed. 

It was a final big climb!

But with lovely views. 

then I joined the Pennine Way for a mile. Keld itself was full up because of a wedding. 

And this is the view from my room. 

Stats for the day – 13.4 miles with 2618ft ascent up to a height of 2157ft. 


Day 6 – Shap to Kirkby Stephen

Today was the keocolleagues day. David has returned safely home and is back to work tomorrow. 

6 intrepid colleagues joined me for a jaunt across the Eden valley. Here they are having arrived at Shap. 

We started in the wet by crossing the WC main line railway and then the M6 on footbridges.  

I must have flown through here many times without giving a second thought to the C2C route! Quite an odd feeling walking across. 

We then started to see the Limestone pavements so common in these parts. 

And plodded on through the rain 

These pants made an interesting signpost!

And Jon tried and failed to move this rather large boulder. 

Selfie time. 

The ground was boggy and sodden. 

But we eventually reached our lunch stop at Orton – a chocolate factory!

And various chocolate was purchased (and carried for the rest of the day). 

Lunch was a cheese scone with ham/cheese plus a wonderful hot chocolate. 

You could see the guys inside making the chocs. 

And then it was onwards through meadows, across awkward stiles and to tick off the miles. 

We found a natural spring. 

And more meadows. 

I think I took this my mistake. But it’s funny. 

After lots more bog we came across Smardale Gill viaduct. What a lovely scene. Just needs a train!

The team. 

And then it was one final long trudge across to Kirkby Stephen. 

Tempting to ask for a lift on the quad bike!

And then a mile long procession along the back streets. This seemed to go on for ever. 

Celebration beer. 

Stats for the day – 18.3 miles, ascent of 1771ft to a max height of 1158ft. 

And of course dinner had to be here!

Day Five – Patterdale to Shap

Today David (bad knee) took the Ullswater steamer from Glenridding whilst I headed up into the mountains for a very long day including double the amount of climbing compared to the previous day and also taking in the summit of the whole C2C. 

Dad painted the steamer and we had a very enjoyable family trip on it a few years back, so David was making a very relevant diversion before he got a lift over to Shap with the Sherpa van and joined me for the last few miles of the walk. 

David’s photos are below – he took the steamer from Glenridding pier to Howtown and return. 

In the B and B at Patterdale I saw this sign! Fun. 

And this is the village shop opposite that sells great supplies, amazing Tiffin (more on that later) and C2C merchandise. 

I started by crossing the river. I forgot to start the GPS at the beginning, so we need to add 0.2 of a mile to the total for the day. 

The path immediately climbs up to Boredale Hause steeply, shown diagonally up to the right in the image below. 

The forecast was concerning so the plan was to push on and get over the summit before the weather closed in. 

This image (looking backwards) shows the Hause. 

As I climbed the views opened up. 

This is brothers water. 

The path climbed and climbed, sapping energy. 

And then I got to Angle Tarn. I have history here as I wild camped here with school friends (DofE) once and my tent pole snapped in a freak gust as I put my tent up. That was a terrible night in a half tent waiting for it to get light and to get down to Patterdale! 

The path calmed a bit and views were good although some scrambling was necessary. 

I came across these gate posts. I had seen this shot before so I shamelessly copied it. 

The climbing continued!

Until I reached the base of the Knott. The wind really got up here and was pushing me down every step I took up. It was only the tiffin that got me through this section! At the top the mist really came down and you couldn’t see anything beyond 10m ahead. 

This was the critical turn. A tiny cairn to tell you to turn left!

And then it was a walk into the unknown whilst trying to avoid being blown over!

Until I reached the summit (Kidsty pike). I didn’t linger long as it was very windy and you couldn’t see anything anyway. But I did get a selfie. 

Then I made good use of the GPS to safely make it along the ridge. 

Once I had descended a little the mist began to ease and views of Haweswater appeared below.

Some guys from Essex took this shot for me. 

And then it was a rocky scramble followed by grassy descent down to the reservoir. 

The waterfalls were again well fed by mountain water. 

And I had lunch alongside Haweswater. 

The 5 mile trek alongside the reservoir wasn’t easy either with plenty of ups and downs plus some scrambling. 

These are deer fences. 

And then the C2C signs started again (they are frowned upon in the lakes apparently). 

Then it was a final cross country jaunt to Shap initially through the model village of Burnbanks, created when Haweswater was expanded and flooded the village of Mardale Green. 

Suddenly the path was in the woods and the mountains felt a long way back. 

This very slippy stile had a box alongside called ‘Thomas’ honesty box’ which seemed to be for you to place rubbish in. Odd. 

The path went over an old bridge next to another old bridge. 

And then my nightmare – having to cross between cows and their young. But they didn’t seem bothered. Must see a lot of walkers round here!

Then it was a series of easy field traverses…

And in this field I said goodbye to Lakeland. 

This is Parish crag bridge. Lovely spot. 

And then (finally) Shap abbey became visible. 

David joined me here. We saw what we think is a Curlew. 

The remains of the abbey are quite striking. 

And then it was only a couple of miles to Shap itself. 

Stats for the day. Colin 15.6 miles (including the extra 0.2 not recorded on the GPS). Ascent of 4138ft to a summit at 2558ft. 

David approx 5.5 miles plus boat trip. 

Day Four – Grasmere to Patterdale

We awoke to rather different weather! The forecast was heavy rain, but there was some hope of it abating later in the day, so we decided to stay a little longer in Grasmere.

We looked at the various shops and got lunch at the co-op.

Then we set off. Early on we saw this place which felt rather appropriate.

the scenery could still be enjoyed of course.

But it was full wet weather gear.

The path began to slowly climb up to the great tongue.

At the decision point we took the right hand path alongside the tongue which is known for lovely waterfalls.

And climbed and climbed through heavy rain.

A couple of the smaller becks needed care to cross.

And yes the waterfalls were amazing.

After one last push through what seemed like a labyrinth of razor sharp rocks, we made it to Grisedale Tarn.

And quickly walked around it to find our escape into the next valley.

At the top of Grisedale we saw the Wordsworth brothers’ parting stone cairn.

And then descended along a path that had basically become a stream.

More waterfalls.

And eventually came to Ruthwaite Lodge, a climbing hut used by the outward bound as an ‘experience’ to sleep out in the wild. Sometimes they hold cake sales here (yes, really). Today it was open but we weren’t allowed in to shelter. So we ate lunch in the doorway at the side.

We then descended into the valley below.

Before reaching a long path heading into Patterdale. Here we passed a barn where Alfred Wainwright had once stayed the night without the owners permission when he missed the last bus.

The rain started to calm into showers as we descended.

Then it was one final climb and curve around into Patterdale, with lovely views of Ullswater opening up.

And to our lodgings.

Once dry we bought a few momentos at the fantastic local shop and remembered to sign the board.

Stats for the day. 9.49 miles. Total ascent 3148ft to a high point of 1938ft.

Day Three – Rosthwaite to Grasmere

Firstly I must start by noting that we managed to find this beer below in the pub last night. For those who don’t know this was Dad’s all time least favourite beer. ‘Too nutty’ he said. Well we tried it – David thought it was alright, but I wasn’t fussed. 

The day started with a gentle amble alongside the river. 

There were a few waterfalls, but given the dry weather recently there wasn’t much going on. 

The path then started to gently ascend. 

With the occasional waterfall from the river (Stonethwaite Beck) which flowed alongside us. 

Always time for a selfie. 

The path was really well maintained and made easy initial climbing. 

Until we reached an area of drumlins (remember GCSE geography!), when the real climbing began. 

This shot should show the climb – the picture of me further below is on top of that crag to the right. 

And after a quick flapjack, we scaled the final bit, scrambling in places. 

The view from the top was well worth it!! That’s me on that crag. 

This is Greenup edge and there were some boggy bits to come, although with excellent views back towards other parts of the lakes such as Helvellyn. 

We found a lovely spot for lunch and even managed to get 4G for a minute or two and post something to Facebook. 

Then it was down, avoiding the well known trap into the wrong valley (that leads you to Wythburn). This path was awful, but helicopters had recently dropped bags of stone, so hopefully soon it will be improved. 

At the top of the next ascent, we had a choice to make. The easy route down into the valley floor below or the harder but beautiful high level route across the ridge line to the left. 

Of course on a day like this we had to choose the high level! And what views we had. 

The route we took is to the left of this shot. 

But it was slow progress on a rocky path so after 2 hours of ups and downs we chose to avoid the last crag and make a faster descent into the valley down a very steep but accessible path. We had also been warned that the descent of that final crag into Grasmere was known to be difficult. 

So we made our way down through the ferns. 

This led us to the outskirts of Grasmere – the Scout football pitch looked fun!

And we saw a deer. 

Plus this place. 

And then we were finished on day 3. Spa for tired legs awaited. 

Stats for the day. 9.44 miles. 2951 ft total ascent and a highest point of 1999 ft. 

Day Two – Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite. 

Today was a big day – proper mountains!!

We started with a simple enough road walk to the edge of Ennerdale water. 

Again excellent weather! The path alongside the lake was very pretty and relatively easy, although there was a little scrambling in parts. 

But it’s a long lake !!

We sat on Robin Hood’s chair. 

And eventually came to the end of the lake. 

We then had to skillfully avoid two nasty guard dogs (in an outside bound centre that prominently asks visitors to keep their dogs in a lead!), before making for the forest track to continue up towards black sail. 

If the lake path felt long, this went on and on and on. 

But opened up views like this!

Here I had designed a clever alternative route, which mostly worked well. We found the place to head uphill at this cairn. 

And the views were wonderful. 

We had lunch looking at the panorama above. We could see back to Ennerdale Water and onwards towards Haystacks. 

As we climbed we could also see the famous YHA black sail hut below and the fantastic views of Pillar, Great Gable etc. 

However the path disappeared on the ground and we ended up scrambling around heather and rocks for a while. It’s still a great route as it climbs more steadily than the alternative, but we just had to accept a loss of 20-30m to regain the main path at Scarth Gap. 

From there new views of Buttermere opened up. 

And the final ascent of Haystacks could begin. Some fun scrambling near the top!

And here we are at the summit. 

The last photo was taken by some friends we met in the bed-and-breakfast the previous night and happened upon at the summit of haystacks. They are acupuncturists from Brisbane! In fact we have met a lot of people from Australia and America during the walk – must be the time of year I guess. 

We then ‘tabbed on’ to Innominate Tarn, a place where Dad and I had visited years ago, so this was the second time the ring has got there. Of course this tarn is famous as it is the last resting place of Alfred Wainwright. 

The long descent started. New views…

Our Aussie friends again. 

We then happened upon a mountain bothy. So we duly signed the book. 

And there were some fun posters on the walls. 

It’s an old quarry building and has water, beds, a fire and even a Hoover, although we were puzzled how that was plugged in!

We then climbed up and around the old Dubs slate quarry on an old tramway before reaching the now demolished drum house to the main incline. 

The descent down the incline was slow, rocky and difficult but the views were great. 

On the other side of the valley we could see the remains of another incline and slate caverns.

Before reaching Honister mine just after it has closed. But no matter I charmed the owner to sell me a slate ‘coast to coast’ coaster! 

Various exhibits were around and will be of interest to some of my friends. 

Now Borrowdale was in sight, but there was a long slow descent on mainly rocky paths (not really shown in the photos below, sorry). 

One final bit of fun was a short piece with chains to hang on whilst you passed a narrow bit of river. 

And finally made it to the hotel.

Here are the stats for the day. 37,954 steps in 13.9 miles. Max height 1900ft and total ascent of 2792ft. 

Day one – St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge (part 2 of 2)

Please read part 1 as a separate blog post below first! This is part two. 
Firstly here’s a shot of me David took near St Bees lighthouse. 

Following Dent fell we came across this ridiculously tall stile!!

Before descending down into Nannycatch gate on an extremely steep downhill grade which I’ve tried to show in the photos below. 

Nannycatch gate is an absolute gem – a beautiful little hidden Valley with very few visitors apart from people walking the coast to coast. We did however find some lost Americans from Pennsylvania and helped them on their way. 

And also some wild horses. 

Before setting sight on Ennerdale. Home of red squirrels. 

Here are the stats of the day – we walked 15.46 miles and climbed 2058 feet with a maximum height achieved of 1116 feet. 

Day one – St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge (part 1 of 2)

So we got up early and took the excellent Sherpa bus to St Bees. We met Rufus the dog on board…

We carried out the traditional tasks of getting our boots wet in the Irish Sea and picking up a pebble to carry on the walk to the other coast. I picked up two and signed them with a sharpie – one to take home as a reminder of the trip. We also had photos at the official start. 

Then we started up the initially quite steep headland. The view back was lovely.

At Fleswick bay we took advantage of newly created pathways going down to the sea again and then back up new steps the other side. The cliffs were striking and full of sea birds. 

We saw the famous lighthouse. 

And then said bye to the coast and headed inland to start ticking off the miles. 

Until we reached the old railway line at Moor Row, with some nice sculptures along the way. 

Leaving the railway we used the wainwright passage to access Cleator and watched the cricket for a few balls (a guy got run out whilst we watched). 

Cleator was a key location for us as we were aware that the pie shop in the village is so popular that the shop has a sign outside communicating the status of pies at the shop (PIES/NO PIES). However it is closed on Saturdays! Disaster. 

However we did find this excellent device. 

Before starting the climb up Dent a Fell. Initially through forest. 

And then into the open countryside with lovely views back towards the Irish Sea and the Isle of Man. 

Selfie at the summit. 

And the other way gave lovely views into Lakeland. 

Fellowship of the ring 

Here is my Dad’s signet ring which I will be wearing for the walk. 

– My brother David is joining me for the Lakes. 

– Some work colleagues are doing a day with me from Shap. 

– Uncle Andrew is with me from Richmond on. 

– And the whole family will do the last 5 miles with me into Robin Hood’s Bay. 

I guess that’s a kind of fellowship of the ring and it’s nice that a bit of Dad will be with us along the way.

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