We encountered these sheep on the very top of Kidsty Pike, at 2560 feet, the highest point in our walk today and in fact on the entire journey. It was a much easier climb up than our climbs on previous days: no crazy straight up vertical stone “stairs” with water streaming down them, no bogs, no rain, no huge decisions to make–just a steady, definite climb, with glorious sunshine and blue skies, just enough clouds to cast haunting transient shadows on the distant mountains and pristine high tarns. I kept wanting to stop, not so much to catch my breath (though that too) as to take it all in: one view after another, startling, stunning. Today I really came to understand the magic of the Lake District, learning to appreciate the fells even as we were leaving them.
Many people were out walking, everyone grateful for the sunshine and commenting on what a good day it was to be out. A man from York had extended his holiday just to take advantage of the weather. One very sweet couple chatted with us for quite a while, then later helped us find our way at just the moment when we were about to stray off the path. Jimmy served as navigator today, doing a great job identifying all the landmarks–fences, walls, abandoned sheepfolds, crags, etc.–pointed out by Wainwright and keeping us (except for at that one moment, when it was easy to go wrong) on the path.
Wainwright is unabashed in his love for the lakes, and he offers us an opportunity to turn back down from “The Knott” if we choose. “It’s not too late to abandon the Coast to Coast idea and stay on in Patterdale,” he writes. “There is nothing ahead as good.” Funny guy. Still he entices us onward with the promise of the North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire Dales. We’re definitely continuing (having completed about 60 miles of the 192), though I, for one, will be making plans to return to Lakeland (and it really is a “land” of its own, a kind of enchanted, enclosed space separated from the rest of the world).
Just a few images might give you a tiny idea of what we saw and felt today:
Our B & B, the Mosscrag, beside Glenridding Beck:
St. Patrick’s Well, in Glenridding. Word has it that he came here, though there’s a St. Patrick’s Well just down the road from us tonight also:
St. Patrick’s Church in Patterdale:
Beginning to climb upwards:
The views at around 1700 feet, including Angle Tarn, which I felt to be the loveliest place I had ever seen in my life. I didn’t want to leave the silence and the peace and the remoteness. If I lived in the area, I would want to come up there all the time.
What Wainwright describes as the “deeply inurned” tarn of Hayeswater, actually a reservoir:
Climbing towards “The Knott” at 2400 feet:
Just looking around:
And now we’ve come back down to the long walk along Haweswater, and the first “C 2 C” sign, at Burnbanks, we’ve seen since entering the Lake District. It’s the signal that we’re outside of the National Park and back into the everyday world.
Each day brings with it so many encounters, so many little conversations, so many feelings. It’s impossible to capture them all in the little time we have in the evening. But Jimmy wanted me to be sure to include our little discovery at the pub where we stopped in for dinner before finally getting to our room tonight a little before 10 p.m.
(The room, by the way, is called “The Lodge,” a huge space above the Bampton Village Store. There are two twin beds, bunk beds, and a futon. And there’s room for more. It’s the first big space we’ve been in on the whole trip, and it feels luxurious and relaxed. “Let’s stay at the Lodge for a week,” Jimmy said before going to sleep.)
Back to dinner. We were at the Mardale Inn, a very comfortable and classy “nouveau” kind of pub just a few steps from here (which seems like the middle of nowhere, but apparently isn’t!). We had ordered terrine of three kinds of smoked fish (trout, salmon, mackerel), along with leek & potato soup and two different tarts that featured “Withnail Cheese.” “What’s Withnail Cheese?” I asked the lovely young waitress. “Oh, it’s just a local cheese,” she said. “It’s named after the movie, “Withnail and I.” Oh. Apparently, the movie–a British cult classic–was filmed just down the road from here. People come up to this village just to follow in the footsteps of the movie’s hero, “Withnail.” Another item on the menu is named after another character in the film, “Monty.” The food was delicious, and most welcome after our 12 mile trek.
Oh, and I fell today, but only once, and it didn’t hurt.
And now, good night gentle readers. Thank you for joining us.