Comment: 15 miles - long forest track, hard climb up bolder strewn hillside, steep descent along rocky trail.
|Although we stayed in accomodation on a farm near the northern-most tip of Ennerdale Water, we trekked around the lakeside path to rejoin the official route along the southern edge. In one way this was a mistake as this is a far more difficult path in some places. At one stage we found no other way but to undertake a 12 foot rock-climb and descent. As this is not mentioned in the book, I can only imagine we strayed from the main path.|
Once the end of the lake is reached, the path aims north to join a forest road, which we later found out we could have followed for the whole of the northern bank of the lake. This road would have been far easier than the southern path. But on reflection the trek along the road continues for another 4 or 5 miles - adding more miles to this road-trek would have brought increased tedium: Although the country is very beautiful along this stretch, it is somewhat unchanging.
|Coming out of the forest we eventually reached the Black Sail Hut youth hostel. From here its difficult to see the next obstacle - Loft Beck. This was strenuous and difficult climb (from 240 metres at Black Sail Hut, up to about 590 metres). We had to rest about every 10 to 15 metres, however, this allowed us to take in the incredible views at gradually increasing altitude.|
There seemed to be no clear way out of the top of Loft Beck, so we just kept heading in what we thought was the right direction. This was a very unnerving experience as we were exhausted and didn't want to make work for ourselves. There are streams to cross and areas of extreme steepness, slipperyness, boggyness and loose rocks everywhere which I had to be careful not to kick-out behind me for my partner to 'catch'. Eventually Loft Beck is conquered and the route takes on a gentler incline. In a way its a shame the coast-to-coast walker does not have time to climb the peaks one passes on this route, as it would be possible to hit over 700 metres on this day.
Finally the route begins its long descent - from here its downhill all the way - another 4 miles. However, there were mixed blessings when we joined the dismantled tramway: although the path was obvious, its paved with loose shale - rocks of varying size from small sharp pebbles to large uneven stones which take a large boot. However, when these invariably tilt or slide when you place your foot, and the gradient takes on an increasingly steep downward angle. This makes for very hard walking; thankfully this only lasts for about a mile.
One way or another the day had exhausted us and when we met the road to Seatoller, we decided to avoid the twists and turns of Wainwright's route and keep to the road wherever it appeared to be shorter. This brought the wonderful sights of the numerous waterfalls along the river next to the road.
But by the time we reached Seatoller we had made a big decision - we were not happy. This day had been far more exhausting than we could ever had imagined. We needed a day off, but we had booked all our accomodation for the rest of the trip. We decided to finish this day as planned, but get a bus tomorrow for Rosthwaite to Patterdale. Later on we found this wasn't possible, but in the meantime the thought of a day off kept us going.
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Copyright © 2000 Tim Reeves