Comment: 18 miles - Only do this as 1 day if you know you can make it
Although we had only been walking for two days, our lack of training meant we felt exhausted. Our feet were in great pain; not from blisters but from the sheer pounding of our feet on the trail.
We contacted the tourist information office in Seatoller where we were told that the only way we could get a bus to Patterdale was via Keswick. The Coast-to-Coast walk crosses countryside and hills without any regard for alternative bus-routes. There was another option, however. It was suggested we bus to Keswick, where we could get a few more supplies and some extra cash. From Keswick we could get another bus to a place high in the hills called Dunmill Raise. From the bus-stop at the top of the Raise we could walk up through the pass and rejoin the Coast-to-Coast path at Grisedale Tarn, where, it was said we could enjoy an easy downhill hike into Patterdale.
We decided to take up this suggestion and while in Keswick we bought some in-soles for our boots, which although expensive, were supposed to help absorb the impacts of hiking on hard stoney ground. When the driver of the bus dropped us off at Dunmill Raise we felt rather unsettled, as he said he could not think of any footpaths in that area. Furthermore, we were now in an area not covered by the Coast-to-Coast strip-maps - all we had was a map of the bus-route amended by the tourist information officer of how to rejoin the Coast-to-Coast.
|We looked around. We could see a steep hill with no visibly marked footpaths. We saw a style and walked to it. Climbing over we felt a bit better - at least we were off the main road - a more appropriate place for walkers. From the style we could see a footpath sign about 100 metres away - I started to walk to it, but as I got close enough to read it I could see it went back to Keswick. After looking around some more we began to realise we were supposed to climb the hill in front of us - there seemed to be a slight 'beck' - where the hill had a slight cut through it where we could avoid climbing to the highest point. There was a dry-stone wall following this line, however, we didn't know which side of it we should be on. We started to pick our way over the rocks up the right-hand side of the wall. As we climbed a impassable gulley deepened on the other side of the wall - a stream foamed its way downward. But the trail ahead became more and more rocky, while the other side of the gulley began to look more like the way ahead. Looking back we had climbed only a small fraction of the way to the top. We were feeling pretty down, but just at that moment a car dropped of 3 or 4 walkers at the roadside and they started up the base of the hill - confidently striding - they knew where they were going ! Indeed they took the trail to the left of the wall.|
Well, we had to retrace our steps to a place where we could cross the stream and the wall, and then climb the hillside again - losing sight of the walkers before we got to half way. At the top the hill was shrouded in fog. Grisedale Tarn should be here somewhere, and I knew if we got to it south-eastern corner the Coast-to-Coast trail should appear. We could here voices through the fog of the other walkers, and decided to head that way.
|Gradually out of the mist a shining, dark disc of water appeared. At first I wasn't sure what it was. Then I couldn't tell how far away it was - but as we decended towards it I could see ripples on the surface through the fog - we were still quite a way off. Grisedale Tarn is just on the strip-map so I knew we could find the trail from here. According to the map passes within 20 metres of the edge of the water. But the level of the water changes vastly depending on the rains. We eventually found a path marked on the map which circles the Tarn, and joins the Coast-to-Coast. It meets other paths at several points but we took the one which appeared to be the most well-trodden and continued along it for a short distance. Soon we came to the outlet of the Tarn where the trail crosses on small stepping stones. We had found the trail !|
Although the rest of the day was downhill, the tricky shale-path was uncomfortable underfoot. But we made it to Patterdale, where after settling in at the guest-house we decided again that we would have the following day off, although this also did not go according to plan.
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Copyright © 2000 Tim Reeves