17 Day Itinerary

Our walk begins in St. Bee's on the West Coast of Great Britain at the Irish Sea. Almost 200 miles later, we will find ourselves at the North Sea in Robin Hood's Bay.

Day 1 - Moor Row, 9 miles The Jasmine House
Day 2 - Ennerdale, 8 miles Low Cock How Farm
Day 3 - Seatoller, 14 miles Seatoller Farm
Day 4 - Grasmere, 10.5 miles Town Head Farm
Day 5 - Patterdale, 7.5 miles Grisdale Lodge
Day 6 - Shap, 16 miles Brookfield House
Day 7 - Orton, 8 miles The Westons
Day 8 - Kirby Stephen, 13.5 miles The Black Bull
Day 9 - Keld, 14 miles Keld Lodge
Day 10 - Richmond, 14 miles The Old Brewery
Day 11 - Danby-Wiske, 14 miles Old School House
Day 12 - Osmotherly, 12 miles 32 South End
Day 13 - Clay Bank Top, 11 miles The Maltkiln House
Day 14 - Blakley Ridge, 8.5 miles The Sevenford House
Day 15 - Grosmont, 14 miles The Station Inn
Day 16 - Robin Hood's Bay, 16 miles The Raven House

Of course, these distances don't account for getting lost and doubling back a few times, avoiding an aggressive herd of heifers or navigating the moors.... or wandering off in search of a pint.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 3 - Ennerdale to Seatoller (Another Farm)

We rose to an early breakfast knowing we had a 14 mile day ahead.  Remember that until now, Lauren’s never walked more than 5 miles at once.   We found ourselves seated with the two British gentlemen that we’d met the night before.  We had a very nice breakfast conversation about their holiday adventures in the western U.S.  Then one of the farm dogs came dashing into the parlor, put its front paws on the sideboard and licked out of the “clean” cereal bowls and then pissed on the floor.  Lauren and I promptly decided we weren’t having cereal.

We ate and bade adieu to the Brits.  We promised to be careful and we wished them a safe journey.  Lauren and I were the first of the overnight guests to set off to Ennerdale.  We went the wrong way.  After only a few hundred yards, I decided to actually look at the map.  Lauren never complained about my poor navigation skills but we agreed that before a decision is made regarding which direction to go, we should both consult the book and agree.

We did a quick course correction and headed back in the direction from which we’d come.  By the time we made it back to the farm, our British guy friends were heading out.  They said something remarkably British such as “All has gone well thus far, right?”.  I honestly explained that Lauren had taken a wrong turn at the get-go but we were now just fine.  They quickly described the route to make sure we knew where we were headed and they quickly left us in their dust.  This was becoming a routine.

The first stage of this day was lovely.  A shaded walk between two stone fences, lots of wildflowers and a nice sun.  We made it through town and after another couple of miles, we were facing Ennerdale Water (a beautiful lake) and we had a choice to make; take the north route around or the south.  Our innkeeper George from the night before (I could write pages about him alone) suggested that we take the north route because its shorter and more safe.  Sounded reasonable to me so that’s what we did.  The first couple of miles around the lake were simply beautiful; a mostly shady stroll on a dirt path by the water’s edge.  We stopped often for water and “bathroom” breaks.  I’ll spare you those ugly details…  and they were ugly.

Suddenly the path was gone and Little Sacajawea was scrambling over boulders, hopping from spot to spot.  Mind you, I was carrying a lot more weight in my pack than she.  I made sure that I always had more to carry because she’s just a baby and blah blah blah.  Little pisser is fast.  Next time, she carries all of the water and rain gear and first aid and change of clothes and packed lunches.

The path was gone but I blindly followed Lauren who was in her glory.  She loved that part of the walk and I was simply praying that neither of us would be hurt and that we’d make it around to the other side of the lake.  We came to a clearing with a picnic table and decided to drop our packs and have second breakfast.  As we were enjoying our cheese sandwiches and water, a cute British couple came into the clearing.  They were out for a walk around the lake and we told them about our coast to coast adventure.  We talked longer than we should have and probably lost a good 40 minutes there but they were so nice and so interested in our adventure.  We packed up and followed them out of the clearing but soon, they too, left us in their wake.
We finally made it around the lake and found ourselves on a track of chunky gravel that went gently uphill.  Gently, that is, until you’ve been walking it for hours and hours and hours on end.  It became hot and buggy and there was no end in sight.

I won’t bore you with the boring details of the next many miles.  Suffice to say, they sucked.  Each and every one of them.  We walked and walked and walked without making any progress it seemed.   We finally made it to Ennerdale Youth Hostel just before my bladder burst open all over the English Countryside.  Lauren and I sat on a sofa, took off our boots and tended to our blisters for a bit.  Before she fell asleep, I forced her to get her boots back on and we were off again.  Our sweaty clothes were starting to dry and we were chilled as we set off again.  Almost 4 miles later, we came across yet another youth hostel.  Déjà vu.  The same scene repeated itself and we pushed on again.  About 3 miles later, we found ourselves at Black Sail Youth Hostel where Lauren made a cup of tea and I began to worry about catching a serious cold.  I was wearing all of the layers I had available but I was still chilled.  The tea seemed to give Lauren a little energy and we set off again.

Not far from here, the British couple for whom we'd taken some photos on the cliffs of the Irish Sea on Day 1, came up behind us.  They were so impressed that we were still plugging along.  While Lauren and the wife talked, the husband showed me his map (a real one) and explained about this and that and where not to go and so on.  After more words of encouragement and big smiles, they were gone and soon out of sight.  I was surprised to learn that the wife had told Lauren that we had become "celebrities" on the trail and that we had several groups of people looking out for the mum and her 13 yr old daughter.  What a wonderful feeling that gave us!  Complete strangers were passing information about us from town to town, looking out for us, ready to help us should we need it.  We will never understand this phenomenon and never be equipped to repay the kind generosity of our walking mates.  My heartfelt thanks to each and every one of them.  May the wind be always at their back and the sun forever gently on their brow.

Although this encounter boosted us for some time, I soon found myself hitting the wall.  I really didn’t care if we ever finished this stupid walk.  I just wanted to lie down and sleep, I didn’t care where.  It was at this most challenging point in the walk that we faced “Loft Beck”.  This is English for “ridiculously steep climb up a mountain, along a river of gushing water with no marked path or seemingly safe climb to the top”.   That’s a no-shitter.  This was an almost straight climb up the sheer face of a mountain with a river gushing down.  I was not confident but we pressed onward because there was no other choice.  There was no one to ask for help and nowhere to go but forward.

Sacajawea went first and was obviously quite happy without a 50lb pack on her back.  She scrambled over boulders and squeezed through crevices while I tried to find the least slippery place to put my boots and pull myself ever further uphill.  About the halfway mark, I realized that there was a man standing and watching us.  I told Lauren that I thought he was waiting for us.  We looked up and he began telling us the best route to climb, telling us where to step and what to avoid. The ascent took well over 90 minutes and not far from the top, I was so scared that we were going to slip (it was wet and muddy and the rocks were slippery) and fall to our deaths that I became paralyzed with fear.  I thought it was over.  I couldn’t move forward or back.  I couldn’t sit down.  I couldn’t move and began to cry.  Lauren calmly talked to me during the several minutes it took to pull myself together.   When we finally made it to the summit about two hours after we started to climb, I looked for the man who’d helped us and I walked right over to him.  “I know you don’t know us but…”, and I wrapped him in a bear hug.  I squeezed him so tightly, he groaned.  I told him that if it wasn’t for him, we’d never have made it up.  He was humble and made some comments about paying back others for the help he’d received during his first C2C attempt.  I was barely listening because I was still hugging him.  This man turned out to be Owen, one of the walkers we met on our first day out of St. Bee’s.
We talked for a few minutes (I’d finally let go of the man) and he was off again at a pace we couldn’t maintain for more than a few minutes.  Within no time, we were alone again and hoping to reach Seatoller very soon.  We were completely spent.

That’s when Mike, Amsty and baby Max made a reappearance.  They cheered us on and told Lauren how proud they were of her.  They tried to make sure we knew where we were headed and I told them that they didn’t need to wait for us.  They were so kind that they would have slowed waaayyy down to escort us into town but I didn’t want to ask them to do that.  We said goodbye and promised to be safe.

About an hour or so later, a couple we’d met at the first hostel out of Ennerdale appeared.  They had a much better map than we did and we really didn’t care to try to figure out where we were going anymore so we just followed them.  When the four of us finally reached Honister Youth Hostel (about 2 miles from our final destination), we decided to call a cab and split the fare into town. 

It was the best 10 lbs I’ve ever spent!!!  We simply couldn’t walk another step.  The taxi dropped the four of us off at the Scafell Hotel.  We hobbled in, ordered pints and fish and chips and within an hour or so we were feeling mostly human.  Pretty soon we were joined by Mike, Amsty, baby Max and father-in-law.  They’d already checked into their rooms and showered.  We still smelled like sheep dung.  They didn’t seem to mind.  We talked a bit and accepted their additional words of encouragement.  On our way out, we ran into our British guy friends and they were so very happy to see that we'd made it safely.  They too offered words of praise and encouragement.  Given the speed at which they walk, we knew we'd never see them again and wished them a wonderful journey.

To make up for cheating earlier with a taxi, Lauren and I walked the 1 ¼ mile to our B&B.  We showered and instantly fell asleep, grateful for our kind and generous compadres.  The C2C gods have been taking most excellent care of two novice walkers for sure.

No comments:

Post a Comment