We slept in until 8am, a rare luxury on this adventure. Lauren and I were extremely sore after yesterday's marathon and our spirits weren't very high. We talked all during breakfast about taking a bus or hopping into the Sherpa Van with our luggage for the trip from Grasmere to Patterdale. We finally decided to scrap the day and catch a lift.
I went downstairs to ask our innkeepers if they would mind taking a call from the Sherpa people. I'd managed to get through to them with my cell and they were going to figure out about what time the van would be around and then call the house phone to let us know. Farmer Donald was the only one in the kitchen and when I told him we'd decided not to walk he asked me if I'd mind some advice. I told him that I'd welcome whatever he had to tell me.
This very kind man (who had ears like my Dad) told me that Lauren and I had already done the hardest parts of the entire C2C. The worst was behind us and that the walk from Grasmere to Patterdale was "nothing" compared to what we've been through. He described the terrain and the views and in very little time he'd convinced me that we just had to walk. "That's a good lass. Now get packed and get out on tha' trail."
I broke the news to Lauren. She didn't argue or complain. She hasn't complained a single time during this entire ordeal. I can't tell you how impressed I am with her strength. Remember - this walk wasn't her dream; she's just here to allow me to live mine.
We were off and although it was a steady uphill climb up "The Tongue", Farmer Donald was right and it wasn't nearly as difficult as previous days had been. We knew we could do this as long as we kept a slow but steady pace. We often think of ourselves as the tortoise while those passing us in a great hurry (and forgetting to look around and appreciate the landscape) we consider the hare. Slow and steady wins the day.
Once over the ridge, we had a choice to make. There were three paths from which to choose. To the left, there was a switchback that climbed Dollywagon Pike, a high climb that was very exposed to the elements. No thank you. To the right was St. Sunday's Craig, a steep climb diagonally up a mountain and then along the top - also exposed to the winds that were blowing. Not really interested. In the middle was a gentle stroll through the valley. It was uneven and rocky and the footing was tricky most of the time but it was the shortest, most safe and the easiest. It was definitely our path of choice.
After a couple of hours of steadily heading through the valley between two very high mountains, we found the perfect rock to stop and have a bite to eat. As we sat in the sun eating ham and cheese sandwiches and homemade cakes, we spotted a lone walker. We both shouted "Owen!" We almost gave him a heart attack. Once recovered from the shock, he joined us on our rock and told us that he couldn't believe that the two of us were actually AHEAD of him on the trail. We didn't take offense because we couldn't believe it either. He was surprised to see us walking and was betting with the Brits that we'd pack it in and quit. Oh no. Not us.
The three of us walked into Patterdale together, arriving early in the afternoon. It had been an easy walk indeed! We found the pub and shared a pint. We ate an early dinner (Lauren had .....fish and chips, of course!) and went back to our B&B to do laundry. I washed out all of our stinky clothes - and there were heaps of them - in the sink with hand soap. I wrung them out the best I could and then used the hair dryer to help them along. After 3 or 4 hours of washing and hair drying, I crawled into bed in anticipation of the hardest day on the trail. The walk from Patterdale to Shap, over Kidsty Pike. The name Kidsty Pike should make you tremble.
Sleep if it will come.
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.