Monday, 22 May 2017

Cumbria Way. Part two

The following morning saw me away from the campsite fairly early. The walk around Derwentwater is a pleasant one, popular too. Being a Sunday there were a fair few folk out and about.
Rain threatened and there were a few bits of drizzle. hardly enough for waterproofs, enough to make things damp!
A middle aged couple, clad in lycra came up the track at great speed. Arms and trekking poles going nineteen to the dozen, a look of total concentration on their faces. Supposedly nordic walking is good for one, but it must be said, it does look a little odd!
.It would appear that backpackers are not such a common breed in the Derwent Water area. At least it seemed that way by the looks I received from a few people?
Coming around by the car park below Catbells, I could see literally, columns of people heading up the hill. How glad I was that I was not heading in that direction.
Keswick was heaving with people. It was a case of picking up a bit of food, grabbing a bite to eat and heading back out.
It is a steady pull walking up through Latrigg woods. A nice surprise was found at the carpark at the top.A lady had set up business with a specially adapted van and was selling a variety of hot and cold drinks, snacks and ice creams.
The path that runs around the side of Lonscale Fell is a lovely walk. It winds around the hillside high above Glenderaterra Beck. Higher up and about a mile short of Skiddaw House are the remains of buildings and sheepfolds. Whether they are agricultural or industrial, I am unsure? They were my goal for the afternoon. Having been that way before I knew I could find a spot to camp. A bit close the path, but I was certain no one would bother me. One downside of seeing other people out on the hill was the amount of times I was told that rain was forecast for the morning!
As I was setting up camp I heard someone coming down the path. It was an elderly gent and he was having a right barney with someone. Arms waving all over the place, he was going for it bigtime. The only snag was, he was on his own, odd?
In the early hours of the morning I had severe stomach cramps and was decidedly ill. My suspicion was the food I had to eat in Keswick, a meat and potato pie that had obviously been heated in the microwave? The onset of rain at five in the morning decided me, I was going to have a day off. Later in the morning, sitting with a cup of tea, I could hear people heading up the hill. A guy in a very strident voice loudly announcing, 'The forecast is for the rain to clear by late morning'! Unfortunately the weather gods were working to a different script! It rained all day and was still wet on Tuesday morning, It was windy too.

The CW splits at Skiddaw House. One section runs east and goes over  High Pike. The alternative runs west and is lower. Both link up again at Nether Row, not far from Caldbeck, which was my goal for the day. It was the eastern route I really wanted. A last day on the high fells before heading in to lowland countryside. However, with the tops clad in thick, blue, black clouds, coupled with the wind and rain, common sense had to prevail. Thus I opted for the western alternative.
The Whitewater Dash waterfall looked splendid and several folk were heading up to view it.
The CW does another dogleg at Peterhouse Farm, looping off on footpaths over to Orthwaite. This section saw more road walking than other part of the whole route. It was nice scenery over to Nether Row

. It was then on down to Caldbeck. Here I threw a total  wobbly and booked in to a pub, horrors! It was deliberate though. My special treat and the fact that I had fifteen miles to cover the following day. A bed, shower and clean clothes seemed appropriate. The Oddfellows Pub at Caldbeck was very reasonably priced for bed, breakfast and evening meal. Also, they were walker and dog friendly.
It was risky but I went for the full breakfast in the morning. A bit of a faff actually finding the route out of the village. Once sorted it was a steady climb up through the woods of Parson's Park. Lovely views all round and some good walking. Along drop back down following a path damaged by erosion, parts of the river bank opposite also had suffered storm damage. Once over the bridge at Sebergham, I paused for a check of the map and a wee breather. Sitting by the busy road, I noticed a group of smartly dressed people heading down the pavement. Odd in a rural environment! They stopped to say hello, ask were I was heading and so forth. Suddenly one of the chappies offered me a leaflet and asked if I knew anything about the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Making my excuses, I hurried away. Really, I had enough on my plate without meeting up with the four horsemen!

Making my way over to Bell Bridge I hit a problem. There was no bridge, it had been washed away. Unless I was prepared to swim, I had to divert.
A dogleg via Hudbeck, Breconhill and back down to Bog Bridge brought me back on track. It was now all gentle rolling countryside to Carlisle. The amount of storm damage wreaked by the river Caldew in the recent floods, was very apparent. Great areas of river bank swept away, swathes of land  bearing the results of flood. Massive islands of debri. Boulders, rocks, mud, shattered tree trunks and tangles of tree roots. Nature can be very destructive when she wants! Mind, time will heal the scars.!

A pause for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake at Dalston. It was then head down and go for it mode. To be honest lowland walking has never been a favourite of mine and I wanted done. Thus it was that the pace increased as I tabbed the last few miles. After signing the book at the Tourist information office in Carlisle, it was just a case of heading to the station and a train back. My calculations later showed that I had covered seventeen and a half miles from Caldbeck.
That last section had to be my least favourite. The highlight of the journey was from Chapel Stile over to Borrowdale.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Cumbria Way. Part one.

Having had a few problems in regards to my walking recently, I was beginning to harbour doubts about continuing. The confidence sort of takes a bit of a hammering when things seemingly keep cropping up. With a lot of folk heading north for the annual TGO challenge I came up with a plan. It is always good to have a plan! What I had in mind were a couple of gentle trips. The Cumbria Way was one of those.
Last Wednesday saw me setting out. Getting to the start at Ulverston was a somewhat convoluted procedure. Bus to Newcastle, train to Carlisle. Another train to Lancaster, an hours wait and yet another train to Ulverston. The travelling took the best part of a day. My intention was to get fish and chips before setting off. Horrors, despite arriving just before four in the afternoon, everything was already closing for the day. Managed a cheese roll from Greggs just as they began to do the till.
From the onset it was obvious that this first section was not going to be easy. There were no campsites in the vicinity, B&B was pricey and there was nothing else on offer.

My hope was that I could snuck the tent in somewhere for a sneaky stealth camp. Unfortunately the route went through prime farming country. Cattle, sheep and horses abounded every which way I turned.

Finally I managed to find a wee place out of sight. Water came from a seep that had formed a small pool. It looked clear and the frogs swimming in it appeared happy enough!
 Thursday looked as if it was going to a warm day and so it proved. Unfortunately I did not have my shorts, however, I was able to roll my Ronhill's up and get a bit of sun on my legs., wow!

 There was some fine walking over to Beacon Tarn. The one fly in the ointment was a dodgy stomach. A couple of pills had been taken but I was still having problems.
. Keeping an eye on the map the way led me on to Coniston Water. A long, undulating path brought me to Coniston Hall campsite. It was still early and I was not keen on the campsite despite the fact it was not crowded. However, studying the map, it looked as if camping spots beyond Coniston may prove tricky. Thus it was I booked in.

A cluster of tents near the entrance turned out to be a large group of students. In all fairness they were just a group of exuberant youngsters. At the far end of the campsite though, a large group of school girls were camped, complete with a very large communal marquee type of thing. The racket they made at times was horrendous. Talk about a group of banshees on a night out!
Next morning I headed over to Coniston with breakfast in mind. Finding a cafe open opposite two outdoor shops I headed in. An impressive breakfast it was too. Ordering scrambled egg on toast, I was asked if I wanted wholewheat bread . It was proper bread, baked next door. No messing about, a doorstop type slice of toast with a substantial amount of egg. To cap it all tea came in a pot with extra hot water if required. It was a grand breakfast at a very reasonable price. Nipping in to the artisan bakery next door, temptation abounded every which way, cakes, breads, scones, scrumptious stuff. A bath bun was my choice for lunch. It was huge, at least six inches across!
The way on from Coniston made its way steadily uphill to Tarn Hows. Some lovely walking through verdant woodlands.
Carpets of bluebells covered the woodland floor. A brief glimpse of a red squirrel. Woodpeckers drummed on trees and bird life was in full voice.
  Coming up a section of path I spotted a group of school children with their teachers just ahead of me. Putting on my best mad granny smile, I said good  morning to them. The kids dutifully stood to one side to allow me to pass and I was greeted with a chorus of  "good morning miss", Wow, amazing stuff!

Tarn Hows was busy, obviously a very popular beauty spot. However, there was a public loo and an ice cream van doing hot and cold drinks. Pausing for a quick break, I noticed a Darby and Jones  type  of couple staring in my direction. The lady tut tutted, she was dressed in a smart trouser suit, make up applied just so, blue rinse hairdo perfectly set. He was in neatly pressed slacks and blazer. Me, well, I was in scruff order, dishevelled,  trackies rolled up above the knee, sans make up and feeling hot and sweaty. She probably was no older than me, but oh my, talk of worlds apart! She gave me a withering look but I just replied with a wide grin, I was having fun!
The lady at the campsite had informed me that rain was forecast for the afternoon. Thus I hoped to at least make Chapel Stile before the onset of the rain The CW takes an odd loop before heading down to Skelwith Bridge. It heads up to High Park and then almost doubles back to head down to Skelwith Force. Coming around by Elter Water, rain began to gently fall. Footsteps quickened, my mind was made up, it would be Baysbrown campsite by Chapel Stile for the night.  The campsite is spread over a wide area. There were only a few other tents and one or two motor homes. Decent showers and loos and cheap too, impressive! Managed to get the tent up before the rain really set in. Bliss, rain drumming on the flysheet, cozy inside with the stove purring as a brew is under way.
By the morning the rain had given way to soft mizzle blown up the valley on a boisterous wind. The  tops were shrouded in dark clouds. Following the path up through the Langdales, the wind increased and the rain became heavier. Making a dash in to the loo at Old Dungeon, I stopped to take a few more pills. The car park was fast filling up as and all was all hustle and bustle as folk prepared for a day on the hill. A chappy, eyeing my full rucksack, smiled at me, "I say, you look as if you are off on a jolly ramble?" Acknowledging that I was indeed out for a few days, his smile widened, "How utterly wonderful, splendid stuff lady" He shook my hand and walked off to join his group. Noticing that the hotel did breakfasts for non residents, I wondered if a plate of scrambled egg and toast   would help settle my stomach down a bit. Unfortunately they had just stopped serving. The lass on reception took pity on me and offered to get me a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea. She did me proud, thick slices of bread with four large slices of bacon and a pot of tea as well. The rain had eased as I started off again. It was back to just wet stuff and a strong, blustery wind. A few folk were heading up the track but all seemed to be heading up Rossett Gill The path for Stake Pass  swings to the right.

The way up looks daunting, however, there is a well graded path that zigzags its way up the hill. Despite being shoved around by the wind, I actually enjoyed it! Yay, I could get used to this backpacking malarky! 
A few people could be seen high up on the ridge but there were not a lot of folk around.
It was a long descent down toward  Rosthwaite. With such lovely scenery all around how could anyone rush it? Also I needed to have a couple of rest stops.
Once again a well graded path spiralled down the hill.
The misty wet stuff continued but appeared to be easing? There is a tea shop in Rosthwaite and it gave me incentive to keep moving. A cup of tea and a slice of cake seemed an ideal prospect!
Having made the tearoom and enjoyed my tea and cake, it was just a case of pushing on for the last couple of miles to Hollows farm campsite. It was tempting to just camp in the woods out of the way. But with a dodgy stomach I opted for the campsite. It was a rather strange set up. The main camping area is next to a road and then there is another, more sloping area around the back of a small hill. The loos are there too. The showers are way up the road at the farmhouse.It would be Derwent water and Keswick in the morning.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Ettrick Hills

This was one of those last minute put together trips! Mike and I were out for a walk on the Otterburn ranges on Thursday. Talk turned to the coming bank holiday weekend. A few ideas shuffled back and forward. Some quick perusing of maps and a few e mails and it was agreed we would head for Moffat. Our aim was the Ettrick hills. Moffat was busy and it took a few circuits around the town square before securing a parking spot. Heading out, we joined up with the Southern Upland Way. Initially we had a place in mind to camp. However, we were carrying heavy packs and, spotting a likely place to camp, we made our way down to it. It was a steep descent off the forestry track down through thick heather, tangled brash and loose rock.
A bit of shuffling around and we had camp set up. This was our home for the next few nights. At least, anyone wanting to check out the tents would find it a daunting prospect!
On the Sunday we continued on up the Upland Way. There is a splendid camping spot by the sheepfold near to Selcoth burn. It was tempting to head back and bring the tents up there. The downside would be that steep climb out of the wee valley we were in. Splendid views all around.

 A spot of lunch near Park's Well. Leaving the Upland Way we headed up to the trig point at East Knowe and then carried on over West Knowe.

 The drop off back down to March Well was leg wobbly steep. A slip could have meant a very rapid descent!

After a wee break to take in the scenery! Well, it was a fine day! it was a quiet daunder back to the tents and a well deserved brew.
Monday was a quiet day. Following the forestry road up to Garrogill and the ruins of a shepherds cottage. It would make a fine bothy. A place with potential, needs, a complete update, as the estate agent would say?
The way on could be seen snaking its way high up the hillside. It was steep, awfully so in places and it was just as well there was plenty of views to admire! Getting to the bealach, I was feeling shaky and let Mike and Lucky carry on to Ewelairs Hills while I sorted myself out.
This was an out and back walk, thus we were back at the tents by early afternoon. The rest of the day was spent sitting in the sunshine, drinking tea, snoozing and reading.
Tuesday morning saw us heading out. Getting back up to the forestry road with full packs was horrendous. Fighting my way through thick, tangled brash, falling in to hidden holes and clinging to clumps of heather, I eventually hauled myself on to level ground. Lungs heaving, gasping for breath, legs painful, I lay back for a few moments to try and recover some composure. Looking around, I saw no sign  of Mike. It seems he fared little better the me?
It was mainly downhill back to Moffat and we made good time. The bank holiday rush was largely avoided. We saw all of three people. A pleasant bank holiday interlude.