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.


  1. Good write up Dawn. I'm glad you got out on an excellent route.

  2. Cumbria way looks a great route some of Lakelands finest. Smiled at the tale of the people at Tarn Hows. I take great pleasure in looking as scruffy as possible while out walking although my lack of style comes naturally :)

  3. Cumbria way looks a great route some of Lakelands finest. Smiled at the tale of the people at Tarn Hows. I take great pleasure in looking as scruffy as possible while out walking although my lack of style comes naturally :)

  4. I love the 'mad granny smile'!