Patterdale to Dockray: A Misty Morning, Daffodils and More Dogs

Staying at the YHA meant an unlimited English breakfast and I was making the most of it after all my exertions. I had booked the following two nights at the Royal Hotel in Dockray, a village so small that no one in Patterdale (only 5 miles distant) had heard of it.

After packing my bag and using the wifi to post my last blog entry, I set off. I immediately realised my blister was going to make the day very unpleasant if I didn’t do something about it. I hobbled to the general store in Glenridding and bought some medical tape (kind of papery in texture) and wrapped my little toe. This seemed to mostly stop the stabbing pain and the blood seeping through my newly-cleaned socks.

A cloudy but still day.
The river that runs through Glenridding

The fells were shrouded in mist and the distant reaches of the lake were ghostly, which made for some lovely photos and a nice cool walk.

I had a chat to a couple who asked where I was from and told me that they’d read in the news that Melbourne had just been declared Australia’s largest city. Only a few minutes later Daniel, (with whom I’ll be doing the Camino) messaged me with a news article saying the same. How funny to only really communicate twice in the morning and both about the same piece of news from the other side of the world.

I also had quite a long chat with a lady I’d met the previous day. She had been walking in the opposite direction on the far side of the lake with her dog and husband, who had a heart condition and was looking a bit pale.

When I met her today it was just her and the dog, her husband had hurt his knee on the previous day’s walk. She was clearly an extremely active and energetic person and her husband was not, which must make holidays in places like this very difficult. She had thought to come alone but then he had insisted on coming and now was injured. We both shook our heads at his folly and talked about travel.

She had wanted to go to South America this year but the trip had been cancelled at the last minute due to unrest in one of the places that was on the itinerary. I gave her the blog address and said if she ever made it to Australia to look me up – so if you’re reading this, hello! I realised we didn’t swap names so please leave a comment if you did end up here and I’ll give you my proper details!

Most of the west side of the Ullswater Way that I saw looked a lot like this.

I stopped for lunch at the Aira Force cafe, which was lovely but crowded and swarming with screaming children. It came as a bit of a shock because I’ve hardly seen any children so far and the day had been so quiet leading up to this point. After having a delicious croque monsieur, I walked around the cafe to the toilet block only to find a car park with over 100 cars. This is where all those people came from!

Delicious, but putting cheese on top of a sandwich does make it hard to hold.

The Lake District is a bit like this. Miles of quiet countryside and then pockets of tourists all jam-packed together. I guess anyone with mobility issues, children or limited time is just going to go to the main attractions. Aira Force is the biggest (highest? Widest? I don’t know) waterfall in the Lake District (in England? Great Britain?). There were so many people I couldn’t be bothered (hence why I know nothing about it) so I walked to Dockray via the narrow road rather than up along the waterfall trail. if the weather is nice I’ll maybe go back tomorrow.

The road was really narrow and I didn’t like how fast the cars were whizzing by, so I took a boggy detour through a field and up a hill. It probably took twice as long but the views were better and it felt safer, if damper.

Despite being a relatively short day’s walking it took me ages due to all the dawdling and chatting along the water. I got to the Royal Hotel at Dockray at about 3pm, glad to be off my feet and happy to finally find a pub with a half decent cider on tap (Aspall’s). Cider isn’t as popular in the north as in the south, unfortunately, and many pubs will only have Strongbow on tap and nothing in bottles. Aspall’s isn’t really traditional but it’s nice enough and the taste reminds me of so many summer days sitting outside pubs and enjoying the sun.

The Royal Hotel

The pub seemed nice but there were no stools at the bar (always disappointing) so I grabbed a book from the shelf in the hallway and sat down to read and drink and rest. the book was very good, a bit like Bill Bryson’s style and very funny.

Dinner was pie and vegetables and I ended up chatting to a very nice couple who were sitting near me and had a beautiful two year old collie. Apparently Meena usually takes a long time to become comfortable with new people but she sidled up to me for pats after about half an hour and then stayed next to me for ages, continually blocking everyone’s path to the toilets.

That face!

After a couple of glasses of wine I was ready for bed and looking forward to a day without my huge pack!

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