Langstrath to Keswick

From my hardest day to the easiest. The walk from the campsite through the tiny but charming village of Grange, all the way to Keswick, was like a walk through a park. I even bought an ice cream in Grange as the sun was so warm. The flavour was ‘chocolate toffee explosion’ or something equally exciting. Totally worth paying over two pounds for one rather small scoop.

I chatted to an older couple (you’d think there was no other type of people in this area, that’s how frequently I meet them) who told me that the Borrowdale Valley is often thought the prettiest square mile in Cumbria. I don’t know if that’s precisely true but it certainly wasn’t bad at all.

I stopped for an early lunch by an abandoned slate quarry and had a wander through.

On my first day in Ulverston I bought a chunk of cheddar to take with me on my walks and it lasted a surprisingly long time, especially since I didn’t have it in the fridge at all. Well, I mean night times were fridge temperatures, but it survived the days too. I would cut off bits to mix through couscous and it wasn’t a bad meal with an apple on the side. I am also loving my soft water bottles. They fit into any space in my bag and take up no room when they’re empty. I’m glad I chose those rather than the hard sort.

Here’s my first sight of Derwent Water.

Most of the rest of the day was taken up with meeting two more older couples. The first couple took my photo.

I think I look sort of happy-yet-pathetic in this picture.

The other couple were American and we talked and walked for about an hour and then we got to a little village right before Keswick and they bought me lunch! It was incredibly kind and I think I reminded them of their children, one was born the same year as me. They told me that if I couldn’t find accommodation I should come to their cottage and they would be happy to let me sleep on the couch.

People have been so generous and friendly and kind to me so far, I really can’t get over it.

I waved them farewell and headed to the lakeside campsite and found they had tonnes of room. I pitched my tent and revelled in the sunshine.

Here’s a few more photos from the day.

Splendid!

Cumbria Way : Day 2

Most people would walk to Coniston in their first day of TCW but I am a bit unfit and quite lazy so I decided to get there on day two. Also people in other blogs said the last few kilometres by Coniston Water is a real slog and I wanted to enjoy it.

I actually slept better than in the hostel in London. Nothing beats an absence of snoring. Nothing!

So I had a cold and small breakfast (having a huge Full English Breakfast before saddling up for a major walk seems like insanity to me, but it’s tradition here) of cheese and hummus on tortillas, then set off.

If I didn’t see many people yesterday, I could halve that number today. I saw literally no one, not a soul, for the first four hours. I have read that the Lake District can be heaving with tourists all year round but that hasn’t been my experience so far. Maybe I’m not in the busy part yet? Anyhow, I enjoyed the views and took my time.

The stream above was my last view before I climbed a hill to reach Beacon Tarn, my first proper geographic feature.

And still no one in sight.

I sat to dry out my map (I’d used it as a ground sheet the night before – it was a waterproof OS map. So useful!) and have a snack and look at the water. After twenty minutes I looked behind me and a bunch of sheep had snuck up and were giving me baleful looks.

I like sheep. They are quiet and easy to ignore. Not like cows! Anyhoo, right after Beacon Tarn the landscape really opened up and there was a fabulous vista across to the Langdales. Probably. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

While the landscape was stunning it was also difficult to walk across. The path couldn’t decide whether or not it wanted to be a stream or a bog, and so in many places it was both.

The problem in the photo above isn’t actually the steam crossing, it’s the getting to and from – it’s all mud. I spent a lot of time walking back and forth at places like this, working out how to keep my feet dry. I succeeded though, so in your face, nature!

I will admit that the pack continued to weigh on me, and after about 10 km I got to a point where I was just bent over, dragging my walking poles like a cave man would drag his club and thinking tired thoughts. Fortunately I came to a stream that had a grassy bank, wildflowers and sun shine. It was time to sit down.

Over the next hill was Coniston Water and also phone reception. I took this stretch pretty easy, stopping to take photos, upload a few photos and rest every kilometre. My shoulders were getting very sore and dark clouds were rolling in.

Eventually I staggered into town and found The Sun Inn an a bunch of other walkers outside. I ended up sitting with them for a few hours then booking into the hotel when the rain started coming down in sheets.

I cannot tell you how good my pie and chips tasted. I might have even had a small tear in my eye at the fact that I was indoors by an open fire, I’d walked through stunning scenery and I had a comfy bed and my own private, indoor bathroom to use for the first time in nearly a week. In fact it was so good I booked two nights.

Marvellous!