Welcome to Day 5 of my Advent Calendar, where I am reliving my Coast to Coast adventure!
~ Steep climbs (up and down), the Honister Slate Mine, we take a wrong turn, a long afternoon, Grasmere (sort of), we camp rough ~
Day three began with a marginally earlier start than day two and soon we were heading east once more. We slept at the head of the valley remember, so the only way was up and once we’d found the path we were soon scrambling and cursing our heavy bags again. The climb wasn’t too long, however, and more good views awaited us as we left Ennerdale behind and made our way to the Honister Slate Mine. The hills all around are made of slate and the mine still produces it, although now mainly for souvenirs it would seem. The day was warm already and we were appreciating the impressive Lake District weather (where it is notoriously wet). We appreciated it much more in the next week of course.Descending from the Slate Mine we kept to the road to speed things along, although it was tough on our feet. We did reach the bottom quickly though, and continued through Seatoller (a nice little place), around Borrowdale and on to Stonethwaite, (another nice little place). We took a wrong turning somewhere and got lost in Stonethwaite, an impressive feat given its size, and had to go back when we couldn’t find a way across the river.
Eventually we entered the next valley, a long green climb that seemed to go on forever. We weren’t worried though because Grasmere was just over the hill (we told ourselves). At the top the valley becomes a massive bowl and for a while we lost our heading. After some more scrambling, though, we reached the top and the land flattened out considerably, until we reached the peak.
By now we were getting tired and we realised there was still a fair way to go. A ‘fair way’ turned into a ‘long way’ as we began the last leg of the day. The path went steeply down into another valley and for a while we seemed to make no forward progress at all. Our pace dropped to about one mile an hour and we even contemplated stopping where we were a few times. It was a gorgeous evening and the stream beside us looked very inviting for weary feet. We pressed on though, hopeful of a nice meal somewhere, and eventually we found it.
Before reaching Grasmere we were met by a sign that took a short cut past a hotel and restaurant that advertised itself for walkers. We headed straight for it and were somewhat surprised to find a three star establishment. We were too tired to be bothered and headed in. With some apprehension they served us a lovely meal, while the more suitably dressed, sitting at other tables, tried to pretend they couldn’t see us.
Fully refreshed we marched on as the sun began to set and looked for a place to camp. The reason we had to find a place was because Grasmere apparently considers itself above campers and doesn’t offer any facilities. Eventually we found ourselves a patch of grass just about clear enough of vegetation and sheep droppings, but before we could do any more it began to rain! Where it came from I have no idea but it caught us unawares and we raced to erect the tent before we got too wet. Shattered from an unexpectedly long day we quickly dropped off.
A view from the top