Welcome to Day 6 of my Advent Calendar, where I am reliving my Coast to Coast adventure!
Day 4 – Part 1
~ Chris Evans, a damp morning, only 7 miles to go, breezy at the top, people! we meet some cyclists, Patterdale ~
Tuesday morning we woke up early and discovered we had enough signal to tune in to the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on my mobile. One quick text later and Chris welcomed us into the ‘Good Morning Chris Club’, a goal of mine before we set off. Having achieved one target we then set about the main task for the day: getting to Patterdale.We packed the tent down (in a light drizzle) and then headed up Tongue Gill, the hill on which we had camped. The early start meant there was no one about and we still felt very much alone on this walk. The hill wasn’t particularly steep but we went slowly. It wasn’t a problem, however, because there was only about seven miles to go, on what was easily our shortest day.
The sun emerged, but as we neared the top of the hill the wind prevented us from removing our coats. After we had passed a small lake and begun our descent, however, we began to warm up. Walking in the rain is of course much worse than in the sun, but that afternoon turned hot and we slowed considerably. This, though, allowed people to catch up with us.
Firstly there were just a few walkers enjoying what is quite a popular area. Helvellyn is nearby and Patterdale is a beautiful place to spend a few days. Then came other Coast to Coasters who had begun the day later than us. We quickly realised that the number of people who carry all their gear was considerably less than we thought. In fact no one passed us carrying anything like what we had, although that would have been difficult, laden down as we were. Mostly we received sympathetic looks and comments as the streams of people who came up behind us, and then swept by, made it look as though we were walking through treacle. One man, however, decided that what we needed was to be mocked, and loudly proclaimed to his friends, ‘Hey look at these two campers!’ We just stood by and watched him pass.
We weren’t too bothered. It was a gorgeous day and there wasn’t far to go, and then we received a gift. A moment to cherish.
I looked down the hill, ahead of us, and saw two men, apparently in lycra and carrying expensive, road bicycles. As we approached them we found that we were not mistaken, unbelievable as the situation was.
‘Are you doing that for a bet?’ I asked, when they were only a few metres away.
They replied with an out of breath laugh and stopped for a moment. ‘Is this the way to Grasmere?’ one of them asked.
Hannah and I looked at each other. ‘Well, it’s a way to Grasmere,’ I said, ‘but you’ve got to go over the mountain in front of you.’
‘Oh, is it far?’
Again we were slightly incredulous. ‘Well it’s taken us more than two and a half hours,’ Hannah said, ‘and we’re not carrying bikes.’
The two guys conferred. ‘Yeah, I think we’ll go back. Thanks for letting us know.’
‘No problem,’ we replied as they turned back the way they’d come.
Looking back, that was definitely a special moment on our walk and one that I will remember for a long time.
After a while the path turned into a track and then eventually a road as we came into Patterdale in mid-afternoon sunshine. There to meet us sadly was the man from earlier.‘Ah, you made it then, campers,’ he said in a cheery and yet thoroughly dismissive voice. From that moment on he became known as ‘Campers’, and if you, our happy tormentor, are reading this, you will know why, whenever we saw you we nodded and smiled and waved you on your way. Thank you for giving us a reason to battle on.
The lake at the top of the hill.
The lake at the bottom of the hill (Ullswater).