C2C -Day 10

Keld and Waterfalls

Distance: 6.2 km

Steps: 9,290

Keld is the highest village of the Swale Valley. It was established around 900 b.c. by settlers from Skandinavia. There are a series of dramatic and fast flowing waterfalls, or ‘forces’ (from the Nordic word ‘foss’) as the brown peaty water of the Swale tumbles down through the village.

We walked down the village street past the Keld Resource Centre and the tiny URC church, to visit the community hall. Smaller than my lounge, the Keld community hall is open, with a coal fire blazing and is all set up as a DIY tea rooms.

A lovely idea. We stopped for tiffin. Scrummy ๐Ÿ˜

Our circular route crossed the Swale twice. From the height of the bridges, the river must get to be 3 to 4 metres deep when in flood. Springtime I guess, when the snow off the tops melts.

A very steep and wiggly hill led down to the main road, where we found Swaledale Yurts and vowed to return with children next year.

A short stroll brought us back to the Keld Lodge Hotel where we sat in the warm and planned our journey back to London tomorrow. Ian the sherpa will be picking us up and taking us to our train at Kirkby Stephen.


C2C – Day 9

Kirkby Stephen to Keld

Distance: 24.4 km

Steps: 32,594

Mile after mile of peat bog, plus it was raining all day and a gusty 30 mph wind from the south.

The hostel at Kirkby Stephen used to be YHA but it is now privately owned. There were but four of us staying there and the warden didn’t put in an appearance. We weren’t booked in for breakfast so decided on an early start.

Kirkby Stephen is a vast metropolis compared with anywhere else we’ve been this week. It has a Costa, a Barclays bank, a railway station and more. We picked up prepacked breakfast and lunch from McColls and were on the trail before 08:15am.

We crossed Frank’s Bridge and walked up through parkland to Hartley village. Annexed to Kirkby Stephen, Hartley is on a dead-end road (so no through traffic) and apart from the enormous quarry, is a very pretty place.

We were passed by two sheepdogs on a quad bike. One of whom jumped off to have a scrap with a French Bulldog. They were parted with a lot of shouting from their owners.

Jezabel has acquired a groovy GPS navigational app from the Canadian lady, so can confidently lead us onwards.

We reached the end of the tarmac and continued upwards (always upwards) over increasingly boggy ground. The trail levelled off after about 8 km and we reached Nine Standards Rigg, an elevation of 662m, enveloped in thick cloud with a fearsome southerly wind.

We continued on the ‘blue route’ head to wind in the rain and slowly made our way down from Hartley Fell. My boots by now completely filled with peaty black bog water. We made slow progress in slippery conditions, in some places sinking deeper than my knees.

A three hour descent put us back on tarmac at Ravenleas Farm, Keld, home of celebrity shepherdess Amanda Owen (look her up).

The lion had stopped chasing us and Jezabel’s knee gave up. Amanda kindly gave us a lift down to the Keld Lodge Hotel in her Landrover. Where we met ‘Scout’ and her human.

And here we sit, done for the time being. Halfway to Robin Hood’s Bay ๐Ÿ˜Š

C2C – Day 8

Shap to Kirkby Stephen

Distance: 29.8 km

Steps: 39,367

We came down last night with head torches on and picked up fish & chips from Shap’s famous little chippie. We were in bed and asleep within fifteen minutes of arriving at Margaret’s. Tired after a very long day. Up late (7:30am) this morning.

Margaret and Les run Brookfield B&B in Shap. It’s like staying at your Nan’s. They are the nicest most caring people you could hope to meet ๐Ÿ˜

Les drives a JCB.

We were running a bit late by the time we’d finished breakfast so he gave us a lift to Orton on his way to work, saving us about 10 km. Thanks Les.

Orton has a famous chocolate factory which we have promised to go back to one day.

We struck out east over farmland, Jezabel chatting to the wildlife along the way way. At one point saw a big rabbit.

Agricultural land gave way to open moorland with free roaming cattle and sheep. We emerged at Sunbiggin Tarn. Another 4km of road walking on a narrow ribbon of tarmac to make our lunchtime stop, hiding from the wind behind a drystone wall, south of Mazon Wath.

The ‘Chinese-looking lady’ (now known as ‘the Canadian lady’) caught us us up here and soon sped off ahead, GPS device prominently in hand ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

We viewed the outstanding though now retired Smardale Gill viaduct. Fourteen spans support the railway 90′ above the river. Magnificent ๐Ÿ˜€.

The hills kept on coming. Each hill felt like it might be the last but on our path there was always just one more beyond the last.

After 3km of roller coaster hill/valley/hill combos we finally reached the last footpath to Kirkby Stephen. There was a bull in the field.

Jezabel demostrated how she would confuse the beast by twirling her walking pole like a baton. Suitably reassured, we set off across the field. Thankfully he didn’t charge, so we strode out as quickly as possible and leapt the stile on the other side.

Plain sailing, all downhill into Kirkby Stephen, where we stayed at the hostel.

It’s not a YHA but privately run by a lady named Denise. The building was originally a church. We went for a nice Indian meal then turned in for an early night.

C2C – Day 7

Patterdale to Shap

Distance: 35.1 km

Steps: 49,126

Blimey, what a day! Up at 06:30am so as to be first for breakfast and ready to be out the door by 08:00am. Then Ian the baggage transfer man offered us a lift to Hartsop, to save us 3km of dangerous/boring walking on the main road. Thanks Ian ๐Ÿ‘

We set out from Hartsop (158m) and ascended via Hayeswater

To ‘The Knot’ (739m), a tough slog but what a view when we got there ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Then on to Kidsty Pike (780m), the highest we’ve been.

It took nearly two hours to get back down to lake level. We stopped for lunch by Haweswater reservoir.

A quick stop for lunch then we walked the length of Haweswater to the dam.

So ended the Lakeland part of this Coast to Coast walk. 8km across agricultural land brought us to Margaret’s B&B in Shap, our accommodation for tonight.


C2C – Day 6

Grasmere to Patterdale

Distance: 19.6 km

Steps: 26,305

What a much more pleasant experience ๐Ÿ˜.

Ian from Trailmagicbaggage took a whole lot of our stuff on ahead and let us saunter to Patterdale with lightweight packs. Far more civilised.

We departed Grasmere at 08:30 am and raced up the hill to Grisedale Tarn.

Needless to say, it rained for our entire ascent but upon reaching the lake, the sun shone through. On the route up Jezabel had slipped and ended up face first in the mud.

Jezabel pranced gazelle-like across the stepping stones. My boots already full of water I waded across. We stopped for lunch at the Ruthwaite Mountain Hut

Further down the valley, Jezabel rescued some sheep.

We looked back and identified Striding Edge.

By 3:30pm we were in the Grasmere Hotel bar for a brief rest before the hostel opened. We like walking with light packs ๐Ÿ‘

C2C – Day 5

Borrowdale to Grasmere

Distance: 14km

Steps: 2

We liked Borrowdale so much, we decided to stay a bit longer. No really, it has been raining cats & dogs all day, so we spent the morning discussing local history and the afternoon on the bus to Grasmere.

Where we loaded up with gingerbread.

We have engaged the services of a sherpa, to move a bag of our kit to the next accommodation. We’ll still carry a pack each but much lightened.

C2C – Day 4

Black Sail to Borrowdale

Distance: 28.1 km

Steps: 39,562

A challenging day by any measure. We left Black Sail hostel at 10:00am and set out towards Wasdale Head, up Black Sail Pass.

It’s a bit of a scramble and I took a tumble half way up. Top-heavy with a rucksack I fell backwards about 3 metres but landed on Jezabel, so not hurt.

Broke her walking pole though. It was cold and windy on the top so we hurried on down the other side to where the path crosses the waterfall. Here I lost my footing again and ended up sitting in the water. Bruised bum only no others to report.

We were soon down and got a map from the little climbing shop.

A stout lunch in the Wasdale Head Inn set us up for a walk past Andrew’s farm

and up beside Lingmell Beck to Styhead Pass. I once said of this route that it is a ‘long but gentle incline’. It’s not. It’s a tough slog with a scramble at the top (or am I getting old?). The last 50 metres elevation we were in the cloud, very wet and windy.

We reached the stretcher box at 5:00pm and in the mist I took the wrong bearing. We went 400 metres the wrong way then realised our error and doubled back to the stretcher box. We strode out on the correct path, past some wild campers and barely made it down as the light failed. Headtorches on again we walked the 5km to Borrowdale hostel. Tried for a taxi from Seathwaite Farm but to no avail, so walked the whole way. Took the shortest route which involved scrambling in the dark and arrived at 9:00pm via the back garden of Borrowdale hostel

Day off tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜Ž

C2C – Day 3

Ennerdale Bridge to Black Sail

Distance: 22.2 km

Steps: 31,472

Proper breakfast at the Shepherds Arms, what lovely people. On our way at 10:00am and shortly we were walking around Ennerdale Water. We took the left path, the lower and sunnier side of the lake. It’s a long but gentle incline to Black Sail hostel.

Along the way we met some free roaming forest cattle. About a dozen cows and calves plus one huge and scary bull! We walked swiftly on.

Black Sail Hut, at the head of Ennerdale valley is the UK’s most remote and secluded hostel. It is accessible only on foot and you’re talking two or three hours walk whichever way you choose to approach.

Splendid isolation and in my experience, only nice people go there. My favourite hostel. This year’s warden is Mark, a good fellow, knowledgeable about the hills.

There were a total of six people staying at Black Sail. All walkers. Good conversation and an early night.

C2C – Day 2

St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge

Distance: 31.7 km

Steps: 49,605

We departed the accommodation by 8:00am and visited the beach to wet our boots in the Irish Sea and collect our pebbles.

On the trail at 8:30am, we set out for St Bees Head, skirting the top of Fleswick Bay (we went on that beach yesterday)

The red sandstone cliffs are home to many nesting sea birds throughout the year. We spied a penguin bravely guarding its nest against marauding gulls.

Photo opportunity at St Bees Head Lighthouse and reached the crater of Birkhams Quarry at 11:00am.

The quarry operates on a โ€˜batchโ€™ basis and is only open for two months a year. This may be February/March out of respect for the nesting sea birds. Stone from this quarry was used in the construction of Carlisle cathedral and has been shipped to Canada, the USA and Iceland.

We had our elevenses here then set out inland towards Smithiam village. A pretty little place. We followed Wainwright’s route through Desmesne, down under a railway bridge and up t’other side to Cleator. Here we diverted to a dusty country house hotel for a bit of rest & refreshment.

After lunch we collected a dogwalking gentleman carrying a rolled up carpet. He showed us a nice route away from the main A5086 and took us to Black How, where he left us to slog up Dent (300 metres ascent).

We were given conflicting advice by cyclists and a running man and we lost a bit of time meandering around Uldale Plantation, finally following Nannycatch Beck to emerge at dusk onto Scarny Brow.

Headtorches on, we marched on tarmac to our fabulous hotel at Ennerdale Bridge.

They were out with dogs and lanterns looking for us. We got severely told off for not reporting in. But apart from this one (self-inflicted) upset, the Shepherds Arms in Ennerdale Bridge is a really lovely hotel. Excellent service, fantastic staff,

husky dogs, hot bath, powerful shower, comfy bed. Oh, and Jezabel got bitten by a spider. This one:

Black Sail tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

C2C – Day 1

St Bees

Distance: 9 km

Steps: 13,679

Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast’ walk (C2C)

I got home from Molly’s gig at 4:30am and optimistically set my alarm for 6:00am. Sneezie woke me at 6:30am, dear little alarm beeping away to itself, unheeded.

We were out at 7:00am and on the 8:45 train from Euston, arrived in St Bees just after 3:00pm. So the adventure begins.

From this evening’s accommodation, the Seacote Hotel, we went to find the start of the C2C walk

And on for a gentle stroll to Fleswick Bay, just to get a feel for the terrain.

Back to the accommodation and an early night, in bed for 8:30pm zzzzzzz…