Day 4. Thursday, 9th June, 2016. Rosthwaite to Grasmere

Leaving The Royal Oak, Rosthwaite

Wow! Another azure sky! We packed our soaking wet wet-weather gear, had a cursory breakfast, and headed south-east away from Rosthwaite. Within half-an-hour we were witness to an amazing display of shepherding. On a steep slope, rich with ferns and gorse, one man and his two dogs herded sheep from the fell down to a pen down by Stonethwaite Beck. The shepherd used his voice rather than whistle; his instructions included a fair number of aggressive expletives. It was difficult to be certain whether these were directed at the dogs, sheep, or the daft walkers who were getting in the way. We felt that the best policy was to stop stock-still, and hope that we wouldn’t have an adverse effect upon the exercise. Despite the hikers, the sheep were corralled with impressive efficiency.

With the entertainment over, we noted Len’s trademark white cowboy hat ahead. We walked ahead together. The C2C was busy – the three of us were happy to carry the lanterne rouge. The gradient gradually increased as we walked along the stream – now by the name of Greenup Gill. The imperious Eagle Crag glowered down at us from the other side of the gill.

There were two extremely steep climbs; the first up to a ridge which formed a shoulder to the north-west with Eagle Crag. To the south of this shoulder lay a basin of knobbly drumlins or hillocks. We had to ascend out of the basin…..this was the second killer climb, taking us south-east up to a landmark known as Lining Crag. As I’ve already noted, the path was busy, and we formed a single file of grunting, puffing humanity. Suddenly, there was a yelp. A man, walking with his dog had fallen backwards, and by some quirk of fortune, he had landed in a patch of bog, no greater then 2 metres in diameter. The terrain was predominantly rocks and boulders. From where I was standing, it seemed almost miraculous that he hadn’t landed on more unforgiving ground. He was somewhat shaken, but able to stand. He was worried about his right hip, which contained metalwork from an accident in his younger days. But all appeared to be intact. Lucky, lucky man!

From Lining Crag, it was a boggy but straightforward climb up to the edge of the basin – Greenup Edge Pass. Below us, we could see the valley of Wythburn Beck heading north-east.

Greenup Edge sloping down to Wythburn valley

We had to cross the valley; finding the path down took some time with compass and GPS, but once found it lead us across the beck and up to higher ground near Brownrigg Moss. From here we continued south-easterly down the valley known as Grasmere Common. We shunned the ridge walk along the north side of this valley. The sun was still beating down, and it was hot, and …..we were done in!

As we headed down the valley, it became more cloudy and cooler. The terrain became less steep, and the flora more verdant. We dropped upon the sleepy hamlet of Easedale, and from there, barely another mile into Grasmere. During this descent, we had become a quartet, having been joined by Katleen, a young lady from Belgium who was walking solo as far as Kirkby Stephen before work commitments dragged her back to Brussels.

It was decision time for Julia and me. We had accommodation booked for the evening in Patterdale, another 7-9 miles ahead, which included another monster climb up to Grisedale Tarn en route. When planning the itinerary, I believed that the stage from
Rosthwaite to Patterdale was approximately 14 -16 miles. But by Grasmere, we had already covered nearly 9  miles including an arduous climb/descent, and we agreed that we were just too weary! We opted to stop our day’s walking in Grasmere!

We had to say “goodbye” to Len, as from here on, we would be consistently one stage ahead of him. So we found ourselves in The Red Lion with a pint of Hawkshead Red. One pint lead to two, swapping stories and contact details. Our path to Patterdale included an open-top ‘bus ride to Windermere (a great journey with views of Grasmere and Windermere Lakes, passing Rydal Mount and running through Ambleside). At Windermere, we planned to switch to a second ‘bus heading north. But I had failed to read the small print on the webpage: the line only ran during school holidays! And so we took a taxi, driven by a young man of Polish stock whose favourite journey was up to Patterdale. Indeed, it was a dramatically beautiful run up the A592 .

We were spending our second ever night at a YHA. The Patterdale hostel was much larger, and hence slightly less intimate, than its counterpart in Ennerdale, but it was bright, clean, and had good facilities. In particular, it had a large, well ventilated drying room! We walked north from the YHA, to eat at The White Lion, a cosy village pub, that provided excellent fare. Whilst at the pub, the four lads from Nottingham rolled in some time after eight o’clock, and the chap who had fallen on Lining Crag came in not much before nine. Their fortitude in coming through all the way from Rosthwaite had to be applauded. But on the other hand, their late arrival and their bedraggled habitus convinced us that we had made the right decision.

Easedale Beck

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