Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day Four: Grasmere to Patterdale

Grasmere to Patterdale: 13.5 km along the low route, more along the top.

Today was our third full day in the beautiful mountainous (or should I say fellanous?) Lakes District. Today was also our third day where we had the option of a valley walk or a ridge walk, and we again chose the mountain tops. My arthritic knees were seriously complaining about the over-use, but once I got them working each morning, I was ok.
A Quaker B&B...I've never actually seen Quakers before
It was foggy and rainy out when we started, which was actually a nice relief from the sunny wind the day before, but it didn't last. By the time we got the top of the ridge, the sun was out in full force again. It was a long slow slog up the valley at first, surrounded by sheep and with fields divided by stone fence along the way. We passed several waterfalls but didn't stop to take pictures this time. There were also quite a few other people on the trail because it was getting towards the weekend. This made it harder to discreetly stop for bathroom breaks, which I certainly needed after drinking several cups of tea at breakfast.

We met the ex-RAF pilot part way up and he took our picture. His wife was taking the bus that day because her feet couldn't handle the hills for another day. He phoned her from the top of the ridge--there was cell phone reception up there!

There were actually two alternate routes this day. The first one everyone seemed to take as it climbed the valley at a more gentle rate and was cobbled. The second one took us up on the third highest peak in Britain and over a really neat craggy ridge called Strider's Edge (I kept thinking of Aragorn from Lord of the Rings when we were hiking it). At the fork between the two routes we met Allen again, who was taking the low route, and he told us he would buy us a pint in Patterdale if/when we made it down off the peak.

On our way up we met volunteer park workers digging up the seriously eroded path and putting in rocks that would make a cobbled new path. Hard hard work on a hot day.

The top of the peak had a shelter shaped like a plus sign so that no matter which way the wind was coming, there would be relief from it.

We sat on one side and were quietly inspected by the local sheep. We found out that the breed that lives up here is called the Herdwicks, and they spend all their lives up on the peaks, only coming down to lamb. They are an important part of the Lakes District ecosystem because without them, the fells would grow brush again and eventually fill up with trees as it was originally. The sheep's presence means the mountains remain grassy and full of ferns and heather, which is conducive to tourism. So very different than the management of the Canadian mountainous parks!

The Summit Cairn of Helvellyn (isn't that a great name?)
Strider's Edge definitely pushed our comfort zone for scrambling. We could have gone around the ridge, but we wanted to walk it. The top was absolutely beautiful, high and exposed above the valley.
Strider's Edge: Our route down along the ridge
The low route far below
Our first shade all day
The White Lion Inn in Patterdale was...interesting. Patterdale is actually an extremely tiny little center, with a major hotel, and the Inn and a church. The Inn itself is several hundred years old, but we were to learn that just because a building has an interesting history doesn't necessarily mean it was functional or comfortable. Further down the road was Glenridding, a larger center with a post office and an outdoorsy store and two grocery stores. It is on Ullswater Lake, which is a popular tourist destination. We walked to Glenridding and bought some things for our lunch the next day. We were not very impressed the other time we'd bought the packed lunch from the Inn we were staying at, so we thought we would not do it again.
The White Lion Inn and the A592
Fields of Bluebells
The Inn itself was an extremely narrow building and the front door emptied immediately onto the highway. The pub was quite cozy and friendly; we ate supper with Gordon and Charlene, the two Canadian sisters and Allen. Gordon and Charlene were staying an extra night in Patterdale and Allen was traveling only this far. So it was a bit of a farewell supper. It's funny that after knowing these people only four days, we were very sad to leave them. Gordon and Charlene in particular, we really enjoyed getting to know.
The six Canadians and Allen, a farewell supper
We had dessert, which was chocolate cake and hot custard. Custard is an English dish, and one that both Brent and I are big fans of. Dessert is called "pudding" in England, regardless of whether you're actually having pudding or if you're having cheesecake. We had pudding several more times on the trip, particularly when we saw custard on the menu.

While the pub was cozy, our room was not. Our window was directly over the door of the pub, so we heard the pub traffic late into the night. The staff were grumpy to us and the food was just ok (except for the pudding). ;)

1 comment:

Samira said...

we're planning to do... basically the exact same journey.. from grasmere to patterdale...
we don't live in the UK and so far we have no idea how so many people have managed to get from grasmere to patterdale. We found some instructions but are still a bit worried... Most of the places mentioned sound mythical and the dreamy photographs don't offer too much reassurance... sadly... we are city people.
Any advice for our journey? Also, how long does it take about....? Is there any sign of making sure you're not utterly lost?

thank you!
Samira and Andrew