May 19, 2008
(14.3 km; 6 hrs 45 min; 750 m ascent; 768 m descent)
Another beautiful blue-sky morning dawned for our walk to Grasmere. As usual we had breakfast at 7:30 am; this time porridge, which was a bit lumpy, followed by fruit, yogurt, and toast. We still had some packing to do but that didn’t take too long, so we were on our way a little after 9 am. Once again following Stedman’s directions we followed the path through the sheep pastures to Rosthwaite, where we stopped at the little store for cookies and apples. Then, crossing a lovely stone bridge, our route followed Stonethwaite Beck up and up and up, with the cuckoos and chaffinches singing.
The path climbed gradually at first, then got steeper as we neared Greenup Gill. Once at this pass, we stopped for a snack and to enjoy the views. Then we carried on much more steeply up to Lining Crag. Looking back down you could see that the small basin where we had stopped was full of drumlins. It didn’t seem to take that long to get to the top of Lining Crag, and once again the views looking back to Borrowdale were excellent.
From here the path went gradually uphill through boggy areas which were thankfully not very damp. We followed cairns to find the correct way to the fence posts which would lead us down to Grasmere. We were rather confused by Stedman’s directions at this point, but once we realized we were reading instructions meant for farther on, we straightened out and found our way to a junction. This was a popular place to stop for lunch, as there were at least four other groups scattered about. After our lunch of crackers, ham, cookies, and really good Granny Smith apples, we prepared to shoulder our packs again.
One of the groups there was a group of Americans who we hadn’t seen before. As we were discussing the pros and cons of the high route to Helm Crag versus the low route down the valley, one of the women in that group said she was only going the shortest possible way. We decided to take the high route, so we didn’t see them again that day. The high route consisted of a series of rocky crags which we went up and down, finally ending with a short steep climb up the showy rock called Helm Crag. The views from here were really spectacular, looking down over Grasmere and the surrounding lakes. Down on the slopes were lovely stone walls creating interesting patterns, and in the outskirts of Grasmere there were big houses with green lawns. One of them was ablaze with flaming orange bushes, which turned out to be azaleas when we got down there.
The path down from Helm Crag was very steep in places, and quite hard on Rosemary’s knees. Part way down we met a young man running up the path, and quite quickly too. It was only a few minutes before he passed us again, running down. Then we met a lot of day trippers from Grasmere, and it wasn’t long before we were walking through the streets and into the Butharlyp youth hostel.
We checked in and asked if they had any twin rooms left. They didn’t, but they offered us a four-bed room for the same price as a twin room. We really appreciated that offer. Today we had designated as a laundry day, so we rinsed out socks, underwear, shirts, and shorts, and headed down to the drying room (formerly the dungeon, apparently) to hang them up. Then we headed into the down to buy some Grasmere gingerbread before the shop closed. We wandered around taking photographs, then stopped in at the Co-op to buy lunch makings.
Back at the hostel we both had showers, then went over to the main building for dinner. Rosemary had chicken jambalaya with a side salad, and Paul had vegetarian chili over rice, also with a side salad. For dessert we both had sticky toffee pudding, which was far superior to the one we had had at the Borrowdale hostel. After dinner we sat in the lounge writing our journals and chatting with Ian and John, fellow C2C-ers from somewhere around Newcastle. Before we knew it it was 11 pm, so we headed off to bed.