May 20, 2008
(12.9 km; 6 hrs 31 min; 897 m ascent; 827 m descent)
Today started with blue sky, yet again. Not that we were complaining. So far the weather had been nearly ideal for walking. Breakfast was at our usual time of 7:30 am, after which we went down to the drying room to pick up our dry (or nearly dry) clothing. After repacking our packs, we finally left at 8:45 am, heading back the way we had entered Grasmere yesterday. Again the cuckoos and chaffinches were singing.
After crossing Goody Bridge, we turned uphill on the “official” route to follow a road for quite some distance, playing hopscotch with the county recycling truck. After crossing the A591 we started up the bridleway towards our next destination, Patterdale. This climbed continually for almost an hour until it divided to go on either side of Great Tongue. We opted to walk along Tongue Gill. This side rose gently, then rejoined the other path to climb up steps before dropping down to Grisedale Tarn. Although the path didn’t seem very steep, we had gained considerable elevation by this point.
So far the weather was still good, with just the occasional gust of cold wind. Once over the pass we followed the path almost to the end of Grisedale Tarn. Here we met the same six Americans we had met yesterday. Just as then, they were headed down the valley directly to Patterdale. But there was a path branching off to climb uphill to St. Sunday Crag. We had been told that the views from the top were great, and from where we stood it didn’t look like much elevation gain, so up we went. For the first while the path climbed gently, then it turned and up we went very steeply. Once on the ridge the path became a bit gentler for a while, then alternated with steeper sections.
By about 12:30 pm we were at The Cape, the highest point on the ridge, where indeed the views were great. This was a logical place to stop for lunch. The wind was rather cold, but it didn’t blow too strongly so enjoying the views and eating lunch in the shelter of a cairn was very pleasant.
Starting down from the summit was easy at first, but before long the path dropped very steeply. We were passed by a couple of walkers, who stopped to chat about long-distance hiking for a while. Then they zoomed off down the hill while we hobbled down carefully. Rosemary’s knees started to get painfully sore here, a condition that would never really go away for the rest of the walk.
After plunging nearly 700 metres from the summit, we turned onto the path into Patterdale and shortly we were in the town. We were staying in the Old Water View Inn, which was just down the road a bit from where we had arrived. The owner, Ian Moseley, was surprised to see us, especially after finding we had gone over St. Sunday Crag. He said it usually took people another hour to reach his place. He was very interesting to talk with. He was a Coast-to-Coast guide himself, and he had once spent two months walking the length of Britain from Lands End to John O’Groats without using any roads. The inn had been a favourite place of Wainwright’s, and he had stayed there over a hundred times.
Our room was a three-bed room on the upper floor overlooking a bend in Goldrill Beck. We had hot showers, then tea and biscuits, and after relaxing for a while we walked back down the road to the village. At the Post Office store we bought staples for lunch (crisps and Kendal mint cake). It was now 5:30 pm, so we stopped in at the White Lion pub to have dinner. We sat up some steps in a little alcove across from a British couple who were holidaying in the area. Rosemary had penne pasta with meat sauce—with chips and peas and garlic bread and a small salad—and Paul had steak and kidney pie—also with chips. We were stuffed after all that.
As we were leaving we met John and Ian, who we had bumped into all along the path, so we sat and chatted with them while they ate their dinner. We decided we weren’t too stuffed to turn down dessert, so we both ordered sticky ginger pudding. (The White Lion was out of sticky toffee pudding, which had been our first choice.) It was very rich and very good.
Back at the B&B we sat in the lounge and wrote our journals. Both of us were tired so bedtime came early at 9:30 pm.