May 22, 2013
Today was moving-on day again, so after breakfast we packed our bags and left them by the front door. This leg of the Cumbria way was supposed to be a short one, so even though we were rather tired after yesterday’s exertions, we weren’t really worried.
We left at about 9:45 am, just as the Sherpavan man was picking up our bags. Our route today had us walking up the Great Langdale valley, then up the Mickelden valley and over Stake Pass into the Longstrath valley, then down into Borrowdale. Our legs weren’t really tired at all as we rounded Oak Howe and set off towards Dungeon Ghyll. The weather was cloudy, but we expected it to burn off after a while.
The trail took us down to the New Dungeon Ghyll hotel, then along the side of the valley to the old hotel. On the way to the old hotel we passed the crag which is used by rock climbers, and we did see one of them scaling the crag. After the old hotel we headed out into the Mickelden valley, where we started walking into a very strong cold wind. The views were really good in all directions, so it was pleasant going, at least when the wind let up. Soon we passed the last stone wall in the valley, and from there it wasn’t long before we reached the bottom of Stake Pass.
We sat for a few moments and talked with a British couple from Keswick who were doing the Cumbria Way as a set of day walks, parking their car at the beginning of a section and then taking a bus back to it at the end of the day. The wife had a heart condition so she went very slowly, and we wondered whether they would be able to finish in time to catch the last bus to Dungeon Ghyll.
The climb up to Stake Pass was on a series of switchbacks interspersed with large rocks embedded in the trail. The National Trust has improved the trail over the years, and so it didn’t take us long to do the climb. Looking back over the Mickelden valley we could see a series of small moraines left over from the Ice Age; the valleys around here are definitely U-shaped. At the top of the climb we found ourselves in moorland, not far really from the Langdale Pikes. We crossed the moorland to the top of the pass, where we found a spot mostly out of the wind to have lunch.
After lunch we headed down into the Langstrath valley, following a set of switchbacks which looked like a miniature version of the road up the Stelvio Pass. We had hoped that the wind would die down when we crossed the pass, but no such luck. Now it was blowing uphill into our faces. At the bottom we followed a good track down the valley, being buffeted by the wind all the time. From time to time gusts came down the slope and tried to knock us off-balance. But when there was a lull the temperature was warm and it was really pleasant.
The walk down the valleys into Rosthwaite seemed to take much longer than we expected, and it was about 4:30 pm rather than 2 pm when we arrived. The distance described in our guidebook didn’t seem to match the actual distance we travelled for some reason. Anyway we found our home for the next two nights, Nook Farm, without much difficulty—Rosthwaite is not a very large village.
We settled in and rested for a while, then went over to the pub for dinner. We had heard that Lamb Henry was a good dish to order, so we both ordered it. We weren’t disappointed, either, as it was similar to the lamb shank we had had in Chapel Stile.
Back at the B&B we heard a cow mooing loudly. Looking out of our window into the farmyard we saw a baby calf just being born. It was very newly born because the farmhand used a piece of straw to clean out its nostrils. The helpers dragged the calf into the barn and then let the mother out of the birthing cage to join her newborn. We didn’t know whether that was standard practice or bad news, but the lights stayed on in the barn and we could hear voices out there for several hours. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll find out more.