Day Five

Glenridding to Bampton Grange (12 miles)

This was one of those rooms people dread. Very comfy and plenty big enough but the heating was jammed on full blast. We couldn’t open the big sash windows because the room was virtually on the road. The clothes drying on the glowing radiators were steaming and included socks which had been worn for a few days. We lay awake in that moist pungent atmosphere listening to the rain bouncing off the street and discussing the real chance of us spending all 16 days being wet. We had ordered an early breakfast and were grateful when it was time to get up and go through the usual morning routines.

The couple running the place were very friendly but had only stepped in for the usual owners. The husband was the most unlikely person to ever serve and cook breakfast. He was a double for Joe Bugner and had a very strong Geordie accent and when he asked if we wanted more toast it sounded more like a statement that a question.

Fully fed but still a little damp from the previous day we set off back towards the end of Ullswater where the water looked still but the clouds ominously low.

Consulting the map we left the main road down a side path heading in the direction of Patterdale common. As we approached a bridge over the river we were stopped dead in our tracks because the river had burst its banks and now covered a large part of the next few fields.

We stood and stared at a group of Duke of Edinburgh walkers who had decided to remove boots and socks and wade through. We discussed tactics and decided the best thing to do would be to keep boots on and carefully try and step on the ground where tufts of grass were showing. Nige went first and all I could think of was Moses as he raised his pole above his head and paddled across the next 2 fields. What had taken over 12 hours to achieve was thrown away with his first step as the water poured into his still warm dry boot. Give him his due, this didn’t stop him filming my crossing minutes later.

The path up towards Angle Tarn was fairly steep and it was whilst stopping here to take off our waterproofs that we were caught up by a couple of ladies we had bumped into on and off during the trip. These two had stayed at Town End Farm the same evening as us and had told us that on day 1 they had to be helped off Dent Hill. We stood and chatted for a while and nearly collapsed when the sun burst through and produced a lovely rainbow back over towards Helvellyn and St Sunday. As we talked, inevitably about the weather, a stag ran out of the ferns across the path just in front of us.

The sun had boosted our spirits and we strode on along the narrow path hoping for some uninterrupted views of the Tarn. Within minutes we were stopping again to put on full waterproofs and looked back to see the ladies doing the same. That is, they stopped but disappeared from view almost immediately as the wind picked up and cloud descended at amazing speed. We pushed on to the tarn and managed to get a few snatched photos of it when the cloud moved for a moment.

We climbed up the path to the aptly named Satura Crag then on to The Knott. After this steep climb a man walked out of the cloud and almost into us. He stopped just long enough to tell us he was the ‘forward’ party for a group of scouts who were walking the opposite way down into Patterdale. We never saw him again, nor any scouts for the rest of the day. It had closed in now to the extent that we were relying completely on the satnav. Visibility was now just a joke as we staggered along the last mile to Kidsty Pike, the highest point on the coast to coast walk at 780 metres and the place we had been promised the reward for all the effort so far. Nothing. There was nothing to see. Unbelievably Nige decided to video the scene in a slow 360 degree panorama to prove there was nothing to see whatsoever.

We didn’t hang about but and made good speed down to Kidsty Howes. A steep decent down the sodden path wasn’t easy and quicker that we wanted we were crossing the bridge by the edge of Haweswater Reservoir to start the long walk along its banks. The route led us first along a narrow path between ferns and a wall then steeply upwards to get our first good view of the water.

We stopped here to eat our butties and were watched by two tame sheep.

The book did describe the walk along Haweswater as particularly arduous and it proved to be quite correct. It seemed to go on and on with the end of the reservoir never getting any nearer. It was tipping it down and to add to our discomfort swarms of midges / gnats decided to get personal by hitching a ride in and around our hoods. This became a real issue and we tried all sorts of techniques to waft them away. By this stage Nige was laughing hysterically and even burst into a trot to try and outrun them. Inevitably we had to give up, defeated and totally demoralised by insects we could hear but not see.

Finally we arrived at the end of the water into Burnbanks where we took a left turn off the official path and headed towards Bampton Grange, our stopping place for the night. Silence had descended and so had our shoulders as we crossed the last two fields to the Crown and Mitre. It was dead on 4pm as wet and bedraggled we knocked on the door at the back of the pub to be met by a very luke warm greeting from a snooty looking landlady. We were told to take all our wet gear off outside and drop it into a pile just inside the front door. To be fair it was all taken away and dried for the next day but we both caught the look she gave us.

The room was nice enough and we moved into autopilot laying things out in piles and charging electricals. After showers we moved down to the bar for something to eat and drink. We picked prime spot near the fire and ordered the works from the menu. We were joined by Sue and Merv, the couple we had seen at the bottom of Dent Hill on day 1 and spent the evening comparing horror stories. The bar was very nice and very hard to leave. Nige had taken a shine to the barmaid, a Kelly Brooke double who Nige nicknamed Bella the barmaid from Bampton. All very childish but we had been stuck in each others company for 5 days and the cracks were starting to show. We had the statutory beers and whisky (large one) and went back to the room knowing that, sadly, we had finished the Lake District part of the walk without really seeing very much of it at all.

Next Day >>>