Coast To Coast Diary

> Day Five

SATURDAY 6th JUNE 2009

MAIR RAIN


‘Mair rain’ was the words that were coming from the two Scottish blokes in the front of the car, the two Scottish blokes being PL and Smithy. Mair is the Scottish slang word for more, so for the benefit of the rest of the English speaking world, what they were actually saying was, more rain. They were saying this as we were bombing across the A66 towards the Lake District. Yes, you’ve guessed it dear reader; we were on the coast to coast trail again. It was a while ago that we done the last section and to be perfectly honest with you, I thought it might have been all forgotten about, this coast to coast malarkey. Nobody had mentioned anything about it for a while, and PL and Mrs PL had just had a holiday in Spain and this was their first weekend back, so I was really surprised when he opened number one son’s bedroom door this morning and declared in his doggy voice, ‘Maisie doing the coast to coast today’ Yup, I’m up for it as I dived out of number one son’s bed and raced towards the door giving the lanky Tom more room in the bed and giving me a day’s adventure in the sunny Lake District. But mair rain didn’t sound right. Mair sun sounded right, but mair rain didn’t. Nicky sat with me in the back seat and the last twice Nicky came with us they were both really hot sunny days. So what is this mair rain all about? I decided to take a look and I pulled myself up from my slumber position, had a long stretch then I looked out of the front window between the two Scots men and sure enough it was rain, mair rain!

We had stopped for a smoke in the big lay by at the start of the A66 just after Scotch Corner, it was dry enough there but this was different, this was us heading towards the Lake District, heading west, heading towards places that have the heaviest rainfall in the country, and something tells me there will be a wet doggy smell in the car on the way home. We cross the M6 then come off the A66 on the B5322 passing St John’s in the vale on the right and Clough Head on the left and emerging from this road onto the main A591 Keswick to Kendal run. We pass Thirlmere reservoir then onto the dual carriageway passing on the right a mound of stones. Under this mound is supposed to lay the last king of Cumbria, Dunmail, who the pass was named after. It was said he was killed by Edmund himself (I wonder if he had a side kick called Baldrick!).

We pass a lay by with an old AA phone box in it then eventually reverse into our lay by, yep, you’ve guessed it, the blind Smithy ran past it first. We get out the car which has now been named Smithy’s Sherpa on account of Alex not doing any walking for the time being but has very kindly offered to drive us to the starting points and pick us up at the finishing points and drive us home.

They get ready for the walk in the rain with a quick cup of tea and a quick fag then shout me out and snap my lead on, but as soon as they have done this I jump back in the sherpa. No sir ee, no way José. I want none of this; I don’t mind doing this coast to coast thingy in the sunshine, that I can deal with, but not in this weather, not in the mair rain stuff, the wet stuff. They haul me out of the sherpa and close the boot. Good luck then Smithy says and Nicky says we will only be a few hours as it’s only 7 miles or so. And with that we were off, walking out of the lay- by and onto the busy A591 heading towards Grasmere. We walked on the road at first because I guess they didn’t want to walk on the grass at the side of the road because it was wet and rather long, but a few speeding cars that came perilously close to us put paid to that and soon we were walking on the grass verge deciding that was our best and safest option.


We came to the Patterdale sign and on turning left up a lane we seen loads of walkers in front of us. Can you believe it? All these people out in this weather by choice. I knew humans could sometimes be daft, so obviously I don’t know them that well. Anyway we past a few of them in the lane and then we came to a gate, which we went through as you would expect, I mean what else would you expect us to do, go back to the nice warm car and drive to the nice warm home, then go into the nice warm bed from hence I came, thinking it would be another sunny day in the Lakes? No we went through the gate and I looked up to spot a human colourful caterpillar going up the left path of Great Tongue with a sheep looking down on them as though they were all mental! PL says that we will go up the right hand path as the gradient is gentler and we can avoid the colourful humans that are making their way up the old pony route on the left side.

He said also the waterfalls at the top should be a bit dramatic in this weather. We cross the footbridge over Little Tongue Gill and start making our way up the right side path. It is quite a hard slog up but we eventually reach the waterfall and PL pulls the camera out for a quick snap of me and Nicky. But I’m in no mood for pictures, no mood to pose as he tries to get me to stand beside Nicky with the waterfall in the background. Just as he is about to push the button as he says ‘ok Nick’ I quickly jump away and shake my head defiantly as Nicky looks on and I hear PL saying something that rhymes with grit, well its found on the bottom of a bird cage anyway! Just as we were about to move on, we spot the human caterpillar coming up the other path, not so colourful now and more spread out as they make their way over Great Tongue towards us, but we never seen them again. PL thought they were Helvellyn pilgrims. 

Up we go and not long to the top which is Hause Gap, then it will be down hill all the way to Patterdale. If the weather was nice PL was going to do the St Sunday Crag alternative, but as its so mankie it will be straight down the direct route for us today. At the Gap we look down on the beautiful Grisedale Tarn. Grisedale Tarn is around 1,770 feet in altitude and is 110 feet deep. It is the legendary resting place of the crown of the kingdom of Cumbria. It was thrown in by Dumail’s soldiers in 945 after he was slain by the Scots (remember the big cairn on the A591?). At the Tarn PL tries to get me to pose at the waters edge but as he is about the hit the button I make a giant leap towards the camera and spoil the picture ha ha. I’m beginning to enjoy this game of spoiling the picture, serves him right for bringing me out in a day like this! Skirting the Tarn and a bit further on we bear right going off the path down to a metal sign on top of a big rock. This is the Brothers parting, the place where Wordsworth said goodbye to his brother John for the last time. Wordswoth’s verses are inscribed in the rockface but almost worn away now.

Not long after this and back on the main path now (and I made sure I was on the main path), I decided to have a parting myself. It wasn’t my brother but it sure was heavy! You should have seen PL trying to pick it up in the wind and rain, it was hilarious. First of all he didn’t have any pooh bags in any of his pockets, (or so he thought because he discovered some in his pockets when he got home), so off came the rucksack and into his emergency stash in the top pocket and what a palaver ensued with him trying to bag the pooh

Nicky and I had to stand there in the freezing wind and rain watching this performance of PL struggling with the flimsy pooh bag trying to pick up my monster. After an age he had it banged to rights guv, a double bagger, but then he had nowhere to put it, after all there are no bins up here. He had to carry it and I heard him say to Nicky that he hoped there would be a bin at Ruthwaite Lodge a mile or so away but he very much doubted it. So off we went, the three musketeers ride again, one for all and sod the rest!

On arriving at Ruthwaite Lodge his fears were confirmed.  There were no bins in sight as was expected really, so he was stuck with it until we reached some kind of civilisation. PL tried for the last time that day to get me to pose for a picture and guess what? He failed. He got me and Nicky to stand up against the lodge and just as he was about to press the button I made a dash for it as Nicky looked on. The walk down Grisedale was uneventful. We passed a party of school kids, some of them wearing trainers and were soaked through just like us.

Then we passed a couple, mother and daughter I think, that looked like they had just walked out of Craghoppers window in the high street with all the brand new gear on, it was hurting our eyes with their bright green and bright orange colours on respectively. Just before the tarmac road PL shouted whey hey. I looked up and saw the reason for his sudden burst of happiness, he had spotted a skip, and somewhere at last he could deposit my deposit.

Whey hey he shouted again as he tossed the bags with its contents into the big yellow skip. We walked along the tarmac road and came to a wooden sign that says ‘foot path to Patterdale’ but Nicky says we should continue along the tarmac which we did. A little bit further on we saw a red squirrel. Nicky spotted it first as it came running up the road towards us. PL started to fiddle about in his camera bag as it got nearer and nearer but as it was about 50 feet away, so Nicky said, it turned to the side and we could see now that it was undoubtedly a red squirrel. It jumped up on a wall then disappeared into the trees and was gone forever. We turned round to see if PL had got a picture of it, but the look on his face told us that he hadn’t, also the swear words that were coming out his mouth was a big clue as well.

We followed the tarmac road past Patterdale Hall on the left to reach the main A592 road. You turn left here for  Glenridding but we were turning right to go into Patterdale where Smithy should hopefully be waiting in the sherpa. We crossed the road and walked past the police station and mountain rescue then crossing back over the road, because you have to walk where the pavements are, we approached the Patterdale hotel with the weather not quite as bad down here as it was up there. We passed the White Lion pub on the left then we came to the famous Patterdale village store and Post Office with the rain falling from the roof. It is famous because it sold the first Wainwright book ever, as reported in Julia Bradbury’s coast to coast programme. I think Mr Wainwright sold a few more books after that! We spot the sherpa in the pub car park and Smithy sees us coming and as he opens the door to welcome us. I look back at PL and see he is taking a photo of me arriving back at the sherpa. He didn’t take many pictures today because of the weather and the ones he did take probably won’t turn out so good, especially the ones he tried to get me to pose in ha ha, better luck in the next section Tony boy!