Coast To Coast Diary

> Day Four

SATURDAY 2nd MAY 2009

SLUTHES


Sleeping in Tom’s room with the door closed I heard two alarms go off. I then heard the door open of Mr and Mrs PL’s bedroom and PL was out closing the door behind him. I know it was PL because I am a dog and we know these things. Then I heard, and saw the hall light being switched on. The bathroom light clicks on and he goes downstairs presumably to light the gas under his pot of porridge that he had prepared the night before and presumably switch the kettle on. Then he comes back upstairs and goes into the bathroom and does whatever humans do in the bathroom. I hear him come out and he is on the landing now and I am guessing he is putting his clothes on that he left over the banister last night, that is his walking clothes. I am a bit tired this morning and I fear he is going to walk in at any moment and declare its coast to coast day. The door opens and the light shines into the room, but not disturbing the horizontal man. That is the name PL has given to his son Tom, the teenage student, who is still home from Newcastle. He has given him that name because he lies in bed all day and PL thinks it is funny to call him this. PL says quietly, come on Maize. I get up from the canine pit and I think I can guess what’s coming. I walk out the bedroom door and PL closes it after me and says ‘Maisie doing the coast to coast today?’ Bingo, there it is, the saying I’ve come to know and love! We go downstairs and he lets me out into the garden to do my doggy business.

He has his porridge and a cup of tea whilst getting his stuff ready for today’s coast to coast section, which I gathered from him on the phone last night to Nicky, is Rosthwaite to Grasmere. PL was also telling Nicky that Smithy was going and wanted to take his car. He (Smithy) would drop us off at the National Trust car park in Rosthwaite, then he was going to spend the day around Grasmere and Loughrigg Terrace taking some pictures. Ok, back to this morning and there is a knock on the back door and PL says to himself, Nicky you’re much too early, it’s only twenty past five. While he is saying this, I am barking and growling to frighten off any undesirables that might be about at this time in the morning, you know what I mean, any night crawlers that are still crawling from the previous Friday night. He opens the door while telling me to be quiet (bloody cheek, I’m only trying to protect my family you know), and who is standing there, its Smithy, but I knew that anyway cos I’m a dog. Smithy is saying that there is a change of plan now; he hasn’t been to bed all night on account of his grandkids keeping him up. PL says that he would take his car then to let Smithy get some sleep. But Smithy says no that’s not the change of plan. The change of plan is for PL to take his car, yes, but Smithy will drive up later on and pick us up from Grasmere and take us back to Rosthwaite. PL says to Smithy that he couldn’t expect him to drive all the way up there just to pick us up, but Smithy says that he will still have his day out in the lakes and maybe even take his two grandkids, the twins Alex and Jaden. But for the moment Smithy was going to bed to get a couple of hour’s kip. They swap mobile phone numbers and then Smithy is away up to his pit. It occurred to me here that these two guys have known each other since they were three and now both are fifty and they haven’t got each others mobile phone numbers, even though they have been walking in the Lake District now for the past four years! And another thing, they didn’t even arrange a pick up point. What if they can’t get reception?

Anyway moving on, as we must do, Nicky is at the door at 6 o’ clock. We load up the car then we are off to do coast to coast 4.

Up the A1 again and across the A66, over the M6 to our lay-by near Blencathra. The two humans have a sandwich and some tea and coffee respectively, and I have a wee but I don’t want any food. We go through the empty Keswick onto the B5289 and arrive at the National Trust car park at 8.30.am.

They quickly get ready this time and we are away at 8.40. Heading up the lane to the main road, turning left, then turning right by Hazelbank, onto the bridge that crosses the Derwent and turning right again for our path that will run along side Stonethwaite Beck and then up Greenup Gill to Greenup Edge. The first thing we see is a very small black lamb and PL gets the camera out as Nicky says he has seen a bigger cat. Nicky has forgotten his camera but PL could never forget his with all his lists that he makes. Onwards we go and there are lots of people camping in a field at the other side of the beck. Also in the picture you can see Eagle Crag with Sergeant’s Crag at the back. PL informs Nicky that these are two Wainwrights’ and he thinks they are used in the opening scenes of the TV programme, Wainwright’s Walks with Julia Bradbury. Is he right Julia, or wrong as usual? E-mail please tonyoboyle214@sky.com .

As we pass the meetings of the waters as Langstrath Beck comes tumbling down to meet Greenup Gill this would make a lovely spot for a stop, but as we haven’t been going that long we carry on up the path and it starts to get a bit steeper now. It is such a beautiful day for the second time in a row on our coast to coast adventure.

It is so hot that I nip behind a big rock looking for a bit of shade but there is none. The waterfalls are lovely as we go up, but due to the good weather lately they are not as fierce as they could be. As we walk up, with Nicky at the front he keeps spotting wet footprints on the rocks. This is very strange they think as there is nobody anywhere near in sight and it such a hot day the humans think that the sun should have dried the footprints off before we reached them as there is no one in sight.

This goes on for a long time and the two of them are getting carried away with these footprints. They are imagining all sorts of things. First Nicky thinks it’s a man and a woman with PL saying he thinks its just one man. Nicky is sure that there are two different boot sizes although it’s hard to make out on the rock. Then the trail goes cold even though there are plenty of water and plenty of rocks. Now they think that whoever is at the front has maybe stopped for a sandwich behind a rock or something, so they start looking around. Honestly what are they like? It’s not that unusual to have somebody walking up in front of you in the Lake District, especially in the Lake District on a coast to coast walk. We carry on walking for a bit and then suddenly it’s more wet footprints on the rocks and this gets them all fired up again. (My God, it’s like journey to the centre of the earth!)

What is puzzling them is that because the footprints on the rocks are still wet in this heat, whoever made them cannot be far away and yet we can’t see them. These two suddenly become top detectives on an important case out to get their man, or men, or men and women, or whoever. Nicky thinks it’s a man in his forties and a woman in her thirties and he goes through what their wearing, and their heights, their weights, and various other things. PL thinks its just one man in his fifties, divorced from his wife with her getting all the money so he just comes out walking the hills all day long. He said that they probably split the house 50/50 with her getting the inside as usual! They’re having a good laugh at this when suddenly (and that’s the third suddenly) they come across a patch of mud with guess what? Yes, you are ahead of me, footprints! There are three different sets of footprints in the mud, two are very clear and the one to the left not so clear.

Our two top detectives now think that it is a man and his wife, with their kid, but they are not sure how old the kid is. Will they get their men, I mean, their man woman and child before it’s too late, or will the dastardly trio get away? The three musketeers ride again, one for all, and sod the rest! We carry on up the path towards Lining Crag. At the foot of the crag we spot the hapless trio trying to make their getaway over the mountain. It is definitely a man in the front but it is hard to tell about the other two, even with binoculars. Nicky wants to go after them but PL says we will do what they do in all the good old cowboy films, as it always seems to work. He says we will head them off at the pass! So Nicky and I have a rest on a big rock while we discuss our plan to rid the world of these notorious villains.

We eventually get to the top of Lining Crag and if my memory serves me correctly that bit was quite steep. Nicky takes a picture of me and PL then we are off up to Greenup Edge. When we get on the flat we lose the path and the ground is very boggy. We seem to be veering to the left and we start to get a bit lost even though it’s a clear day. So we just walked in a straight line to the edge and we could see everything we needed to see.

We could clearly see the ridge that we wanted to be on. It was the ridge of Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag, Helm Crag is also known as the Lion and the Lamb. We could also see the path going down then it goes back up again and splits for the walk descending Far Easedale or the high ridge alternative that we would be doing. We also spot the dastardly trio making their getaway near Flour Gill. We cut across down to the main path where we just slot in behind them. They were trying to negotiate the boggy land as we catch up with them. The lady at the back says to us that we could pass. Nice try lady, a likely story. Do you know who we are? You’re nicked sunny Jane. Yes, and they would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for the world famous brilliant detectives and their pesky dog, the equally world famous and equally brilliant Maisie O’ Boyle. Now they will have to spend the rest of their lives behind bars. Too true sunny Jane, but you’ve only got yourselves to blame. Actually they turned out not to be on the most wanted list but were three very nice people from Melbourne in Oz, two women and a man, for the record. They had come over especially to do the coast to coast taking the thirteen or fourteen days to do it using the pack horse service. They had encountered a lot of rain on the first couple of sections and as the man said ‘We don’t get rain where we come from’ well you got it now sunny Jim - this is England and you are in the wettest part. (It’s not true what they say about Manchester).

We walked with them until the path split but as they were heading straight down into Grasmere we bade them farewell and wished them luck for the rest of the walk, as they did us. We walked up to Calf Crag and reaching the top we passed the usual Muppets having their sandwich on the summit but we dropped down a bit and away from the main path where it was both quieter and less windy, a much nicer place to have a break. It was our first stop of the day and it was also to be our last. The humans had their food but I still wasn’t hungry so I just played ball instead.

Then we were off again, doing a splendid ridge walk that would end at Helm Crag. PL phoned Smithy from here to check where he was , when he came off the phone he told Nicky that Smithy was only at Scotch Corner which was an hour or so away. He also said that Smithy was on his own and that he was coming all the way up just to take us back to the car.

PL said he felt bad about this and had said to Smithy that he should have phoned us to see if we could have got a bus or a taxi back to the car but Smithy had said nonsense, he enjoyed getting out, and he was enjoying the drive. So with that sorted we were on our way off Helm Crag heading towards Grasmere and civilisation. It was a nice path down dropping us into some woods and we followed a path that took us straight to a gate with a sign on it that said ‘Private grounds, no entry to the public’ or something along those lines. What was the point of this path then we wondered.

We retraced our steps back to two giant trees where there was a path going to the left and down. So we took this one and it lead us up to a gate and what looked like private grounds again! PL pushes the gate open and it looks as though we are about to enter a croquet pitch. He closed the gate and said we must have gone wrong again somehow. Nicky spots a couple that were behind us and they are now on a path further down, how did they get down there he says? We retrace our steps once again and after a couple of hundred yards there are people walking towards us. Where are they going PL said out loud? He asks the bloke at the front if this path is private property and the bloke said no, it leads you into Lancrigg tearooms and then if you go left it would eventually lead us into Grasmere.

So we go through the gate past the tea room turning left then past Thorny How Youth Hostel to the end then turning right on a road that would eventually lead us into Grasmere. There is a National Trust path to the right of this road so we take that as it seems to make more sense than walking on the road. The houses on this road are beautiful. We walk to the end of the lane and then bang, civilisation, Grasmere on a bank holiday Saturday in May

We walked through the village and up towards the White Swan, then turning left on the very busy A591 made our way north crossing the road when it was safe to do so. We were apparently meeting Smithy in the first lay-by, PL was telling Nicky, and this is where we would start the next section.

We passed the Travellers Rest then came across a sign saying public bridleway, Patterdale. Just as Nicky was reading the cyclists information plate Smithy pulled up in his car! What great timing, eh, to meet us here at the very place we would be starting the walk next time. The humans stand around talking for a time so I jump into the back of the car for a bit of a lie down. They don’t realise how hard it is for me to walk with this fur coat on all the time. Its ok when it’s cold but when you’ve got to do these coast to coast walks in the blazing heat, it really takes it out of me. So I’m looking forward to my nap on the way home then a nice bit of chicken, yum, yum! We set off going north on the A591 reaching Keswick, then going through the town, ( I think Smithy missed a turn that would have cut out the town) coming out on the B5289 Borrowdale Road and back to PL’s car in the National Trust car park in Rosthwaite. Again they stood around chatting for a while before Smithy left the car park first. Nicky had his last smoke then we were on our way too.

Going back through Keswick and this time it was very busy with traffic, there were a lot of people leaving as it was around 5 o’ clock. We got back onto the A66 and we were on our way properly now flying through the afternoon sunshine in our little red Fiat Punto with the windows down and the wind blowing through the car. Not long after crossing the M6 we spot what looks like Smithy in a lay-by standing by his car.

We pull in and sure enough it is him standing there. We enquire about him and his car’s wellbeing and he said both him and the car’s wellbeing are fine. He had only stopped for a smoke so they chatted some more before Smithy set off first again. We caught up with him at the Brough, Kirkby Stephen turn off but this time we passed him on the dual carriageway with Nicky sticking two fingers up at him as we went by, not nice Nick boy! Enough adventure for one day as I conked out on the back seat waking up as we pulled off the motorway near home. I enjoyed today’s walk, but my favourite so far was the Haystacks/ Honister section, and let’s not even think about St Bees to Ennerdale Water!