Coast To Coast Diary

> Day Three

SATURDAY 18th APRIL 2009

NOT SO GIANT HAYSTACKS


Only two alarms this morning, he is getting keen. After the second one goes off I hear him getting up and he comes out of the bedroom fiddling with his other phone, so I guess he is knocking that alarm off before it even gets a chance to annoy everybody. I heard the first one go off and I got out of bed and came to lie on the landing (my bedroom door was opened) so I could meet him when he came out of his bedroom. I stand up wagging my tail and he is saying ‘Maisie doing the coast to coast today’ yup, just as I thought, Maisie IS doing the coast to coast today. He had been sitting out in the sunshine in the backyard yesterday getting everything ready and ticking off his silly little lists while telling me we were doing the coast to coast tomorrow.

He was telling me that we would be going up Haystacks and to be honest I really didn’t fancy that. Big Daddy tried it often enough with his kinky little swimsuit on in the 1970’s, but to no avail. So why should we succeed were he failed? Anyway, it’s not my place to ask questions, I just do as I’m told, I’m a good doggy. Today we were doing the coast to coast three, and also we were going to try and mount a giant wrestler, if nothing else, it should be very interesting! Also yesterday when he was sitting out in the backyard sorting out his stuff his nephew Nicky came round and inquired if we were going walking the next day. PL said yes and explained what we were doing and Nicky said he would like to come along if that was ok. PL said that was fine and we would enjoy his company as we would be walking this section on our own. PL said he would be getting up at four and intended to leave at five and Nicky was fine with this. So coming out the bedroom with only two alarms that had gone off, the time would be just after five past four I’m thinking.


We do the usual breakfast thing that will become the routine I guess for the rest of the coast to coast. Nicky arrives at five to five as he said he would and we put the stuff in the car. Nicky is amazed at the stuff PL is putting in the car and comments ‘I hope your not carrying all that stuff on the walk’. PL has heard it all before so it’s in one ear and out the other, water off a ducks back sunny Jim! Off we go bombing up the A1 with a short stop at the garage High Brough just before the A66 so Nicky can get some baccy then across the A66 with the weather looking very promising for a change. We cross the M6 and eventually stop at the lay-by near Blencathra, the lay-by we have stopped at both previous times we have come up to do the coast to coast. PL and Nicky have a sandwich but I won’t eat my sachet and PL is forced to put it back in his bag with Smithy’s words echoing in his head ‘you’ll stink the f**king motor oot!’ On we go again going through Keswick, passing Derwent Water and into Rosthwaite, turning right into the National Trust car park there. It is £5.50 to park for the day but as PL is a member it is free for us, yippee. We bail out the car and the two humans start getting ready for their walk, but as expected, Nicky is ready a long time before PL. We had been in the car park around 5 minutes when a man parked next to us and said good morning then walked away. About 15 minutes later he returned and I think he was so surprised to see us still there, and PL still getting ready that he commented ‘did you have a nice walk then?’ much to the disgust of PL who forced a smile in the man’s direction before looking away and muttering something under his breath that sounded like cunny funt!

Eventually we set off at five past eight, going out the car park and turning right then left, walking up a tarmac road past some houses with Nicky studying the map while walking and PL saying ‘remember Nicky, always watch were your putting your feet!’ (I think it’s going to be a long day). Somehow we missed the turning that would have taken us round the back of the houses and into the field as we followed the tarmac road that eventually brought us out to the main road, the B5289.

Nicky was still looking at the map saying we should go back and try and find it but PL was having none of it. He says it was to early in the morning to start turning back looking for paths when we could just follow the main road into Seatoller and walk on up to the Honister Slate Quarry as we would have to join that road anyway and since we were walking an out and back course, we would find that path on the way back. As we were walking along the road a car stopped and a Geordie bloke got out and asked the way to Seathwaite. He said he was doing Scaffel Pike that morning and he had only been coming to the Lake District walking since January and had done quite a few of the big ones already. After consulting the map my team put him right on the road which was just a bit further down on the left. The bloke asked us where we where going, PL told him that he was actually walking his dog from coast to coast in sections and the bloke was pleasantly surprised at this as he bid us good luck and we the same to him as he drove off. Geordies’ are nice canny people, the salt of the earth.

Onwards to Seatoller and upwards towards the Honister Quarry on the road that leads to the Honister Pass which passes the quarry and drops into the beautiful valley of Buttermere. It was a beautiful sunny morning as we walked up the road but it surprised us just how much traffic was using this road so early in the morning. Nicky stopped to take a picture at the cattle grid and a car sped by over the grid making a really loud noise. Nicky almost jumped 20 feet in the air he got such a fright (good job he had his green army trousers on with brown going through it).

When we got a bit further up the road we found a path which we took and this brought us out back on the road at the signpost which said ‘Welcome to the Honister Slate Mine, Entrance for Buses and Wagons’. We walked through the car park towards the Great Gable and Haystacks path, but before we got on to it we went up the grassy embankment for our first stop of the day.

Just as we were packing our stuff away a little green helicopter came flying over our heads so low that Nicky thought it was going to crash into the mountain. It made a very sharp turn and started to lower for a landing. If I needed rescuing I would like to think it would be this pilot that was flying the chopper.

We made our way up the Gable and Haystacks path, along the dismantled tramway to the old Drum house which contained the mechanism for the slate tramway. Going straight on here would take us to Haystacks or Warnscale Bottom so we took a left on the path that would take you up to Brandreth, Green Gable and eventually Great Gable, but we would be leaving this path before we got to Brandreth and heading off towards Loft Beck. We found the path quite easily although indistinct at times and there are plenty of cairns on it to guide you along. We came to a stile and Nicky got over first. Then PL picked me up (oh no here we go again) and started to climb the stile then lifting me up higher so Nicky could grab me from the other side which he did successfully (thank God) and lowered me to the ground. As PL was climbing over he was saying to Nicky that he couldn’t understand why we had to lift the dog over the stile as all the stiles we had come across before were all dog friendly.

It was at this point we all looked down at the same time to see a big doggy gap under the fence so that we canines could just walk under it. What a couple of losers, imagine missing that? The two of them just burst out laughing and I joined in with a bark then they had a quick look around to check that nobody had witnessed what happened and agreed not to mention it again for fear of ridicule. Well I was there sunny Jim and I was the one lifted into the sky and had visions of that time when Smithy and PL were trying to get me over that wall with a fence on it, on that terrible night on the St Bees to Ennerdale Water stretch of the walk, where I thought I was going to be renamed Splat. Granted, this time was not as half as bad as that but I am blowing the whistle on you two, Mr Laurel and Mr Hardy of the Black Sail to Rosthwaite stretch! We followed the fence down and when the fence starts to climb up we turn left and descend down Loft Beck.

The descent is steep however it is a lovely walk down to the bottom at the side of the Beck. The weather has been glorious and when we get down to where our beck meets Tongue Beck ‘we just have to stop for a sandwich at this spot’ the humans agree. Nicky goes down to a pool of water to cool down and I join him thrusting my front paws in and taking a lovely drink of cool clear water. This place is so beautiful with the weather being so nice I could stay here forever. We don’t stay forever but we stay here for our longest break of the day eating, drinking and sitting in the sun admiring the views with the humans chatting saying things like ‘this is what makes it all worthwhile’. All too soon we have to be moving on, getting up we follow a path over the drumlins that becomes less distinctive as we go along.

As we go over little hill after little hill I keep expecting to see the Black Sail Youth Hostel appear every time but we go over a few little hills before it eventually does and as soon as it appears there is a lighting fast movement to the right of the hut which my gaze is immediately drawn to… It is a woman pulling up her shorts - and I guess pants- very quickly. Her partner was straddled over his bike at the front of the hut keeping watch, but we must have came over the hill to quickly for him to give her enough warning.

Don’t worry Mrs, we all do it, but you picked a hell of a strange place! So if you’re out there lass, we’re sorry, we didn’t mean to burst in when you were burstin ha ha! Off they ride into the sunset as we reach the hut and set about taking some photos. Nicky takes a photo of me with PL who is sat on the bench at the front of the hut, and then PL takes a photo of Nicky on the same bench. This bench is dedicated to the memory of a Leeds youth worker G. N. Birch, known as Flash

We set off heading in the direction of Haystacks via Scarth Gap. It was now that PL says to Nicky ‘did you see that woman having a p*** back there?’ Ah ha, so he had seen it too, but did Nicky? Nicky said no, he didn’t see it. PL says he only saw it because he was looking for The Black Sail Hut over all the little hills and as soon as it came into view his attention was drawn to the movement of her shooting up at around a hundred miles an hour followed by her clothing at the same speed at seeing us… The humans were having a good laugh as we strode on towards the path up to Scarth Gap, the three musketeers ride again, one for all, and sod the rest! It was really turning into a mighty fine glorious day. Up the path towards Haystacks and we met loads of people coming down. They were all full of, good afternoons or good mornings. Full of smiles and full of friendly greetings. (Rant coming…). This is all very well and good and if life was like this between the human race all the time the world would undoubtedly be a better place to live in, but it’s not like this all the time. I have noticed when you are walking in the Lake District nine times out of ten, people smile at each other and talk to each other and I guess they would do in Scotland when walking, or say Wales, although I don’t know for sure, but I think it would be a pretty good bet. So why is it when the same people walk down the street of a town they never so much as look at one another let alone talk to one another - and to take this little observation of the human race one step further, put the same people in a car and they seem to want to kill one another! The human race, I don’t know, they are a strange lot. (Rant over).

We reached where I think is Scarth Gap, the bit where it flattens out and the path goes right for Haystacks. This path was a joy to climb up, a right good scramble that we all enjoyed. There were bits that PL had to pull me up with my lead while Nicky shoved my doggy arse, but all in all, the best climb of the walk so far. We were catching up with three woman who had three dogs so PL said we should take a little break to let them get on a bit (I think he was just scared in case I would be naughty). Anyway, we got so near them that we could hear their conversation and they were talking about a little plane that was flying above with one saying that would be their husbands in that, and another saying, if it was their husbands then surely they would be buzzing them, whatever that meant.

When we got to the top there were loads of people all around seemingly everywhere. I thought for a minute that we had stumbled into Keswick on an August bank holiday afternoon, but no, this was the top of a mountain. Not any Old Mountain, this was Haystacks, not Giant Haystacks by any means, this was the lovely Haystacks, A. Wainwright’s favourite fell. Apparently his ashes are scattered over by Innominate Tarn. He chose this as his final resting place, and here where we, lucky to be on this beautiful fell on a beautiful day. There are two cairns on the top at approximately the same elevation as AW says in his Western Fells book, book seven of the pictorial guides.

But as he also says the north one is reckoned to be the true summit so we made our way over to that one. (Another rant coming…). As sometimes happens when you get to a fell top, there sits the Stupid family round the cairn eating their sandwiches with their equally stupid dog keeping a look out in case anyone dare to come near. Why can’t these people have the sense that perhaps when they reach the top of the fell, maybe take a few photographs of their achievement then disappear somewhere warmer and more comfortable to eat their sandwiches and let other people take their pics of the fell top without the stupid family appearing in them. (Rant over).

We made our way down to Innominate Tarn and walked round the side, scrambled up on a rock and had our last stop of the day. The two humans were looking for the perched boulder with the so called woman’s face profile in the shadow. In the picture, Nicky can be seen looking for it in the background through binoculars and in the same picture; I am looking a shade tired. But the humans never did find it that day. If only they would have looked more carefully at AW’s Western Fells book seven, Haystacks, PLAN OF THE TOP, they would have found it (losers!). After our break we made our way towards Blackbeck Tarn and this was also a nice path with some stunning views down into Buttermere where Mary the Beauty hailed from. After leaving Blackbeck Tarn we climbed up a path then dropped down again, alongside some water, then up again heading back towards the quarry. We passed a big JCB and a quarry shed that had seen better days. We came onto the quarry track for a little while then took our path that would lead us back onto the dismantled tramway path, passing the Drum House and finally back down to the Honister Slate Mine.

When passing through the slate mine we saw the helicopter that had landed earlier. We then came across a funny looking car parked in a space at the roadside. We didn’t know what it was but Nicky said he had seen it on Top Gear, is it yours dear reader? tonyoboyle214@sky.com

Some cars that passed were slowing down to have a look at this unusual, but nice piece of machinery. We came off the road and took the path we had come up earlier which brought us back onto the road again. Not long after this we found the correct path that would take us down to Seatoller, it was signposted bridleway. We turned left on the road, and then left at the phone box to go through the car park and out the other side through a gate and on to a splendid path that would eventually lead us out to our car park at Rosthwaite.

It follows the Derwent and there was one part that was a bit naughty. It involved crossing some rocks where humans can only put one foot at a time and hold onto a chain to help them get across, no problem to me as I am sure footed. After this we stopped briefly at a lovely spot so I could get a drink and PL could take a snap. We spotted a guy with his mountain bike at the naughty bit of the path scratching his head through his helmet weighing the situation up. He was still weighing the situation up when we set off. (Hope you made it sunny Jim, as I’d hate to think you were still there scratching your head and weighing that situation up!).


We passed the youth hostel then crossed the water turning left passed a house with a pleasant man working in the garden, who gave us a big smile and a big hello. We went through some gates and across a couple of fields that had sheep grazing in them and that brought us out at the back of some houses. These were, in fact the houses that we had walked past in front of at the start of our walk this morning. We went up the road now and found our way into the car park. It was five past five Nicky said, so it had taken us nine hours to walk to the Black Sail Youth Hostel and back to Rosthwaite via Loft Beck and Haystacks. What a splendid nine hours it was! We get into the car and off we go on a lovely evening heading towards Keswick and for our troubles, straight into traffic hold ups in the town centre (ah, good old fleshpots). We head home over the A66, Nicky and I caught a bit of shut eye but hopefully PL didn’t. He will get his shut eye later when he polishes off a bottle of red from the cellar. So coast to coast 3 was the best yet, and hopefully C2C4 will be as good.