Yesterday evening, I finished a two day trek up the Lake District that I have been planning for a couple of weeks. Starting from Windermere, I would walk up Langdale, then over Stake Pass to finish in Keswick. It went a little something like this...
A couple of weeks ago, I booked train tickets to take me from Lichfield to Windermere, then a return from Penrith back to Lichfield.
The original idea was to walk from Windermere, over High Street dropping back down over Ullswater to complete in Penrith. However, the weather forecasts a few days before I travelled changed my plans. The predication was -12 windchill, 45mph gusts, hail, thunder and snow. The original wildcamp on High Street was a bit optimistic, especially as I was trying to recover from a cold. Therefore, use of campsites was chosen, well, I deserve a little luxury!!
Furious route planning suggested a change of route, and my final choice was:
- Train to Windermere
- Bus to Ambleside
- Walk over Loughrigg to Langdale
- Camp at Langdale NT campsite
- Complete walk up Langdale, then over Stake Pass and then down Borrowdale
- Camp at Hollows Farm campsite
- Follow rest of Cumbria Way to Keswick, then Bus back to Penrith to return home by train.
With route planning and transport arranged, all I had to do was pack and travel, both of which I managed to complete without too much fussing. I finally walked out of Ambleside around 13:00 Thursday afternoon. Weather changed between warm sun, to cloudy to heavy rain, but I kept walking, eager to enjoy my latest voyage into the Lakes. Over Loughrigg, the terrain was ok, and I looked forward to the impending views into Langdale, certainly one of the most imposing views in the Lake District.
When they came, they did not disappoint, and the continued walk along the river to the campsite was great. Some nice trail walking over forest and rooty trails was a good warm up to the bigger walk on Friday. However, with an hour left of the walk, I was eager to get to the campsite to pitch the tent in the relative dry, but the rain came. And came. And came. Heavy rain persisted during pitching, unpacking and even walking to the Old Dungeon Ghyll for a Chicken and Leek pie. Good conversation with some fellow walkers helped the food and Ale down, and I left about 8:30 in the pitch black to get an early nights sleep.
And sleep I got, straight through until about 5am. When I wake, I generally fail to fall asleep again, so rather than lazing around, I got up, put a coffee on, had a shower, and started walking about 7:30am. My route card suggested a 9:30 start so initially, I thought the two hour head start would simply allow slower wonderings. However, following my great nights sleep, and eagerness to see Borrowdale, my progress suggested that I could make Hollows Farm by lunchtime - not dusk.
The weather was glorious, the sun warming up and casting a lovely yellow light over the head of Langdale. Truely breathtaking, and reaching the top of the pass, I was struck by the moon like surface - peat groughs gave a strange ground formation and unfortunately meant I was nearly constantly in the shade of the sun. It was cold up there, but started to warm up again as I started the descent into Borrowdale.
Walking down this familiar dale, I managed a fair old pace, helped by the coolish temperature and finally found myself at Grange about 13:00 - 5 hours before I was meant to be there. There was no chance I would stay and camp at the originally planned site, so I decided to continue the rest of the walk, hopefully making Keswick by sunset....
This plan was equally easily made, getting into town around 17:00. A final walk up Chestnut Hill got me to Castlerigg Hall Campsite, and pitch the tent on a very sodden field by 18:00. This allowed me to enjoy a pizza and garlic bread, a Cumberland Ale or 3 and a few chats with other walkers. The chats tended to concentrate on the amazing weather enjoyed today. Not a single drop of rain all day, and rarely a cloud in the sky. Yeah, it was cold, but I would gladly take an offer for that kind of day in October.
Back in the tent again by 8:30. Tried to sleep, and laughed to myself hearing some fellow mountain bikers struggling to get their tent pitched in the dark, cold evening.
I slept until around 5am again, but this time, I could hear the rain. And it did rain. A lot. All day. Having already completed all the planned walking the day before, I had a lie in until 9am, then went for a full English breakfast at the campsite eatery. Very pleasant it was too. I then went back and packed my rucksack, and walked down to Keswick bus station.
The bus got me to Penrith by about 12:30 which meant a 2 hour 20 minute wait for the train, which dragged, especially watching the constant rain outside. The train journey itself also went extremely slowly, mainly due to a diversion through Manchester. Time went even more slowly as I felt a little guilty for sitting on a packed train, smelling of cow poo. Still, somethings never change.
Good weekend all in all. Looking forward to next multidayer......