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Deborah and Gwen's
Coast to Coast Diary
DAY 3 – views and more views
Wednesday 19th July
High Gillerthwaite to Stonethwaite – 11 miles
Breakfasted at 8.00, collected our packed lunches and retrieved our water bottles from the freezer. We were on our way by 9.00. The frozen water bottle ploy was one we gladly used throughout the trip. Just remember to leave a gap at the top and stand upright if possible. Two bottles were packed deep in the sack to keep the sandwiches cool and two carried in the side pockets for drinking as they thawed. This way we managed to have iced water until early afternoon on most days.
The 4 miles to Black Sail YHA was along a gently rising forestry track. We made it in just over an hour. Ditching Mum’s pack was already paying dividends. We chatted to the wardens at the hostel, Mum explaining that it hadn’t much changed since 1950 although it now does have plumbing! In her day it was ‘men wash downstream and women upstream’. Despite its current modernity we were not allowed to use the loos – something to do with the limited size of the septic tank.
Soon after leaving Black Sail we came to a footbridge over the River Liza. Someone had gone to the trouble of damming the stream with boulders making a large crystal clear pool just begging to be paddled in – how could we resist? We sat admiring the view back down the Ennerdale valley but all too soon we had to reboot and head for the climb up the side of Loft beck. The path was steep and rocky, we climbed slowly with many stops to wet our cotton neckerchiefs in the trickle that was Loft beck; I imagine it would be quite a torrent in normal weather conditions. As the path neared its summit, high above the Honister pass, we stopped for lunch and marvelled at the views over the High Stile range and down to Buttermere and Crummock water. From here we could just about see Innominate Tarn nestling beneath Haystacks, not a bad place for Wainwright to spend the rest of his days.
The onward route over and down to Honister slate quarries was very straight forward. Just before arriving at the old quarry buildings, now quite a tourist attraction, we met Henny and Albert. A Dutch couple who were having problems following the route in their English guide book. This was the first of many meetings as our C2C journeys coincided on most of the days to follow. At the quarries we called in for a quick cup of tea – enjoying the self-serve and honesty box approach but more than that we enjoyed standing barefoot on the cold slate slabs that made up the floor in the drinks area. Soon gravity took us all the way down into Seatoller where we called in for cold drinks at the Yew Tree, we shared a cake and had yet another foot cooling session in the river that ran behind the pub garden. All these paddlings sound a bit excessive but believe me it was incredible hot and in our defence neither of us got a single blister.
The final stretch was through the lovely shaded Johnny’s Wood where we saw several family groups bathing in the river – we resisted and turned up the Langstrath valley to find our B&B, Knotts View, in Stonethwaite, a tiny hamlet at the end of the road.
Anne Jackson made us very welcome in her tiny quaint cottage. After a shower and our nightly laundry session Anne hung out our washing and we retired to the Langstrath Inn across the lane for dinner. I had been advised to book a table way back in April and was so glad I did. We watched dozens of hungry walkers and campers turned away form the busy pub. The food was excellent and although the ambient temperature was still uncomfortably high an occasional stiff breeze blew through the pub suggesting that the weather might just be changing as the forecast had promised.
After a very filling dinner Mum returned to Knotts View whilst I took a stroll through the campsite to take a few photos of our onward route tomorrow. Bed around 10ish – still very humid, extremely soft beds on a sloping floor – should be fun trying to sleep tonight.
Thought for the day:
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