Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How the worst day turned out

It may have struck the avid reader of this journal that I might have been just the teensiest bit grumpy about having to walk the Coast to Coast with my DBW.

Well today changed all that. It came tipping down and when morning in the bowl of night flung the stone that put the stars to flight I opened the curtains at our delightful B&B (a farm just outside Ennerdale Bridge) to see not the bright summer sun, but gloomy grey clouds scudding across the sky.

I felt a sense of foreboding.

An hour or so later, I felt a sense of dampness. We had just left the farmhouse when a squall of rain descended at high speed. I pulled my hood, allegedly waterproof, over my Tilley hat and marched grimly on. The DBW chattered happily beside me. We spent the morning walking around Ennerdale Water, which I must admit was rather pretty and then gradually climbed the valley.

Within a minute of us entering a youth hostel to have a bite, there was thunder and then hail started falling at 45 degrees. My word, what a lucky escape.  I thought my fortunes must be changing. We set off a few minutes later and the scenery just got prettier and prettier. A steep climb of about 1,500 feet followed and the view changed from pretty to magnificent; gorgeous fells, delightful waterfalls, chocolate box meadows and a strange lack of killer sheep.

A long and gentle descent followed, with far views over Ennerdale Water and Buttermere, followed by the slate mines and a welcome drink and sit down in the cafe there. Bliss! We chatted to Americans from Las Vegas and a policeman and his partner from Scarborough.  Then we kept descending further and further, alongside a rushing river until we fetched up at Rossthwaite.

The hotel was somewhat suspect. Called the Royal Oak, it looked like a bit of a dump. I was feeling misgivings when the manager, Neil, came out and welcomed us.  It is, perhaps, a little tired and retains quaint customs from the mid-twentieth century; a dinner gong and after-dinner coffee in the lounge. Howeve, the service was excellent and friendly and the food (mushroom soup, gammon and vegetables, sticky toffee pudding) was delicious and welcome.

They lack mobile phone coverage, but do have WiFi. And plenty of hot water. And a room to dry wet clothes.  What more could one want?

A good night's sleep.  Which is where I am going now.

Tomorrow: two or three thousand feet up and down some peaks and then into the metropolis of Grasmere.

With rain.


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