Monday, 17 May 2010

Final Recce Weekend

Friday: Arrival on Site
There are two sites at Stonethwaite... and they both share the same postcode, so I've pulled the van into a space near the chapel to drop the car for a driven recce. The favourite for caravans is possibly the one off the B road as I find another motorvan on there before parking the Panda and walking back for the van. Er, yeah, this is where I should have taken a bit more notice of who runs the site and called in to mark my arrival, but time's getting on and I haven't had anything to eat yet... (then the sign doesn't say to 'call at house before siting van' as many sites do)
I'd planned on a takeaway, but, thinking ahead, had stopped to refuel for the St.Bees car drop tomorrow so sausage and mash it is then...

Saturday: Shap to Stonethwaite (30m)
There's free parking beside the toilets in Shap - and they're very open and very clean - a credit to the council - and come in very handy....
Thereafter it's off up the road at 6.20 and the morning is cold, dry and bright, with frost across the fields to Rosgill passing the delightfully named nearby 'Thunder Stone'.
From Haweswater, the route choice today is to cut up the hill at Measand End and head for High Raise.
The low sun gains strength and the brolly helps as it's not too breezy and there's time for a Snickers on a comfortable wayside stone to take in the view too, then farther up the hill those sheep look very much like deer... and indeed are, it turns out.
High Raise makes a great early coffee stop and at 2634 ft is a little higher than the original route summit of Kidsty Pike. Low cloud swirls and comes and goes on the descent to Angle Tarn where the first walker of the day approaches - he's a coaster and wants to know if the path will take him to Kidsty...
Dropping in to Patterdale for an early lunch I meet up with another forum poster who is up for the weekend. She kindly donates to my cause as we part company - she for the High Street with a Hartsop descent - me for Grisedale Tarn and Dunmail Raise.
So far the day has been kindliness itself but the rain begins to fall and I miss the gate for the lane and end up at the back of a wood peering down through dripping branches on to where I know I should be...
I find a path of sorts, boggy in places, skirting the hill on the north shore of Grisedale Tarn and the descent to Dunmail Raise is straightforward and pretty, even in the rain, with it's crashing waterfalls.
It has to be said that Steel Fell looks mighty steep from Raise Beck and not much less from the stile at the bottom... Is that really a path up there? I've been watching another walker ahead as I'd come down - noting that they kept stopping... also that they were to the right-hand gully near the crest of the hill. The path at the bottom peter's out on the ascent and there are patches of scree or rather, loose stone on grass - it becomes steeper at the top and after a few airy minutes on greasy wet grass trying to decide on the best option I find myself in a situation I'd rather not be... I work my way slowly... very slowly towards the gully to the left and feel much relief in finding some well-kicked boot holds...
Once up it's plain sailing, but this is not a route I'd recommend to coasters and one I'd think carefully about in the future fo'sure.
It's hammering down on the approach to the infamous Greenup Edge and this turns into more of a climb than I remember. A misplaced footing sends me reeling before Lining Crag and I'm wishing I'd remembered to get some jelly babies at Patterdale as the descent into Borrowdale seems to go on and on... and on, until I arrive back at the van quite literally soaked to the skin at 6.57pm.

Collecting and Delivering Support Car:

After a failed hot shower - the water heater had turned itself off for some reason... - food takes priority - there's a tin of stewing steak and more mash, and a tin of carrots and so it's after eight when I pull off the site to collect the car from Shap... and though it's a straightforward run it's well after midnight before I get back from St.Bees... so it's straight to bed.

With the help of some free-to-download software I've been able to piece together the short video clips:

(...hope this works Julie! - fingers crossed...x)

Sunday: Stonethwaite to St.Bees (28.5m)
After a 6.20 start it's 7:20am up at Honister - and there's me in search of water... it's dawning that the Slate Mine staff will have to be pretty damn keen in hoping to sell slate at this hour - ideed the place is well locked. But lo, there is a fine toilet next door at the back of the youth hostel and I've just walked straight past it...
After the tramway, there's activity at the spoil heap bothy - I sneak in for a peek - hmm, a good reason to use the Haystacks route - basic but dry, and then again, unfortunately, not in the right place... and the family filling their flask tell me that there is another just down the track with a chimney and all, but as it's cosier it gets busy and they met lads carrying coal yesterday...
There are good views down into Buttermere and a leisurely 20mins beside Innominate Tarn before descending to Scarth Gap in search of the narrow path cutting obliquely down to into Ennerdale and somewhat nearer to Gillerthwaite. The path crosses Scarth Beck just below a rocky outcrop and is a good 'un with new stiles and well-used.
Once down on the broad track through Ennerdale I'm reminded of my condition on the first attempt and become aware that I could well be in a similar state on a further continuous five-dayer. Today though, all is right with the world and nothing is troubling in the locomotion department... yet, being well aware that with 20 miles yet to go anything could happen...
There's another missed path from the last effort back in '06 - a nice soft field path to the footbridge that is not shown on the Footprint map (drop left after the YHA - there's a public call box here too) and the Liza is crossed - clean and pure. The shore line sloshes and the feet begin to complain with the ups and downs and rocky footfalls. The many walkers disappear at the car park and the road turns this way and that, but at 11.55am there's time enough for a bowl of chips from the pub, and yes they do serve tea. Oh, but look you - there's San Miguel on draught... nice cold... no, argh! - pot for one sir..?
It's here where I should apply more Superglue... but it's back at the van. Do I dig deep and fettle out plasters that won't stick? Second skin? No, I air the socks and get back into them wet and head off for the last climb - Dent.
The council have made every effort to improve the safety of coasters out of Ennerdale Bridge, but hey, this is rising more than the road...
Trotting down Nannycatch is very pleasant with much to please the senses, and so too is the well-defined path rising up the hillside and with just 10m to go from the summit there's a pull that encourages some more downhill running after taking in the view.
At the Moor Row memorial Alf has a sting in the tail for the East to Wester - St.Buzz is a mere 2m that way (points to 9 0'clock), but we have to go to Saltom Bay (1 o'clock) and add a useless and painful three miles...
I'm not fond of the the cliff path, certainly not for coming up through the quarry, but I ease myself into the last few miles and wave at passing pleasure sailors... though no one waves back and to me the Irish Sea doesn't look much different up here from the North Sea and my feet are definitely telling me: enough!
Busy busy St.Dismal eventually appears around the cliff head, and as the tide's in I head off down the pebbles for a paddle.
It's 5:40pm now - five minutes down on schedule and just twenty minutes under the overall five-day time. There's time enough yet to reflect on just how possible this would be on a consecutive five-day effort - 'Never said this would be easy' indeed...

As it's seven quid and more to park overnight on the foreshore, the car's at the station - free parking... as is though, to be fair, on the road outside the station, yet this is not easy to gauge on Google.
It's an hour's drive back to Stonethwaite where I'd planned on another night for recovery before the four hour drive back home, but on return, even with seized legs, the pull of a cooked brekky at home and a lazy Bank Holiday spurs me on to hitch up and head off. But who's this mildly irate-looking lady hot-footing it towards the van? Ooops, oh yes, there's time yet then to pay for the pitch... For all she knew, I could have been dead in there she tells me...

As YouTube allows 10 min clips only Day5-(Sunday) is split into two parts:

[Just to remind me!-to make vids fit: set manually in HTML: height="285" width="340"]

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