|Borrowdale to Grasmere (16 km)|
Wast Water - Wander
Wast Water - Scafells
Patterdale - Helvellyn
Looking down to Stickle Tarn from Sargeant Man on a previous trip.
A nice meal and a good nights sleep had set me up for a arduous days walking. Just as well since I was to experience the worst weather on this trip - climbing up into clouds with about zero visibility and ending with very heavy rain. Even with the clouds, I stuck to my original route instead of following the Coast to Coast Walk - if I was not to see anything then I may as well be on top of some interesting terrain.
|Borrowdale||YH||0870 770 5706|
|Castle Lodge||B&B||017687 77346|
|Glaramara Centre||Activity centre||017687 77222|
|Honistor Hause||YH||0870 770 5870|
|Langstrath Country Inn||Hotel||017687 77239|
|Nook Farm||B&B||017687 77677|
|Royal Oak Hotel||Hotel||017687 77214|
|Scafell Hotel||Hotel||017687 77208|
The lane from the village gives access to a cute path heading southwards up Stonethwaite Beck with good stone walls on each side. Just past the first gate, I took my one and only photo of the day looking back along Borrowdale with the clouds seemingly hovering just over the invisible rooftops of Rosethwaite. The path leaves the closed-in section for travel through fields with the occasional wall to one side or another. About 2 kilometres from the village, the start of Stonethwaite Beck is formed by the joining of Greenup Gill and Langstrath Beck. The Coast to Coast Walk continues straight ahead but my route turned over a bridge just after the junction to follow the southern side of Langstrath Beck under the imposing slopes of Eagle Crag.
|Looking down Borrowdale to Rosthwaite|
The dale opens up after the crag is passed, leaving an easy walk up a quite bare valley. I don't remember any trees except perhaps a couple in the upper valley where a small stream is crossed. The path forks beyond the stream with one fork heading along the valley floor towards Esk Hause and the other fork climbing steeply into the clouds. Guess which one I took!
Climbing beside the stream revealed a couple of small waterfalls before the mist descended and cut visibility to a few metres. However sometimes a gust of wind would blow a hole in the curtain giving intriguing glimpses of the surrounding moorland. Stake Pass is (I assume) where the path levels out for a while as it winds through some hummocky ground - though I didn't see any stakes. A couple of people passed me here having climbed up from Langdale on their way to Borrowdale. It was reassuring to know that I was at least in the right area. The indistinct junction with the path down into Langdale is only a few minutes away from the pass. The route to the Langdale Pikes continues along level ground and onto a broad boggy platform. This needs a bit of care to get through without getting a boot-full of water.
Beyond the bog, the path starts to climb on firmer, drier ground - the steep slopes into Langdale provide a good guide if you start to stray in the mist. I couldn't see a thing so I am not going to guarantee that I climbed any of the Pikes. On the other hand, I did clamber to the top of every rocky outcrop on the edge of the slopes that I came across with a couple of rests on top of the harder climbs (Pike o'Stickle and Harrison Stickle). Soon I came across territory that looked familiar from my trip from Grasmere into Great Langdale in April 1992. To make sure that I started off into the moors from a recognised landmark, I followed the brink past the thin trod down scree slopes to Stickle Tarn and a direct route out onto High Raise to a wall on Pavey Ark.
If there is any wind then the wall provides a sheltered spot for a break. Otherwise head directly out onto the moorland and up gentle slopes to join the usual route to High Raise. Keep an eye out to the right hand side of this wide track as the slope increases to pick up a thinner path that contours around and up to the rocks on Sargeant Man. Of course, you can always stick to the path over High Raise and rejoin the Coast to Coast Walk.
Sargeant Man provides great views in clear weather - starting with the ramparts of the Scafells to the west over the closer fortifications of the Crinkle Crags. To the north, a broad expanse of moors lead out to Skiddaw on the horizon. The east gives a far-off glimpse of Lake Windermere, partially blocked by the descending bulk of Blea Rigg. All around you there are patches of water from the tiny overgrown tarn at the foot of the rocks to the shiny gray-blue waters of Stickle Tarn a bit further away and the many lakes nestled in the valleys.
In that day's conditions, there was no point in admiring the nonexistent view so I headed straight down the path towards Easedale Tarn. This can be followed down past Easedale Tarn and easily into Easedale itself. A longer alternative is to branch off down Blea Rigg (the path starts about 500 metres before the drop into the narrow gully dropping past Blea Crags down to the tarn). This path keeps mainly to the top of the ridge with the option of an exciting detour beside the rim of the Blea Crags. At one point there is a path leaving to the right for Langdale - don't take this! An obvious path finally departs to the left (just after another right-hand fork) and drops on wide, steep zigzags through the heather. The final zig drops to join the main path halfway along Easedale Tarn. The rest of the walk down into Easedale along Sour Milk Gill passed quickly since it had begun to rain heavily and I had my jacket hood up.
On the valley floor, the views (and the skies) opened up more and I hurried through the fields and into the lane leading to Grasmere. A turn-off after a kilometre lead up a tiny lane to the Thorney How Youth Hostel. But both of the youth hostels in Grasmere turned out to be full (the other one is at Butterlip How) so I ended up in a nice B&B just above the town (up towards the Swan Hotel).