After breakfast the hotel landlord kindly drove me back to Ennerdale Bridge, where the surrounding fells had almost completely disappeared in the mist although it was still dry. He looked at the waterfalls cascading down to the lake and proclaimed that I may get wet feet if I go round the southern shore, so he recommended taking the northern shore round Ennerdale instead.

I thanked him but had already decided to ignore his advice as the southern shore, although tougher, is more interesting- the northern shore is basically a slog along forestry tracks. There was a slight diversion in place to reach the lake and here runners started to pass me in all directions- I guessed this must be the Saunders Mountain Marathon as I had been speaking to a couple of runners taking part at breakfast. I was to see runners all day- in fact it was quite disorientating at times as they were running in all directions to reach various control points.

Ennerdale Water

The path along the south shore is undulating and rocky in parts- it is quite exposed as it climbs over Anglers Crag, a rocky outcrop jutting down to the lake. However it was dry, so I didn’t get wet feet, and the sun gradually came out to burn the mist off the surrounding peaks. At the head of the lake, I passed a couple who were also walking the Coast to Coast. The chap asked me which route I was taking; until that point I had no intention of attempting the high level alternative over the Red Pike ridge, but he said that as the weather was clear they were at least hoping to climb Haystacks.

Ennerdale Water

As I overtook them I looked at the tops and thought… it’s a lovely day… it might be cloudy tomorrow… there will be a cracking view from the top! I marched along the forestry track looking for the route up to Red Pike to see a group of other Coast to Coasters starting the ascent, so that was it- the ridge walk it was! This was also my first meeting with Kathy and Dan from Minnesota, as we puffed and panted our way up- it was bloody steep! No zig zagging path winding round the fell side here- it was straight up the side of the mountain.

Buttermere

As predicted, the view was fantastic and, as I ate my sandwiches looking over Crummock Water and Buttermere, I was reminded why I love the Lakes so much. As I set off towards High Crag I noticed with some concern that the cloud was starting to drop over Great Gable and Pillar.

Looking towards Great Gable

The descent off High Crag is a bitch- lots of loose scree on a steep path, and I went down heavily (witnessed, naturally, by a group of guys who enquired whether I was okay before practically running past!) I am not great with descents and had to pick my way down slowly and carefully as I couldn‘t afford to get injured.

Looking along the ridge towards Haystacks

As I approached Scarth Gap the cloud was dropping lower and lower; I caught up with Kathy, Dan and a group of Australians they were walking with. They were debating whether to go down towards Black Sail as they weren’t keen on climbing Haystacks, but realised that they would still need to climb out of the valley so we all set off over Haystacks together.

The cloud had caught us and it started to drizzle. Haystacks involves a bit of scrambling, not quite so easy when the rocks are wet and you are carrying a huge pack! We had to back track a little in the mist but eventually found the path leading to the Drum House, passing Innominate Tarn, where Wainwright’s ashes are scattered. It was raining harder now and I had run out of water some time ago so was feeling pretty dry.

The old tram way from Drum House

As we followed the old tramway down to Honister I desperately hoped that the café at the slate mine visitor centre would still be open, and could have cheered when it was! A bottle of coca cola never tasted so good!

I followed a track down into Borrowdale, eventually arriving at Gillercombe, my destination for today. The owner, Rachel, is a character- you know it is not your usual establishment when you look out of your bedroom window to see your landlady walking down the garden with a parrot on her shoulder! She expressed surprise when I said I had walked the ridge and suggested that I go to the Scafell Hotel to eat before bathing as it can get very busy. A group were just leaving so she asked them to save me a table before making me a coffee in her kitchen, pausing in her conversation to point out red squirrels running around her garden.

Approaching Rosthwaite

I made my way to the pub in my sandals where the group, who had indeed saved me a table, then invited me to join them; they were two Australian couples who were taking 19 days to walk the route and were making it more of a holiday by having a few days here and there to explore; they were having another free day tomorrow and planned to walk into Keswick.

I was surprised at how many Australians walk the Coast to Coast; Peter from Packhorse said that about 50% of their clients are from Australia. I think it’s great that they want to come over to walk in rainy England and I met some lovely people.

I left them to return for a hot bath and bed, and hoped it would stop raining for tomorrow.

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