I woke to the depressing sound of rain against my window and as I gathered my stuff together and went down for breakfast felt really tired, and my feet were aching again. I had fresh blisters which I dressed with compeed; although I had a shorter day today I still had 18 miles to cover and wasn’t particularly relishing it. In fact walking was the last thing I felt like doing!

Everyone at breakfast was a Coast to Coaster, mainly Australian, and it was good to have people to chat with again. I reluctantly left the pub and walked up the road in the rain towards Fat Betty, a squat stone round topped cross half painted white. It is a tradition that walkers leave and take a food offering so I swapped some flapack for a packet of crisps.

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I woke feeling better than I had for a few days, and although I had a 21 mile day ahead of me it was nice to linger over breakfast with Helen. She walked the first bit of the route with me towards Arncliffe Woods, then, purchasing a large flapjack from an honesty box, I disappeared into the woods whilst she made her way back to the inn and her motorbike.

After the first steep climb to there is a wide-reaching view back across the Vale of Mowbray towards Richmond, the hazy blue outline of the Dales just visible beyond.

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I awoke feeling really tired and my feet were aching already. I definitely wasn’t feeling up to tackling today’s longest stage at 23 miles, although it is also the flattest day. I don’t think it helped that I wasn’t particularly relishing the walk as I felt that it would be the least interesting day- a trudge across flat fields, farmlands and roads across the Vale of Mowbray. But the Vale must be crossed to reach the rolling Cleveland Hills so after a rather strange continental breakfast- with no croissants in sight- it was time to don the boots and descent Richmond’s cobbled streets to the river with the castle standing sentinel.

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I was rather apprehensive about today’s walk as it was a long one. Most people take two days to walk from Keld to Richmond- overnight in Reeth- but I had decided to attempt the 21 miles in one day.

I had breakfast early and was on the road just after eight. Reaching the junction of the Coast to Coast and the Pennine Way near an impressive waterfall, I was then faced with a choice of taking either the higher route through the remains of lead mines or the lower route along the River Swale.

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After a hearty breakfast I set off and bumped into Cathy and Dan in Kirkby Stephen’s main square so we walked together which was lovely. Dan had woken with a swollen and sore ankle so they had stopped at a chemist to purchase a support bandage; I had noticed that he seemed to stumble quite a lot so lent him one of my poles for the day.

The route climbs past a quarry before turning off the road onto a track leading to Nine Standards Rigg. There are three routes over the Rigg and the one you take depends on the time of year. As it was July we were recommended to take the ‘Red Route’, which is the original Coast to Coast route, but the guidebook advised to take the ‘Green Route’ which doesn’t actually go over the summit, if visibility is poor.

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Margaret had prepared a lovely fresh fruit salad for breakfast and as I ate I chatted with Kathy, Dan, Carrie and Ed. Carrie and Ed told us they were planning on taking the 1 ½ mile detour to Orton for lunch. This was seriously tempting- mainly as Orton has a chocolate factory- but my sister and brother-in-law were meeting me at Kirkby Stephen and as today was to be 21 miles I wasn’t sure I would have time.

There is another route to the bridge crossing the M6 from Brookfields to save walking back through Shap, and as I crossed the motorway I caught up with an elderly couple, who I remembered Kathy and Dan mentioning. Kathy was amused at the fact they were bickering constantly; as I drew nearer I could hear them arguing and the lady told me that they had been together for 50 years and this was usual for them!

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It was still dry when I woke but the forecast was for a particularly wet and generally awful day so I packed everything into a large waterproof stuff sack and pulled the built-in cover over the rucksack.

Going down for breakfast I sat next to a couple of blokes, who had walked from Borrowdale the previous day. They were walking as a group of four and had found it tough going. One of the lads told me they were from London, and although they had completed some long training walks, they had all been on flat terrain.

‘Nothing prepared us for the Lake District!’ he said. I asked whether they had ever been to the Lakes before. ‘No, never!’ was the reply. He added ‘I wondered why me father-in-law just laughed at me when I told him where we were going!’

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I woke to the sound of rain, which concerned me as it wasn’t forecast for today. Hoping it would clear up I went down for breakfast, which I’d been told was served at 8:15am. I had just walked into the dining room, poured a bowl of cereal and was selecting a seat when a bell rang to officially signal the start of breakfast- oops, jumped the queue then!

I was joined by a mother and her daughter, who had a young baby. The mother had just completed a course at Glenthorne and as we talked we watched a red squirrel scamper up and down a tree in the garden.

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As I opened the curtains and peered out I noticed that the tops of the fells were hidden by cloud but it was at least dry, so I hoped for a dry and clear day‘s walking. Today was to be a fairly short day to Grasmere, climbing up and over Greenup edge and then either following a track down the valley or taking the high option over the ridge of Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag. As I set off along the track which climbs out of the Borrowdale by the side of the imposing and scary looking Eagle Crag, I needed a wee and decided to nip into a handy sheep fold. Unfortunately I realised, just in time, that a huge walking party were headed my way so I pretended to stop and have a drink until they moved past and out of sight.

Sadly their leader decided to stop them and give a talk on something interesting a few steps beyond the sheep fold (and still in full view of it) so I had to abandon my plans for answering the call of nature for now.

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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.

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