Saturday 22 May 2010

Walk 22
Day Three on the Coast to Coast Walk 21st May 2010
9.7m / 2600 ft ascent

Stonethwaite to Grasmere

77. Calf Crag LDW-154 1762 ft
78. Gibson Knott LDW-198 1378 ft
79. Helm Crag LDW-201 1329 ft

Friday morning dawned - and we all gathered at the Gillercombe B&B at Stonethwaite Road End to walk to Rosthwaite in accordance with AW's route, before changing direction completely to head up Greenup Gill, climbing to over 2000ft at Greenup Edge. From there we were to make our way over three Wainwrights before reaching Grasmere, the more challenging of the two routes offered by AW on this leg of his Coast to Coast. 

Looking back down Greenup Gill
A walk through Rosthwaite proved interesting - a pub and a National Trust car park were noted for future reference. It was 9.30am and the village was quiet, but it is served by a bus route from Keswick. The C2C followed Stonethwaite Beck and we enjoyed a steady climb in hot sunshine on a well worn path, mostly on rock with the occasional scramble in places.  Eagle Crag loomed above us on our right and by midday we had topped out on Greenup Edge.   At this point we saw our route laid out before us, a ridge walk across the three Wainwrights of Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag (known by some as the Lion and the Lamb).  We enjoyed our packed lunches and were joined by a large group of middle aged men, who were also doing the C2C.

I took out my ham radio gear to make some contacts for Wainwrights On The Air and repeated this on the other two summits, making 16 contacts all told on VHF that day.  The ridge falls gradually to Helm Crag and it was between Gibson and Helm that we encountered two young women eager to know how long it would take them to reach Calf Crag with a view to then return back to Grasmere via the lower path in Easedale. From our vantage point it was clear where they needed to go, and I reckoned (after seeing how much they were sweating - they were big lasses) on it taking them around 90 minutes to reach Calf Crag.

The views on both sides of the ridge were fantastic - across Dunmail Raise to the Helvellyn range and the othere way over Grasmere Common to Blea Rigg with the Langdale Pikes beyond.  We had certainly picked the right week to walk across the Lake District.  The last summit today was Helm Crag. As soon as we arrived Geoff threw his rucksack to me and promptly set about climbing the "Howitzer" as the lump of rock is called when viewed from certain positions. This was plainly pre-meditated and he was on top in around 30 seconds.  I think it took me twice as long with a rucksack on my back which carried my radio aerial.
Operating for WOTA on Helm Crag LDW-201
After Helm Crag we made our way down on the winding path - a replacement I believe to the more direct path which was closed due to erosion some years ago.  The Easedale Road took us into Grasmere where we enjoyed some beverages with our Sherpa Martyn who had greeted us on foot half way up the Easedale Road.   The handiest pub was The Red Lion, a Best Western Hotel and we were joined for a drink by a couple who had just arrived from Northampton for their first time ever in the Lake District.  The pub staff were friendly, and for Grasmere the drinks did not seem overly expensive.
It was Friday and we needed to get to our accommodation which was some distance away in Patterdale, why Patterdale you may ask? Well, when I booked our accommodation for this trip in November 2009 no guest house in Grasmere or Ambleside was prepared to allow a five person party to stay for one night. They all insisted on two nights.   As a result we opted to stay at the White Lion Inn at Patterdale for two nights instead. It meant a drive out from Grasmere but Martyn was happy to do this, God bless him.  We took a ride into Ambleside and then turned off to climb The Struggle to join the Kirkstone Pass. 

The White Lion was packed out with folk, including the outside seating area, so after a shower and rest (once we had enjoyed a pint of course) we sat down to a "traditional pub meal". My advice at weekends is to make sure that you book a table and be prepared for about a one hour wait at busy times.  The pub have a constant turnover of guests staying one night whilst doing the C2C so you can't expect the personal service, pride and friendliness that you will experience at some of the smaller B&Bs along the route. 

This brings us to the end of Day 3:  Overall rating for the White Lion for both nights: 6

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