Eden Way Day 4

Breakfast was a bit disorganised, with a young chef running around like a headless chicken, but it was tasty enough. I was joined by a couple of American ladies who were walking the Carlisle to Settle path. I say walking, they were getting the train today as one of them was feeling under the weather. I’d seen them yesterday, at the point where the bank was being repaired, they were climbing away from the river, up a path that wasn’t a RoW, towards the road. I’d thought that was odd at the time, they had big packs and walking poles and looked like they should be walking beside the Eden along the only footpath there was, rather than heading away from it. I saw them again later, on the road ahead of me, on the approach to Armathwaite so guessed they must have followed the tarmac all the way. As we chatted over breakfast, they told me they’d lost the path at the bank repair and headed for the road. If they’d just followed the river bank for another few dozen yards they’d have been fine. I thought they were probably safer on the train.

I had woken to rain on the window, but by the time I set out, about 9am, it had stopped. It was quite cold though, and the wind was stronger than it had been for the last three days, so I started out in my Paramo and stayed in it all day. As it turned out I only needed it for its thermal properties, as I only had a couple of tiny drizzles all day. I spent a lot of the day with my hat on (the one with the hole in the top) and my hood up, it was quite chilly.

It took a good few dozen yards to find my stride today, my feet (especially the left one) are still very sore and until the Parabuprofen cocktail I’m taking kicks in, I do tend to limp along a bit. I was immediately down beside the river today, through a lovely old wood, looking out for some old rock carvings, but without any success. There are faces carved in the soft sandstone beside the river and several lines of quite bizarre text, all attributed to the same man who first walked beside the Eden from sea to source in the early 1800s, William Henry Mounsey. I had really wanted to find them, so I was a bit grumpy for a while. I found the 4th Eden Benchmark just a little further on, overlooking the Eden. ‘Vista’ is a series of stone blocks that can all be sat on, with one including carvings of boots and coats and a rucksack, as if left by a precious visitor. The wood is used by mountain bikers too and several of them passed me as I progressed, all with a cheery greeting.

Eden Benchmark ‘Vista’

The forest track soon gave out though and I was back on tarmac. The road was quiet though, but long and winding and it dipped and climbed along its length, which meant it never really got into a steady stride along it. I have to admit to tuning out after a while and I put my headphones in and listened to an audiobook to pass the tarmac time. I eventually turned off the road onto rolling green fields and pastures, which led to Kirkoswald a tiny village with three pubs side by side in the centre. Only two are open I think, it was too early for either of them to be serving, so I ploughed on.

The bridge beyond the village, unimaginatively called Eden Bridge, is quite spectacular for the size of road it supports – a fantastic multi span, sandstone monster, just wide enough for one car at a time. The 5th Eden Benchmark lies on the other side of the river, so I didn’t manage to visit that one, which is a shame.

Eden Bridge at Kirkoswald

More fields and a tiny section of road brought me to Daleraven Bridge, a much better name, and on the other side another notice of a path closure. This one said the path had been washed away and was dangerous, it also said no alternative was available. In my book that’s shorthand for ‘proceed, but we told you it wasn’t safe’. Even if I hadn’t be prewarned by Gary (@NorthLakesUK) via Twitter the other day I would have carried on regardless.

As it was there was a section of the RoW gone, sucked into the river, but a step over the fence beside it and you were back on track. Its absolutely ridiculous to be closing footpaths for this sort of thing. But I guess that’s the world we live in today; any sort of risk that could lead to litigation must be irradicated, common sense is dead.

I met loads of people coming the other way, who had all presumably ignored a similar sign at the other end of the path. I had to stop at one stile while a party of 15 or so, with little children, began the interminable process of negotiating it. They did kindly let me pass after I’d been standing there for a couple of minutes.

The path was muddy in places and many of the duck board sections had missing or broken boards, another element of peril the local council were no doubt hoping to eliminate with the path closure. I was keeping an eye open for a tiny path to the right now, that would lead me down to Laceys Caves, a larger version of the Cells I’d visited yesterday. I found a group of Dutch visitors exiting the tiny hole that seems to be the back door of the caves. I went in after they left. It was very impressive! Several rooms carved out of the soft sandstone, all linked together, with large picture windows (or doors) looking out onto the Eden below. A narrow path ran around the outside of the caves, with a terrifying unguarded drop off to the river below. I stopped to explore for a while before continuing on.

The woods soon expired and I was on a concrete access road that led me to Little Salkeld, a tiny village that had a road sign saying Langwathby 2 miles. Unfortunately I was following the road from here. It was quiet at least, barely a single car passed me as I trudged towards my stop for the night. As usual I arrived at exactly 2pm, its becoming almost metronomic, my ability to arrive at the earliest time I’m able to check-in.

The pub was warm and inviting, especially after the cold and windy day. I was shown to my room and I unpacked all my gear and tried to have a shower, except it wasn’t working. I got dressed again and went downstairs to report my problem. The manager ummed and ahhed for a bit and then moved me to a different room, which meant me packing all my gear back up!

However, I’m clean again and I’ve checked my feet. The Compeed has peeled off my big blister inside my sock, which is a damned nuisance, I have one more, so I’ll have to use it tomorrow. I may be able to pick up some more in Appleby. My little toe on my left foot looks pretty beaten up with a blister on the top and on the bottom, I’ll be amazed if I don’t lose the nail off it. It stings like a sonofabitch and is probably my main source of pain while I’m walking.

I have a WiFi signal, of sorts, so I’ll post this now and maybe update it later. City are playing this evening and with a half decent WiFi signal I may be able to watch it on my phone.

lonewalker

Fell-walker, trig-pointer, peak-bagger, Wainwright-er & Pennine Way author, with a passion for long paths, malt whisky, fast cars & Man City

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