1st May 2009 – Stonethwaite to Patterdale – 12.5 miles
I’m struggling to post pictures at the moment as signal strength precludes the large attachments, I will try and add some to later posts.
Day 3 started as Day 2 finished: blue skies and sunshine (how does Borrowdale manage that?).
We restricted ourselves to a light breakfast in anticipation of the long, hard day ahead of us – none of this stopping in Grasmere for us, it’s Pattersale or bust.
With the remnants of tea and toast sloshing around inside us and after applying the defibrilator paddles to Tex after he saw the bill, we set off to join the large snake of people heading up to Greenup Edge.
We started out in base layers and with hats strapped to packs in anticipation of a grand day ahead. Blue skies beckoned from the climb ahead of us and we slowly reeled in most of the walkers on the path ahead.
I was walking in my Inov-8 Roclites today, knowing full well that only a miracle would keep even well booted feet dry on this stage. At Greenup Edge my choice was justified as we sloshed through deep wet bogs. At the head of Far Easedale we turned left and then left again at the start of the traditional ridge walk along to Helm Crag. We headed across more deep boggy sections to pick up the faint path heading up Steel Fell a plan of my own making to try and reduce the distance somewhat.
It was about 11:40 when it clouded over, the wind whipped up and the rain began to fall. Within 10 minutes we had to get the waterproofs on as the rain got harder and harder.
I have a photo of every Wainwright fell I have visited, all except Steel Fell. The rain was coming down so hard and the wind was so ferocious I had already wrapped the camera in a protective dry bag for safety. A few minutes later and we stood on the edge of what can only be described as a precipice. The drop off the eastern face of Steel Fell, down to Dunmail Raise is the steepest slope I have ever tried to walk down or up.
We stood at the top gathering our courage and watching in awe as a helicopter whisked giant stones from the side of the fell opposite, straight up the windswept and stormy Raise Beck to deposit them at Grisedale Tarn.
After a very shakey and often scary descent in the howling wind and rain we crossed the main road to begin the ascent up Raise Beck. The helicopter dropped several National Park rangers off just near us and as they exited the chopper in that distinctive head ducked attitude I asked the guy in front if he could give us a lift up to the top. He laughed at the request and when I said I wasn’t joking he looked at me like I was mad. “you don’t want to go up there” he said “it’s a bit hairy. The choppers been grounded”. So that put paid to our dream lift.
We stopped for lunch in the rain, sheltered behind a wall at the foot of Raise Beck. Not the best lunch I ever had, but we would need the sustenance to see us up the next 1100 feet.
We ground it out. We were both soaking and I was also suffering from very cold hands, despite the supposedly waterproof gloves I had on. We plodded the climb, only stopping for the occasional lungfull of breath and to review the vista behind us. Steel Fell was slowly being engulfed by cloud and we were slowly climbing into one of our own.
We neither saw nor met another soul from leaving Lining Crag to arriving in Patterdale – other than the chopper crew. The path past Grisedale Tarn and down the valley was lonely, wet and tiring. We arrived at our B&B soaking wet and still in the rain. Our hostess ushered us in, into a time warp, straight back into the late 1950’s.
The Glebe House B&B is not the best place to stay in Patterdale, not by a long way. It stopped raining long enough for us to dash to the White Lion for drinks and dinner and indeed held off for us to get back as well.
The forecast for tomorrow is for sunshine and showers. We’re hoping for more of the former and less of the latter.