Day One - St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge  

    Monday 27th  April 2009

Dent Fell

The day actually started in Warrington.  I had booked tickets on the 8:27am to Glasgow, changing at Carlisle for St. Bees.  It was packed.  However, the train to St Bees had plenty of room and we were able to stretch out a bit before we arrived, on time, at 12:05pm.  It was only a ten minute walk to the beach.  The pavements were wet.  It had been raining, quite heavily at times, but today we would be lucky and it would remain dry for the rest of the day.  We arrived at beach car-park, David put on his gaiters and we made our way to the promenade.  Luckily the tide was in so we only had to walk 15 yards to wet our boots and “officially” start the walk.   

With the ceremony complete we started the path proper with a sharp, but quick climb to the top of the cliffs, with good views back over St Bees.  We headed northwards along the cliff tops and stopped just the once, to eat lunch looking out over the Irish Sea towards the Isle of Man.  Along the way we saw two couples looking at the bird life and a third who were on some kind of walk around the headland.  There were however no coast to coasters.  
In total we followed the coastline for four miles before skirting a quarry and following a surprisingly busy lane to Sandwith where we carried on through a couple of farms before descending into a mile of boggy, unpleasant farmland.  This was draining and walking through Moor Row towards Cleator I was too warm, tired and aching. It was not exactly what I wanted so early in the walk, but relief came quickly.  The Three Tuns, a basic but very friendly place, was open, and the cheap pint of shandy worked miracles.  (David had tonic water and Maggie a bowl of water).  Fifteen minutes later we were happily walking along again.

The climb up Dent Fell is more of a pull than perhaps one would expect, but it was quickly over.  David led the way.  I was slower and a gap quickly opened up.  I only caught up when David had to stop at a junction because I had the map.  Half way up we passed a group of about a dozen doing, it seemed, the Coast to Coast as well.  They had been leaving The Three Tuns as we went in.  Some of them were pretty slow and the others were forced to wait at regular intervals.  We briefly chatted to two of the quicker ones, with whom we leapfrogged a couple of times.  I thought they sounded German, but David suggested American.

For this day at least we finally left them at the summit and descended into Uldale, a beautiful hidden, quiet, valley.  The walk through this part took 20 minutes as we slowly climbed again before finally dropping down to Ennerdale Bridge using the footpath running parallel to the busy lane.

We arrived at The Shepherd's Arms at 6:30pm, where a quick shower was very welcome before all three of us went down to the bar for food.  The meal was pleasant enough and a couple of pints washed it down.  This was to be a regular pattern for the rest of the walk: A starter, main course and two pints.