Day Two - Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite  

    Tuesday 28th  April 2009

Ennerdale Water

A bit of a restless night, I'm afraid. 

As would also become routine I woke up early, got dressed and took Maggie out for a quick walk.  I then waited in the pub's lobby until 7:30 for breakfast.  David was more than content to stay in bed.  I didn’t know how Maggie would behave away from home so I left her with David while I ate.  The previous night’s meal had been big so I made do with a modest beans on toast.  I was also aware that I would be presented with fry ups for the next two weeks and I didn’t want to get to the point where I would be sick of them!  Next I chased David down to eat..

Breakfast complete and packed we left about 9:20.  The walk to Ennerdale Water was pleasant and easy.  We then started along the south shore.  Again the path was alright, but unfortunately swarming with midges.  I seemed to fare okay, but David swallowed a few and I heard him coughing and spluttering behind me.  After about a mile they got fewer and finally disappeared, however the path then changed and for the remainder of the lake the going was tough and at Robin Hood's Chair we were all but scrambling.

The end of the lake saw the start of a forestry track which gradually climbed up the valley.  This time (compared to previous memories) the track was surprisingly draining, constantly uphill and monotonous.  It had also started to drizzle.  When we did get to the valley's head we were more than willing to stop for lunch.  We sheltered by Black Sail youth hostel and enjoyed The Shepherds Arms’ pasty lunch option.  The youth hostel actually sells tea and coffee, but it is only small and was already crowded with other walkers, so we made ourselves comfortable outside in the drizzle and David gave himself the task of photographing some cheeky birds, who were obviously used to getting titbits.

What was to be the day's big climb came soon after this break.  We slowly made our way through the drumlins and at one point forded a wide stream where Maggie showed excellent tenacity and agility.  She first jumped onto a rock midstream and then completed the task with a four foot leap – a good effort.  We then climbed Loft beck – 300m upwards.  I led the way, David just behind.  We didn't go quickly, stopped three or four times and got to the top surprisingly easily.  The only thing was that the cloud had closed in and visibility was down to 50-100m.  As a precaution I took a compass bearing and set off along the high altitude path following a steady line of cairns.

None of the wonderful views from this path were available, because of the cloud, so I concentrated on checking our direction and the time to be doubly sure that we were on the correct route.  We were, because the cairns made it difficult, if not impossible, to stray.

So after two miles on the tops we finally dropped out of the cloud, down to Honnister Pass and  a cup of tea in the café at the slate quarry.  It was a strange place, almost a Wild West pastiche, but the drink was hot, wet and welcome.

The remainder of the day’s walking was a leisurely descent to Rosthwaite, which went easily with only the odd complaint about tired limbs.  We finally walked into The Royal Oak at 4:20pm.  After being shown to our rooms we had the treat of tea and scones.  The preserves were a bit odd, some kind of orange and almond marmalade and butterscotch spread, but the whole thing was splendid.

The Royal Oak is an idiosyncratic place, but I think I like it.  First there were at least four other dogs staying because it is one of the few hotels in the valley which allows the beasts, and secondly the décor looked like it was done a fair few years ago.  Surprisingly for nowadays, there was no TV in the room and no telephone, but it was very homely.  Dinner was announced by a bang on a gong at 7:00pm.  Maggie had to stay in the room.

We hadn't seen any Coast to Coasters.  It seems that we picked a quiet day to start.  We didn't pass any going the other way either.