The weather forecast for this little jaunt was not particularly good from the outset, but, Kim and I were limited to the school holidays so decided to continue with our plans and give it a go anyway.
The Way starts in Ulverston, so driving up on the Friday evening meant we could spend the night wild van camping, before setting off properly on the Saturday morning.
Tilly was mega happy to get a quick run on the beach.
And it turned out we weren’t so far from Peter and Oscar (@munro277), so they called round for a cuppa.
And a peaceful night’s sleep later, we were ready for the off.
Day One – Ulverston To Beacon Tarn, 9.5m
I sometimes think that the first and last days of these types of walks are often best avoided – generally featuring muddy fields, kissing gates you can’t fit through with a pack on and slippery stone stiles.
Still, it wasn’t raining to start with.
Rounding a corner, about an hour into the route, we got a pleasant surprise. Oscar suddenly trotted up, closely followed by Peter. They’d come to join us for a couple of hours and although this also seemed to herald the rain starting in earnest, Peter just happened to have parked up a bit further on, meaning sandwiches could be eaten in a comfy, dry car….which was much appreciated.
Not long after lunch, the rain stopped and it almost got sunny.
Our plan for this night, was to wild camp at Beacon Tarn and Peter had kindly pointed us in the direction of the only dry spot around the water.
It was an excellent pitch, too, everywhere else being totally waterlogged!
The weather overnight wasn’t too bad either – a bit of wind and rain but nothing much – and a good sleep was had by all.
Day Two – Beacon Tarn To Skelwith Bridge, 13m
What can I say? Rain, mud, rain, mud, more rain, more mud…..
Whilst sat having a very soggy lunch next to Coniston Water, we suddenly spotted Geoff, Tilly and Hamish coming towards us. They were on their own little wander for the day, but after a quick chat zoomed off into the distance. As Geoff so eloquently said,
‘Can’t stop, we’ve got stuff to do….’
Passing through Coniston, the magnetism of a welcoming café proved just too much, forcing us to stop and gorge on cheese toasties and gallons of tea, setting us up for the wet tramp up to Tarn Hows and on into Skelwith Bridge.
Thank goodness tonight was a van night – a shower and central heating!
Day Three – Skelwith Bridge To Stonethwaite, 11.5m
Today’s weather forecast was for a bit of sunny stuff in the morning, but snow and rain coming in around noon. Accompanying all that, was a horizontal wind for the whole of the day. (Technical term that, horizontal wind.)
So, at least it was dry on the wander up Great Langdale to the New Dungeon Ghyll.
Walking through the car park at the New Dungeon Ghyll, I was accosted by a couple. The guy showed me a map (which just happened to be the wrong one for that area) and asked if a particular path on it that went across to Grassmere, was anywhere near here.
‘No,’ I replied, ‘that path starts back down the road a couple of miles. This map you’ve got doesn’t cover this area where we are.’
‘I didn’t think it did, but do you think if we went up here behind the pub anyway, we might find a way across to Grassmere?’
‘Well, I don’t think that would be a good idea. I wouldn’t do that without a map and do you realise the weather’s supposed to be turning and there might be snow coming in on the tops around noon?’
He looked at me in absolute surprise, but I think the woman actually looked a bit relieved…
‘Sorry,’ I continued, ‘but you did ask, and that’s what I think.’
The conversation went back and forth a bit more, but who knows what they finally ended up doing.
Anyway, we continued up the Mickleden Valley, towards Stake Gill.
Wonderful views and the snow hadn’t started yet, but a rather lively headwind was making walking a bit more challenging.
The snow started as we were right on the top of the Pass. Only very gently at first.
But by the time we started to drop down into Langstrath Dale it had changed to rather persistant, horizontal rain – luckily with the wind now at our backs.
Wish I could say it was a pleasure walking down the Langstrath valley, but it wasn’t. Words like bleak, stoney and flooded streams spring to mind.
We eventually made it to the campsite at Stonethwaite, found what looked like the best pitch possible and got the tents up. I got sorted and had a brew then, on looking out the porch, noticed a stream running across the field which I was sure hadn’t been there half an hour before.
It all moved rather quickly after that. The tent porches were suddenly 2″ deep in water, nearly lapping over into the inner, and water also seemed to be oozing up through the ground sheet. It was time to move.
An hour or so later, we made it to the Scafell Hotel in Rosthwaite (having walked through several knee deep floods on the road in the process) who were absolutely wonderful and took us and a wet dog in for the night. Effy was particularly pleased, I think!
And the breakfast the next morning was worth every penny!
Day Four – Rosthwaite To Keswick, 8m
Weather – rain, hail, horizontal wind. Easy route though, alongside Derwentwater into Keswick. Another van night!
Day Five – Keswick To Orthwaite
There being an absolutely disgusting weather forecast again for the next day, we had a rest instead and continued on on the day after. For various reasons we chose the western route from here, and I don’t think the photos from this section need any words adding at all.
Day Six – Orthwaite To Caldbeck
We decided we would finish the Way in Caldbeck – don’t think we could face any more muddy fields and stiles on the way into Carlisle! – and true to form, the weather reverted to foggy and soggy on this final day.
We had a welcoming committee come to meet and walk with us for the last mile, though.
And Geoff and Tilly had made me a card and bought me a carrot cake, as a completion treat.
I’ve had drier walks.