Day Two: Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite

I woke up to the sound of rain tapping against the surface of my tent-loudly. If you’ve been in a tent when it’s raining then you know that it makes quite a sound. Imagine how loud it must sound if you’re in a tiny coffin-tent and the entire outer sheet is only ever a couple of feet away from your ears; like a million small bullets being fired at the skin of a snare drum.

Ironically this meant the rain wasn’t half as bad as it sounded – I completely suited up to go outside to find it was nothing more than drizzle. This still made packing up a nuisance, but not a horrendous one. I discovered that of all my skills refined over the longer walk, faffinf when packaging was the one that I was still as good at as ever. I faffed so much that things got wet in the rain while I moved them around three times before finally putting them in and out of the bag, shaking them all about, and then putting them back in.

The morning was a bit of a trudge. Admitedly it was a trudge that involved the tranquil grandeur of Ennerdale water, a smallish lake surrounded by impressive but smallish fells. I kept my rain gear on because the weather would occasionally move up a gear from ‘drizzle’ to ‘medium spitting’ and I could see an array of angry looking clouds hanging over the end of the lake. However, the closer I got to the end, the more these clouds receded and the more occasional bursts of sunshine we received.

At the end of the lake the weather hadn’t worsened, but the path did. It became a gravel trail with pine planatations on either side, reminding me of the uber-trudge that was alot of the great glen way. After I while I started to make out a shape above the trees to my right – pillar fell. This was a amazingly brooding (almost) mountain, full of granite blocks with sheer jaggerdy faces sticking out at various angles. As I proceeded it came closer to the path and I could the multitude of different nodules of rock covering it all around.

Eventually I made it to Black Sail Hut, the youth hostel famous for not being accessible by road. It was amazing, a tiny old bothy on a small level platform of grass surrounded by various knuckly and gnarly fells on all side. I was absolutely knackered by this point, and had to have my lunchtime pasty a little before I got there to power me on. My blisters were starting to bite and my legs felt so weak they could only stumble along the path that lead there. Previosly I was used to powering ahead if all an sundry, now I was being overtaken as often as I overtook. These were both frequent occurances becuase the route was packed full of other people (couples and groups) attempting at least half of the coast to coast. I stayed 30 minutes at black sail and i’m sure at least twenty people pasted through.

Eventually I got back up and reembarked on my mission. This was now to go over the top of one of the surrounding fells and descend the other side to my final destination. Man it hurt; my body seemed to slow down to a fraction of it’s normal speed and I ‘admired the view’ (whixh was amazing) quite freqently. The rain didn’t help-it had now become constant medium drizzle, making everything a little more uncomfortable due to being cloaked in condensation filled waterproofs. But I got to the top and it felt good-an amazing view down over buttermere lake, the lake itself almost obscured by angry looking fell tops and mist drifting upwards . It you didn’t know better you’d think you were looking at hades rather the lakes!

Then a easy-ish slog down to borrowdale, past the slate mine/musuem in which I had a sneaky coffee served by a polite but abrupt Ukrainian girl. I was soaked through at this point-my exterior covered in a thin film of water and my inner garments warm with trapped perspiration. I used to wonder what was the point of these waterproofs if you’re insides still got wet? I found out the truth in Scotland when I couldn’t be bothered to put on my waterproof trousers in what turned out to be a downpour. The answer is that you become saturated with cold water that is potentially illness-inducing, and it is worth the warm fug perspiration to avoid that.

Once in Borrowdale the rain eased and the surrounding selection of various feels easy to discern and very pretty. Each had a unique combination of folds, bulges, nobbly bits, sharp bits and patches of scree. One even appeared to have dry stone walls running across sides so steep they both appeared verticle.

I had hoped to catch a last minute bed in the local youth hostel, but they were full up so it was not to be. The campsite was suitably close although I was horrified to discover the local shop described on my map and guide book no longer existed, so dinner was at the local pub and the next days lunch would be made by our campsite owner.

Not ideal. Tomorrow is apparently the hardest day of the coast to coast (although not the longest) and I need all the help I can get. My blisters are getting worse and I’m not sure whether I can do the whole stretch in one go, or will have to make an early retreat in Grasmere-which as worst case scenarios goes isn’t too bad a result at all!

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