We split the third stage, which officially goes from Rosthwaite to Patterdale, into two as is recommended by pretty much everybody. The full stage covers over 17.5 miles through some pretty demanding terrain and doesn’t really leave much time to enjoy the alternative routes, particularly on the leg from Grasmere to Patterdale.
The walk starts easily enough on a pleasant path by the side of Stonethwaite Beck. After a couple of kilometres the path leaves the beck and starts to climb quite steeply up by the side of Greenup Gill from where there a good views of Eagle Crag, a noted crag for climbers (“A mountain crag featuring some fine, hard routes bristling with character.”) After a tiring climb the path levels out, but only briefly before again climbing past Lining Crag. From here the official path descends by the side of Far Easedale Gill, but we chose to take the alternative route via Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag.
I’d recommend the alternative as providing more variety and not being particularly difficult, indeed we arrived in Grasmere at about 2:30pm, leaving plenty of time for a drink in the Red Lion Inn and an ordinary meal at the Ash Cottage Hotel.
(Total distance approx. 9 miles)
Link to Coast to Coast Summary
This day didn’t start too well – we walked out out of The Shepherd’s Arms and immediately turned left – not a good idea (the actual route is left on the main road a few metres further up from the Shepherd’s Arms). After about 15 minutes we realised something was wrong, and backtracked back to Ennerdale Bridge with me feeling like a bit of a goose since I’m supposed to be an experienced walker…
The walk then recommenced along the official route that follows a road along to the banks of Ennerdale Water. At this point it was time for sunscreen and hats as the weather was excellent. The path then follows the southern side of Ennerdale Water, with a few steep sections where it leaves the banks and climbs higher, before entering a very nice wooded section and eventually reaching the end of Ennerdale Water and joining the vehicular track up to Black Sail Youth Hostel.
I decided to take the alternative route which leaves the vehicular track not long after it is joined and climbs very steeply north up to Red Pike. From here it was a magnificent ridge walk along to High Stile and High Crag, with great views in all directions, particularly down into Buttermere, across to Grasmoor on the other side of the lake, south-east towards Haystacks and south to Pillar. After High Crag there is a steep descent to Scarth Gap Pass and then unfortunately a steep ascent to make up most of the lost height before reaching Haystacks and then, shortly thereafter, the beautiful Innominate Tarn. The path then wends its way to join an old tramway that proceeds in a straight line up and then down to Honister Pass and the Slate Mine visitor centre.
After a quick break here, we continued down by the side of the Honister Pass road, before eventually leaving the road at Seatoller and continuing along a footpath into Rosthwaite.
(Total distance approx. 14.5 miles)
Link to Coast to Coast Summary
We arrived at St Bees via train from Carlisle. It’s a rather sleepy little village and there isn’t a huge choice of places to eat – we ended up at ‘Platform 9’ next to the train station.
The next morning after a big breakfast at our accommodation at Stonehouse Farm we started towards the beach via the old church, which is well worth a visit.
The walk ‘officially’ starts under the sea wall at the beach. We began with the two traditional coast to coast rites – walking out to the Irish Sea to dip our boots in (a long way as tide was out..!) and collecting a pebble to carry to Robin Hoods Bay and drop on the sea shore there.
After the obligatory photo at the Coast to Coast start sign we started the walk proper. The initial path is a nice walk around the coastline before turning inland to Cleator. We stopped for lunch at the Three Tuns in Cleator, the first pub we came across – following the track by the cricket fields leads straight to the front door. A sign outside welcomed c2c ‘ers and pets (but no sheep, cows or pigs!) and inside we received a friendly welcome from Rena at the bar. They didn’t serve food but Rena was happy for us to buy sandwiches from a shop up the road and eat at the pub with our beers.
Immediately after lunch the first major hill, Dent, is reached. There were great 360 degree views from the summit – to the west the coast and Isle of Man and to the east the fells of the lakes beckoned.
After a steep descent through the Uldale plantation there was an attractive path through Nannycatch Beck before the final stretch along a lovely county lane into Ennerdale Bridge. We arrived slightly weary at the Shepherd’s Arms Hotel but soon felt better after a beer and a good meal.
(Total distance approx. 14 miles)
Coast to Coast Summary
I recently completed this tremendous long distance path. Devised by Alfred Wainwright in the early 1970s, it traverses some beautiful parts of northern England. Traditionally completed from west to east, it stretches for around 190 miles from St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay and takes in the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire National Parks.
Wainwright described it as ‘A’ Coast to Coast walk, rather than ‘The’ as he wanted to encourage other walkers to devise their own cross country routes. Nonetheless, the trail today follows Wainwright’s original pretty closely, and walking it you can see why – he created a very attractive route. For what such things are worth, it was voted second best long distance walk in a survey carried out by Country Walking magazine.
We started on a Friday, so I’m going to start posting a trip report from tomorrow.