Coast to Coast Day 4: Grasmere to Patterdale

We started day 4 in full waterproofs, prepared for rain.

On our walk from Grasmere, Dave spotted a red squirrel. It was very accommodating, not running away until it was sure I had a clear photograph.

Despite the ominous clouds, the weather decided against rain, so we soon removed the waterproofs again. The day was similar to the others, in that we started in a valley, climbed our way out of it, then descended into another valley.

The initial route took us up past Great Tongue to Grisedale Tarn, where we had a choice of three paths. The easiest was a gentle stroll along the valley floor to Patterdale; the other two ran along either side of the valley. The book warned against the higher one if you had any vertigo. Given my dodgy balance that was out, but the other high route promised some of the best views of the trail.

Grisedale Tarn was beautiful. A farmer was rounding up his sheep, and the valley was filled with the noise of bleats, bells, and farmer’s calls. A few people had camped at the water’s edge, and were waking to this beautiful sight.

The climb took us onto a ridge that led to the Cape, an 841 meter peak. It was a simple day’s walking, but very satisfying. I was convinced that I could see the sea from the hilltops.

`From there it was a steep walk down to Patterdale Village, and the end of our first section of the Coast-to-Coast. The weather had not been great, but we’d been lucky with the views, and the rain could have been much worse. We stopped about a quarter of the way through the trail and will be resuming in May.

Coast to Coast Day 3: Rosthwaite to Grasmere

The area around Rosthwaite has the highest level of rain in the UK, and at breakfast on day 3 it looked like we were in for a damp day. We ate in the hotel, where I made do with whatever vegan items I could find, then we set off.

Wainwright suggested walking from Rosthwaite to Patterdale in a single day, along with some optional climbs, but that seems a lot. Like most people, we were going to break the day in two, which also had the advantage of allowing us to explore Grasmere, one of Rosy’s favourite places to go on holiday.

The day’s walking began following a river before a long, slow ascent. The highest point was only about 400m, but this still felt challenging. We followed the path higher up the valley until we reached Lining Crag, where the footpath seemed to become almost vertical. We checked the map, but this was definitely the way. The climb was not quite as steep as it looked from below, but was still hard work. I looked back to see some other walkers checking the map the same as I had, sure the path couldn’t be taking that route.

At the top of the climb we found ourselves in thick cloud and, once again, wandered off-trail. We’d talked about our mistake the day before, and realised that we had jumped to a conclusion. If we’d checked the compass on our phones, it would have been obvious we were going the wrong way. We retraced our steps, and found the path again, along with another walker who confirmed we were on the right path.

(I should add here that relying on phones for wayfinding was irresponsible and possibly dangerous. For the next section of the Coast-to-Coast I will be bringing both proper maps and an analogue compass)

Given the weather, we decided against taking the high route, simply following the downhill path through the valley. We found a pathbuilder’s hut where we sheltered for lunch, and were soon joined by half a dozen other walkers. Very cosy.

Grasmere was disappointing. After a quiet day, we crossed a road and suddenly found ourselves in a packed town. I don’t understand why, when so much of the lakes are peaceful, everyone crammed themselves into one town. It also had the feel of tourist towns everywhere, with some incredibly brusque and rude restaurants. We eventually found our way to Tweedies Bar and Lodge, which had excellent food, beer and hospitality.

For our evening meal, we were less lucky – several restaurants were closed, and we needed to book for the others. We resorted to the YHA, which promised vegan pizzas – but they were out of vegan cheese. Grasmere was a definite disappointment. You can’t even get a decent view of the lake. There are two good things about the town – the excellent gingerbread and the path out.

Monthnotes: September 2021

It’s September, and time still feels like it’s passing slowly; but the summer is over, the days are getting shorter, and the outside world feels bleak. There’s the slow panic about logistics in the background to everything, which feels like the continuation of a crisis that started with the referendum. It seems like a bad winter is on the way, but nobody can do anything about it, particularly the government. Being English is exhausting. In the countryside, I feel a little insulated from this, but it’s also hard to get anywhere without petrol.

September has involved a few trips – a summer party and a client visit in Bracknell, and visits to and an office party with my employer in Leicester. I did the first four sections of the Coast to Coast. I also visited Hebden Bridge with Katharine where I drank cocktails and had my worst hangover in years. It cleared with a walk on the moors, but that was brutal, hard work.

My steps were higher than usual due to all the hiking, with an average of 15,706 and a total of 471,180. My maximum for a single day was 44,181 on the second day of the Coast-to-Coast where we managed to lose the trail. Despite all these steps, I’m not getting any fitter.

I only finished two books (although I have several books almost finished, as I’ve been picking at things). Gallows Pole by Ben Myers was an excellent historical novel set around the Calder Valley. Genesis P Orridge’s biography, Nonbinary, was interesting, but had little about the areas of his life I wanted to read about. I also read through The Debarkle, an online history of the Sad/Rabid Puppies.

I watched a few films early the month. I had a nightmare about A Quiet Place II, so watched it the next day and was mostly underwhelmed – it didn’t make a lot of sense. Mandy was an amazing movie which never compromised its vision. I’m not sure whether I liked it as such, and it ultimately relied on a woman being fridged. The Color out of Space was frustrating, not knowing if it was sci-fi or supernatural, and relied too much on lazy Lovecraft references.

I didn’t watch much TV beyond a few episodes of The Walking Dead, where I’m slowly figuring out what’s happening based on my knowledge of the comics. I’ve also been watching Midnight Mass, which is a little too obsessed with church and monologues. Inspired by my hike, I started replaying Death Stranding on hard mode, until the grind of it put me off again.

I’m feeling a little more settled at work now. The last few weeks have been spent fixing and upgrading builds for various projects, which I always find a fun challenge. Last weekend I gave a talk on JHipster for Mindera, which seemed like a lot of stress and it didn’t go as well as I would have liked. This is something I need to work on over the next few months.

Last month, I said that I wanted my writing to be more fun than video games, and that’s working out well. I’ve been working on several longer pieces and loving coming up with ideas for them. September ended with three rejections in two days which was a drag. I did have one piece published, a Drabble (a story that is exactly 100 words) called Instagram Famous.

The new issue of Bodge came out, with my page talking about an Invisibles event I am involved with at the end of the month. I also ran a Not for the Faint-Hearted writing session as a tie-in to Emma’s MA research. At the end of the month I went along to an in-person writing workshop in Leicester with the Speculators, which I really enjoyed.

I passed my probation in September, which means I’ve been able to start sorting out a mortgage. So, I guess I need to get on with finding somewhere to live.

A List of Things I Haven’t Got Round To

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a postcard of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. She picked this painting because, back in 2004, I worked a lot in Madrid, but I never extended my business trips to do tourist things. In particular, I wanted to visit the art museum and see Guernica, but I quit the job without having done so. I’ve not been back to Madrid since. I’ve always expected to see Guernica one day, but somehow I never have.

This postcard got me thinking about other things that I’ve not got round to, and I started making a list.

(It’s not a bucket list. I’ve written in the past about how much I loathe reducing life to a checklist of goals. I have another, short list of epic quests I would do if time, money or commitments allowed. But this new list is the simple things that I could easily do, but never have)

My friend Lou often does projects which make her life more interesting. Like, the year she turned 30, she stayed with 30 different people to help choose what she should do with her life. I thought it might be a fun thing for 2022 to pick an item from the list each month and do it. The list includes:

  1. See Guernica
  2. Visit John O’Groats
  3. Go to Stonehenge
  4. Eat at a Michelin starred restaurant
  5. Take a sailing lesson
  6. Try paddleboarding
  7. Do the Lyke Wake Walk
  8. Try scuba diving
  9. Visit this beautiful valley I drove past on the Isle of Mull on the way to Iona
  10. Do my hip rehab and train for another marathon

See? All of them are simple, and all of them would be fun. There’s also a few others relating to catching up with people I’ve not seen in years. I’ve also asked some of my friends what they would put on their own such list. Answers include: visit Ireland; travel in a hot air balloon; watch the Mousetrap. Maybe I can even link up items on their list with some of mine. If you can think of your own list of things you’ve never got round to, then let me know.

It’s not the end of the world if I did none of these things, but I really should get on with them.

This is the 1000th published post on this blog, with entries dating back to 2007. (I have a pile of posts from earlier blogs, but I’ve never got round to loading them into wordpress). I wonder what the next 1000 posts will bring?