The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Day 29 - Scales to beyond Sebergham

Tues 20 April
Distance: 19.25 miles (Tot: 501.5 miles; >50% complete)

After two days of hilliness I obviously thought, when I planned this walk, that the best thing to do today would be to throw in a 19 mile day with lots more ascent.

So, the day started with rather a sharp ascent up Mousthwaite Comb so that we could follow the River Glenderamackin up to the col between Blencathra and Bannerdale.

Blencathra (and Sharp Edge in particular) looked rather good in the fine weather, and on another day we would have been tempted to nip up to the top (bet Helvellyn's top was clear this morning too - Mick pointed out that we would have enjoyed that clarity if I hadn't cancelled our day off in Halifax).

Oh, but the windchill! A very brisk north westerly was blowing and I reckon that if we'd stood still for too long we would have become encased in two perfect ice cubes (in a cartoon style).

The wind got no better as we took a pathless yomp to descend down over Mungrisdale Common to the River Caldew, the (dry-footed) crossing of which proved more tricky than it looks from a distance.
In trying to find somewhere to hop from rock to rock, I did negate our efforts by giving my feet a good and proper dunking in any number of boggy areas. Can you believe that in 29 days of walking in non-waterproof, mesh topped shoes, that was the first time that my feet had got soggy-wet?

My legs had already objected to the first ascent of the day (they had no objections to the abuse of the last 2 days, but weren't so forgiving today), so they really weren't amused as we started up towards Lingy Hut. A pause was had low down for 3rd breakfast in an effort to give me a bit more energy, but it didn't really work and without Mick gently coaxing me up the hillside fifty double paces at a time, it's likely that some significant whinging would have occurred.

By the time we reached Lingy Hut my feet were rather cold in my wet socks and shoes (not helped by the wind whistling through the shoes), so we took advantage of the shelter of the hut to allow me to change into dry socks and my oversocks. I also took the opportunity to pop my long-sleeved top back on, as I knew that most of the rest of the day was either flat or downhill...

There was absolutely no good reason why we then went up High Pike. We could easily have gone around, but it was there, so we went up it, which was worthwhile not only for the views (Lakeland fells to the south, Solway Firth to the north, and more lumps beyond the Firth) but also because the effort got a bit of blood back into my feet. Our stay up there wasn't long; being blown all over the place we wasted no time in taking a few photos and moving on.

We almost raced down to Caldbeck, praying that the Old Smithy Tea Room would be open, although as insurance we did have elevenses on the way (after the effort of the last few days I was so hungry today that I reckon I could have eaten a whole horse and still have contemplated a pudding).

Despite Mick's best efforts to ensure the Tea Room would be closed (by fantasising out loud about what he would eat there), it was open and hot on our heels into the empty place were two other couples and a singleton. A good friendly atmosphere ensued as we all joined in conversation together.

Despite being first in, we were last out having enjoyed a generous amount of tea, scrambled eggs and beans on toast and huge slabs of rich fruit cake. That took the edge off my hunger for a while!

As we set out, I knew that the last seven miles of the day were pretty flat, alongside the River Caldew. I knew that because we were following the Cumbria Way, which we walked a few years ago and I definitely remember flatness.

My memory was deceiving me! That first mile and a half out of Caldbeck cerainly undulates. Fortunately it has been pretty dry of late, because otherwise (as we belatedly recalled) they would have been awfully muddy miles too. Happily for us, all of the churned up earth was at worst a bit squidgy.

We did reach the flat bits that I recalled, and found that yet more of the river bank has been washed away. It's surprising that the footpath still exists as in some places it's clear that its original line no longer exists, and in other places it's in immediate danger of being washed away.

About 4 miles beyond Sebergham, Rose Castle is a fantastic building that you can't miss from the Cumbria Way and I was delighted when looking for a B&B to find that Rose Castle Farm, next door to the 'castle' fitted the bill.

Getting excellent views of the Castle (although crenallated, it's not actually a castle; it's the residence of the Bishop of Carlisle and from the front looks to me like a priory) as we passed two sides of it, we arrived at the Farm, which is also a lovely building.

Things then didn't get off to a flying start when, due to our booking slipping the owner's mind, we found ourselves first searching the farmyard for one of the owners, and then sitting outside waiting. The best part of 45 minutes after arriving, we did get in before I got around to pitching the tent on the lawn!

Things have picked up since. I've wallowed in a deep, hot bath and we're now sitting in front of a roaring fire, looking forward to a lie-in preceding our short day tomorrow.
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