Bridge of Orchy to Kings House

The alarm went off at 6.15 am and I was up and ready for breakfast by 6.45 am.  Unfortunately the hotel staff weren’t as efficient and I arrived at breakfast to find that no one would be available to cook it until 7 am.  I decided to wait and my patience was eventually rewarded with some toast (so lightly toasted that one slice was just warm bread!) and some lumpy porridge.  Good job I wasn’t too hungry.

Checking out of the hotel took a few minutes and I was eventually away at 7.45 am.  As I headed down to the bridge, I could see that some of the campers were stirring too, with one pair cooking scrambled eggs on a small stove on the bridge wall.  I really envied them at that moment!

The path from the bridge rises up hill for the first half a mile or so through a small wood of Caledonian pines (I think).  I had the path to myself and it was so quiet and peaceful.  In fact, so quiet that, within minutes of starting my walk, I looked up to see a red doe just ahead of me on the path.  I stopped and fumbled for my camera but, almost immediately, it spotted me and darted off into the trees.  But what an amazing start to my walk!

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Looking towards Loch Tulla

On emerging from the small wood, the views really opened up across the valley with mountains on all sides.  I walked past a small two man tent pitched on the hillside just off the path (no one stirring so I went past as quietly as I could!), eventually arriving at a cairn where I stopped to take a picture.

Stopping to admire the view

Stopping to admire the view

After the cairn, the path descends gently and joins a small road which leads to the Inveroran Hotel.  Several walkers were emerging from the hotel as I passed and I put on a spurt of speed to get ahead of them – it was much too early in the morning to listen to their noisy chatter!

The path continued along the road for a short while before arriving at another informal camping area by the river. Eventually it crossed Victoria Bridge, a beautiful stone built bridge, before arriving at Forest Lodge and the start of the Drove Road to Glen Coe.

10 miles this way

10 miles this way

A soggy barely legible sign on the gate warns walkers to turn back if they are not prepared for the 10 mile way through the wilderness which lies ahead……

Before arriving in Bridge of Orchy, I had worried about getting lost and not being able to find the path easily.  I now realised that there was little chance of that as the path is so distinct especially in the sunshine.

The only downside to the distinct path is that it can be fairly hard on your feet and the constant pounding on stone would later cause me some problems.  At the time, I was just glad that I wasn’t up to my knees in boggy mud!

The way ahead

The way ahead

I had mostly enjoyed the path to myself until now but a few mountain bikers started to pass me.  It looked really hard going on the rocky surface.

The views on both sides of the path were incredible and I found myself stopping every 5 minutes to take yet more pictures.  Despite this, I was making really good time and needed to slow down – if I wasn’t careful, I would arrive at Kings House, my destination for the night by 12.30 pm.

The view from Ba Bridge

The view from Ba Bridge

I caught up to some other walkers at Ba Bridge so hung around for a few minutes having a drink and snack to let them get ahead of me.  Disappointingly I hadn’t seen any more deer – it is no doubt too busy for them!  I did see lots of birds but, without any binoculars, couldn’t identify any of them.  Definitely something I need to add to my Christmas list!

After Ba Bridge, the path rises gently up the hillside to the highest point on the moor where there is a summit cairn just off the main path.  The climb up was short and steep and surprisingly muddy but it was well worth it.  The cairn sits at around 445 metres and the views across the moor were fantastic.

View from the summit cairn

View from the summit cairn

From the summit cairn, the path starts its gentle descent towards Glencoe Mountain Resort, the A82 and Kings House.  It wasn’t long before I could see my destination for the night in the distance, as well as the fairly constant traffic along the A82.  It was strange after the peace and quiet of the morning and made me slightly sad that my trip across the moor was coming to an end.

I met the first of many people I would get talking to on the path down towards the mountain resort – a couple from Nova Scotia who were walking the whole of the way.  It made me feel like a bit of a fraud for only doing a small section of it!

View down towards Glencoe Mountain Resort

View down towards Glencoe Mountain Resort

The obligatory photo of Blackrock Cottage

The obligatory photo of Blackrock Cottage (complete with portaloo!)

Despite my best efforts, the end of the day’s walk was in sight and it was only 12.30 pm.  I sat on a convenient bridge and had a cup of coffee and piece of cake whilst watching other walkers descend the path.

After stopping again briefly to take a picture of Blackrock Cottage (along with a group off a tour bus, I kid you not), I completed the final part of the walk to Kings House Hotel, arriving at 1.30 pm.  It was a little too early to check in so I explored the facilities, eventually settling in the bar with a plate of salmon and veggies – delicious 🙂

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Kings House Hotel is a lovely place.  Its not posh or luxurious but it is friendly, warm and welcoming.  There are two bars and a lovely resident’s lounge with huge windows facing the mountains and a real fire.

I had booked a single room with shared facilities – Room 25 Above The Bar – the only room available when I had called to book weeks earlier.  I suspect that they have had complaints in the past because, on every occasion, it was described by the staff at Kings House as being Room 25 Above The Bar!

Room 25 Above The Bar

Room 25 Above The Bar

That aside, it had everything I could need and I could sit on the blanket box in the window and quite happily look at the views whilst avoiding the midges outside.  There is free camping on the grassed area behind the hotel and it was interesting to see the various backpackers arrive with their enormous rucksacks and tiny tents.  I have nothing but admiration for anyone who can carry such weight over the hills and still smile at the end of the day.

After a while, I decided to brave the midges and sat outside with a cup of coffee to people watch.

Beautiful

Beautiful

Not long after, a waiter from the hotel came outside and dropped some food scraps on the grass.  Only seconds later a doe and her baby arrived to feast.  The baby was a little timid but the doe quite happily ate from people’s hands.  It was magical and I took endless pictures although most didn’t come out very well due to the poor light.

Seeing the deer was the perfect end to a great day.

On my way

The alarm went off at 5.30 am and I stumbled out of bed.  Having worked late the previous night and only finished packing my bag at 1 am, it felt far too early to be up.  At least I would be able to sleep on the train, I hoped.

The train departed Birmingham at 7.15 am, taking just over 4 hours to arrive into Glasgow Central Station.   Despite my best efforts, it was impossible to fall asleep as the train carriage was surprisingly busy – I think mainly due to train operator’s putting all of the pre-booked ticket holders into the same small space – and I chatted to a few old ladies about their plans for days out in Lancaster, Penrith etc.

The train arrived into Glasgow on time and it was then a 10 minute walk to Queen Street Station, leaving enough time to grab a sandwich and soak up the atmosphere (or lack thereof) in George Square, before boarding the 12.21 pm train to Bridge of Orchy.  Again, the train was surprisingly full but I managed to grab a window seat on the left hand side of the train – the best side for the best views or so I had been told!

View from the train

View from the train

The train is fairly slow although I barely noticed because I couldn’t stop staring at the amazing views.  I love going to a new place and seeing everything for the first time.

The train calls at numerous stations, eventually splitting at Crianlarich with the front section going to Oban and the rear section going to Mallaig.  Despite numerous announcements along the way that the train would split, there was still a mad scrabble at the station as people realised they were on the wrong section of train!  Happily, I could sit back and watch the chaos 🙂

From Crianlarich onwards, the scenery became even more awe inspiring and certainly entertaining enough to keep my eyes glued to the window……..

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The train eventually pulled into Bridge of Orchy at 2.48 pm.  A cute little station just off the A82.  The station building has been converted into a hostel which I was surprised to see was open.  I had heard that it was often closed so had instead chosen to book a room at the pricier hotel.

After dawdling a little, I arrived at the hotel just after 3 pm – late enough to check in and get rid of my cumbersome bag (review to follow!).

My room

My room

The hotel is, without a doubt, lovely.  My room was in a separate building next to the main hotel building.  The room was modern and fresh and even had a small decked area on which to sit and admire the view.  However it is true that you get what you pay for as this would be the most expensive night’s stay on my trip (£110 for a double room for single occupancy).

After exploring my room a little, I wandered down to the bridge itself.  The views were fantastic and, despite the occasional roar of traffic on the A82, it was very peaceful.

The bridge at Bridge of Orchy

The bridge at Bridge of Orchy

View from the Bridge of Orchy

View from the Bridge of Orchy

Next to the bridge is a small grassed area which is managed by the Forestry Commission and is available for wild camping.  It was incredibly popular with lots of tents already pitched by 4 pm – some weekend campers and others backpacking along the West Highland Way.  I don’t think the hotel allows the campers to use the hotel facilities, although I’m certain most do!  Certainly most of the campers seemed to be taking advantage of the comfy bar area!

After wandering around a little, I decided to retire to the hotel to sit in front of the fire (fake unfortunately!) and read for a while.  Eventually, and with the aim of getting an early start the next day, I decided to skip dinner and catch up on some missed sleep, heading to bed around 9 pm.

Buttermere to Honister

There were various possible titles for this post – ‘Clueless in Cumbria’, ‘Honister Horrors’ and ‘Lost in the Lakes’ were all accurate.  It is fair to say that I had one of those weekends when nothing seemed to go right.

I arrived in Keswick early afternoon on Friday with the intention of picking up some supplies from Booths before catching the no. 77A bus to Honister Slate Mine.  The plan being to then walk from the mine over Fleetwith Pike to Buttermere where I was staying for the night.

Unfortunately, due to a long queue in Booths, I got to the bus stop just as the bus pulled out of the station 😦  A quick look at the timetable (you’d think I would know it off by heart by now the amount of time I have spent studying it!) and I realised that the next bus wasn’t for an hour.  I decided to drown my sorrows in a pint of tea in Booths cafe.

I finally caught the bus an hour later but it was the no. 77, which takes the anti-clockwise longer route to Buttermere.

For anyone who hasn’t used the no. 77/77A bus before, I would definitely recommend it.  The scenery is fantastic and I could have quite happily sat on the bus for several hours just looking at all of the mountains and villages through the bus window.  There were, in fact,  two old ladies on the bus who had paid the full fare to ride the route the whole way!  The bus drivers must have nerves of steel to drive the narrow roads at the speed they do and sometimes so close to the edge that it wouldn’t take much for the bus to plummet down the hillside.

By the time I got to Buttermere, it was late afternoon and I decided it made more sense to get off the bus there and save Fleetwith Pike for another day.  I followed some chap with a huge rucksack off the bus and, in the time it took me to walk to Syke Farm and buy an ice cream (cherry flavour, yum) and walk back to the Fish Inn, I noticed he had already set up his little one man tent in the camp site behind the Bridge Hotel.  I was really quite envious and started thinking that, maybe, its time to start thinking about a tent of my own.  It would be a lot cheaper and more flexible than trying to plan walks around available accommodation.

Still having an hour before I could check in to  Buttermere Youth Hostel, I decided to follow the footpath to Scale Bridge and maybe from there to Scale Force; neither of which I had visited before.

The view towards Buttermere

The view towards Buttermere from Scale Bridge

The footpath to Scale Bridge is well signposted and easy under foot.  The views from there across to Buttermere are fantastic, especially on a clear sunny day.

A close up of Buttermere Youth Hostel from Scale Bridge

A close up of Buttermere Youth Hostel from Scale Bridge

I walked slowly for about an hour just enjoying he sunshine and the fresh air.  It was so peaceful after a frantic week at work.  Especially as my work mobile lost signal and died as soon as I arrived in the valley 🙂

The terrain go a lot wetter and boggy after a time and I decided to turn back, just short of reaching Scale Force.  Time was getting on and I was ready to check in at the youth hostel and have some dinner.  My decision to turn back had, of course, absolutely nothing to do with not wanting to get wet muddy feet.

The return seemed to take no time at all……isn’t that always the way?!

Buttermere

Buttermere

I checked into my private room at Buttermere Youth Hostel and then set about zapping dinner in the microwave.  The kitchen was busy and, maybe it was me, but the people weren’t as friendly as last time.  I finished up as quickly as I could and then spent most of the evening watching TV on BBC iplayer in my room.

Room 12

Room 12

The room became very cold after a while and I was glad to have it to myself; if only because it meant I could steal a second duvet from one of the other bunks to keep me warm.  I’m not sure I would want to stay there in the dead of winter, brrr.

About midnight, the rain started to come down really heavily and the wind started to howl.  It was so loud that it kept waking me up and I finally got up around 6.30am not feeling much more refreshed than when I went to bed.  The wind and the rain continued to be awful and I had decided by 7am to hang around the youth hostel for as long as I could in the hope that both would die down.  Thank god for BBC iplayer or I would have been so bored.

By 9.30am, I had to admit defeat.  The wind was still really strong and the rain continued to hammer down.  I would just have to brave it and head out.

The original plan had been to walk up Red Pike, on to High Style and High Crag before reaching Haystacks and finally Honister Slate Mine. However, being a ridge walk, I knew it would be a really exposed route and probably not the best idea if the wind was gusting.  I decided to walk first into the village centre and then around the lake to see how bad it really was and to see if conditions were improving – the BBC weather forecast had promised sunny intervals by 11am.

As I headed around the lake, I could feel the wind pushing me across the path. There was no one else around except for two hardy trail runners who scared the crap out of me when they seemed to appear from nowhere!

Comb Beck

Comb Beck

I eventually reached Gatesgarth Farm and the weather continued to be horrendous. Decision time – did I turn back or continue and, if so, which route?  Despite the heavy rain, I sat on a hump of grass and tried to take stock.

I’ve noticed that, when walking alone, I tend to be a lot more indecisive than I normally am.  I think its because I’m more aware that if I make a bad decision and something goes wrong then I have no one but myself to sort it out.  This makes me not only indecisive but also risk averse. Not a great thing to be when you’re out in the mountains in horrendous weather!

I’m not sure how long I sat on my hump of grass before I saw a person emerging through the downpour carrying an umbrella.  It turned out to be a Scandinavian chap (I think) who, despite all appearances to the contrary, clearly thought I knew what I was doing because he asked me for directions to Borrowdale Valley.  I started to list the options but he cut me off, asking for the quickest route which I thought was probably along the road.  He thanked me and marched off – within minutes, he had disappeared off and I returned to my hump of grass.

After another few minutes, I finally accepted that the weather was not going to improve any time soon. Rather than head off along an unfamiliar route, I decided to follow the Scandinavian chap up the road to Honister Slate Mine, my reasoning being that at least I wouldn’t get lost and there would hopefully be a hot chocolate at the end of it!

The very steep road ahead

The very steep road ahead

Had the route up Honister Pass been visible from my hump of grass, I can safely say that I would not have chosen it!  Walking up a 1 in 4 gradient hill with a head wind is not my idea of fun.

On the plus side, the hot chocolate at the cafe at Honister Slate Mine was delicious 🙂

By 12pm, the weather had started to improve and I decided to brave the outdoors again.  I put on my cold and wet waterproof jacket (the condensation meant it was wetter on the inside than on the outside!) and headed up the footpath above the mine with no clear plan in mind.  The footpath is signposted Haystacks and Great Gable and follows the old tramway.  It is presently in the process of being repaired.

Looking down towards the mine

Looking down towards the mine

At the Drum House, I turned right with the vague idea of maybe heading towards Fleetwith Pike.

Do not enter!

Do not enter!

Reaching the quarry road, I turned right, thinking to join the footpath up to Fleetwith Pike at Bell Crags, the route being clearly shown on the OS map.  However, upon reaching Bell Crags, I could find absolutely no evidence of a footpath, just a dead end by the mine.  Despite the skull and crossbones sign warning of death, I went a little closer to take a picture……

Thinking I must have missed the footpath, I headed back up the quarry road looking for a footpath off to the right.

Quarry Road

Quarry Road

I’m not sure what it was but I couldn’t find the path for looking.  Maybe I was tired, cold or had just stopped enjoying myself but, after a while and feeling pretty glum, I decided to give up and head back down to the mine to catch the bus back to Keswick.

Typically I arrived back at the mine just as the Keswick bus went past.  The next one wasn’t for another hour and twenty minutes 😦

I went back into the cafe at the mine for a bowl of toxic green vegetable soup (it looked more exciting than it tasted) and another mug of hot chocolate.  I also took advantage of the ladies toilets and changed my top which was absolutely soaking from the condensation from my waterproof jacket.  I definitely need to look into buying another waterproof soon – after all the weather is only going to get worse not better here on out.

The change of clothes and hot food perked me up and put things back into perspective.  Nothing had gone to plan and I had let it knock my confidence.  That said, going on a navigation course is clearly a priority!

Once back in Keswick, I checked into the Royal Oak for the night.  Definitely more shabby than chic (the bed frame was held together with sticky tape!) but the hot shower was great.

Room 10 at Royal Oak Keswick

Room 10 at Royal Oak Keswick

I sneaked some fish and chips into my room (from the Old Keswickian, fab) and had an early night.

I woke early with an awful headache.  The bed was comfy but the roar from the massive extractor vent outside my bedroom window had kept me awake.

The bus back to Penrith Rail Station wasn’t until 12.25pm and the weather was lovely (why couldn’t it have been the same yesterday?!) so I decided to walk a few miles along the Old Railway Walk and pick up the bus at Threkeld.  Its a busy route popular with families and dog walkers starting by the leisure centre and ending at the A66 just outside Threkeld.

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Old Railway Walk

After a steady 4 miles, I reached the bus stop at Threkeld and caught the X5 back to Penrith.

For those not familiar with it, Penrith is a lovely small market town.  The sort of place where there isn’t much traffic and a lot of the shops still close on Sundays.  And the sort of place adults appreciate and kids plot to leave as soon as they are old enough!

I spent a lovely half hour sat in the park opposite the train station drinking a coffee and enjoying the sunshine before catching my train back to the West Midlands.

Overall, I had enjoyed my weekend away but two things have become clear. One, I need to go on a navigation course if only to give me more confidence to follow routes where the footpath isn’t clear or when the weather is bad.  And, two, as nice as the weekends away are, the amount of actual walking time is limited and will become even more so as the days grow shorter.  Maybe its time to book a long trip……

More Planning

As I mentioned in my last post, organising to walk part of the West Highland Way was ridiculously easy, thanks to my good friend, Google.  Here’s the plan:

The Route

With only 3 days to walk part of the Way, the priority was to pick 3 fairly long but interesting days with good transport links to the start and finish.  Having spoken to people who have done the whole of the Way, the 2 days from Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven stand out as being both challenging and scenic.  A final day would then take me into Fort William meaning that, time permitting, I could take a trip on the ‘Harry Potter’ train before heading home 🙂

The Logistics

Day 1

Train from the West Midlands to Glasgow (4 hours) and then to Bridge of Orchy (2 hours 20 minutes)

Overnight in the Bridge of Orchy Hotel

Day 2

Walk to Kingshouse Hotel – 12 miles

Overnight in the Kingshouse Hotel

Day 3

Walk to Kinlochleven – 9 miles

Overnight at the Highland Getaway

Day 4

Walk to Fort William – 15 miles

Overnight at the McClean Guest House

Day 5 

Take the ‘Harry Potter’ train to Mallaig 🙂

Day 6

Train to Glasgow (4 hours) and then train to West Midlands (4 hours)

Baggage

My main bag will be transported by Travel Lite (http://travel-lite-uk.com)

Lowe Alpine Eclipse ND32

I needed a lightweight daysack with room for enough kit to last a weekend.  It also had to be designed for women – at just over 5 feet tall, a standard rucksack tends to swamp me and bump on my backside as I amble along……!  The Lowe Alpine Eclipse ND32 seemed to fit the bill perfectly although it was hard to track one down in the UK and I ended up taking a gamble and ordering it from Germany.  I needn’t have worried though – the ruthless German efficiency ensured that my new rucksack was with me in perfect condition and in record time 🙂

I’ve used my new rucksack for about a month now and I love it. Definitely 9 out of 10.

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The best thing about the rucksack is how light it is – around 0.75 kg.  It means that I can comfortably carry a 8 – 10 kg load of kit

To be continued…..

Planning

I have wanted to walk the West Highland Way for sometime now. Unfortunately none of my friends and family share my enthusiasm and I am a little nervous about committing to a week of walking on my own in case I do not like it.  I have therefore come up with a compromise – I will walk the last 3 days of the Way and, if I like it, return and do the whole route next year when the days are longer and I have more holiday available to me. The plan is to do the walk in late September as follows:

  • Train to Bridge of Orchy
  • Walk from Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse – 12 miles
  • Walk from Kingshouse to Kinlochleven – 9 miles
  • Walk from Kinlochleven to Fort William – 15 miles
  • Train home

Time permitting, I’ll add a day or two in Fort William before getting the train home.

I’ve bought a guidebook (West Highland Way by Charlie Loram) and, in only an hour or two of googling, have managed to book trains, accommodation and a baggage carrier 🙂

Buttermere to Keswick (or nearly)

I absolutely love Keswick and usually do my best to fit in at least 3 or 4 trips a year, staying in cute little cottages with log fires and mountain views (yes, I’m a bit of a romantic!).

This time, and with the aim of exploring more of the Lake District, I have joined, at the advanced age of 37, the Youth Hostel Association…….

The plan was simple – catch the train on Friday morning to Penrith, bus to Buttermere, overnight at Buttermere Youth Hostel, walk over the hills from Buttermere to Keswick on Saturday, last night in Keswick and then home on Sunday.

All went according to plan except for one thing – my poor unfit legs were not up to the 12 miles from Buttermere to Keswick!  What had looked innocuous on a paper map, in fact turned out to be 12 miles of roller-coaster hills which, when coupled with the temperamental weather, defeated me 😦

The Honister Rambler bus (no. 77) dropped me off at the Fish Inn in Buttermere village around 5.20pm on Friday evening.  It was a short 5 minute walk out of the village to the Youth Hostel which is located on the main road between Buttermere and Honister Slate Mine.

The Youth Hostel is a beautiful Victorian house.  The staff are friendly and welcoming and the facilities are excellent.  A bargain at £39 for a private room for 2.

Buttermere YH

My room at Buttermere Youth Hostel

After a slightly restless night (more to do with insomnia than the noisy pipes at the Youth Hostel!), I was up at 7am and in the self-catering kitchen making porridge for breakfast.

I left the Youth Hostel at 8am, walking back towards Buttermere village before turning right up the road signposted Keswick.

Signpost

Signpost at Buttermere

After a few minutes, I turned right off the road and onto a grassy footpath, signposted ‘Robinson 1.5 miles’.

The route curved around the hillside rising steeply at every stage.  I had only the sheep for company. In fact, I wasn’t to see anyone else on the fells until I arrived at Dalehead some 4 or so hours later.  Almost unheard of in the Lake District in the middle of August!

The grassy path to Robinson was easy to follow until (after a small detour to High Snockrigg) I came to Buttermere Moss.  The boggy mossy expanse was unpleasant going and, in my efforts to avoid getting wet feet, I wandered somewhat off course much to the amusement of the nimble footed sheep, I’m sure!

Eventually I managed to get back on track and, a small scramble later, reached the top of Robinson.  Treating myself to some flapjack, I spent 5 minutes on the top catching my breath.

View from top of Robinson

View from top of Robinson

Leaving Robinson, I headed east towards Dalehead.  The ups and downs made for hard work and necessitated frequent stops to “admire the view”!

Looking towards Dalehead

Looking towards Dalehead

I finally reached Dalehead only to find that several others had beaten me to it. I decided to press on and start the descent straight away to see if I could find somewhere a bit more peaceful for a sandwich and cup of coffee, pausing briefly to take a picture of the valley below……

Valley below Dalehead

Valley below Dalehead

As it was still early and the legs had a bit of life still in them, I decided to descend to Dalehead Tarn.  The descent was formed of a rough staircase of stone courtesy of the Fix The Fells team (www.fixthefells.co.uk). Work was still in progress as evidenced by the large piles of stones waiting to be placed and the wooden shed (presumably where the team take their breaks?!).

Coming off Dalehead, I slipped on a rock and landed hard on my bottom, ouch!  The hard descent and lack of lunch were catching up with me so I stopped for a bite to eat and to remove my waterproofs.  A friendly sheep kept me company……..

Friendly Sheep

Friendly Sheep

At Dalehead Tarn, I had two choices – press on up and over High Spy and to Catbells or down via Rigghead Quarry to Rosthwaite where I could catch the bus back to Keswick. With the rain starting and nursing my bruised bottom, it was an easy decision and I headed towards the path down by the disused Rigghead Quarry.

What a bad idea!  The descent to Rigghead Quarry involved crossing another boggy mossy area – I literally put my foot in it and water went over the top of my boot 😦  The descent from there didn’t improve much, comprising loose slate and steep rocks which proved lethal in the rain. It seemed to takes ages to get to the bottom and I made a mental note to myself not to go down that way in the future (ascending by that route probably isn’t too bad – at least plenty of people passed me on the way up).

I finally reached the bottom and the River Derwent.  I stripped off my waterproofs and enjoyed the sunshine along with what seemed hundreds of Saturday afternoon picnickers.

Unfortunately at this point I took a wrong turn and instead of heading into Rosthwaite, I ended up heading along the Borrowdale Valley.  As beautiful as it is, I really just wanted to get to the nearest tea shop and put my feet up at this point!  It was not to be however as, by the time I realised I had taken a wrong turn, I was half way to Grange!

I finally entered Grange at around 3.45pm. I stopped at the first tea shop I came to and bought a cold soft drink, asking the grumpy assistant for directions for the bus stop.  A few minutes later, I was at Grange Bridge and had only 5 minutes to wait before the bus (no. 78) arrived.  Around 20 minutes later, I was back in Keswick, ready for a hot shower and some proper food.  I had walked a total of 11 miles with around 900 metres of ascent!

After staying in the Youth Hostel the night before, I felt I deserved a treat and had booked myself into the newly opened ‘Inn on the Square’.  I had a lovely single room with a fantastic shower. I would recommend it if you want a bit of modern luxury (my only minor criticism being that its a bit too modern and really isn’t in keeping with the rest of Keswick! It almost felt like a city hotel and the effect was somewhat jarring).

I woke up the next day to sunshine and warm temperatures – and incredibly sore legs!  I had just enough time to visit the Wainwright exhibit at Keswick Museum (well worth a visit and a bargain at £3.75 adult entry) before I got the bus back to Penrith and from there the train home.

Keswick YHA

Sunny Keswick

All in all, I had had a lovely weekend and am already making plans to repeat the experience – this time with a lighter pack and a slightly less ambitious walk planned!

Starting my blog

In 2011, I trekked to Everest Base Camp and it was amazing.  I promised myself that, when I returned home, I would get out more, see more of the countryside and generally get fitter.  Life is too short to spend every weekend doing household chores before its back to work on Monday!

As it turns out, upon my return I joined a running club (rather than a hiking club as intended) and, over the next 3 years, I did 1 marathon, 6 half marathons and lots of 10k and 5k races.  I even managed a few trail runs through the Lake District 🙂  I absolutely loved it and hiking took a back seat.

Unfortunately last year I hurt my back (too much time sat at my desk so says the physio!) and lost my running mojo…..and I got fat and lazy.  So, I decided that, if I can’t run, then I am going to bloody well hike instead!  Cue the subscription to Trail magazine and much trawling of the internet for some new gear (my favourite bit!).

Fortunately the back injury seems to have cleared up so I am good to go…..

First trip to Keswick is planned for this weekend 🙂