We were able to luxuriate a little more this morning, in part because it was a shorter hike day, but also because breakfast wasn't served until 8 am today. Same breakfast as in the other B & B's. We are getting used to the routine and enjoying it!
We started our hike at 8:45 am and were more relaxed knowing that it would be a short day and also that no rain was in the forecast. The first few miles were fairly easy as we slowly ascended to the base of the real climb. We passed many pastures with sheep. I'm happy that they didn't have barbed wire fences when these were made (or at least I think they didn't). Having the pastures separated by stone walls that have been weathered over the years gives them a beautifully dated feel. For most of the morning, we were accompanied by a stream on our right with small waterfalls that grew to larger ones as we climbed.
Today we began to understand what is meant when people talk about the poor signage on English walks. I felt completely lost for most of the day. There are many different walks that intersect and none are listed by names so it is hard to figure out when you see and arrow, to which path that arrows refers. This lack of specificity led to a bit of anxiety for me - I wasn't 100% sure I was taking my wife and kids up the right path and feared that I would find out after climbing to the top that we were on top of the wrong mountain! The description in the book failed me today (many of the markings were cairns that I couldn't find) and I wasn't confident with my GPS watch b/c it didn't work properly yesterday. As it turns out, the watch was fine today. And while I was a bit concerned, it reminded me of when Lara and I biked through France - I knew that even if we went the wrong direction, we would end up in a beautiful place. We were also fortunate that today is Saturday and many locals were out taking day hikes or trail runs up to different ridges. So a few times I got reassurance from locals that we were in fact heading in the right direction - not sure if it was the path designated in the book, but we knew we were heading toward our destination of Grasmere.
We reached the peak, took the requisite group photo (including the one for this blog) and a few handstand shots (of Lara and Olivia) and then continued on our way. It didn't go right down the other side - there was a long stretch with small hills and dips first. This is where things got really sketchy as far as directions. Cairns were few and far between and the path was neglible. I can only describe the terrain as 'boggy'. We picked our spots to step, trying to avoid getting stuck in mud.
At 12:45, we were able to see down the other side and begin our real descent. We met a local woman who confirmed we were actually headed in the right direction and that we would be down to the town within an hour. This was good news, especially since we didn't expect to make it to the town for 2 hours. It also gave Jonah the boost he needed to continue on the day's journey - he was a little spent after the hike up. Unfortunately, her estimate was either way off, or she runs up and down the mountain. After an hour, we still couldn't see the town. We stopped for snack/lunch break and took in the mountains that completely surrounded us. It brought about a serenity that is impossible except in a place of such natural beauty and solitude. This is definitely my element! Having some food provided a double benefit for me: it was nourishing, and it also lightened my load since I tend to carry the day's food.
Soon after we started up again, Jonah took a hard fall on a rock. It was a bit scary. We still had a significant hike to go and we weren't sure how bad it was. Fortunately it ended up amounting just to some tears, a bruised knee and elbow. After a short break to regroup we began our final trek to Grasmere. Unfortunately that last leg was difficult for Jonah. Part was because of his fall. But I think the bigger issue was an expectation that hadn't been met. He had in his mind that it would be an hour (based on what the woman had told us) and it had been an hour already and the town was not in sight. Managing expectations is always important, and that holds true out in nature too! It took another hour to get to Grasmere and to our lodging, Glenthorne. Still, we arrived at 2:45 pm, much earlier than we had finished our hikes any previous day.
Glenthorne is a Quaker hotel and conference center. Since the kids go to a Quaker school (Princeton Friends School) it feels really comfortable for us and we're excited to be here. What we wanted to do next speaks volumes about our interests.
You know you are a yogi if you want to do yoga after a grueling hike! That would be Lara and Olivia, who spent the first half hour doing a yoga routine and stretches.
You know you are an avid reader if you want to dive into your book after a grueling hike - that would be Jonah who picked up his kindle and was immediately immersed into the world of Percy Jackson.
You know you are a bit looney if you want to go for a walk after a grueling hike - I wanted to explore the town of Grasmere, but held off until the others were ready to join me.
Right before we walked into town (only a few minutes from Glenthorne), we took showers - a few minutes under the hot water does miracles for the body! Then we explored the town, which is as associated with William Wordsworth as Stratford is with Shakespeare. Wordsworth called the valley in which Grasmere is located as 'the fairest place on earth'. He lived here for just nine years, but it was where he wrote many of his best-known works. Grasmere seems to have it's fair share of vegans and vegetarians too - or at least it caters to them. We saw quite a few places that boasted vegan, vegetarian, organic, and fare trade products.
After we walked the town we came back to relax a bit before the 7:00 pm dinner, which filled us up but was more ordinary than what we've been spoiled with the past few days. We had pea soup, a chickpea and spinach stew, mixed vegetables, and baked potatoes. Since potatoes pack well, we ate everything else and wrapped all of the potatoes for daytime snacks tomorrow.
Now we are back in our rooms (two rooms with a pair of twin beds in each). Olivia is giving Lara a massage. I'm next so I'll sign off here! ;-)
Distance hiked: 9.5 miles
Total time hiking: 5 hrs. 35 min.
Avg. miles per hour: 1.75 miles per hour
Total Ascent: 1,895 ft.
Total Descent: 1,932 ft.
Lara's observation of the day: Really loved climbing, especially with the mostly sunny weather. I felt like I was in the Sound of Music!
Olivia's observation of the day: Personally, climbing mountains is easier than flats and downhills. When I reach a summit, I'm rewarded with a brilliant view!
Jonah's observation of the day: Today was much easier than yesterday because it was shorter and it didn't rain.