Day 4: Grasmere to Patterdale

Sorry for the delay - wrote this yesterday but didn't get a good signal, so couldn't send until today!

As expected, we woke up to rain - not pounding rain, but rain nonetheless.  So we kept with our plan of getting a later start.  Since breakfast wasn't until 8:30, we were able to sleep in until 8 - loved the extra hour of sleep!  Breakfast was the same as in every other place, but we also had the option of hash browns - a welcome addition!

We then went back to the room and slowly got our stuff ready - no need to rush as we wanted to leave as late as possible.  A fellow C2Cer gave us a suggestion to cut down our load - don't fill the water all the way, and then fill up at hostels along the way.  As water is the heaviest piece we carry, it was a welcome suggestion that we followed.  We weren't passing any hostels today, but knew we wouldn't need to fill all the way anyway because today's hike is the shortest (though one of the steepest) on the trek.  Checkout was at 10 and by the time we were set and walking out the door, it was 10:15 am.  We were all sporting our rain jackets and pants and put rain covers on our bags.  The rain was still coming down at a constant rate, but it was bearable and didn't dampen our spirits.  The first couple of miles we hiked some footpaths and back roads.  Along the way we caught up with the Dutch couple who we've seen most of the way as well as Wendy and Michael, a wonderful English couple who have been staying at the same place as we have for the past two nights.  (The picture for this blog includes Wendy and Michael.) They are doing this as a charity hike as well, raising money for  Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a terrible and extremely rare disease that Michael's mother died from last year.  

Fortunately, today's path was much easier to follow and offered several options from which to choose.  Our first choice came after about a few miles - two routes: Little Tongue Gill is steeper but then flattens out and Tongue Gill has a more slow and steady climb.  They both reach the same point.  We chose the path to the right, the slow and steady option.  With the rain coming down, we didn't want to chance slipping on wet stones.  As we hiked, I wondered how steep the other ascent was because this one seemed quite steep and rigorous.  It was enjoyable though and the kids loved it.  Jonah actually led the way, invigorated by a good night's sleep.  They both love to climb and find it much easier and enjoyable than going down or walking on the flats.  We had a roaring stream to our left and some beautiful waterfalls.  We also had to cross over quite a few streams and managed to cross them on the small stones that were above the water thereby avoiding getting even wetter.

By the time we reached the top the rain had stopped and the fog was beginning to lift.  We were at about 2,000 ft. and had climbed about 1,700 feet already.  We were now at Grisedale Tarn and the time came to make the second decision.  There were 3 options.  The high route is the Helvellyn and Striding Edge route.  We had abandoned this as a possible option yesterday after reading that a father, who had been hiking with his son, had tumbled to his death on that route a week ago.  It had been the 5th death on that route this year.  No thank you.  That left two options: Grisedale Valley route, which slowly worked its way down, or the St. Sunday route, which ascended up to 2,700 ft. before coming down to Patterdale.  As it has already been established that I'm the looney hiker who can't get enough, it is no question what I wanted.  Olivia, who is more like her daddy than she cares to admit, also wanted to go up.  Lara and Jonah chose the lower route.  So Olivia and I set off up our path and Lara and Jonah went with Wendy, Michael, and the Dutch couple down through the valley.

I can't say much about Lara and Jonah's journey, but was told afterwards that it was extremely wet and they had to cross many streams along the way.  While it was beautiful it was a bit like scrambling down the mountain - Jonah and Lara were grateful for their hiking poles.

Our route on the other hand was absolutely magnificent.  We had read that these might be some of the best views on the whole trek and didn't want to miss that possibility.  The clouds had lifted and the sun began to shine so visibility was perfect for miles around us.  We kept climbing, but didn't tire from the added ascent - it was all so exciting.  And while it was a bit sad to be split from the other half of our team, there is also something wonderful about having one on one time with a child that is very different from time spent when we are all together.  I'm left with special memories of our afternoon together.  We kept climbing and thinking that we had reached the top and then just over that peak there was more to go.  But this only made us more excited for the views to come.  We could see clearly Grisedale Tarn behind us.  We could even see the colored specks that we knew were Lara, Jonah and the others down to our left.  And by the time we got to the top we could see Patterdale and Ulswater Lake in front of us.  At the top, Olivia did the sole handstand of the day in front of the cairn that marked the highpoint.  It was very impressive to see her hold that handstand as the wind was whipping around us.  In fact, the wind was so strong that it had blown off Olivia's rain cover for her bag, which had been securely strapped to the bag.  We didn't notice that until we were heading down the other side, and by then it was too late - the wind had surely swept it over the side of the mountain.

We stopped for a snack on the way down and removed our remaining rain gear and then continued down to Patterdale.  As we neared the town, we met up with Julia, the American we had been hiking with for the first few days.  She was hiking with an Australian couple - Charlie and Sue - who we talked with for the final part of the day's hike.  They had taken the lower path like Lara and Jonah but had been ahead of them.  Olivia and I checked in to our lodging for the night, the White Lion Inn, at about 2:45 pm.  We have two rooms reserved, so we went up, took showers and waited for Jonah and Lara to arrive -they got to us about an hour later.

Once we were all washed up, I took the kids to the local fair, which was just shutting down.  It was just too nice of an afternoon to stay in our room, especially since today is our last day in the Lake District.  We were there in time for them to get french fries (called 'chips' here).  That made the jaunt worthwhile for them.

When we returned, Lara was just coming down and was ready to eat.  We thought about eating at the White Lion Inn where we are staying, but it is actually a pub and felt and smelled like one, so it wasn't ideal after an arduous hike, especially for the kids.  We made our way over to the Old Water View Country Inn for dinner at 5:30.  We Heimanns like to eat early when we can.  And it is a good thing we got there when we did as the restaurant was fully booked for later, but could seat us then.   It turns out that Ian, the owner, also has been leading C2C hikes annually since the 1980's! So he is a wealth of information.  Not only that, his daughter has set a record for being the youngest to hike the C2C - she did it before she was 8!  And she did it two more times by her 9th birthday!  We bought a book about her and she signed it for the kids.  Olivia has been reading it obsessively since she picked it up.  But Ian was even impressed with the kids because they are doing it with packs.  He tracks how many hikers use the pack services that take your pack from place to place and says that year after year only 2% of C2C hikers carry their own packs!  So we're not in the 1%, but we are in the 2%! ;-)

We bumped into everyone we have met so far (and have mentioned in these blogs) coming in as we were finishing our meal.  They all were staying here.  I think I tried to get a room, but it was all booked.  It seems that many of the better places hold rooms for the walking touring companies that reserve rooms and that most people (including everyone we have met) use these services to book the trip for them.  We are probably in even a smaller minority in having booked our own rooms for the entire trip.  I looked into using a service, but found out quickly that we would not only have to pay the fee for the service, but would be paying double VAT for each night's booking b/c hotels have to charge 20% VAT and then the service charges a 20% VAT on top of that - so it amounts to a 44% tax on each night's stay.  The downside with not using the services is that many of the rooms get held and so bookings need to be done early - we booked back in December to have rooms available for now.  Ian's family is vegetarian and provided a great dinner (Jonah had pizza, Lara had vegetarian chili, and Olivia and I had penne pasta with mushrooms).  If we were to do it again, we'd see if we could stay at the Old Water View Country Inn instead of above a pub.

Ian was also extremely helpful in giving us information for tomorrow.  I thought we would be going to Shap, which is 16 miles away.  The good news is that we are going to Bampton Grange instead, which is only 12 miles.  I did this to split the trip up a little bit better for us.  People who go to Shap then either have a very short day to Orton or a long one (20 miles) to Kelby Stephens.  Since Bampton Grange is 10 minutes from the C2C, it isn't on the map.  But Ian showed us the best way to get there and said it is exactly what he did on his trips with his daughter.   He also said that tomorrow's leg of the journey is his favorite on the trek.  Since he's done it dozens of time and knows what he's talking about, I'm very excited for what is to come.  And the forecast is for no rain tomorrow, so that's a bonus!

We came back to our lodging in time to write journals and read our books/kindles.  It's now 10 pm and I'm about to send this journal before calling it a night.  Lara is already sound asleep next to me.  Another great day on the C2C - looking forward to more tomorrow.

TODAY'S STATS (based on Mark and Olivia's journey)
Distance hiked: 8.6 mile
Total time hiking:  4 hrs.  44min.
Avg. miles per hour: 1.8miles per hour
Total Ascent: 2,690 ft. 
Total Descent:  2,473 ft.

Lara's Observation of the Day:  I didn't like being separated from Mark and Olivia, but Jonah and I had fun with some fellow C2C hikers.  No one else we have met did the higher route that Mark and Olivia did.

Olivia's Observation of the Day: We kept getting to the point at which we thought, "Oh, I see the top," but then there was more of an increase.  We did make it to the official top, and that was wonderous.  I swear it was like we were walking into the sky.  I could feel my Opa almost floating above me.
Jonah's Observation of the Day: We met a guy named Ian who knew all about the C2C and his daughter, Rachel, is the youngest person to do the C2C - and she has done it 3 times, finishing the 3rd on her 9th birthday!  I love that other kids have done what I am doing.