Day 3 Rosthwaite to Grasmere
7.3 miles Torrential rain
Even though there is 2000 feet of climbing in today's walk, we'd been thinking that it would be a 'walk in the park' as it's a much shorter distance. We had shrugged off the weather forecast and yellow warnings of rain forgetting how the Lakes can turn into a vista of water chutes in bad weather. Today would be the start of a period of the worst June weather for years.
The day began lazily for us, we left at 10.15am already togged up in waterproofs. Initially the walk is flat along Stonethwaite Beck then it begins to climb slowly up Greenup Gill. The rain was coming down in sheets and by now there were many deep puddles and flooding around some of the gates.
|Paths have become streams|
|Carole wonders how she will keep her feet dry|
The aim was to ascend a stony and steep gully toward Lining Crag, but in fact we were often walking over rocks running with water and found ourselves crossing treacherous torrents of water that should not have been there. We later read that the dry months prior to our walk had left the ground baked hard. Today's heavy rain couldn't immediately sink into the ground and simply poured down the slopes leading to today's unusual fell forecast, 'all streams in spate'.
|Greenup Gill towards Lining Crag|
|Greenup Gill in spate|
Having got up the first section we looked through the mist to see a figure sheltering under an overhanging rock, looking down at us. It was Big Pack Man, who we now know is called Keiran. He joined us and the three of us made our way slowly onward and upward, constantly diverting up or down stream to find crossing places.
|Towards Lining Crag|
|Keiran (AKA Big Pack Man) and Carole check directions|
Eventually we made it to the top where Wainwright warns that at this point walkers must avoid The Wythburn Trap, where one mistakenly descends to the wrong valley, so we took great care with our navigation in the poor visibility. We came to some very boggy ground and the rain continued to lash down but ahead we could see an iron stanchion that Wainwright mentions, a useful indicator.
AW cheerfully skirts over the last 3.5 miles of the walk, 'descend into Far Easdale on a path that soon becomes distinct..... to Grasmere in 3.5 miles.' Sounds simple but that is in good weather and we found ourselves criss-crossing branches of Easdale Beck, fording streams that were quite wide and deep. Carole and I had walked this same path in snow last November but the conditions were nothing like as bad as today's. Eventually we came to a stretch of water where we could find no safe place to cross, upstream or downstream and there was nothing for it but to jump.
I went first and landed on firm ground before slowly slipping back into the stream up to my knees. Keiran jumped next and Carole third, both making it. We were safely across but I was to discover later that my jump had caused more damage than I realised.
The rest of the descent just needed a bit of care. We met The Aussies who told us they had started early. They told us how the C2C was marketed as a 'gentle walk across England' in Australia, they thought this was ridiculous, they had never experienced such hard walking.
|Looking down Easdale from Greenup Edge|
|A dry bit of path|
|Crossing Easdale Beck|
A little further and we came upon another Australian foursome who had started early, a husband, wife, their son and his girlfriend. They had told us in the pub last night that they were going to do the full walk from Rosthwaite to Patterdale today, yet here they were, at 2.30pm standing on Grasmere Common eating their sandwiches in the pouring rain. They said they had given up hope of walking beyond Grasmere and would get a taxi to Patterdale where their luggage was waiting for them. We carried on and didn't see them again as this would put them a day ahead of us.
We were glad to arrive at Glenthorne, our accommodation for the night. It had taken us over 5 hours to walk 7 miles and the appalling conditions had made our 'easy' day far tougher than the two preceding days.
|Further down Easdale we look for a crossing point, give up and wade over|
The Glenthorne is a Quaker Hostel and we were told we were invited back to the main building for tea and cake at 4.30 pm. This was most welcome but turned out to be a strange affair with people (Quakers?) sitting around the perimeter of a room in silence. Glenthorne does, however, have a drying room which we quickly commandeered.
We walked into Grasmere for our dinner, it was still raining, and met the Five Timers in the pub. They told us glumly that they had never experienced weather like this on their other C2C walks and had also ended up to the knees at the same point as ourselves.
As we walked back to Glenthorne I felt an ominous pain in my right heel and a weather check showed the yellow warning of heavy rain had been extended for another 36 hours.
We went to bed in a pensive mood....