Monday 24 August 2015

Photo Essay: Day Two of the Coast to Coast Walk

"One should always have a definite objective, in a walk as in life — it is so much more satisfying to reach a target by personal effort than to wander aimlessly."
- Alfred Wainwright

Day Two: From Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite (16 miles/26 km)

Summary of Route: Now you are into the Lake District National Park for the next four days. There is a lot of high-climbing to come.The first half of this stage is a walk along the southern side of Ennerdale Water. At the end of the Water, you cross to the northern bank of the River Liza. 

Just after the Ennerdale Camping Barn, there is a choice of trail — the low route through the valley, or the high route, which passes Red Pike, High Stiles, High Crag and Hay Stacks. 

Near the end of the high route you reach Innominate Tarn: Alfred Wainwright asked that his cremated remains be disposed of here — "where the water gently laps the gravelly shore and the heather blooms and Pillar and Gable keep unfailing watch." 

This alternate, high route adds about one-and-a-half miles (2.5 km) and 1¾ hours to the regular walk. After the YHA Black Sail, the low route turns north and climbs steeply up Loft Beck. Just after turning east again, it meets the high route just beyond the Blackbeck Tarn. From here the trail  begins a long descent through Honister, Seatoller and Longthwaite, before finally arriving in Rosthwaite (which sits in the civil parish of Borrowdale).

Walking along the southern shore of Ennerdale Water

Today was a day of recovery. I was able to "walk through" the sore legs and feet resulting from yesterday's brutal re-introduction to long-distance hiking, and get to this day's destination without the physical difficulties suffered during Day One of the Coast to Coast Walk.

Lots of purple heather along EnnerdaleWater

The scenery on this day's hike — the first stage within the Lake District National Park — was spectacular. We started the day walking along the entire southern shore of Ennerdale Water. All along the trail we encountered engorged brooks flowing down the steep sides of the fell into the lake. The rushing sound of water tumbling over rock-festooned stream-beds is a tonic to the soul. 

A tricky climb down a rocky bit on southern shore of Ennerdale Water

A lot of the stony trail along Ennerdale Water (especially the eastern half) was covered in very shallow, slow moving water — not a problem if you are wearing good hiking boots.

A gate along Ennerdale Water

Ennerdale Water

Once passed the end of Ennerdale, we followed a gravel road for a couple of  miles along the northern side of the Liza River. This track went through a forest plantation. It was a rather tedious and uninteresting section of the walk. The three of us began to string out along the path, often some 75-100 yards apart. For periods like this, you get lost in your own thoughts: checking out the scenery, anticipating the landscape features to come, assessing your physical condition, thinking about what is behind you already, and what is still to come.

In the meadow just beyond the eastern end of Ennerdale Water

There is a strong psychological component to this sort of adventure. You constantly second-guess your motivation and your abilities. But your companions work to encourage and inspire you. And periods of self-doubt and physical difficulty are off-set by other periods of pleasure and elation.

Quote of the Day:
"Clive, liberate yourself with a camera-free day"
- Tony (who took several pictures with his smart phone!)

At the end of the forest trek, expansive vistas opened up, revealing the heights of many Lakeland fells. We soon stopped for about 20 minutes to eat our lunch beside a small stream flowing down into the valley below us.

Tony and Michael have lunch

From this point to the Honister Slate mines (about four miles), the trail took us through a spectacular landscape. We continued east along the valley, with high crags above us, and rushing streams below. We passed a section of many small drumlins (mounds left through glacial deposits). And then we began a steep ascent up to the summit of Brandreth, with a beautiful mountain stream — Loft Beck — cascading down the very steep fell.

Valley below Loft Beck showing a group of glacial-deposit drumlins

At the top we continued across Grey Knotts — a beautiful walk in the sunshine, with a dramatic vista to the west, showing the lakes of Buttermere and Crummock Water. A slow descent took us in a wide north-west arc down the fell, until we met the trail that would take us due-east along the now-abandoned Honister Slate Mine tramway. This part of the trail was full of slate rock — a difficult surface to walk, especially as it also dropped precipitously down to the road.

Climbing towards Loft Beck

We stopped at a tea shop beside the Slate Mine Museum and enjoyed a very welcome mug of tea and a piece of cake. From this point on we continued to hike down the fell, on a grassy, meadow-like surface, decorated now and then by the odd sheep, on along march towards Rosthwaite, a small hamlet in Borrowdale.

Looking down into the valley during the hike up beside Loft Beck

Today has been full of wonderful Lakeland landscapes. And I got the sense that, despite the dramatic aches and pains of yesterday's walking, I can do this! There should be a lot more splendid Lakeland vistas tomorrow.

A view of Buttermere Lake and Crummock Water (behind)

"Make your feet your friend"  - J.M. Barrie

Walking down the old Honister Slate Mine tramway

This hike is dedicated to Bill and Barb Cannon.
(see the end of my blog post for Day One for details)

A ram on the meadows above Borrowdale


Coast to Coast Path (Sixth Edition - 2014) by Henry Stedman;
Coast to Coast: West - Harvey Map XT40


  1. I'm enjoying the photographs. Splendid.
    Hope everyone's legs are now over the early pain!

  2. Well done, Clive and thank you for dedicating this part of the trip to my parents. I am sure they would love to join you, Tony and Michael for the entire adventure, as would I, if time permitted. Your photos remind me of places I visited there so many years ago. Best wishes to the three of you. Looking forward to more photos and info. Bill.

  3. Love these photos Clive. I especially love the one "Walking down the old Honister Slate Mine tramway". What beautiful scenery!!

  4. Glad you're getting past the initial sore feet period. Did you work up to this hike at all, with small daily hikes prior to commencing your journey? Spectacular scenery, though - well worth a couple of sore feet! Ed (and Jo).

  5. I'm reading all these posts after the fact; would have been lovely to follow along day by day as it was happening. This is something I should've done years ago!