Tour of the Lake District
In May last year, Lisa and Mick Brook won tickets to a talk by the Cicerone author Jim Reid. Jim was launching his new guidebook ‘Tour of the Lake District’ at the Keswick Mountain Festival.
Lisa and Mick already had a week booked off work that summer but were undecided about where to go. After Jim's interesting and inspiring talk they both decided that the Tour of the Lake District would make a perfect holiday, and be a challenge at the same time. It proved to be so on both counts, and helped prepare them for their next project a few months later, the Tour of the Jungfrau. But that's another story!
Lisa and Mick live in Whitby, North Yorkshire, where they are both accountants in the motor trade. To maintain their sanity, they escape to the hills at every opportunity.
Mick has held a life-long interest in walking and the mountains which started when he joined the Scouts. Lisa started hill walking when she met Mick – she had no choice! Her first hill day was Sharp Edge on Blencathra and fortunately she loved it.
Lisa and Mick set off on the ‘tour’ on the 14th July 2007.
Mick tells us more:
Set off from Patterdale Youth Hostel at 11.20am, an hour or so later than planned due to finding a tick on my arm on the drive over. Fortunately, the staff at the outdoor shop in Pooley Bridge managed to remove it and I purchased a tick removal kit in case it was needed later in the trip. Intermittent showers followed us up Threshwaite Cove and over the pass down wet and boggy ground beyond. At Troutbeck Park farm the sun appeared and we saw our first walkers since leaving Hartsop. Pleasant walking for the rest of the afternoon got us to Troutbeck Youth Hostel just in time to order dinner. We had a superb meal. Unfortunately, a good night’s sleep was denied by incessant snorers in the dorm.
A lovely sunny morning complemented the neat, Alpine-like hamlet of Town End. Pleasant meadows and woodland then followed to Ambleside, which was a bit of a shock to the senses after the lack of people we had seen the day before. An interesting and surprisingly quiet route took us through Skelwith Bridge and Elterwater villages before the final climb over to Yewdale and Coniston Youth Hostel just as the rain started. Another splendid three-course meal was followed by a good night’s sleep in our own room.
Awoke to rain and low cloud which fortunately cleared after breakfast. Had a steep pull to the top of a mist-covered Walna Scar, which soon cleared on the long descent to the River Duddon. This was lovely wild and open country, and as we breasted Harter Fell the sun welcomed us into Eskdale with distant views to the Scafells. We lounged outside Eskdale Youth Hostel in the hot sunshine before yet another excellent meal and a visit to the Woolpack. Days don’t come much better.
A bright and clear morning with the odd early shower, though not enough to trouble the waterproofs. Lovely walking following the Esk then across country to Miterdale forest. On reaching Irton Fell we decided to continue along the ridge to Whin Rigg and Illgill Head with stunning views down to Wast Water and to Wasdale Head, where we could just pick out Burnthwaite farm, the last building in the valley. A double room tonight, luxury! Lisa’s feet were quite sore; a problem that was going to get worse. However, a night in the Wasdale Head Inn eased the pain. Another wonderful day.
(Packhorse bridge, behind the Wasdale Head inn - Photo by Jim Reid)
A sunny morning promised a fine day. However, about halfway up to Black Sail Pass the heavens opened. Looking down into Ennerdale from the top, there seemed to be water everywhere and it was difficult to follow the path. We met four people coming up towards us, two of whom were the wardens from Black Sail Youth Hostel. They said we could make ourselves a hot drink when we got there and take shelter. We did! It had stopped raining when we reached Scarth Gap Pass, but on the descent to Buttermere Lisa found two ticks in her leg. Out came the recently acquired tick removal kit, and after a bit of practice out came the ticks. Buttermere Hostel was full, so after being ignored at the Bridge Hotel we tried the nearby Fish Hotel and were made very welcome. A short day in terms of mileage but incident packed.
A fine, warm, sunny morning and pleasant walking through woods and open fell to Rigg Beck. It started to rain when we reached the Newlands valley, and on reaching Portinscale we sheltered in the cafe. Then a quick dash to Keswick Youth Hostel, and that was us finished for the day. A nice evening in Keswick was spoilt only by thoughts of tomorrow’s longest day of the trip to Grasmere. Lisa’s feet were becoming a concern; no blisters but very sore and painful.
Up early, a long day in prospect. Things started very pleasantly along Derwentwater to Grange and then Rosthwaite. We stopped for lunch by Greenup Gill before the long climb to Greenup Edge. So far so good. But on the descent to Far Easedale we had to stop to patch up Lisa’s painful feet. Very slow progress followed down the seemingly endless Easedale with Lisa in a lot of discomfort. Finally, after nearly nine hours, we booked into Grasmere Youth Hostel. Dinner and an early night for us both.
The final day and it looked like rain. A quick diversion into Grasmere for some Compeed and we were off. We were soon on the final big climb of the trip up to Grisedale Hause, and of course it started to rain. We carried on past the tarn and down to Ruthwaite Lodge for a lunch stop. The end was in sight though, so we didn’t linger too long and pressed on to Patterdale and the end of the tour. What a great week it had been, and a route to savour and recommend to others.
Congratulations to Jim Reid for coming up with an excellent route. With hundreds of Lakeland walking books already published, it can’t have been an easy task to create something that hadn’t been covered before. I have regularly been walking in the Lake District for over thirty years now, yet the tour took me to areas I had never been to before. Also, areas I thought I knew well were viewed from a new perspective. Travelling through a landscape from one valley to another rather than just summit bagging or ridge walking proved to be a very satisfying experience, and apart from the busy towns of Ambleside and Keswick we saw very few other walkers which, considering it was July, came as a pleasant surprise. All in all, a great route which highlights the tremendous variety of scenery Lakeland has to offer.
Lisa and Mick Brook