UP FELL AND DOWN VALE

Diary Day 3 – getting lost.
An up and over walk to Thirlspot on a lovely crisp sunny morning. Looked straightfoward on the map and the instruction sheet made it sound easy!
Stopped to buy postcards, near the White Lion, which is for lease. Hmmm – not enough super for that dream. We divert to examine an old churchyard, always interesting and we could have spent ages there. But the sun’s up and the morning’s getting warm.

White Lion

The White Lion beneath a clear blue sky

Then start our ascent under sunny skies. Up Glenridding valley following a clear path. Hotels and other holiday houses below us, the Screes opposite, vertical tumbles of broken rock and slate. Further up, Sheffield Pike looming above the screes and an abandoned mine looking from a distance like a fortress. Apparently stone and slate mined here, also lead.
Interesting ruins at the mine. Paused for lunch and another wizz behind a mullock heap. Then up steeply on a narrow gravel path. Two mountain bikers passed us, going up in avery low gear! Hard going, hard work for everyone. Very steep and narrow.
Other walkers around about, including a long line way up above us on the ridge top. Path becomes indistinct, we take the more obvious one veering off along the gorge. Fascinating mine shafts and industrial remains. We half expect to meet hobitts, trolls or dwarves. Then the path meets a cliff face – no way ahead.
We climb the rubble slope to our left, scrambling and slipping, to find another sort-of track. Consult field notes, map and compass. The compass on Vicki’s iPhone!

The Fells

Looking across the Fells, not too dissimilar to Victoria’s High Country

But basically lost. Well, still on the map somewhere within a 500 meter radius. Negotiate our way up and across the slope, vaguely in the right direction. Notes say look for an indistinct cairn but none in sight. Various trails and an abandoned quarry where a school group is running and shouting.
We meet a walker named Fraser coming down. A long chat, mainly about which mountains he’s climbed today. He points out Sheffield Pike and Stybarrow Dodd, so we know basically where we are. Then he directs us to a ruined hut and says to go left, west, from there. We do, easy walking, but seems the wrong direction to me.

Happy Tex

Tex on the Fells, before realizing we were lost

Realize next day we were actually heading SW along the contour instead of up to Sticks Pass. Met another track, saw the dams on Keppel Cove, realised where we were by map. Met some more walkers who pointed out Sticks Pass in the distance, so we cut across country, fairly easy on open but spongy ground. The grasses hold so much water! The mountainsides are basically reservoirs.
You can see from here in all directions, the Fells of Cumbria rolling on and on beneath an endless sky. Scrawny sheep watch us pass, like thousands have before us. Finally we’re heading down to Thirlmere, a man-made lake. It’s been a long way and a long day. Toes are sore, quads shaking. Shoulder aches from heavy pack.
Worst thing is at the bottom, a half mile walk along the road to the King’s Head, seems like several miles more when we should be there by now! Cows being herded up the roadway. Oh no, not getting trampled on the final run home?
Eventually we arrive at a lovely historic inn called the King’s Head, dated 1649, the year of Charles I’s execution. Nice staff, welcoming bar with a fire, wonderful meal with four poster bed and a bath in the ensuite! Great meals again and good wine. Relaxing from the stress and soreness.
Read more below . . . the sweetest end.

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