Tuesday 2nd June, 2015
In true summer onehundred fashion I awoke at a ridiculously early time in the morning – four forty-five am. Once it became clear I wouldn’t be getting back to sleep any time soon I hauled myself out of bed to the kitchen where I set about planning for the day ahead. The weather was remarkably good, if a little blustery, and I thought we could fit in a quick walk before the rain was due to sweep in at around eleven.
The cottage in which we are staying in is kitted out with a folder of ‘Walks from the Door’ – twelve leaflets detailing walks of varying lengths and difficulties complete with route maps and information on time, distance, views, height, terrain and refreshments along the way.
I read through them all and picked out three that looked suitable for this week. As the name suggests, the walks are all so close by there’s no need to drive anywhere – they all loop right back down to the cottage. The one I had in mind for this morning took us down to the foot of Grange Fell, up to what promised to be a spectacular viewing point, around the other side of the fell back to the road again, across the marshland near Derwentwater, past a small woodland and back home, all in around two hours.
I woke G up to the smell o coffee and informed him of my plan He set about crafting pancakes and bacon sandwiches for breakfast, and before long we were ready to head out.
We hadn’t been on our way long when we felt the first spots of rain and had to stop for a wardrobe change, but it was only a passing shower and from them on the rain held out. We crossed the River Derwent and found ourselves on the road to Keswick, but we headed towards Seatoller until we spotted a gate on the opposte side. It led up a relatively steep and rocky bridlepath which was a bit of a shock to the system after Norfolk’s flat paths. It evened out fairly quickly and before long we were comfortably climbing.
Other than a lone deer in the valley below us we were alone on the fell. Our route took us to a lovely ladder stile to cross a dry stone wall, and we followed the narrow path until we reached a slight scramble up to the viewing point which our leaflet called the Grange Intake. “Don’t look right ’til you get up here” G instructed from above me. I was glad he did, because the view was absolutely stunning.
We sat on a rock to take it in. Behind us lay the jaws of Borrowdale and Castle Crag, with Rosthwaite, Seatoller and Seathwaite below – the fells and crags there were shrouded in a thick, unforgiving cloud which i knew would soon be heading our way. Looking ahead of us, though, it was impossible to think that rain was anywhere close by; the Lake sparkled below, with the breeze creating swirls and patterns on the water which were unlike anything I’d ever seen. Keswick bustled behind Derwentwater, and gazing down at us all was Skiddaw and the surrounding fells. They always look like a kind of gang to me, but today they seemed kind.
derwentwater, keswick, and the skiddaw range
We could see our cottage, too, over on the left, and the nearby hamlets and villages. “They look like toys,” G said, and he was right. We watched the tiny post van on its deliveries, and cotton-bud lambs frolicking in the meadows. The road, barely visible anyway, was silent. It was idyllic, but for the increasing wind and threat of rain behind us.
On we went, back down the path and through a gate in the wall. Our instructions took us down the path and through another gate, but just before it we spotted another track which led to a glittering stream. According to our map this was Troutdale Beck, and our track took us to a set of trickling falls, excitably tumbling down the rocks following last night’s rainfall.
We followed the beck round into the valley below the fell and eventually found our way back to the road. Upon instruction we passed through a gate into the marshy area next to Derwentwater; in the winter the lake floods into this land, but today it was dry – or so we thought, until we were maybe fifty metres from the fence. Here we had to scout around for the dryest patches possible to leap between, and even then we still ended up with damp feet. Nonetheless we followed the fence and found our way to the so-called ‘Chinese Bridge’ over the River Derwent. From there we were comforted by a long stretch of path made from, G realised, recycled tyres.
following troutdale beck to the road
The rain appeared as we sat on an outcrop ahead of the Lake. From where we were it didn’t look like rain – instead it seemed that clouds themselves were sweeping gently through the air, rather than individual raindrops. We ‘togged up’ and headed on, and the rain soon passed as we made our way up towards a woodland. This path took us around the wooded area and through a field, until we reached the road towards our cottage, our home.
The rain began just as we passed through our front door. Allowing ourselves a break, we discussed our next move. Eventually we decided that twenty-four hours was long enough to spend in the Lake District without a taste of Grasmere gingerbread, so we headed in that direction after a brief stop in Keswick. The rain began to peter away as we splashed past beautiful Thirlmere, and almost stopped entirely when we parked up in an unusually quiet Grasmere village.
After a light lunch we purchased the necessary gingerbread and took a wander around the shops before heading back to the car. I wanted to show G Colwith Force but couldn’t quite remember its location; despite the SatNav (which got impatient with us constantly defying its sinstructions) we overshot our destination by an astonishing amount and ended up taking what can only be described as ‘the scenic route’. In the Lakes, however, this means lanes practically too narrow for one car, let alone two, not to metion S-bends, hairpins, cattle grids, free-roaming sheep and inclines and declines of 25%. Ït’s fun because it’s dangerous!” G grinned. Ït’s dangerous because it’s fun…” I muttered, but we went anyway.
Somehow, in spite of a surprise cyclist, a speeding Land Rover and some racing sheep, we made it all the way around the valley back to Langdale and the road to Ambleside. I’d just resigned myself to not seeing the Force – which would have been a real shame after all the rain – when I spotted a gate at the top of a set of sleet slate steps. We pulled over and headed up for a look.
The Force was stunning and the noise enormous. I was so pleased to have been able to show G, and revisit it myslef; I’d not been since day eight-eight in twenty-thirteen.
We made our way home and relaxed for a while, catching up on the news before making a start on tea – homemeade pizzas. Discussed Wordsworth as G cooked, looking out over the valley. It’s still so true, and so beautiful.