I have a restless night and go downstairs at 4AM, huddle on the couch, then wake AJM up when it is light at 5:30. We leave Wilmaton at 6:15 and arrive at Langdale slightly before 8:30. The skies, incredibly, are already clear. After checking our bags at the hotel and eating the sandwiches Margaret made for us, we set off on our different expeditions. I sit by the pond first to take my bearing with the maps and drink a soy milk.
The Beckfoot cottage footpath near Chapel Stile.
I head up the road and turn off on the footpath beyond Beckfoot cottage. I go a short way only to discover the path blocked by shaggy highland cows whose curious gazes intimidate me (fresh from reading the news story of the woman crushed by cows) into turning back.
I know that the footpath empties on the road above Chapel Stile, so I walk through the old quarry village instead (which I think is more interesting anyway) and pass the church as the bells are tolling 9.
Back on the footpath, the initial 600 foot ascent to the ridge is steep. The sun is out and I immediately begin shedding clothes and wishing I’d worn my shorts instead. I reach the ridge and can see Windermere to the east and Chapel Stile below me. I reach the ridge by 9:30 and sit down to rest and write and take photos. I’ve not seen anyone on the path yet, but just as I’m about to set off again, a family (mother, father, and small boy all in hiking shorts and with walking sticks) come up the way I am and pass me by.
I follow the Langdale Ridge and arrive at Meg’s Gill half an hour later. I don’t see the path up from Chapel Stile although I’ve read the view of the falls makes it worthwhile. I’ll try it next time.
The undulating path on Langdale Ridge seen looking east from Meg’s Gill. Grasmere is on the left and Windermere on the right. I should have turned where the path intersects, but didn’t notice it.
At this point I’ve made my mistake and missed the path for Silver How. I continue through a wide meadow with several small tarns and am halfway to Blea Rigg when I see a cairn in the distance which I climb up to. It’s 11AM now. I can’t really consider myself lost as I can see exactly where I am; I just don’t know how to get where I’m going. I have a great view of the Langdale Pikes on one side and Windermere to the other, but I’ve lost all sight of Grasmere. I determine that I’m on Lang How.
Great Langdale below and the Langdale Pikes. About this time AJM and SAM are climbing up Pavey Ark along Jack’s Rake. From right to left, Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle, Pike o’Stickle and Loft Crag. In the distance Bowfell and Crinkle Crags (which we climb tomorrow).
After resting for awhile I take follow the only path I see going off northerly. It turns into a sheep track and then disappears altogether for awhile into boggy ground. I pick it up again, then I see a rise and a cairn and I’m on the southern ridge of Silver How. I make my way to the summit proper and have a nice sit down overlooking Grasmere. I’ve come less than half the way I’ve planned and have already been out for three hours. But I decide to carry on down to Grasmere. The next time though, I won’t. I like sitting on the summit reading or writing while looking down on the world much better than endless trekking.
Looking up at Silver How from the scree gully. The path avoided the worst of the scree. Rarely do you see a sky this clear and blue in the Lake District.
Following the guidebook I descend the depression on the west and immediately turn wrong again. The only path I see is the one down the scree gully and the only way I know it is a path is that there is a sign saying that construction work is being done to repair it. So down I go and it is very rough, but there is no scrambling. Eventually I get to the section which has be reconstructed as steps and the going gets easier. I’m almost to the stone wall when I meet a family coming up and stop to tell them the conditions ahead. As I continue down, I finally meet scores of people coming up. Until this point, I’ve been almost alone on the fells.
A little after 1PM I reach Faerieland and have a bottlegreen blackcurrant presse.
Faerieland on Grasmere. You have to buy something to use the loo.
I continue into Grasmere with the idea of getting lunch (which I don’t). After visiting Wordsworth’s grave, I buy some of Sarah Nelson’s gingerbread (as usual) and walk on to Dove Cottage. I’m running so late now, that I don’t pay for the tour but continue up to Rydal Water and Loughrigg Fell.
Someone painting Grasmere.
It’s 2:45 when I leave Dove Cottage and 3:45 when I arrive at last at the hotel. Along the busy road between Grasmere and Ambleside, I permit myself the iPod (“Thick as a Brick”) to cut out the traffic noise and to keep me trudging along even though my boots are pinching my toes. Listening to it on the fells proper, would have been a sin against the place.
From Loughrigg Terrace I can see where I was. The tallest golden lump on the left is Silver How. The fold in the hill next to it is the scree gully. Grasmere is below.