Coast to Coast - Saturday 9th July - Day 4 - Grasmere to Patterdale, 8.5 miles
View to the Grisedale pass
After a full cooked breakfast at the guesthouse, we stocked up on food at a nearby shop and hopped on the bus back to Grasmere. Mysteriously, the fare had gone up by thirty pence overnight but this was soon explained as the bus dropped us a further quarter of a mile into the village from where we had caught it the day before. Grasmere seemed much more pleasant early in the morning without the hordes of tourists and after we had sorted out our rucksacks we were soon headed out on a quiet country lane towards the A591 where we were to pick up a path climbing alongside Tongue Gill and on up towards Grisedale Tarn.
Alan practices crossing rivers
The weather was looking very promising and as it began to warm up, Alan had to stop to remove the 'legs' from his zip-off trousers. Besides overheating, from which he suffered regularly, Alan was also unfortunate in that he was suffering badly from insect bites, particularly midges. While I seemed to be of no interest to the tiny black vampires, Alan was constantly followed by a cloud of insects that hovered just above his head. Each day, a new crop of bites would appear and I couldn't help but sympathise as he sat in the pub each evening scratching away at each new eruption on his skin. It seemed odd that I wasn't bothered by them and we came to the conclusion that it was body heat that attracted them.
Waterfalls on Tongue Gill
As we climbed out onto the open fellside, we could see large groups of walkers taking the high route above Tongue Gill while the lower route appeared walker free. This was soon explained by a sign at the river warning that the bridge leading to the start of the lower route was unsafe. A large hole in the middle of it had been covered with a board and I tested it using one of my trekking poles before crossing carefully, followed closely by Alan, once I had reached the safety of the other bank. There now followed a wonderful, steady climb in beautiful surroundings towards the Grisedale Pass and we made good progress, arriving eventually at the impressive cascades below the summit of the pass.
Looking back down Tongue Gill
Soon, our route joined with the higher route, and after a short distance, we stood on the pass looking down onto the calm waters of Grisedale Tarn. This spot held a particular significance to me as when I had been here thirteen years earlier, I had experienced the worst weather of the whole trip when a blizzard had blown up just as I reached the tarn. The wind then had been so strong that I had been unable to proceed and I was forced to shelter behind rocks near the end of the tarn while I waited for the storm to abate. Now, the scene couldn't have been more different and we stopped for a break and enjoyed the sunshine as we ate and watched two female fell runners descending the almost vertical flanks of Fairfield. As they reached the tarn, they casually said 'hello' before continuing their conversation as they began the steep climb up the path to Dollywagon Pike with us staring after them in awe.
St.Sunday Crag from Grisedale Tarn
From the pass,we descended into the Grisedale valley and enjoyed an easy and uneventful stroll in wonderful scenery to the village of Patterdale, our overnight halt. We located the Side Farm campsite and booked in at the cafe where we indulged in tea and cake before walking the extra quarter of a mile to the site to pitch our tents. Apart from the inconvenience of the distance from the village, this was a wonderful site situated on the banks of Ullswater with stunning views across the lake to Glenridding and the surrounding fells.
View from the Campsite
After pitching the tents, we showered, washed clothes out and relaxed enjoying the afternoon sun before returning to the village for a meal and a few pints in the White Lion pub with Mike and Sue, the Australians we had set out with four days earlier. The walk back to the campsite seemed much shorter after a few drinks but we knew that tomorrow, the easier, shorter days would be coming to an abrupt halt as we headed for Shap and out of the Lake District via the highest point of the whole walk.