Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Coast to Coast day 1: St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge

We had a really nice dinner at the Queen's Hotel. Trevor had rabbit and I had a risotto.

We were planning on an early night as we had been up early and wanted to be up early on our first walking morning so that we could finish organising our bags and ensure that anything we don't need over the coming two weeks got put into the bag that is being sent direct to Robin Hoods Bay. Best laid plans ... yes we did hit the sack early but I didn't get much sleep. I seemed to toss and turn and worry about swimming things. Trevor also slept badly. This was not how we had hoped to start the walk ... tired and unrested.

We went down to breakfast shortly before 7:30am. There was a lot of options and choices available. After cereal I had scrambled eggs with toast and Trevor opt for a full english breakfast. There was orange juicce to start and plunger coffee. We were well fed.

After collecting our packed lunches, there are no reliable eating places on the route today, Sunday making life a little more challenging than weekdays.

We were ready to leave with our luggage duly delivered downstairs before 8:45am, our designated departure time.

Getting ready to leave ... Trevor eager to go

Once the whole group assembled we headed off to the start of the walk.

Statue of St Bega, who St Bees was named after, with the Priory Church in the background
There are a couple of traditions we needed to observe. Firstly, we needed to collect a pebble from the beach which we will carry across to Robin Hoods Bay and deposit there and then we had to dip our boot in the Irish Sea. Fortunately the tide was in and we were saved a long walk across the sand to reach the water. There were also photos, individual and group, in front of the starting point.

Stone collecting and toe dipping

Finally we were off.

A view over part of st Bees

The first part of the walk took us along the cliff tops alongside the Irish Sea. At time the narrow track was right on the clifftops with only grasses and plants as protection. Not for the faint hearted. The Isle of Man appeared ghost like out of the sea.

After walking north along the clifftop we finally turned inland and headed for the small settlement of Sandwith. Blink and you would miss it.

Next came Moor Row and Cleator, still fairly small settlements. We stopped for lunch between these two places on a disused railway line which has now been converted into a path. It was relatively sheltered, good after the buffeting we had had from the wind.

Along the paths we encountered quite a few kissing gates and the odd stile.

From Cleator we headed up Dent Hill, a climb of about 300m. Unfortunately there was low cloud which obscured the views of the surrounding peaks. Still we did get to see some lovely countryside.

Making our way up Dent Hill

Trevor at the carn that does not mark the top of Dent Hill ... but is near the top

Heading down from Raven Crag (hill)

How green is our valley?
From the summit of Dent Hill we traversed to Raven Crag (hill) and descended to the valley floor and the tricking Nannycatch Beck. A beck is a creek. We followed Nannycatch Beck for quite a distance. It was intersected by numerous streams of water flowing into it ... all of which needed to be crossed eother by stepping over the flow, stomping through it, using stepping stones or, occassionally, a bridge.

A bridge across Nannycatch Beck
Leaving the beck behind we followed the road into Ennerdale Bridge where we were spending the night at the Shepherds Arms Hotel. After a shower and change of clothes we headed down to the bar to join the rest of our group. This was followed by a really nice dinner at the hotel.

Arriving at the Shepherd's Arms
Along our route we saw and passed quite a few sheep. most were marked with dye. I suspect that this is an owners marking.

All up today we did 23.3km with an elevation gain of 755m and a loss of 749m.

Trevor and I both had a couple of sore spots on our feet. Hopefully the hikers wool will cushion them in the days ahead.

During the day we had had some very narrow paths, some barely as wide as a hiking boot. Underfoot we had stones, rocks, grass and the odd bog. The stones are certainly the hardest on our feet.

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