Coast to Coast Trip – Leg Eight

Grizedale Tarn to Sprinkling Tarn, Lake District
14 miles and 3600 feet approx

It was a pleasant but chilly morning at the beginning of our penultimate leg. We were descending towards Grasmere when it suddenly occurred to me that though we had made our day walks shorter in the Lake District – we had in fact increased our total ascent and descent for those days. I was hoping to feel more relaxed in this part of the world not just as tired as on the previous legs!

Nevertheless, we set off really early to ensure we reached our next night’s camp on time as we had arranged to meet a couple of friends as a morale boosting send off to the coast.

The plan was to head for Grasmere and then follow Alfred Wainwright’s coast to coast route to near High Raise. After a wander in that vicinity we were then to aim for Angle Tarn at the foot of Esk Pike, over Esk Hause and camp on Seathwaite Fell (the top where Sprinkling Tarn resides nearby).

It seemed a simple enough route and should only have required a bit of stamina on our part while maintaining quality scenic views from higher up.

The drop down to the A591 was easy enough and done in good time and by the time we were on the official C2C, so to speak, refuse collectors were out in force (how they manage to drive so easily down these narrow lanes is beyond me!) and the odd farmer were herding cows out into the fields.

It made for a relaxing start to the day and in terms of scenery an atmosphere it got better and better.

The approach up the fells in Far Easedale is a scenic tour de force of the Lakes I’ve not encountered before. It mattered not one jot where you cast your gaze – stunning scenery of flora and fauna was abound, all framed by towering fells that seemed to have much greater altitudes with only the sounds of the wind, birds and waterfalls to finish it all off.

It was marvellous! One of the few times on the trip where I actually felt at ease and didn’t need any motivation for the long day ahead.

However, that feeling of euphoria soon dissipated as we plodded on up to Ferngill Crag. It became steep, the sun shone down and made us sweat more, the cooling breeze went elsewhere – it was suddenly hard work.

Furthermore, as we headed off to Grasmere Common to take in views of the Langdale Valley and beyond we hit open rough country again. Just the odd track here and there but mostly rough grass and bog.

It was arduous and I hoped there would be something in the way of a firm path about but as it happened I gave up on that wish – what was the bloody point? Saying all that, it made for an interesting area to explore. Lots of nooks and crannies with small tarns dotted about and with ever more expansive views.

Here we were in amongst some of the most popular areas in the Lake District and there was not another soul about! It was brilliant! Not that I’m anti-social – as some of you very well know. But it’s always nice to be out and about in such places by yourself with only your inner voice as company. You take things in more when hiking solo. No music, traffic noise and the like. I personally love it but I’m aware some folk find this un-nerving.

And sure, here I was with Eion for company but one thing I enjoy about walking with Eion is that we can AND often do walk in total silence. We may have spurts of conversation and jokes for a few minutes – but he enjoys the peace too. It’s nice to share that with someone and not have to feel the need to talk.

We can both happily sit there on a rock and enjoy the view without saying a word. Heck! Sometimes I can be sat some distance away or even wander off and we don’t murmur a word.

We took a break somewhere up there and took in the surrounded landscape. All the big boys were out in force on all points of the compass and it was nice to see them from a different perspective.

It’s often said  that on most approaches to Scafell Pike you can’t actually see the summit until you’re almost on it. But here we were looking over at this massive bulk of rock rising out of the earth with it’s summit shelter clear as day.

In fact, as we descended the flanks of High Raise later on it became somewhat disorientating walking along and ahead to the Scafells etc. Their lines were at all angles, up and down, twisting around – it was like we needed a spirit level to get a sense of where the flat of the land lay.

We decided to make a race for Angle Tarn with the intention of reaching our camp early. Exhaustion was the primary reason and not the crowds we began to encounter.

We planned to relax in the sun and maybe have an afternoon kip before Phil and Bic arrived. We tend to have jovial meet ups in the hills and so we felt the desire to get some rest and not feel rude by not being talkative (tiredness) when they turned up.

This idea proved counter-productive, though. By the time we reached Esk Hause we were bloody knackered full stop!

So, we took an easy stroll down to Sprinkling Tarn and then made our way out onto Seathwaite Fell to keep out of sight and away from any other wild campers (the place is somewhat popular for it even though there are abundant amounts of pitches elsewhere on the fell).

The wind had picked up some speed as the day went on and brought with it a significant wind chill. But the air was clear and you could see for miles. It proved tricky locating a sheltered spot on the fell – no matter where we went the wind was blowing a hoolie.

But we found a couple of small spots that were better than most about and so began to set up our camp for the night.

Not long after doing so, I was informing Eion I was off to seek some water when I heard a distant voice – “Pizza delivery!” of which it turned out to be Phil.

He and Bic had turned up early. Bic had recently broke his collar bone so wanted to head up to meet us sooner rather than later – and yes, despite his injury the tough guy still came to see us.

Not long after we had some food, cracked open some cans of beer and had a laugh and chat in the wind and cold. Crazy eh? I tell you what – that can of beer was heaven! I was like a bee to nectar and even though I didn’t drink alot (obvious why) it was a terriffic morale booster.

And so was the company.

Soon the sun began to set so I took the lads around the fell to take in the views and point out the best spots to enjoy the setting sun.

To be fair, we didn’t hang about too much as it was mightily cold in the wind and not long after we all retreated to our tents for the night.

It was great meeting up with Phil and Bic. The lads are great company and really really tried to boost our morale. They didn’t need to. Just enjoying their company was enough. It may sound overly sentimental of me to say this but it’s true.

It’s times like that when you realise that just a few words or a smile can be most supportive. No doubt Phil and Bic thought I may feel this way because of a couple of cans of beer. But it was them. They made the effort to come and see us and bring some treats. More so Bic with his severe injury.

All well and good we needed it before our final leg.

I knew that despite the relatively few miles – the final day was going to be a toughie. Namely because I promised my wife we’d be in Ravenglass for 3pm. I tried in vain to get a mobile phone signal on the tops but the network’s bandwidth was having none of it!

I wanted to say to her “Make it 5pm!” as I could see us literally crawling to the coast!!

So, lights out at 10pm and off to the land of nod we went – our last night out on the hills and last night out on the trek.

It felt weird realising that. And in all honesty I was pleased it was almost over. I was desperate to a degree for some home comforts – steak and chips, ale perhaps, a comfy sofa, proper clean clothes, a shave, central heating, hot shower – you name it. You can take them for granted. And though it’s always good to be reminded of this now and again this was a time I really would do anything to get out of the outdoors and into my home.

Home sweet home! Here we come!


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic yet again. The photos really help to take you there – and you managed to get some wonderfully atmospheric ones on this leg.


  2. Rob says:

    Great tale Terry, managed to get a can of wife beater in as well.


  3. Martin Rye says:

    Nice leg and good last but one day for a coast to coast.


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