Sprinkling Tarn, Lake District to Ravenglass, West Coast Cumbria
18 miles, 1600 feet ascent and 3570 feet descent approx
This was it. The last leg and I was actually looking forward to finishing our marathon trek across Northern England. I just wanted to enjoy some home comforts, relax, rest and recuperate!
The original plan was a pitch on Ill Crag, climb up Scafell Pike and Scafell before heading on to Eskdale and finally Ravenglass on the coast.
But we pitched elsewhere to meet Phil and Bic and come the morning on the last day – we were too knackered to climb the Scafells and more importantly we had a deadline of 3pm to reach the coast. I had arranged to meet my wife there who would collect me and Eion and so I didn’t want to keep her waiting after a long drive from the Midlands.
So, after saying our farewell’s to Phil and Bic we walked upto Esk Hause and then descended into Great Moss.
The wind was still chilly despite the blue skies and sunshine. In fact it was bloody freezing and we were keen to head down and out of it.
When planning our route some time ago I figured we had only 6 miles or so to reach the coast but as it turned out – my memory failed me. It was much further than that!
Anyway, Great Moss – what a place. This really was a highlight of our journey.
Basically, it forms part of what is now an extinct volcano. The crater of which all the lava spilled out, if you like – while all around the high fell’s of the Scafells, Esk Pike, Bowfell, Crinkle Crags and more surround.
Walking through this giant amphitheatre you don’t think you are walking through little green England. It’s an awe-inspiring place of which one cannot help but be mesmerised and humbled by the forces of nature.
Following the infant River Esk you notice many boulders sat around and about that upon closer inspection are not small – but huge! It’s a fantastic place and a little visited place in the Lakes namely due to the terrain, lengthy walk in and the fact the nearby roads are narrow rural lanes – not suitable for heavy traffic.
But making the effort to reach this place is definitely worth it and the journey there doesn’t have to be that long if you take a look at other route options.
The water’s were clear right down to the bottom, the sun shone – and now we were tired, aching and sweating in the humid air. We were now regretting leaving the cold wind up on the tops to cool us down but nevertheless on we went.
Anyway, take a look at the following pictures. Click on them to enlarge – it’s worth it! The first shows Eion on the left stood by one of Sampson’s Stones.
Here is another panoramic photo from further away. If you look carefully, on the left in the mid-distance, right of the rock in the foreground – you’ll see the very boulder Eion was leant against.
More often than not, photography quite simply does not do landscapes any justice whatsoever. You just have to be there and see it with your own eyes.
Some hours later we finally reached tarmac at the foot of the Hardknott Pass – the head of Eskdale.
Eskdale again is little visited in the Lakes and I thoroughly recommend you pay a visit. Not only are you close to some of the biggest tops in England but within the valley are beautiful waterfalls, forests and more. It’s certainly a place of variety when it comes’ to scenery.
And of course it possesses history, too. The famous Hardknott Roman Fort as one example.
We were walking along the narrow country lanes hoping to reach a nearby pub for a quick drink and snack when it dawned on me that we had a much further walk to the coast than I remembered.
There was no way we were going to reach Ravenglass for 3pm. Fortunately, I phoned my wife having finally got a signal and informed her we were likely to be late. This turned out to not be a problem as she was late herself caught in traffic. So, me and Eion then ploughed onto the pub and had a well-earned pint of ale as we took in the latest events of the world via BBC News on a television.
It was a bit weird sat there seeing what we had been happening with regards to “civilisation”. It never occurred to me that I hadn’t longed for the internet, mixing with crowds, urban life and so on. Sure, I missed some home comforts but this was different. We really felt we had come from one world and walked into another.
And to be fair we probably looked liked it, too. We likely stank, were covered in sweat and dirt, unshaven, head hair all over the place – yep, we probably looked like posh tramps for sure.
But no matter, we took in the election results of the UK and then made our way onwards – reluctantly because we suddenly had a taste for the ale.
We soon encountered crowds and traffic as we neared Dalesgarth. Here can be found a train station for the Ravenglass railway. It’s a narrow gauge track originally built for shifting slate and the like from nearby mines. Now it’s used by the locals as public transport and also a tourist attraction – namely because of the steam engines.
There were hundreds of people about enjoying the sun, scenery and steam engines.
And to top that off there was a big event for children.
Postman Pat was there for the day to entertain the kiddies.
Of course, being in the presence of such a famous character me and Eion made a dash over shouting, “Pat! Pat!”
With some reluctance on Pat’s minder’s part we had our picture taken with him.
“We’ve done a coast to coast walk!” Eion explained to Pat and so the cameras came out and a pic was captured.
Aye, it was humbling for us and probably scary for Pat and his minder having two grown-up tramps almost run him down to be in his company.
But Postman Pat had other things to do – probably a pint and a cigarette – and so me and Eion carried on down the road heading for Eskdale Green.
By this point it was about 1.30pm and we were going to ascend Muncaster Fell before dropping down to the coast.
But the heat, roads and miles were taking there toll on our exhausted bodies. So, we ditched that idea and stuck to a bridleway that skirted the fell.
The rest is a bit of blur really – a bit like our first two days – we just plodded on, heads down and silent. We just focused on reaching the coast with the occasional look back to the high fells of Lakeland – and marvellous views they were.
It seemed to take hours and hours but eventually, a cool breeze enveloped us – the smell of salt in the air – we had neared the coast and in turn Ravenglass.
The time was 3.30pm and with a further walk on through the village we hit the sand dunes.
No cheering. Just a picture or two a shake of hands and pats on our back. That was it.
We done it. Just.
And what did we do then?
We headed to a nearby public convenience and washed ourselves down – to look a bit more presentable – and headed off to another pub.
Where we just sat there mumbling, nodding and looking into space with a beer in our hands.
We laughed now and again – sometimes at the silliest of things – but that was likely due to a bit of alcohol and an adrenaline high.
Time passed when suddenly the pub door opened to reveal my wife walking in.
I forgot to tell her we reached Ravenglass and were in a pub. But she knows me and Eion very well indeed. Bless her.
She figured we would be in the nearest public house and she was proved correct.
We then headed out to the car where my wife informed us she wanted to head to the beach and take pictures of me and Eion having finished our trek. To be honest, we just wanted to get in the car and get going!
My step-daughter had made a large banner congratulating us on our achievement and so we unrolled the banner and held it aloft on the beach.
We even had passers-by congratulate us which was nice.
We gained a lot of kudos from folk we met on our walk for choosing the route we did – and in the time we aimed to complete it – with the intention of raising funds for Mountain Rescue. It really brought home a sense of satisfaction.
So, that’s about it. We plonked our rears in the auto and headed on back into the Lakes to a campsite whereupon we met up with Phil, Bic and some other friends to celebrate the end of our coast to coast walk – a mini party, if you like.
My final thought’s on this trek? Would I do it again? Would I do anything different? Select other gear?
That dear reader is for another post….