Wainwright’s Coast to Coast – Day Two, Ennerdale Bridge to Borrowdale.

Starting from the very lovely Thorntrees B&B in Ennerdale Bridge for our walk to the Borrowdale Valley, we knew that the weather just wasn’t going to be anywhere near good. In fact, it was downright miserable (at best), all day long. We had continuous, and I mean it didn’t stop for a single second the whole day, rain, and 40-50mph winds. Oh and it was pretty cold at times too. I had two or three layers on top and bottom, plus a mountain hat. I wished I’d had my gloves on at times. Welcome to August in the Lake District.

The walk to Borrowdale was around 14 or 15 miles only – but in these conditions, and with a proposed ascent of three high peaks (Red Pike, High Stile and Haystacks), this was not going to be easy at all.

I’d looked forward to this day on the C2C probably most of all in fact. That’s because it is the one most synonymous with Wainwright himself. Haystacks was his favourite mountain and his final resting place Innominate Tarn beside it. He put in his books before he died that “should you, dear reader, find a piece of grit in your shoe when walking by, then it might be me”

Getting to Haystacks however was going to involve scaling Red Pike and High Stile, and it was sadly obvious from before we even set off that that just wasn’t going to happen. In fact just walking around Ennerdale was hard enough. This was head down, get out of here weather. We couldn’t even see across Ennerdale in fact, and it is supposed to be very pretty. Haystacks and the rest of them would have to just wait for another day.

The ‘low route’ was thus chosen, and we splashed and sploshed our way around Ennerdale Water. From there we tried to eat a packed lunch under the cover of a few trees (we couldn’t get much wetter, but it was a brave attempt to keep the worst of the deluge out of our sandwiches.

Ennerdale Water – apparently a very pretty spot when you can see it properly!

Things got interesting however (despite this being the low route, we still had to climb up to over 2,000 feet) when we passed up past Black Sail YHA (closed due to Covid), and Brandreth and Grey Knotts and over towards the Honister Pass. The paths were becoming rivers, and the route then not always obvious. Mel was a bit scared on more than one occasion as we climbed up and the wind almost knocked her off her feet. I felt guilty that she was in that predicament but there was nothing I could do other than guide her and help her get up and down safely. I don’t think we passed anyone on the path at all the whole day, which given this as a day in August in the Lakes towards one of the most popular passes, will tell you just how shocking a day it was. If you had any choice at all in what you were doing this day you would simply have not even have got out of bed!

This’ll give you a brief idea of the wind, and this was at the foot of the fell – I didn’t dare get my phone out anywhere near the top!
Trying to just cross some of the streams was a pretty hairy experience at times.

Thankfully by the time we came down past Honister Slate Mine, heads down and just tramping through bogs and puddles, the wind had eased somewhat, although the rain was still pelting down.

This would sadly be the nearest I got to Haystacks all day.

Thankfully the Glaramara Hotel in Seatoller provided a lot of welcome relief. A veritable oasis, the Glaramara is a lovely country hotel with open fires (they were on, and we sat right in front, again welcome to August in the Lake District!) and which also does a fixed three course dinner for all of its guests. We also deposited all of our wet kit in the drying room, which sadly was so full of kit and so humid that it would have taken a month to dry most things, and so we elected to turn all of the radiators on in the room instead and hang stuff on there.

Relief at last!!

Having chomped down very happily on all three courses (I think I could have eaten five) before retiring to the nice bar again, we chatted there to a DofE leader who had come in from the nearby campsite to shelter from the rain, and talked primarily about how bad the weather was going to be the next day. The debate was that we had an 18 or 19 mile day to Patterdale to get to, and the forecast was even worse than for today. He advised us that Lining Crag and Greenup Edge were the way to go, and so we settled on that. In this weather it was just a case of getting from place A to place B as efficiently and safely as possible. Views of the Lake District even were all but out of the window, which is such a shame.

Having looked at a number of options on the map for tomorrow, I knew that Greenup Edge was at least the shortest route, and didn’t look too testing in terms of contours, but the strength of the wind and rain would be the determining factor. Still, day two was over, and we were warm and well fed and watered, half way through the Lake District and already one sixth of our way to Robin Hood’s Bay. Day three though would be the most testing of the lot…..