Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Friday 6 June 2008 - Whoosh! - Friendly B+B to The Oddfellows Arms, Caldbeck

Distance - 22 km
Ascent - 551 metres
Time - 7 hours including 1 hour 40 mins stops

Whoosh! My hat shifted in the draught from the outstretched wings.
Whoosh! The talons nearly got it that time.
I hid under a tree.
Whoosh! Gary nearly copped it.
For a good 5 minutes the sustained attack from the angry buzzard continued. It flew straight at us, dive-bombed us, and generally behaved in a most aggressive and antisocial manner.
Occasionally it would rest on a high pole before targeting us by flying straight at one of us (usually me), almost striking a glancing blow before just missing the ground.

Luckily we all survived the attack from the Mad Bird of Orthwaite. Shaken, but not stirred.

We were greeted today by a cloud over Skiddaw that dissolved our plans to scale that hill on our way to Caldbeck. Gary, Sue1 and I had considered this energetic 30km option but given the weather we reverted to plan A.

Setting off from Link House at 9am we encountered our first odd animal behaviour at The Ruddings, where a bemused cockerel looked on quizzically at a grunting sheep.

Then we saw a huge pike lingering near the bridge at Herdwick Croft. Trout in the river looked small in comparison. There had been two pike here yesterday.

A pleasant path beside Bassenthwaite Lake took us to fields that, according to the signs, should be full of bulls. We saw just one today.

Bassenthwaite Village

A brew stop (see header photo) near Kestrel Lodge was most satisfying, with splendid views and perfect weather, except that Skiddaw was still in cloud. The supply of chocolate caramel shortbread (CCS) that Sue1 had been carrying all week and releasing to everyone in small daily portions was finally exhausted here.

After daubing ourselves with sun tan cream we continued through a wood and on along the Cumbria Way's overgrown footpaths strewn with cuckoo flower, at one stage battling with woolly gorse seemingly impregnated with wrens.


Apart from the angry buzzard there was much bird life around Orthwaite, with goldfinches and a pied flycatcher (I think) vying with guinea fowl for our attention near a lovely pink house.

Further on, past beds of forgetmenots, a small mouse was lunching intently on a squashed worm. It was quite oblivious to our presence (Sue1's short video is here) and seemed quite happy to be picked up!

I don't think it'll survive for long!

A disorientated huddle of mountain bikers lurked at Longlands, waiting for their leader who had the map.
He was last.
Lost?!

Eventually the bikers filed past, at just above walking pace.

We continued to a lunch spot where a path branched off to 'Great Sca Fell 2¼'. So which Sca Fell had we been earlier in the week? 'Lesser Sca Fell'?
The views were good - no need to ascend!

Quiet lanes were bordered by fields, some bright green, others sparkling with yellow beds of buttercups.

These led past pretty habitations such as Fellside (above), then down through a lovely, if slightly overgrown, green lane (not the Cumbria Way) to today's destination, Caldbeck.

In the lane we had passed a fledgling great tit and some huge specimens of bracket fungus, and the path was bordered by a mass of flowers dominated by pink purslane and herb robert.

The bracket fungus may be Polyporaceae (perhaps someone out there can tell me more precisely)














By 4pm we were installed with tea and cakes at The Old Smithy Tearoom.

Very Satisfactory.

Then we hobbled across the road to the Oddfellows Arms.

All went well until our shower (luckily not of the exploding variety installed at Dalegarth) leaked into the room below, and the walls and floors seem very thin, so shall we sleep?

Meanwhile we have enjoyed a good meal and a pleasant evening. For most of it we had the pleasure of the company of Sue1's 'aunt' (second cousin?), Rachel, who lives nearby. Rachel was looking very well, and in fine form.

Here's today's route.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange - and apologies for the delay - this was written on Friday, and I spent all of Saturday trying to transmit it. The GPRS simply didn't work and I got the following message when trying to access the internet. "There is insufficient network coverage to process your request. Please try again later." The message didn't appear to relate to signal strength. I finally resolved the problem by taking the battery out for 10 seconds and replacing it! Ho hum!

Now back from this excellent trip, I'll add some more photos and file a report on the last day asap. Now done - 12 June.

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Friday, 6 June 2008

Thursday 5 June 2008 - Low Level Heaven - Superb B+B to Link House, Dubwath

Distance - 19 km
Ascent - 304 metres
Time - 7 hours including 2 hours 10 mins stops

With rain forecast, we opted for a lie in, appreciated by Zen and Jane as well.
So the t-shirt and shorts weather came as a mild surprise to us all.


Outside The Old Homestead, with Martin, Due1, Gary, Andrew (Notchy), Sue2 and David,
not forgetting Zen (below)


After photos outside the fine old building we set off to Cockermouth past signs to remind us of the establishments we had visited, then by a pleasant path beside the River Cocker.

Sue1 and Gary enhanced their sheeps wool collections, whilst the rest of us gawped at the medley of animals, including donkeys and peacocks, at Simonscales Mill.

Entering Cockermouth over a bridge lined with metallic roses, we soon found a café and sat for the best part of an hour watching the mundane activities of the residents of this pleasant market town.

Certain members of our group who couldn't cope well with the lack of newspapers over the past few days managed briefly to remedy this problem before realising that there wasn't really any news.

Exiting Cockermouth with lunch provisions replenished we soon found ourselves on the faint path that was represented on the map as the 'Allerdale Ramble'. Three of us did, anyway, as Notchy's sore feet dictated an even shorter, easier day, and Sue2 and David lingered in the town to look around a Wordsworth museum.

We enjoyed lovely views back to Cockermouth and yesterday's route as we stumbled on past pheasants and barley, and over ornate castellated stiles to a short section beside the main road.

Looking back towards Cockermouth from the ornate stile featured above

Park Hill proved an excellent venue for lunch (pictured in the header, and below).

At all of 148 metres in stature it towers over nearby countryside and offers fine views back to our route.

A buzzard was being mobbed by crows.

Down at Redmain we found hedges full of birds, red hot pokers, and a garden with lots of flowers including alliums to die for.

Bee keepers fumbled with their hives.

Leafy lanes and lush meadows with myriads of wild flowers took us through Isel and past a huge pink castellated mansion.

Red campion

Water avens

Herb robert

Herb bennet

Bistort

Dog rose

Bugle

The state of this signpost was a fair reflection of the state of the field paths.

At Long Close Farm many tractors were engaged in processing freshly cut grass from Pepperholme Bank. Loads were arriving every few seconds, and a huge mountain of grass was being worked on as if it was sand or soil. This sweet scented grass was no doubt eventually destined to become noxious silage.

'Beware of Bull' signs as we approached Bassenthwaite Lake at the end of the day littered the fields we passed through. There was not a bull to be seen. Perhaps the farmers hereabouts just want to discourage walkers from the rarely used (but surprisingly well indicated) paths. The Lake District authorities have been busy installing new gates and signs around here.

Finally, via another nice woodland path past The Ruddings, we reached Link House B+B, and Keith's friendly welcome. Notchy had been here for an hour; S+D arrived at 7, more than two hours later.

We dodged a few showers this afternoon, and the weather looked a little ominous, so Keith's generous offer of a lift to The Wheatsheaf, a half hour walk away, was gratefully accepted. We all piled into his Discovery and enjoyed the pub's sumptuous bar meals. The price was reasonable (£50 for the 6 of us) and the portion sizes huge.

A mix up over payment had them chasing down the road after us. Whoops!!

Here's today's route.

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Thursday, 5 June 2008

Wednesday 4 June 2008 - A Fine Lakeland Day - Lakeside B+B to The Old Homestead

Distance - 21 km
Ascent - 1134 metres
Time - 7 hours 40 mins including 1 hour 45 mins stops

A Fine Lakeland Day, but in a sense routine - I can find no fault with the company, the weather, the countryside, the B+Bs, the people we met, the food...

But should you wish to read further:-

breakfast was served by John Inman. He has been resurrected with a Geordie accent;

a red squirrel fought with hooded crows for possession of the bird feeder;

Leaving Dalegarth Guest House

blue skies gave way to cloud but then returned in place of the forecast rain;

Sue2 abandoned the rest of us to take a low level route more conducive to her feet;

Sue2 leaves on her low level route, below Whiteless Breast

The view to Rannerdale and Crummock Water

the rest of us enjoyed a fabulous brew stop astride the summit of Whiteless Pike (see header photo);

Wandope from beyond Whiteless Pike

the hillside was alive with these small beetles (leaf beetles?);



three of us enjoyed a trip to Grasmoor;

Gary on Grasmoor, with Buttermere and Scafell Pike in the background

meanwhile Notchy waited on Hopegill Head, where he acted as tour guide for a miscellany of people, from Chinese student to old codgers;

the ridge over Ladyside Pike was new ground for all of us - and an absolute delight, with good scrambly rocks and an excellent spot for lunch;

we descended by an ineffective wall over closely cropped turf;

past chirpy wheatears, then a leafy lane drew us to High Swinside Farm, and onwards down lovely grassy paths in the sun;

a jolly gardener chatted in sleepy High Lorton;

on through Lorton, an idyllic little village where we missed a path - that may have led to both a pub and a cream tea break;

so we savoured a 'green bench' break before taking a path through knee high grass;

some startlingly ineffective gate posts failed to halt our progress;

a glade of buttercups in this little used pathway warned of danger;

on we tramped, through the deep marsh;

we failed to release a startled sheep trapped in a kissing gate to the correct field;

but that sheep won't go hungry;

an elaborate watering place erected in 1897 was an unexpected find;

then on to Byersteads Farm and The Old Homestead, a delightful B+B bought by Zen and Jane three months ago from the farmers who still live next door and whose land surrounds us;

fabulous hot showers and spacious rooms;

then an excellent 'bar meal' in the well-appointed dining room of the nearby Hundith Hill Hotel;

Sue1 dashed back to watch 'The Apprentice' - we have our first TV since leaving home on Saturday;

at bed time David arrived from London, so Sue2 and her blistered feet will be warm and cosy tonight.

All in all a splendid Lakeland day.

Here's today's route.

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