July 16th, 2012
The golden rule is never buy cheap camping equipment, particularly if your pitching in upland areas like the Lake District. It just won’t do the job, unless it’s dry, keeping you such, with all round protection, that is.
The rain, quite persistent, caused one or two puddles from leaks at the seams, a few puddles that rapidly accumulated, at the edge of the and the corners to give me a bit of discomfiture. Precious little sleep, needless to say, was had. When you’re using a fly that barely covers half of the rest of the canvass, you’re asking for trouble. Given my past experience, I should have known better.
I shouldered the pack and made my way up to rejoin the route with pleasant thoughts about indulging in pots of tea and buying some seam sealant in Keswick’s Main Street. Apart from being out in the wilds your rarely far from civilised comforts in a place like Britain. It’s never long, animals as we are, before we begin to miss comfort, security and by nature, our gregarious gravitational tendencies.
The conditions were dark, dank and cloudy as I pushed on towards the tourist town. The rain kept up as I passed a couple of young women doing the walk, presumably, in the opposite direction or the other way. The shoulder of Lonscale hill, helping to make up Skiddaw’s massive bulk, remained hidden and somewhat messed up with cloud. The brown and beige colouring patching the sides looked as though a segment of the Cheviot Hills that straddle the Scottish Border area had been transported.
A quick decent soon had me hitting the Main Street. Apart from buying a tube of cheap sealant from onen of the several outdoor stores - a waste of money – I sat outside a cafe drinking a carton of takeway tea because it was cheaper than drinking a more civilised pot inside. Standing in a short enclosed alley way, it was amusing listening to a healthy British banter and a loose infectious laughter coming from a group of women. Laughter, they reckon, is supposed to be the best medicine, and the British can let their hair down when it comes to jocularity.
Tearing myself away from Keswick’s main street, now flagstoned over, I hit the road to the next and somewhat smaller habitation, Portinscale – a somewhat quieter place and a village that marks the entrance to the picturesque Newlands Valley providing a way over to Buttermere.
I like Keswick more than I like other tourist Lake District centres of the same ilk which come like this: Keswick 1, Ambleside 2 Grasmere 3 Coniston 4, Windermere 5. The fifth, I’ve always detested ever since my parents and I suffered a three-hour stop over during a bus tour.
The Way passes through pleasant woodland down the side of Lake Derwentwater. The launching place called Hawse End is encountered and passed. Meeting a house and a sign saying ‘private’ threw me into disorientation failing to notice the footpath to the side of the notice.
From the entrance and surface of the building: lonely, quiet and disregarded, you wouldn’t realise that Beatrix Potter stayed here, renting the place - Lingholm - on several occasions, during her formative years while holidaying in the area,before she actually moved to the area, unless there was a plaque or notice fixed outside. I picked up this information from Linda Lear’s biography about the Lakeland figurehead. Most visitors, instead, because they are ignorant about this nugget of information, choose to beeline to her more famous residence of Hill Top Farm near Hawkshead.
Borrowdale, as well being the playground of boulderers and cragsmen, was nice revisiting; a peculiarly characteristic of patchwork farmland, pristine fast-flowing rivers, at other places glassy, intermittent crags, craggy fells and bumpy mountain sides.
Enjoying the silence of the area, an end of the lake tranquility broken only by screech of a crane or heron.
I thought stopping for a pot of tea would be most welcome. I sat outside a cafe in the hamlet of Grange, characterised by a comely curving bridge over the Derwent River.
The afternoon rain relented and the walk got even more pleasant as more woodland was negotiated as I stepped up the pace to Rosthwaite, Borrowdale’s capital, if ‘capital’ is an appropriate term to use in an area where every thing feels miniature, simple and pretty.
Pacing along the main road, it was gratifying to view such fells as the serrated Glaramara, shaped like a curved rugged four-legged dinsaur and the more distant fell of Base Brown stood out, while beyond the area was swathed in cloud.
I decided I’d had enough tramping for the day and stopped at the roadside campsite. The evening sunlight glinting over Scawdel Fell while bathing the opposite side in shadow and blotches of sunlight quietened everything down and an aura of comfort pervaded as I pitched the canvass near a wall in the field. A group of girls broke it by their racket and another contingent of youths was also somewhat distracting.
Otherwise, the setting felt fine, perfect, as though a painting had been completed, showing every intricate detail, haunted by graying clouds. A fitting opportunity to take a shower, rinse some sweaty garments, hang them over the walls rocks and bed down for the silent night arose in quick succession.