A quiet introduction
After I left Ulverston, the Cumbria Way slowly meandered through the English landscape. The route was very varied. Green pastures with and without sheep, beautiful churches, and the blooming purple heather. Many beautiful views of the English landscape with the transition between land and sea on the horizon.
The first climb of the Cumbria Way led to the beautifully situated Beacon Tarn. A tarn is an English name for a small lake. It was wonderfully peaceful. In the distance, the giants of the Lake District showed themselves. The mountains that I was going to see up close on further down the path. The local English I spoke on the way all said that from now on it would only become more and more beautiful. I already found this amazing! What more had the Cumbria Way in store for me?
A Night at Beacon Tarn
Other people were also enjoying themselves around the lake. Among them were two older ladies. They came to me and we made a chat. I was photographing at that moment. One of the ladies indicated exactly when the sun, lit one of the mountains in the background and summoned me kindly, but urgently, to take a picture. She was completely enthusiastic. A joy! Further, in the conversation, it became clear that it was fine to pitch my tent for the night. Only if I hold myself to two conditions. No fire and leave the place as I had found it. Consider it done!
After I pitched my tent, I decided to explore the area a bit further. After taking some pictures I met a man. He was, just like me, enjoying the moment. It was an interesting man. He had a beautiful view of life. He told me about his own adventures. Wild camping and traveling. After some time he suddenly took a 5-liter bottle of whiskey out of his backpack. I was really perplexed. I said, "Why are you carrying all that weight?" "It is a necessary evil," the man said. I had my thoughts about it, but at that time we both laughed.
We talked a bit more and not much later he gave me the tip to climb to the viewpoint and photograph the sunset from there. This meant that I had to leave my tent with all my stuff in it. Could I trust this man? My feeling said yes. Yet there was still some suspicion in me. I decided to go anyway. Later I saw him walk away. I waved at him. He greeted me back. I knew it was good. Trust in my fellow man. Something that is slowly growing. Dare to trust and listen to my feelings. The view was beautiful.
Thrown off the track
The route marking can be called good in some places. In other places, it can be called very moderate to poor. Of course you can also blame... I search for a map on the internet. I knew that I couldn't rely only on my phone. The phone range wasn't too good while walking the Dales Way. Soo this time I decided to make a screenshot of different sections of the map. This went reasonably well. In general, I was able to navigate very well on this map. I got thrown off track a few times. For me that was okay. It brought new adventures. If you are on a tighter schedule, I advise you to purchase a card or a navigation book from the Cumbria Way.
Tips for nice detours
At Beacon tarn the Cumbria Way runs through the left side of the lake. This side is very soggy and wet. It is perfectly possible to continue the route via the right side of the lake. This leads to a beautiful viewpoint with views of the English Lake District, Coniston Water and if you are lucky... You can see the mountains giants: Old Man of Coniston, Blencathra, and Skiddaw. Continue down the route and navigate to the asphalt road. You probably have to go left and you can pick up the original Cumbria Way again.
The second detour can be taken after climbing 'Stake Pass. You can go even higher to the small lake, tarn Angle. I found this somewhat disappointing. After that I went offroad through a steep slope, a river valley that finally joined the Cumbria Way again. There should be a path, but I didn't find it. I only found this path later. Perhaps a more careful planning is needed here. There are also simply paths that take you to the Cumbria Way in a safer way. It surely was adventurous!
Another option that I certainly found worth the effort and energy was the route over Lingmoor Fell. I will discuss this route later down the road.
In principle, the Cumbria Way is reasonably flat. There are two more tough sections. Stake pass (480 m) is inevitable. After Keswick you can opt for the high or the low route. The high route leads over High Pike (658 m) and goes straight through the beautiful mountains north of Keswick. The low route goes along the edges of those mountains and remains relatively low. I chose the high route. This was beautiful and wild.
Apart from this climbs, I have unconsciously added a large number of altimeters without any intention. Near Tarn Hows is a viewpoint. In my enthusiasm I had decided to visit this viewpoint. I thought it would take 10 minutes extra time. I planned to take a closer look at Tarn Hows after visiting the viewpoint. But this turned out different. At top of the hill, it became clear to me that the weather was going to interfere with my plans. Large and dark clouds were moving towards me. And they were moving fast. I quickly took some pictures and tried to find a place to pitch my tent.
That night was a small disaster. Looking back at it, I can definitely laugh about it. I got totally soaked by the torrential rain. I even had to evacuate my tent to another spot to save some of my stuff from getting wet too.
After this adventurous night, I passed the nice and beautiful town of Coniston. After this town I got off track again... But I only found out later. I started a climb. It soon became clear that this climb did not belong to the original route. It was the route to the top of Lingmoor Fell. Looking back at it I am pleased I took the wrong turn. It was beautiful. The views over Great Langdale and Little Langdale were truly breathtaking. This, together with the flowering heather and fast moving clouds alternating with the sun, made it complete.
That night I was camping on this beautiful mountain. The wind blew terribly hard. Luckily I could find enough shelter behind a hill and a limestone wall. This is for sure the most beautiful spot where I have woken up. Unfortunately, there was no beautiful sunset. It didn't spoil the fun. In the morning, the entire mountain was covered in a blanked of thick white mist. The clouds passed me by. Occasionally the cloud mass opened up. Then close completely within a few seconds. It left me with an open mouth. Pure beauty.
After packing my tent, I started the descent. Tough! After the descend I was completely done. Fortunately there was a campsite at the bottom of the mountain. The Great Langdale National Trust Campsite . A campsite with excellent facilities. I have been able to recover from my efforts from the past few days. If you are in the area? Be sure to visit the old, but authentic hikers bar Old Dungeon Ghyll at a 5-minute walk from the campsite.
I have already written about some encounters with my fellow human that I still remember. For me, these meetings are so important. They give me energy. They make my trip more beautiful. At one day I met a retired farmer. He was walking his dogs. He hung over a fence with his former cows around him. He told about his life and about the landscape. Interesting, open and vulnerable. Special.
Sometimes I walked together with a local Englishman. Likewise with a retired history teacher. He did not stop talking about the 'Lords' of England and the English traditions. I hang on his every word. He also mentioned a couple of times the beauty of the coast near Newcastle. I have heard this from several people. This coast is on my list to visit! Later on my trip, I met Jack. An Australian Dutchman. Eventually this turned out to be my hitchhike towards my home. How? More about this later...
Of course I had arranged another meeting with Paul. You know Paul! One of the two guys with whom I share a large part of my hitchhike adventure. Unfortunately Sean was not around and he could not attend. But even without him it was nice to meet up with the cheerful Paul.
The giants of the Lake District
Paul talked me through a number of alternative routes. I also had some ideas of my own. I decided to climb Skiddaw before nightfall and then continue to the highest hostel in England. Skiddaw House. This didn't turned out the way I planned it. After a seriously heavy ascent, I arrived a couple of 100 meters under the top of Skiddaw. The weather was changing rapetly. Black clouds were approaching and already close! I decided to not climb to the top of Skiddaw. Instead I went for the hostel. Spending the night on this spot did not seem like a good idea with this heavy wind.
I tried navigating my way to Skiddaw House by a few mountain peaks. I thought it was going well, but in reality, I was walking in the wrong direction. Away from the hostel. The evening almost fell. I had already walked a great deal. But no hostel. It figured I was going the wrong way. After studying the map I located myself. Skiddaw House was out of reach. I had to change my plans. After a short shower by the rain I decided to pitch my tent. Spots were hard to find, because of the slope. In the end I was forced to pitch my tent between the sheep and their excrements and spend the night here.
Skiddaw House to the rescue
This meant I would have to get up early, as I was standing in the middle of the Cumbria Way with my tent. That night I did not sleep well. The next morning it was gray and cold. The hike to Skiddaw House was wet. I got there totally soaked. Despite the fact that the building was completely rented by a group, I was allowed to come in and enjoy a few hot cups of coffee. It remained dark, gray and cold outside. And the weather wasn't changing at all. After a nice conversation with the owners who live in this remote house, there was nothing else than to continue my journey.
The trip was beautiful, cold, wild and wet. After being soaked a few times by the rain and dried up by the wind, I reached High Pike, the highest point of the route. The wind indicated that I should not stay too long. It blew hard. Satisfied I declined. I chose not to continue the traditional Cumbria Way, but to head for Heskit Newmarket. A small village with an interesting story. The local pub is owned by all residents of the village. They bought the local pub after it went bankrupt. How cool! I had agreed to meet with two friends from the Netherlands. Despite the fact that my smell wasn't any near to nice. They still were nice to me.
The last stage
This was also the end of my journey. In all the reports that I had read before my trip, it appeared that the final stage from Caldbeck to Carlisle would not be worthy of 'Cumbria Way'. Whether this is actually the case? I can not judge that. I skipped this stage. The other stages were a real treat for the eye. I loved to walk in August. I definitely recommended it. The flowering heath is so beautiful. It can't be described with the pen. I hope my photos give you an idea.
The month of August is getting wetter, according to the local population. Good raingear is therefore an absolute must. If you want to walk with less rain, then May seems to be a good month. However, England remains England. Four seasons in a day is no exception.
A selection from my diary
This I wrote down after one of the beautiful days while walking the Cumbria Way. 'How can life be this simple and happy? Laying in my tent. Nice and warm in my sleeping bag. A full stomach. I had a fantastic walk. It remembers me of what a good life we live. A roof over our heads and food at every corner of the street. A sheltered life when you compare it to other people, animals and plants who have to survive in this world. And yet I also notice so much dissatisfaction around me. The urge for more, better, faster and more luxurious. I think we can all be truly grateful for what we have do have.
Coincidence or not?
Beautiful insights. And yes, I have not forgotten. I promised to tell you about the special meeting with Jack. We both were walking the Cumbria Way. We had a little chat. Jack mentioned he probably would return to the Netherlands in a week's time. He was alone and it was no problem at all to take me along. That evening we ate together in an English pub. After dinner, we went our own way again. To meet again later. Something with chance or fate?
Lifting adventure part II
Anyway. I drove back to the Netherlands with Jack. We shared a lot on the way. Our dreams, life courses, and positions. A subject in which we differed was whether or not we looked at the news. Jack found it important to know what is going on in the world. This way he could adequately make a risk assessment. I am wondering aloud whether it is worth it. All those negative emotions that you consciously or unconsciously pick up from the news. What can you do with it? It has an unintended influence on you, but you can not do anything with it. An interesting discussion.
Maybe I am ignorant. I think it's fine for now. Jack also gave me an important lesson in music. C major and minor are now cut for me. Jack dropped me off in front of my house. He refused to drop me off earlier. I am very grateful for the ride and meeting Jack. A closure that fits completely into the total picture of my adventures in England. It was really beautiful and full of human goodness.
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