Day Four: Grasmere to Patterdale

Day Four of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast:  Grasmere to Patterdale; 12 km;  started out with the weather cool and overcast but soon it cleared to be warm and sunny.

…past the cliffs of Helvellyn to the quiet southern shores of Ullswater. Martin Waignwright, “The Coast to Coast Walk”, p. 54

After another sumptuous English Breakfast it was on the track by 9.00 am, waddling rather than striding. Today’s route offered more high ground and stunning views. Within ten minutes of leaving Grasmere, we began our ascent, taking a path around “The Tongue” and climbing around 3-400m.

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The ascent out of Grasmere. Looking back toward Grasmere having climbed up past “The Tongue”.

We reached Grisedale Tarn at around 10.15 am. This we found to be a beautiful spot, although a tad cool with the wind blowing across the tarn. Donned the vests as we had decided that we would go up Dollywagon Pike, rather than take the route through Grisedale Forest and Beck. At the end of the tarn we had a short break and located “Brother’s Parting”, a stone which commemorates the parting of William and John Wordsworth. It was at this spot that William said farewell to his brother John on what would be the last occasion they would see each other, as John, a sea captain was drowned in 1805.

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Three shots (above) of Grisedale Tarn, the scene of the “Brother’s Parting Stone”.  To the left of the tarn can be seen Dollywagon Pike the scene of our next climb.

After departing the tarn we climbed up Dollywagon Pike (858m). The views back down from whence wehad come were breathtaking. We continued to contour around to Nethermost Pike (895m) and from here we could see Helvellyn (950m), the third highest peak in Britain. We soon reached the summit, passing a memorial to Bert Hinkler having landed a biplane up the top of the ridge where we had walked. We were blown away by the spectacular views.

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Views from on top of Dollywagon Pike and High Crag. 

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Memorial stone commemorating Bert Hinkler’s landing. View of the track from on the the ridge line. 

Beneath us was Red Tarn and to its right the aptly named “Striding Edge” The name was a tad of an understatement as it turned out to be a scree descent of about 150m and then a dangerous scramble over rocks.

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Views from atop Helvellyn notably Red Tarn and “Striding Edge”. Note the treacherous nature of the track at the time. Workers were busily building steps so that walkers would no longer have to negotiate the scree slope. Ann ready to attack the scree!

Many a careless traveller has met their fate at this spot. At the top of the path which leads down “Striding Edge” is a memorial to a certain Charles Gough who died here in 1805. The inscription was most moving…


The memorial stone to Charles Gough and his dog

Beneath this spot in 1805 the remains of Charles Gough, killed by a fall from the rocks. His dog was still guarding the skeleton. Walter Scott describes the event in his poem, I climbed the dark brow of the mighty Helvellyn. Wordsworth records it in his lines on FIDELITY, which concludes as follows: The dog which still was hovering nigh/ Repeating the same timid cry/ This dog had been through three months space/ A dwelling in that savage place/ How nourished here through such long time/ Who knows who gave that love sublime/ And gave that sense of feeling great/ Above all human estimate. IN MEMORY OF THAT LOVE AND STRENGTH OF FEELING, THIS STONE IS ERECTED, FPC 1890 HDR”

At the base of the “Striding Edge” we stopped for a breather and “tea break”.Met a friend of our host at “Farm House” this evening. Soon on the trail following a ridge down until we reached “The Hole in the Wall”. From here we veered right down the valley and contoured around the hills until we reached the road and our B & B neatly nestled nearby. On our descent we met a company of infantry who were on a “foot slog” doing the reverse of our journey from Grasmere although at Grisedale Tarn they would take the traditional route back down to where they had started.

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The “Hole in the Wall”- an ideal resting place and the final stretch down the hill to Patterdale.

That evening we had a delightful meal at The White Lion. Big hearty sheep shanks, washed down with a pint of the finest local ale! The accommodation at Grisedale Bridge was comfortable and warm. Overnight there was a massive storm with plenty of thunder, lightening and rain.

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