Jonah bites the dust, rigor mortis sets in, 31,000 steps, fishing from the window, Robin Hood, the lady ghost.

Post 24: Half expecting to join a queue of walkers we climbed the first real hill of the day, Dent Hill, but the only other walker we caught up with was Jonah John, now feeling the weight of his pack. With an awesome pack pressing down on him, his knees were bending under the strain of climbing the hill. We decided that this would be his first and last hill and we never encountered him again on the walk. A theme of never seeing walkers again was developing. Dent Hill is a mild introduction to what lies ahead. Dent Hill, at 1131 feet was once a deer park and is an excellent viewpoint for the area. Even the Isle of Man can be seen on a clear day.

Descending into the lovely, secluded, Nannycatch Valley (what a wonderful name), no one was seen apart from four young ladies on horseback, who smiled at us as they passed. AW was proved right as he said in his guide, ‘This is a delightful spot for a siesta (beware pony-trekkers)’. We wondered if they were temptresses, put there to take our minds off the expedition we had just embarked on. Certainly, if they had offered us a saddle it would have been difficult to resist and we would have been disqualified from the walk.

After passing through the small village of Ennerdale Bridge, for many coast to coasters the first nights stop, we came upon Ennerdale Water. This after fifteen and a half miles of walking. That’s about 31,000 steps. No wonder Archie was starting to feel tired. We still had three and a half miles to go.

Archie resting beside Ennerdale Water.
Archie beside Ennerdale Water. Rigor Mortis setting in.
Ennerdale Water and Pillar
Ennerdale Water and Pillar

In that instant, had I not walked another step, I would have thought it worth starting coast to coast just to see the glorious view. Having always driven to the Lake District, this was a something totally different, a far more memorable experience. It is beyond belief that some years ago the then South Cumberland Water Board had wanted to build a dam and flood much of Ennerdale. They even got as far as demolishing the Angler’s Hotel aside the lake, from which anglers could fish from the window. What state of mind are these bureaucrats in that they cannot see the beauty they will destroy? Ennerdale was one of the most beautiful valleys in the world and still is, despite the Forestry Commission getting their hands on it (see later).

Entering a different world, we continued past Angler’s Crag and Robin Hood’s Chair; have you noticed how Robin Hood went everywhere as places are named after him all around the country?

Suddenly I jumped out of my skin as a young lady walked towards me. I could not believe what I saw. Was it a ghost? Suddenly she spoke.

‘I thought you were doing coast to coast?’

‘I am,’ I replied. ‘What are you doing here?’

‘I have just been up Pillar and Steeple’

Panorama

Pillar
Pillar Range

‘Which ones are those?’ I said showing my ignorance.

‘Those two mountains there,’ she said pointing out the two largest and highest points on the horizon. I was impressed as they looked very high and very imposing.

Wordsworth described Pillar:

‘You see yon precipice; it almost looks

Like some vast building made of many crags;

And in the midst is one particular rock

That rises like a column from the vale,

Whence by our shepherds it is called the Pillar

She was in fact a colleague of Gary and I thought to myself that he might have sent her out to check that I was actually doing coast to coast and not sun-bathing on some beach. I started to get paranoid wondering if there would be other colleagues hiding behind trees and rocks checking to see if I did all 192 miles. However, time was rushing on, we still had a couple of miles to go, so I asked her to tell Gary that we were doing well, even though it was only the first day, and bade her farewell. As I looked back at her disappearing into the distance there was a superb view of the fading sunlight over Ennerdale Water and Robin Hood’s Chair – what a superb ending to a superb day’s walking.

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