Post 53: A little further on Ross’s camp was reached. This is not the equivalent of a Lake District Butlin’s holiday camp, but is in fact some stones put together by members of a Victorian shooting party, who raised the massive flat slab onto the other stones to serve as a luncheon table. Of interest is that Ross, or someone, inscribed ROSS’S CAMP 1883 on it, which has survived the ravages of Lakeland weather to this day. Little is known of Ross other than he was an agent for the Muncaster Estate.
We descended to pass Dalegarth Hall with its large rounded chimneys.Then there was a short detour to Dalegarth Falls almost hidden in a secluded gorge.
Continuing to St Catherine’s Church, just outside Boot, there is a unique sight in the graveyard. Here lies Thomas Dobson’s grave, the headstone being inscribed with his own portrait, a fox, a hound and a horn; a true work of art in granite. The mind boggles as to what I could have engraved on my own gravestone; my head with thinning hair, a pair of walking boots, a pint of Guinness, and last, but not least, a 65 litre rucksack. Keeping on the cheerful graveyard theme, a little further on there is a 250-year old packhorse bridge, the path crossing it being formerly the corpse-road leading to Wasdale Head. It is now used by walkers to get to the Wasdale Head pub; how times have changed.
One other feature of Boot is the corn mill restored in 1975 by Cumbria Countty Council. A corn mill has been operating in the area since the 13th century and the restored mill has a working wheel.
This was a short day and, arriving in sunshine at the Eskdale Youth Hostel at 3.30pm, we had time to wash our boots and gaiters in the nearby stream – it is important to keep up appearances on a long-distance walk. In the evening a visit to the nearby Woolpack Inn was essential to celebrate completion of day one of the fourteen-day walk. This was the start of a similar celebration on everyday of the walk!
31 March 1993: Day 2 – Eskdale Youth Hostel to Coniston Youth Hostel – 11½ miles. When on a long-distance walk, one of the noticeable changes in my behaviour is that I seem to sleep much deeper with the result that I wake up much earlier. On this occasion it was about 5.00am, so that, as the dawn starting to shine through the curtains at 7.00am, I decided to get up and catch the early morning dew. The sun was rising at the far end of the valley and Harter Fell was beautifully illuminated. My spirits were high as I looked up at the path that would lead us past Harter Fell towards the secluded Duddon Valley. It was good to be alive and fit, with the prospect of glorious walking ahead in good weather.
After passing Penny Hill Farm, high spirits gave way to panting as we began the steep climb to the foot of Harter Fell. This should have been easy for Alan, but it was some time since he had trekked to Everest base camp and the golden rule of fitness is that it doesn’t take long to lose it, but takes a long time and much effort to acquire it. We arrived at the edge of Harter Fell, to what I regard as the finest view in England; looking up towards Upper Eskdale and the Scafell range where wisps of white cloud crowned the king of England’s mountains, Scafell Pike.
On the slopes of Hard Knott, below right to the north-east, is the best preserved of Roman forts in Lakeland Mediobognvm, commonly referred to as Hardknott Castle or Fort which acted as a defence against an approach from the coast, being built soon after AD120. I suspect the Romans wouldn’t have spent much time admiring the view as they would have been too busy looking out for marauding Scots and other unfriendly raiders.