Post 57: 2 April 1993: Day 4 – Windermere Youth Hostel to Burneside – 16 miles
Despite a weather forecast of rain, snow and high winds we encountered good weather to the viewpoint of Orrest Head. Like Haystacks this is a place of pilgrimage for Alfred Wainwright fans. In 1930, AW, at the age of twenty-three, came to the Lake District for the first time and on this first day of his holiday climbed from Windermere to Orrest Head. It was moment that changed his life as, arriving at the little summit, he ‘beheld a magnificent view. It was a moment of magic, a revelation so unexpected that I stood transfixed, unable to believe my eyes . . . This was truth. God was in heaven that day and I a humble worshipper.’
From Orrest Head, Windermere the lake can be seen in its entire length. There are also views to the Langdale Pikes, the Coniston Fells, Bowfell, the Crinkle Crags and the great Scafell range. Windermere is nearly eleven miles long, and is England’s largest lake. After having lived in the terraced backstreets of Blackburn, AW was awe struck at the scene before him. It also impressed me.
After a descent to Windermere, then a climb to School Knott, we joined the Dales Way, just as the forecasted rain arrived. We bid a fond farewell to Lakeland, which had on this occasion, treated us so kindly. We eventually arrived at the River Kent, where we took our boots off to flake out in warm sunshine for half-an-hour. The dippers flitted over the sparkling river against a back-drop of daffodils.
It was 4.30pm when we arrived at our resting place for the night, the 300-years old Jolly Anglers Inn. The pub is linked to the Angler’s Trust, which makes donations to the town, even sending a local girl on a trip to Nepal.
After a wholesome meal, we went into the bar and watched the senior men of the town playing dominoes. Just as we were settling down for a quiet evening, two young ladies entered dressed in white outfits, including rather short-skirts of the type Tina Turner would be pleased to be seen in. Much to our surprise they came over to us.
‘Are you walking the Dales Way?’ the taller of the two said.
‘We are walking coast to coast, but using part of the Dales Way,’ I replied somewhat timidly thinking how on earth did they know. Was it the check shirts or the weather beaten faces?
‘Would you like to play partner’s darts?’
I looked at Alan. We considered the prospect of watching dominoes or participating in partner’s darts and immediately decided that, whatever the latter was, it must be more exciting than dominoes.
‘Er, yes please.’
‘Come this way,’ they said picking up their drinks from the bar and leading us into this much larger room. We felt like lambs being taken to slaughter.
Not surprisingly my lady partner and myself were knocked out of the darts competition fairly quickly. I didn’t know whether it was a good or a bad thing. However, Alan and his partner, clearly inspired, kept beating all challenges. I had beaten Alan three times a couple of nights before, proving he is normally useless at darts. To my sheer amazement, he won the competition with prizes of eight pounds in cash and an eight-pint can of beer. The beer had to be consumed that evening as it could not be carried on our backs the following day.
Surprises continued as tattooed youngsters arrived, then we discovered that the fourth best tattooist in the country frequented the inn. They were a friendly crowd and were quite willing to show us their tattoos, most of which were works of art, with hardly any part of the body escaping the tattooist’s skills. To see a tiger or lion on someone’s chest is a sight to behold. Even youngsters who were not keen on tattoos would have a little flower on their ankle. Having taken a number of photographs, we were yet more surprised at closing time to be invited to a tattoo party.
At this, I had a vision of waking up in the morning in a drunken stupor (I was in this state already) with Coast to Coast tattooed on my posterior. How would I explain that to the wife? Not being able to find an answer in three seconds, I looked at Alan for guidance and he shook his head. Three times we were asked, but, in the end, being dedicated walkers, we declined the invitation; it was late and we had over eleven miles to walk next day. Well that’s what we told our wives!