Friday, 2 June 2017

A Long Weekend in Eskdale. . .

Every second Bank Holiday in May, our rambling group books out several rooms at a youth hostel and off we go for three days of walking.  Last weekend we were in Eskdale, in the south-western part of the Lake District,  a much quieter spot, far from the usual hordes of tourists in Keswick or Windermere.  Hostelling isn't for everyone; the food is basic and sleeping on a bunk bed in a room of six isn't ideal, but it's all about the walking!

One of our leaders always plans a shorter walk for Friday afternoon.  It was incredibly hot and hazy as we trekked over Muncaster Fell.

Great views looking north.

And to the south and west, you can see the sea.

The sheep were keeping cool in the shade.

On the Saturday, we were disappointed to learn that thundershowers were forecast for noon. You don't want to be caught out in lightning high on a fell.  So the plans changed and we set out for a lower level walk.  This is the Eskdale river where there are many deep pools for swimming, as you can see how wonderfully clear the water is. We followed a path beside the river for a couple of miles.

Then, as we walked through the tiny village of Boot, I saw a sign for ice cream.  Even though it was only 10am, I really fancied a cone so popped into the store and ordered a single scoop of a flavour called Thunder and Lightning (cinder toffee and white chocolate), hoping it would be a good omen against the weather.  And it was (moral of this story - ALWAYS stop for ice cream!).  The store owner told us that he'd just checked the latest forecast and the storm wasn't due until 4pm.  That gave us several more hours to go a little higher.  And so we did.

A path out of Boot lead us up onto moorland towards Burnmoor Tarn.  That's Scafell you can see to your right.

On the other side of the tarn is the imposing bulk of Illgill Head. It's much steeper than it looks.

But it affords wonderful views of Wast Water and Green Gable.  And as the sun came out at just the right moment, we stopped for lunch.

 And a wee bit of knitting. As you do.

Then with the wind picking up, it was back along the moors which turned very boggy.  I've never seen so many sheep perched on rocks, but they aren't stupid.  It was a lovely walk - the best one of the weekend - and we got back just in time before the heavens opened up.

Our final day was a much gentler ramble through relatively flat forest paths as we walked from Eskdale to Ravenglass.

It was so exciting to catch our first glimpse of the sea.

We passed the remains of Roman baths along the way.

And then it was down to the water.  Ravenglass itself is a small but lovely little town, very quiet and peaceful.

It's known for its steam railway, which we took back to Eskdale.  The trip took about forty minutes amidst lovely scenery, but the carriages are really kiddy-scaled and your legs get quite cramped during the ride. Still, how can you not have fun on steam train? Ours was called the River Mite.

One of the more incredible sights were these cliffs filled with lush rhododendrons.

I really liked the Eskdale area - there's never enough time to do all the walks that beckon so I'll definitely be back.

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