CW02:  Blawith to Coniston;    
Monday, 24th March 2008

With Emma and Scott home for a few days, we could think about a two car option for the second leg of the Cumbria Way. This would be quite a long stretch but we had been in training- in London!  

It's the best part of four years since we were last in central London. Travelling in a taxi from Euston to the hotel we were playing the "spot what's changed" game.  It certainly wasn't an improvement in the traffic flow.  There did seem to be an increase in the number of people stood outside buildings who were smoking but that is true everywhere.  

The most noticeable difference was the number of tiny cars to be seen- seemingly designed by the local kindergarten and so small they made Smart cars look like limos.  

On closer examination we learned that they were G-Wiz electric cars and they were everywhere. 

Only they are not cars- they are "quadricycles" so seemingly don't have to pass any safety tests!  No congestion charge, no parking fees and no chance in a prang!  

Margaret and the G-Wizzes

  • To see what happens in a prang watch CRASH 
  • Then for a laugh see RACE.

As far as the global credit crunch was concerned, the West End was in denial.  Or maybe last year's bonuses have not yet been fully spent.  Those not driving G-Wizzes were in new Mercs, Bentleys and Porches.  Regent Street has gone up market with airline shops being taken over by designer labels.  We attended the opening of the UK's first Banana Republic shop (didn't buy anything- Margaret had already done her bit to stave off the recession at Coast, just two doors away).  No shortage of willing customers however.

St Paul's across the Minnellium Bridge

We spent most of our non-shopping time in either the Royal Academy with its impressive Russian exhibition or at the Tate Modern.  This former power station is massive and impressively converted.

Inevitably thoughts of emperors and lack of clothes came to mind with several of the exhibits (and the more tosh things are, the more pretentious their descriptions become!) but there were plenty that were interesting, challenging or amusing and the restaurant was excellent!  There is also a superb view across the Minnellium Bridge to St Paul's.

All this activity meant that many miles were covered on foot but three paces forward two paces back is perhaps not the best training for the Cumbria Way.  

Normally, the lake district is the last place we would go on a Bank Holiday but given an Easter Monday forecast from the BBC of wall to wall sunshine, it was too good an opportunity to miss.  The Met Office was a little more sanguine with warnings of the possibility of snow flurries in the afternoon.

Perhaps we ought not to have gone via Ambleside- there was quite a lot of traffic with inevitable holiday slug drivers and it took longer than expected to reach Coniston where we left Scott's car then drive down to Blawith to pick up where we left off.  It was still morning, just, but it was already trying to snow, half heartedly and was definitely not the glorious day for which we had hoped.

Frustratingly, for the first mile, we had to head south west along Raisthwaite Lane until reaching Long Lane where turned north west to regain the Cumbria Way. However we had immediate reward at Kiln Bank- a fine display of washing for me to photograph and, in time, Margaret to paint!

Kiln Bank washing

Approaching Cockensell

As we approached Cockensell we could see a group of people in a field and wondered what was going on.  Was it an Easter party (we had already passed one), a pace egg rolling competition or what?  Then someone walked down to the farm house and the group moved on.  We caught up with them on the climb to Beacon Tarn, picknicking.  It turned out they were youths (seemingly decent, well mannered ones) on a DofE expedition and the farm lady had taken exception to them having their lunch in her field and had shoo-ed them off with a display of foul language.

Looking back as we climbed, there was a bizarre sort of reminder that it was Easter: a green(ish) hill far away with its top covered with high tech revolving crucifixes.

Beacon Tarn from  the south.....

.....and from the north

In the guide book, Jim Watson describes Beacon Tarn as a good place to stop to open the sandwiches, listen to the curlews and admire the splendid view of the Coniston Fells. So, choosing the more sheltered eastern side, we did just that.  Only the curlews, if any were about, were drowned out by a shriking woman in pink and the hills disappeared in a hail flurry!

Stable Harvey Moss

No one falling in the stream

We made our way through the mini wilderness of Stable Harvey Moss (scene of the navigation test in BB0630), across a stream (why does no one fall in when I get my camera out?) to Torver Tarn where we nearly went wrong, not fully appreciating that we were only supposed to visit it and then retreat.

Team picture at Torver Tarn.....

.....and at Torver Beck

The Way then drops down to cross the main road and continue along the lake shore. Before actually reaching the lake, we took advantage of the sunshine to have our second lunch watching a snow shower move along the lake but miraculously missing us.

Snow flurry passing down Coniston Water

Gondola with Fairfield behind

We were promised "three miles of sheer delight".  I think that a little overstated.  The weather was now the day that we had hoped for and it was very pleasant by the lake.  But Coniston Water, although unspoilt, is rather short of changing features so the second mile is remarkably like the first and so on.

Gondola with Brantwood behind

However, the steamboat Gondola did make an impressive appearance and the final mile of lake shore is aided by an opening panorama of the Coniston fells plus the medieval cowshed grandly known as Coniston Hall (see also BB0804).

Coniston Fells panorama

A Coniston Pixie

Coniston Hall cowshed

By the time we reached the car, it was starting to snow again.  There was a mini-blizzard on the way home and then it cleared up again for a beautiful sunset.  It was that sort of day!

Don, 24th March 2008

For the next stage see
CW03: Coniston to Skelwith Bridge


10.1 miles
18.9 miles cumulative

Height climbed:
1,245 feet
2,424 feet cumulative






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 These pages log
the progress of
Don and Margaret
along the Cumbria Way.

 Click on the photos
for an enlargement or related large picture.


CW01:  Ulverston to Blawith

CW02:  Blawith to Coniston

CW03: Coniston to
Skelwith Bridge

 CW04: Skelwith Bridge to
the Old Dungeon Ghyll

CW05: Old Dungeon Ghyll to Rosthwaite

CW06: Rosthwaite to
High Brandlehow

CW07: What's Thirlmere
got to do with it?

CW08: High Brandlehow to

CW09: Keswick to Gale Road Car Park (and back)



The Washing Lines

as seen by Margaret:




BOOT boys

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