CW05: Old Dungeon Ghyll to Rosthwaite;    
Monday 8th September 2008

The day started badly.  First of all I dropped the cold and slippery jar of marmalade onto one of Margaret's favourite plates and broke it.

Next, I took her tea and toast in bed, but the tea was cold.

Then I got into trouble for having made our lunch time butties with out-of-date ham.

I thought I had really blown it by arriving in Ambleside twenty minutes earlier than necessary to catch the bus but managed to retrieve the situation by taking her for coffee and toasted teacakes, even though they had to be consumed at a gallop.

Our original plan had been to complete the Dales Way (no, there has been no further action since DW13 on 22nd October 2007- the logistics and weather have been against us).  However the forecast for Skipton area was distinctly poorer than for the Lakes so we decided to continue our progress (such as it has been in this miserable summer) up the Cumbria Way.

Again thanks largely to the miserable summer we have not been any further since we reached the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel on 15th May (see CW04).

We and three other couples, all flashing our free passes, boarded the Langdale Rambler.  The drive up the valley provided an interesting reminder of our last session.

Alighting at the ODG, the weather was cloudy bright with patches of sunshine, a welcome change from..... no, I've banged on enough about that.

Langdale from the bus

We started as we had finished, with washing hung out at the house behind the hotel. Had it ever been taken in?  Comparison of the photos will determine the answer. And the difference in the weather!

8th September washing and weather

15th May washing and weather

Pike o' Bliscoe and the Crinkles in mist

Clouds were licking around the fell tops.  Crinkle Crags would make brief appearances. Pike o'Stickle gradually cleared.  We were hopeful that it would all burn off but it wasn't to be.

Pike o'Stickle clear of mist

The first mile and a half up Mickleden is very gentle but then it starts to steepen to climb up to the Stake Pass and a fine view back down the valley gradually opened up.

The view back down Langdale, Pike o'Stickle on the left

I must say I was impressed with the vigour with which Margaret tackled the hill, passing three other groups on the way (one of which said they were heading for Grasmere..... doh??),  We were actually glad that it was not a sunny day- that would have made it hard work.

The moraines on the northern side of the watershed

Langdale Combe is a mass of moraine and it is pretty similar once over the watershed. Then, suddenly, there is a spectacular view of Langstrath opening up in front of you.  So magnificent, the thought of having lunch anywhere else was not on the agenda.  Sadly the photo does not do it justice, probably due to the lack of sun!

 First view of Langstrath

It looks better in the cheesy team picture, when the sun shone on at least a part of the valley!

The descent was possibly a little steeper than the ascent and it is on such ground that Margaret does find things a little tricky, holding on to my rucksac either for security or to make sure that if she goes, I go with her.  It's a legacy of her broken ankle.

Stake Beck tumbles attractively down a series of waterfalls whilst Langstrath can be seen off to the left, the path to the Scafells.

Cheesy team photo above Langstrath

A Stake Pass waterfall.....

Stake Pass

.....and another

Upper Langstrath

Once in the valley bottom, where Stake Beck joins Langstrath Beck, things were much easier.

A fossilised tree?!!

I hadn't paid much attention to the map or the guide book and nearly took us down the wrong side of the beck. 

Maybe I had reason to want to be on that side!  

Fortunately Margaret had read the guide book when we stopped and corrected my error.  

We we took afternoon tea by some huge boulders below Sergeant's Crag.  

One boulder had some strange markings, making it look like a fossilised tree.

We didn't linger long as it was threatening to rain and indeed the weather was seriously closing in behind us.    

A bit further on, Greenup Gill came in from the right.  

If you don't know it is there, it comes as a bit of a surprise, it is not until you are close that you see it coming.  

If you do know it is there, then it comes as a relief.  It is a long walk out!

I have always liked the gentle curving nature of the fell top ridge as you look up Greenup Gill

The Greenup Gill junction, well disguised

After some spectacular red funghi, you cross the gill by a bridge that is a memorial to a young man from Manchester, Gordon Hallworth, who perished from exhaustion in the valley in 1939 despite the efforts of his friends. A sad story but it didn't stop us taking  another cheesy team picture.

Do not eat!

Cheesey Team photo number 2

Greenup Gill to the left with Eagle Crag centre stage

Lower down, just before Stonethwaite, on the other side of the beck (where we would have been had Margaret not corrected me) is the site of my old school camp.

Ghosts of young lads from fifty years ago haunted the field.  Happy memories!  

One in particular of a baking hot summer's day, seeing, on the other side of the beck, three of the older boys, one of which, Reekie, was wearing a large cycling cape.

Now why was Reekie wearing a large cycling cape on a baking hot summer's day, you may well ask?

The ghosts of school camp!

Answer, to camouflage the crate of ale that he had carried back from Rosthwaite!  I can't believe the masters were fooled; they probably took a commission!

I also remember that it was Reekie who solved the problem of how to signify that the latrine was in use. He had a battered old headpiece that he called his "mal hat" and from then on, if Reekie's Mal Hat was hanging from the pole, you could tell from across the field that the trench was occupied.

Watenlath was always the first, half day walk, then on to Keswick for ice cream and a bus home.  Next day was a slog up Honistor then onto Dale Head, High Spy and Cat Bells, returning via Grange for ice cream.

Perhaps the most exciting walk was not Scafell Pike, but Great Gable, which we did in the dark.  Could schools do that sort of the thing these days?

Anyway, enough of geriatric reminiscing and back to the present.  We saw some washing across the beck at Stonethwaite but too far away and too uninspiring to get Margaret excited.  She hoped for better at Rosthwaite.

I did promise to stop reminiscing but the length of the path to Rosthwaite gave me new admiration for Reekie's efforts and determination.  It's an awful long way to carry a crate of ale.

As the valley opened up, Borrowdale was looking beautiful, even on a grey afternoon. 

Stonethwaite washing

Beautiful Borrowdale

We arrived at Rosthwaite bus stop with twenty minutes to spare.

Long enough for an ice cream (old habits!) and a search for some proper washing.  

Up a back lane with a high hedge we could smell the distinctive aroma of a fresh laundry.  

Popping the head round a gate revealed an extensive load flapping in the breeze.

Back to the bus stop for me where I engaged the couple already there in conversation.

Rosthwaite washin

They told me, disgustedly, that they had been unable to get on the last bus as it was full of old age pensioners travelling for free.  As more and more ancient couples gathered to await the bus, I was getting concerned that Margaret had not appeared.  She had met two ladies with a cute Lakeland Terrier- I think she was hoping they might sell it to her.

Anyway, she and the ladies with dog, came to the stop just before the Wrinkly Wranbler bus arrived.  I need not have worried- it was a substantially empty double decker.  What is more, it was topless!  It was fun upstairs, riding along the lake back to Keswick.  It is easy to understand why there is the warning not to stand up.  Tree after tree would ensure that no one could sing "I'm still standing".

No Standing on Upper Deck

Skiddaw from the bus

The bus pulled into Keswick bus station just as the 555 was scheduled to pull out. However there was a great bit long queue of, yes, wrinklies waiting to board.

For the second time today (and probably the first time for thirty or more years, other than City Tours) we went upstairs on a double decker.  Driving round Keswick was a memory jogger for both of us.  When Margaret first moved up to be near me, the nearest teaching post she could get to Kendal was in..... Cleator Moor in West Cumberland, as it then was. So we used to meet up at Keswick.

The journey to Ambleside is, if possible, even better now than it was then, thanks to the recent tree-thinning along Thirlmere.

I had parked down near Hayes so it was a bit of a trek back to the car from the bus station, only to find when we got there that there was a bus stop outside the car park. We'll know next time.

In summary, this was a delightul walk that has taken us into the second half of the Cumbria Way.  It was quite challenging for someone not used to climbing the fells but the girl done good.

 Don, 8th September 2008


7.4 miles
38.4 miles cumulative

Height climbed:
1,537 feet
6,031 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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