Coast to Coast - Day 5
Patterdale - Bampton Grange (12.5 miles - lots of hours !): A bit of an epic day to-day !. Weather forecast was quite good - sunny intervals, the occasional shower, but a bit breezy at height. Ian at Old Water View Hotel had suggested an alternative route along part of High Street (not in any guide book), to get down into Bampton, avoiding the rather tortuous path alongside Haweswater. This sounded like a good idea, and after consulting the map, we decided to follow this route. We set off from Patterdale shortly after 9.00 am, and climbed up the 'ramp' south-east out of Patterdale to reach Boredale Hause. There were good views back down to Patterdale and Ullswater.
We now made probably our only major navigational error on our walk. At Boredale Hause, there is a bit of a 'Piccadilly Circus' of paths, with five different paths spanning out in different directions from this point. The map and our compass seemed to indicate a path going south east as the correct ongoing route towards Angle Tarn (which in fact it was). However, one of our guide books said 'avoid a path going south-east, as that will lead you back down into Patterdale'. So we took the next obvious path which headed uphill due east for a short distance then turned south-east - seemingly in the right direction. However, this was a path leading into Martindale, and after about quarter of an hour we realised that the terrain was not matching what we expected from the map. So, we reluctantly resorted to the GPS to get an accurate position, then took compass bearings so we could walk cross-country towards Angle Tarn. This took about another half an hour of hacking over open ground before we landed at Angle Tarn - back on route. So, if you are attempting this walk, when you get to Boredale Hause, take the path going south-east, slightly uphill that crosses the stream (Stonebarrow Gill) - ignore all other paths ! It was a relief to see Angle Tarn, and we stopped there for a well -earned refreshment break before pressing on towards the highest point on the C2C, Kidsty Pike.
Back on route, the path onward from Angle Tarn was fairly clear, although there are one or two places where you could be led astray by other paths (often not on the map) heading off in different directions, so it is wise to keep checking your position on the map. The path climbs steadily, passing the peak of Rest Dodd to the north, and skirting round the The Knott (739 metres) .Careful attention to the map is needed after The Knott, to make sure you do not miss the 'switchback' turning to Kidsty Pike - this is about 500-600 metres after passing The Knott, and is marked with a large cairn. This actually takes you onto the old Roman high level route through the Lakes called High Street. Missing the turning to Kidsty Pike can be major problem - we met one walker the next day who had made this error, and it resulted in an 8-mile detour to get to Shap, their destination for the day. Fortunately, we found the turning - we were being ultra-careful with our navigation after our earlier error, and we were soon at the summit of Kidsty Pike (780 metres), the highest point on the Wainwright C2C. It was quite breezy up there, so we donned fleeces and waterproof jackets (we had a short shower on the way up from Angle Tarn) whilst we ate our lunch at the summit. There are good views all around - down to Haweswater, along High Street, and to the east you can see where the Lakeland Fells end and the terrain becomes less hilly. The Pennines are just visible in the distance.
The traditional Wainwright route onward from Kidsty Pike involves a knee-crunching steep descent to the southern end of Haweswater, followed by a rather long trudge along the north-western shore of the lake over a rather undulating, rocky/muddy path with several stream crossings. We chose to follow Ian's alternative route along High Street and down over Bampton Common to by-pass these features. From Kidsty Pike summit, you back-track slightly and pick up a track running almost directly north to the summit of High Raise. At 800 metres, High Raise was actually the highest point our on C2C - we took advantage of the wind shelter there to check the map.
After High Raise, there was about another 3 kilometres of walking north along High Street to get to the turn-off point for Bampton Common. We like ridge walking, and in spite of the strong breeze, this was very pleasant, easy walking - soft/grassy underfoot, with great views all around from our elevated position.
We continued along High Street to Wether Hill, where Ian indicated the path down to Bampton Common would turn off just past a cairn - we found the cairn no problem, but could we find the path ? - could we heck !. We scoured backwards and forwards for several hundred metres either side of the cairn with no sign of a path anywhere. We checked our position using the GPS- we were in the right place, just there was no path. We could see the ridge of Bampton Common, where we needed to go, so we decided to walk on a compass bearing in that direction, to hopefully intersect the path. Eventually, after almost an hour of hacking around, we stumbled across the ridge top path and began the slow easy descent towards Bampton. As on High Street, this was easy, pleasant walking on grassy paths, with views of Haweswater off to the right.
Our navigational woes were not completely over for the day, however. As you head down the Bampton Common ridge, various paths criss-cross it, potentially leading you off-course. We realised we were dropping down too much towards Haweswater, so tried to stay as close to the ridge top as possible - to get to the road into Bampton you need to aim for the farm at Drybarrows. Just above the farm, you need to drop down to a wall (there is no route through the farmyard), where the farmer has placed a footpath sign. This is not that helpful, as it directs walkers onto a track south around Aika Hill, to the farm at Littlewater, where numerous signs show that all routes are private and are not public rights of way. So, another half an hour of back-tracking followed - what you need to do at Drybarrows is stay close to the wall going slightly north-east from the foot path sign (not going south as the sign suggests), and you will come to a gate in the wall that leads you onto the public footpath across the fields to meet the lane that takes you on to Bampton Grange. There is about 2 kilometres of road walking to get you into Bampton Grange. We staggered into our accommodation, the Crown and Mitre pub, at about 7.00 pm, after almost 10 hours on the path. We tucked into their excellent beer-battered fish and chips as a means of recovery ! It had been a challenging day at times, but with some very pleasant walking and fine views - this day is really the tail-end of the Lakes, with less dramatic terrain to follow. We probably lost about 2 hours due to our navigation issues, so this day could be completed in 7-8 hours. Ian's route over the High Street and down Bampton Common is a good one, with pleasant walking away from the crowds, but we would only recommend it in good visibility, and if you are a confident navigator. We later spoke to Ian about the problems we had, and he then told us that the previous day he had sent some walkers on this route, but they had given up and lost confidence at the non-existent Wether hill 'turn-off', and had walked all the way back to Patterdale to stagger in to Old Water View at 10.00pm, asking for a taxi to take them to their accommodation in Bampton. So, if attempting this route, you should assume there is no path on the ground at Wether Hill down Bampton Common, and you should just walk on a compass bearing from the cairn down to the ridge of the common. Be careful to aim for Drybarrows lower down the ridge, then stay close to the wall after that to find the footpath to the road (oh, and it helps to take the right path at Boredale Hause out of Patterdale at the start of the day), and you should be fine !
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Peter and Lorraine, owners of Ty Uchaf since 2011. We will post occasionally items that may be of interest to our guests, past, present and future !