A little adventure makes life worth living
My last full day at Center Parcs and the weather gods have smiled on me, Buttermere is scheduled to be dry most of the day. I’m starting with a cold so I didn’t sleep very well, which meant a late start and after the hours drive I arrived at about 10am. I parked in a free car parking area and walked down into the village and proceeded to do a quick circuit of the lake. I stayed at the Youth Hostel just north of the village a few years ago with a bunch of guys from work, but the weather was better today and I greatly enjoyed the easy walking on well maintained, mostly dry paths. After the fell walking of the previous few days it made a welcome change.
I arrived back in the village having made good time and settled into the Croft House Farm Cafe to catch up on a bit of reading, but I had itchy feet and after about 30 minutes decided I needed some more walking to fill the afternoon. When I’d walked around the lake I’d seen a magnificent waterfall that streamed down from the closest hill ‘Dodd’, I’d seen ‘steps’ leading up there and fancied a go. My ordnance survey map implied a pretty good circular path, so I was decided.
The climb up was an excellent stepped man-made rock path, but it was very steep and I was climbing fast, so there was a lot of heavy breathing. I kept telling myself that if someone went to the trouble to make rock steps all the way up it must be worth it and since I only had to climb and not make the steps, I should count myself lucky. My kids always joke that I’m always saying that our destination is ‘just around the corner’ well this climb was like that, every time I though I was close to the top another long climb revealed itself.
Getting to Bleaberry Tarn entailed crossing a enthusiastic steam which proved to be a bit of a challenge (little did I know) but after wandering along it for a while I managed to wobble my way across. When I finally got to the tarn I thought I would be heading down, so I was pretty weary when I saw the long path snaking up again.
Half way up the next climb as I wrapped up against the hail and watched the cloud start to tumble down from Chapel Crags I was ready to turn back, I rummaged in my bag to get some dextrose tablets and munched through a handful and they did the trick, the glucose got to my brain and muscles and I was fine. Only 10 minutes more and I was at the peak of Dodd feeling on top of the world. I looked down at the path snaking down the other face and headed off.
It’s shortly after this that the adventure begins. The well maintained path suddenly disappeared, I checked my OS map on the iPhone and I was in the right place, but the path was now a raging stream. I thought I must be getting GPS reflections off the hills so I battled through the heather on both sides of the stream but there was no path. I resigned myself to following the stream down as best I could, but this proved impossible as it was marsh grass everywhere and after nearly sinking way too deep I gave up. I followed sheep tracks from then on but it was tough, I was walking through very uneven heather and moss that covered slippery rocks and marshy pools that was really taxing my ankles. I kept checking my GPS but there was no mistake, finally I came to a 7 ft wall, with the stream running where the path should have been and had to scramble over the wall, on the other side was a forest.
Initially I thought the forest would be easier going, maybe not, there were hundreds of fallen tress, many of them very rotten in my path and all mossed over and mixed with rocks. I only made it by slipping and sliding my way down, hanging onto branches and stopping myself falling by sliding into standing trees. After a while it became fun again because I new I was going to be fine, the weather had cleared, I had got used to forest walking and I knew that only a few hundred meters below me was the lake shore path.
Ironically when I finally got to the lake shore path, safe at last, I actually got much wetter than on the rest of the walk as it was badly flooded, but by that time I didn’t care, I just splashed through with abandon.
I arrived back at the cafe feeling great, I’m a calm person and I was never really scared just weary and confused for a while, but as I sat in the cafe pondering what would have happened if I’d slipped and broken my ankle 50-100 meters off path I started updating my Amazon Wishlist with a full set of emergency gear, ready for the next ‘challenging’ walk.
Fully rested by 15:30 I did another short walk on the other side of the Lake up an amazing gorge carved by a wild running stream and then followed a few lovely green paths into the hills until the sun started to set and I walked back along the road to the car and a lovely drive back to the apartment.
All the pictures from today’s walk can be found here << link now fixed