Glad you're here!

Welcome to my personal blog. Squirrel(!) is such an appropriate title for this spot on the Internet. This began as a way to share the journal from my walk across England with hubby Jan. That trip is archived here for you to enjoy (June of 2012), but now when you visit you'll read my crazy musings on everything from horses, to cars, to grammar, to books, baseball, or weasels. Don't get whiplash trying to figure out a theme; just watch out for the squirrels!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Days 3 and 4

Day 3 – To Grasmere - 9 miles

Starting out from Rosthwaite
We said good-bye to our beautiful B&B in Rosthwaite and headed on a short nine-mile trek for Grasmere. We were looking forward to getting finished early because it’s a “proper town” with shops and restaurants and a post office. Most of the villages on our route are not more than small hamlets really, with maybe a small food shop and an inn or pub.  The thought of actually finding postcards and potential souvenirs in Grasmere was beyond enticing. Most of our days so far had been 8-9 hours of walking.
Me, coming up the first big incline
We were foiled in our attempt to make super time into town by my knees and the intimidating “rock wall” that nearly sent Jan back to the B&B!  The first fortuitous answer to our prayers for my knee ligaments came from Julie (and Pete) whom we’d met in St. Bees.  Julie saw me limping and proceeded to loan me a neoprene knee brace.  That helped so much that the second place I headed once we did get to Grasmere was to a pharmacy to buy my own pair.  
Julie and Paul - my angels with the knee brace!

But before that we traversed a long, beautiful stretch of hills and valleys and played leap-frog with several of our new friends.  A couple of our favorites  were Simon and Nigel – Simon, a young former soldier along with his much older companion Nigel—who were originally trying to make the entire C to C walk in seven days.  Nigel was having leg issues and carrying 50 pounds, however. He soon decided he’d never make that distance so quickly. So, we all adopted them and talked them into keeping a schedule more like ours. We even got them to stay in a B&B in Rosthwaite, rather than camp. Nigel, normally a bit long-suffering, was all smiles today.
Stef and Julia -- our two lovely girls from Sheffield
We’ve also gotten to know “the girls,” Julia and Steff from Sheffield. They’re  fabulous young women—intrepid and funny. They’re walking the route to raise money for two charities—a cancer center and a hospice organization. They’re  chatty and with it, about the age of my kids.
Jan- looking braver than he felt on the rock scramble.
The hike was another stunner. Once I had the knee support, things went well until Jan noticed people way ahead scrambling up rocks. “I can’t do that,” he said. But he was amazing. He’s now done the kinds of  hills and climbs he chose to skip in Alaska. He says its never been one of his life’s goals to conquer his fears.  He’s perfectly happy to let others be brave. But, I saw his face when he reached the top of the climb and heard his voice when he said, “We did it!” There’s something to this mental game of making yourself overcome whatever hardships a huge undertaking throws at you.   Here are a few more scenery pics -- enjoy!

A rare flat stretch in the nmountains    
This is a Herdwick sheep. They are so cute they look like living stuffed animals.

We climbed next to waterfalls, and scrambled down to sheep pastures. The drystone fences never cease to amaze us, and when entire farms are made of this  beautiful stone, it’s almost as breathtaking as the scenery. 

Beautiful waterfalls

The drystone walls have been built across the entire landscape. They go unbelievabley up and over mountain ridges.

Sheep do not care where they go. Mama is actually ON the wall. Baby below was very unhappy.         
Buildings, fences, everything's made from stone. It's gorgeous
A shop on Main Street Grasmere
 When we got to Grasmere we wandered around town browsing in the tea rooms and postcard shops.
The Gingerbread Shop
The town is also famous for its gingerbread, so we had to stop in the Gingerbread Shop.  The gingerbread itself is delectable. It’s  hard but still chewy and the ginger flavor is so mild even Jan the not-so-much-a-gingerbread-fan liked it!  The one thing we decided wasn’t our favorite was chocolate with ginger in it. Now there’s an English delicacy for you! 

We also visited Dove Cottage, a small, lovely home William Wordsworth lived in for the nine years he spent in the Lake District. He ostensibly wrote his famous, “I wandered lonely as a cloud . . .” poem while living here.

The local brew in Grasmere:  Collie Wobblers

Our B&B in Grasmere was a lovely old farmhouse a ways out of town with a very nice hostess (Jackie Hodgeson) who ended up driving to town to pick us up when we weren’t sure where we were going.  The farm was beautiful with refinished original woodwork and little antique touches everywhere.  It was a great end to a beautiful day.
Town Head Farm - our B&B in Grasmere


Day 4 – To Patterdale - 8.5 miles

This was another supposedly short day, but as our friend Andrew said, “The climb is short. Short but memorable. Memorable would be a euphemism for "This'll kill your sore knees but be totally worthwhile!"

Heading for Patterdale
The climb was green and beautiful as usual. We’ve been blessed by such phenomenal weather – everyone has told us how lucky we are since this is one of the rainiest places in England.  A lot of the Coast to Coast path has been “improved” meaning there are stones up many inclines that, for all intents and purposes, create steps up the mountains. 

We met another interesting character on the path today:  Mattieu, an elderly Dutchman (with a French name, he tells us, because that’s how his mother baptized him) who is walking the C to C on his own. He is courtly, friendly, and unbelievably motivated. He ushers us past him, telling us all that he has to go slowly because he’s broken his leg in the past, and despite almost pottering along, he manages to get where he wants to go.

Mattieu and me on the rocks.
 This was also a day to choose one of three routes. High route number one was the Helvellyn Peak climb. The views from this, Britain’s third highest peak, we understand were incredible, but this was also the way to “Striding Edge” a quarter-mile long  knife-edge of a traverse that there was no way Jan could have made. In fact, I have my doubts about myself!  High route number two was St. Sunday Crag. This , too, offered amazing views. This, too, we skipped!  We chose Door No. 3 – Grisedale Tarn.  This was definitely the right walk for us – with phenomenal waterfalls, wayfarers’ cabins, and a back way into a picturesque town.

Grisedale Tarn
The main inn and pub in Patterdale is The White Lion.  Several of us new traveling companions stayed there, along with a film crew making a drama about the coast to coast hike. We started out drinking ales and pops outdoors at picnic tables lined along the street, then we all sat in the pub until late.  All we knew about the film and its crew was that one of the fellows they were talking to was highly and loudly, as the Brits say, pissed. (Translation for us Americans: drunk.)

The White Lion Inn

A few of our walking mates at the White Lion pub - L-R: Bill, Jan, Me, Steff, Julia, Jo, Julie and Pete

We had a janitor’s-closet of a room, but it was comfy and warm. It was a great end to an incredible day.

Next: Days 5 &  6 and Days 7 & 8 (when we're supposed to have T-storms and torrents of rain. Yikes!)


  1. Sounds like you are having a fabulous time despite knees and rocks to be climbed. Love reading your tales and seeing the pictures. Glad you found the knee sleeves. They are a wonderful invention.


  2. Yay to Jan for conquering his fears! Certainly a trip for the memory banks. Keep the photos coming. Loving all the green!

  3. You are taking my breath away with all the beautiful pictures. What an awesome time you are having. Enjoy! And take care of that knee.

  4. Again, amazing pics! I'm so happy for the two of you pushing past pain and fears to embrace this journey. It also sounds as though you've made some lifetime friends.

  5. I'm keeping an eye on you! The photos are especially nice. :) Stay safe!

  6. Wow--sounds so amazing! Thanks for the postcard. BTW--we've tried that chocolate and ginger combo in homemade gelato. While good, it was not a fav of ours either.