25 May Day 2: joys and discontents
Day 2 and it’s a welcome surprise, on waking up in the comfy king size at the Fox and Hounds, that all my body’s moving parts are still moving. There are some distinctly reluctant limbs here and there and some tetchy reaction from muscles preferring to continue sleeping rather than confront the stairs down to breakfast. But, not bad given the injury tally: generalised muscular aching; three black toenails (2 left and 1 right); sore back and left hip from an overly eager attempt to throw rucksack onto back whilst perched on stony slope; tender soles because the fleshy pads on the balls of my feet are worn away to the bone. The podiatrist tells me this is a combination of structural inefficiencies compounded by wear and tear for which he concocted expensive orthotic insoles. His manner is very matter-of-fact and he doesn’t do humour but I guess he’s saying you have wonky bones and you’re getting on a bit so what do you expect if you do long hikes on stony trails! Jim (aka the artist, sketcher, himself, mountain goat), of course, admits to no injuries and few aches and pains. He’s just efficiently built for this kind of thing. Although tonight, at the end of a gruelling second day where we did 15 leg-crunching miles including a quick shimmy up Haystacks (google it – it’s not a piece of cake) for lunch, he has said he feels ‘weary’. As if to prove the point, the gentle sound of pre-prandial snoring emanates from his prone body on the ample but alas not king size bed at Nook Farm B&B in Rosthwaite deep in the heart of lovely Borrowdale.
Some highlights today.
1. The temperature plummeted at least 10 degrees from yesterday’s sunny, tee-shirty 18. A cold wind whooshed out of the NE straight into our faces. So we ventured out in super-cladding complete with thermal vest, fleece, wind-proof jacket, hat and gloves. Does not enhance mobility but is essential to maintain vital signs and sanity.
2. A wonderful alternative route (honestly, this was a planned detour) up to Scarth Gap (such a great name) and on to Haystacks, where we lunched on cheese and tomato sandwiches and, really pushing the boat out, a shared Kit-Kat. Such views up there down to Buttermere and across to so many fells. It’s not Scotland but it’s pretty darn impressive.
3. Adding to our tally of odd fellow-travellers we acquired the weirdest one yet. As we skirted Ennerdale Water at the start of the day, we were overtaken by a tiny, thin man, straight out of a Lowry painting; a matchstick man of minute proportions. Wearing ordinary brown trousers tucked into long black socks and a pair of worn black trainers, he raced past us, muttering something in a high-pitched squeak, walking either with his hands clasped together at chest height, like Johnny Wilkinson about to kick a conversion, or with his right hand out to the side as if he was holding a walking stick but in fact he was clutching a knotted white handkerchief like it was a talisman. We clip along at a reasonable pace – we had already overtaken the four slow Americans and were making ground on another couple – but this chap was moving super fast. He disappeared into the distance along the stony path and we thought we would never see him again until we found him agonising over a short, rocky section, down on his haunches shuffling gingerly across. A weirdo with vertigo, but hats off to him for being brave (or mad) enough to take on this kind of terrain.
So we completed Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite. Another 41,022 paces on hard trails to wear and tear my poor old soles even more. And another 1037 additional calories burned up along with 65 grams of fat! I know, it’s ridiculous but my tiny clip-on pedometer measures these things so they MUST be important. But never fear, the diet of anything with chips that graces menus in these parts will soon replace those fat molecules that I incinerated on the high road to Haystacks!