09 Jun Recovering
Two days blog to catch up. Last night I was in a state of near shock, so getting something written was beyond me. No, not the Election results, although the exit poll did play its part. No, the shock was from the day we spent out on the Lakeland hills, battling the wind and rain on the trail from Grasmere to Patterdale.
Just when you need the superlatives ….you realise you’ve already used them. On Tuesday’s walk to Borrowdale I described the ‘thunderous’ water flowing down from the hills and hinted that Noah may have been moored in the vicinity. It was, perhaps, hyperbole, but it felt like a flood was enveloping the hills. I was certain that there could not possibly be worse to come. I was wrong. Thursday’s conditions were of a different order. The accumulated water tonnage of heavy rain during Wednesday night on top of the massive lot we had on Tuesday had filled every crevice on every slope. If you looked up towards the summits you could mistake the flashes of white for patches of snow lingering long after winter has gone. But these great white gashes are torrents of water rampaging down. As a fellow hiker said, it was as if the hills were leaking.
Compared to other days, Thursday’s section of the C2C is quite short, only about 10 miles over to Patterdale, one of the loveliest dales in the Lake District. The low trail (low, once again, to be understood in the relative sense) follows a river, Tongue Gill, up to where it spills over a huge ridge to make a waterfall. The Gill marks the route for a steady grunt uphill to Grisedale Tarn, nestling between Helvellyn and St Sunday Crag, two of the famous high peaks of Lakeland and the alternative ‘high’ routes for this section of the C2C. On a good day, the tarn glints to give perfect reflections of the surrounding fells. Today I swear the demons were out surfing on Grisedale Tarn, cresting the waves that the wind whipped up. On the way up much of the path was deep under water. New streams formed all down the slopes above us, finding channels to push through or just gushing down the grass, converging to swell the Gill to bursting and make for some hazardous crossings. Our feisty foursome, with its combined 273 years, heaved increasingly wet bodies, soaking rucksacks and sagging spirits across a huge deluge of water near the Tongue Gill waterfall. You finally choose the spot where you think you have the best, perhaps the only chance to get across. You take the first big step onto a rock in the torrent, water billowing around you as if responding to some hidden charge of electricity. You’re there, somewhere about the middle of a powerful, noisy, unrelenting surge of briny water, foaming white with the force of its enormous volume. You’re perched on a cluster of boulders big enough to clear the water. The step to safety is just too far for ease. It needs a leap, and a fist of courage. You mustn’t pause for too long, you need take the leap to the muddy bank and believe you can do it. This was tough, bitter stuff.