Monday 23rd February Sedburgh to Burneside 14.5 miles
Brrrr this has been such a cold day! I set off at 7:30am, which has given me the advantage of finishing my walk by 2pm, and thus plenty of time to wash muddy socks and rest up.
I found this stage the hardest so far, purely due to the weather. A bit of a struggle, truth be told. For the first time I wore every one of my layers of clothing. Hail and then icy rain kept me moving at a pace. I had one break to drink hot roobois tea from my flask. It’s tricky staying warm and dry enough during a tea break. I found a tiny bushy copse of un thinned conifers, and climbed a fence so that I could hide inside, somewhat sheltered from the bouncing hail and chilling gale.
No major hills today. I was passing from the Pennines over to the Lake District. This land between the two great hill ranges has a confusing topography. It’s a bit like a choppy sea – small angry waves coming from all directions.
Needless to say, I saw no other walkers. In fact, the only human I saw was a cheery lady farmer, who commented on the foulness of the weather, as I slopped muddily past.
24th February Burneside to Bowness on Windermere 9 miles
It was slightly warmer today. There were still frequent hail storms and rain showers, and a tough gusting wind, but I never felt as chilled to the bone as yesterday. Again, I marched through the rumpled scenery of southern Lakeland. With all the rain of the last few days, most footpaths have turned into little streams. Every now and then I glimpsed the higher fells, gleaming white in the rare shafts of sunlight.
It felt like a milestone reached, to finally look down on the shores of lake Windermere. Then I descended into the town, and felt a bit out of place in all the bustle of this busy tourist town. Even midweek on a cold February day, the streets seemed jammed full of visitors.
I’ve been loosley following the Dales Way footpath since Sedburgh. It’s time to say goodbye to it now, as it terminates in Bowness on Windermere. Seems a strange ending point to me – I prefer the idea of going on to the sea.
25th February Bowness on Windermere to Coniston 9 miles
A treat. The wind has temporarily dropped. It didn’t rain or hail either. Well, apart from a little drizzle in my last half mile. But mainly this has been a peaceful, mild seeming day. Quite relaxing. And whilst it’s another short day, I feel a bit of that cumulative heavy leggedness that comes and goes on a long walk.
But this has been an enjoyable day, punctuated at start and finish with ferry rides. In the morning I got the chain ferry across Windermere, and in the afternoon I caught the little launch that putters around Coniston. In between that I walked through Grizedale forest. Pleasant walking, with lots of different types of woodland, and enjoyably challenging navigation. Very very wet underfoot again.