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Day 1. St.Bees to Blackhow Wood - 10 miles
The weather is very blustery with stinging rain. I do the traditional "foot in the water" thing. It seems impossible that in less than three weeks time I will dip my foot in the North Sea. The coastal path is muddy, slippery and undulating. The wind is very strong but, thank goodness, blowing from the sea or we would be in the drink. I have never seen so many different species of wild flowers all in one place as I have along this path. Unfortunately, the wind will not allow me to stand still long enough to admire them and do them justice.
We leave the coastal path and head toward Sandwith and, what do you know, the weather completely changes. There is a bench on the edge of the village where we have lunch, sit in the sunshine and watch swallows swoop and dip over the puddles.
From Sandwith to Cleator the path is pastoral and soon, we can see out destination for the day, Cleator where we intend to B&B as there is no campsite. We can also see the start of tomorrow's walk, the path which climbs to the summit of Dent. Unfortunately, we find our B&B address full of builders and the residents have moved. A very helpful "character" at the Post Office directs us to a farm, en route, where we may be able to camp.We disturb the farmer who is sprawled on the floor and obviously watching his favourite tv programme but he cannot be more helpful and directs us to a place we can camp. He even follows us later on his tractor and shows us where the water is good to drink.
We finally pitch at around 7.00pm. We are very tired. The afternoon has been very warm and first day packs are always the heaviest. We are asleep by 9.00pm.
We leave Blackhow Wood around 8.30am. The day is already warm and humid which makes for a very sweaty climb to the summit of Dent. The flies are buzzing and seem to glue themselves to the face. From here there is a good view back to St.Bees. The way down is steep, very steep. We lose our way briefly but finally find Nannycatch Beck, a charming place, where we enjoy our lunch despite encountering a particularly gross, dead sheep along the way.We continue up the beck and reach the road. Here we take a wrong turn and, inexplicably, march off in the wrong direction. We realise this too late and it results in a very long detour which at last brings us to Ennerdale Bridge.
We wake late at 8.00 am but are off by nine. The water is calm and there is not a breath of wind. We reach the end of Ennerdale Water and walk up the forest road to Black Sail Hut. By this time the sun is shining and the steep climb up Loft Beck is hard work especially as the ground is dry with a lot of loose material.Once above Loft Beck we are on an easier incline and cross the Brandreth Fence.There is a great view of Buttermere and then the path idles down to meet an old tramway where we descend. From here it looks as if it disappears into oblivion and indeed the way down is very steep. At the bottom there is a working quarry. We meet the old toll road at the Honistor Pass and so descend into Seatoller and on to Rosthwaite where we camp. We go to to the pub for a meal and are both quite tired. Charl has achy ankles and I have achy thighs. Charl has bites on his forehead and I have bites on my back (midges from previous evening).